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Growing With Peter Series: Back in Grace - John 21

An Eastertide service focused on the renewing Grace of God through Christ's resurrection, as illustrated in Peter's restoration and call to feed Christ's sheep.

Theme of the Service

Too often the worship life of a congregation "moves on to something else" immediately after Easter. To overcome this danger, it is wise to observe the season of Eastertide and continue to focus on the powerful benefits of the resurrection of Christ. In this service we also continue (and conclude) the biographical study of Peter's life and we see him restored in Christ's grace.

The theme of this service, therefore, must be the renewing grace of God that was made available and certain through the resurrection of Christ, and amply illustrated in the life of Peter when he was restored and given Christ's call to feed his sheep.


Prelude: "Partita on 'This Joyful Eastertide' ", Bouman

The Call to Worship

*Song of Praise: "This Joyful Eastertide" PsH 403, TH 284, WOV 676

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting

Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Response: "Oh, How Good Is Christ the Lord/Oh, Qué Bueno Es Jesús" PsH 401, SFL 177

The Children's Moment


Peter Calls Us to Confession - 1 Peter 1:13-19

Our Confession:

Sung: "Lamb of God/Agnus Dei" (Iona Community) SNC 253, WOV 620/621/622

Spoken: Lamb of God, you have taken away the sin of the world.
Lord, have mercy on us and forgive us.
Immanuel, God-with-us, you have walked this veil of tears with your people.
Lord, have mercy on us and walk with us.
Eternal Word, you have conveyed the Father's message of love and reconciliation.
Lord, have mercy on us and pardon us.
Light of the world, you have revealed to us the glory of the Eternal God.
Lord, have mercy on us and shine in our hearts.

Sung: "Lamb of God" (repeat song from above)

The Assurance of Pardon - 1 Peter 2:9,10

Song of Profession: "No Weight of Gold or Silver" PsH 374

The Call to Grateful Living - 1 Peter 3:8-16


*Song of Preparation: "Tú has venido a la orilla/You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore/Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore" PH 377, SNC 269, WOV 784
or: "Jesus Called to Peter" SFL 114

The Reading of Scripture: John 21:15-25

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Solo: "Feed My Lambs", Sleeth

(Growing with Peter - #9)

The Prayer of Application


The Offertory: "Tú has venido a la orilla/You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore", Farlee

The Prayers of the People


The Call to Love One Another - John 13:34,35

*Song: "If You Love Me" SFL 151

*The Benediction

*A Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Toccata", Lee

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

1. Since this message concludes the series of nine messages on the biography of Peter, it would be wise to briefly review the ups and downs that we've seen in his life with Jesus. If we look ahead into Acts we see he will serve in a very prominent and influential role. Yet as this story begins the shadow of failure hangs over Peter. (The Bible tells us many life-stories in which the shadow of failure hangs heavily.which speak loudly about the grace of God!)

2. The scene of this story should be recreated: midway between Easter and Pentecost, third appearance of the resurrected Christ, and an early morning beach-appearance of Jesus to seven disciples.

3. Your message will be more effective if you can portray the drama that must have been felt by both Jesus and Peter as they approached this conversation. Jesus knew Peter was feeling the weight of the shadow of failure. Peter wondered if Jesus would confront and rebuke him, or perhaps even disqualify him. But the beauty of the story is found in the fact that Jesus graciously reaches out to Peter. It takes place around a fire. (The last time Peter was found around a fire was in John 18:18!) A threefold cycle of questions and responses shapes this renewal event! There are subtle but significant word changes that you must not miss. And finally, words about death seem out of place here, but on closer study project us ahead to see that the "fallen" Peter would be an outstanding Apostle who would have the privilege of martyrdom!

4. This sermon should draw out some lessons not only from this event, but from the entire series of studies about Peter's growing life. There are big lessons here about our growing faith and commitment, about the grace of God in Christ, and about church leaders who have all had to be restored from time to time.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:

PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. The organ prelude by Paul Bouman is published by Concordia 97-6060 [1990] (M).
  2. An alternative accompaniment and optional trumpet for "This Joyful Eastertide" can be found in an anthem by Dale Grotenhuis published by Kjos 8834 [1997].
  3. A choir should model the sung confession if your congregation is not familiar with this setting. If so, the congregation can join the choir following the spoken confession.
  4. "Feed My Lambs" by Natalie Sleeth is very compatible with the sermon theme and scripture text. This unison anthem can be sung as a solo by either a child or adult, or as a children's choral anthem. A flute can also be used as part of the accompaniment. The piece is published by Carl Fischer CM7777 (E).
  5. The offertory music is taken from "Many and Great" by Robert Buckley Farlee and published by Augsburg 11-11033 [2000].
  6. The postlude music can be found in "Five Postludes" by John Lee. This collection is published by GIA 701 [1969] (E).

Liturgy Notes:

1. The Children's Moment is placed very early in the worship service for this week with a specific purpose in mind. It is important to instruct the children in the great truths about worship and what is happening. From time to time, the person leading the children's message should select an item from the worship service and explain it to the children. For this week we suggest that you speak to them about the presence of God in worship. Ask them to look around and tell you what and who they are able to see in church. Then ask them who is here that can't be seen. It will give you an opportunity to remind them of the presence of angels, but even more importantly about the presence of an invisible God. Children need to sense the awe and security of knowing a loving God is present with them.

2. The Responsive Confession of Sin draws on figures from the recent Lenten season and makes our plea for mercy more meaningful by remembering all that we have recently observed in this holy season.

3. Notice how the words of instruction in this service - call to confession, assurance of pardon, and call to grateful living - are all the words of Peter.