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Come to Me and Rest - Psalm 23, Matthew 11

A service plan for Lent focused on the message of rest, renewal and restoration in Psalm 23 and also being conscious of the restlessness and agitation that so often mark our lives. Part of a Lenten series focused on "Walking with God through Psalm 23."

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

The words of Psalm 23 and the invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11 both speak of rest, renewal and restoration. Therefore worshipers need to be conscious of the restlessness and agitation that often mark us. When they are conscious of that need, then the promise of rest becomes welcome and renewing. Such rest that Christ gives is the theme of this service.


Prelude: "Psalm 42," Pachelbel [organ or piano]

"Sheep May Safely Graze," J. S. Bach, arranged by Biggs [organ] or Carter [piano]

The Call to Worship
Welcome to the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have come to worship the Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves
and rest a while." (Mark 6:31)
We desire his rest.
God promises today that he will make us to lie down in green pastures,
lead us beside quiet waters, and restore our souls. (from Psalm 23:2-3)
We need his care.
Your God calls you to worship him.
We will worship the Lord.

*Song: "Oh God, Our Father, We Come" (st. 1-3) PsH 450

*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 God, Our Father, We Come" (st. 4)


The Call to Confession

Sung Prayer of Confession: "Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended" (st. 2) PH 93, PsH 386, RL 285, RN 183, TH 248, TWC 231
Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon you?
It is my treason, Lord, that has undone you.
'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied you;
I crucified you.

Assurance of Pardon

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our diseases, yet we considered him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray, we have all turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:1-6, NRSV)

Sung Response: "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" (st. 2-3) PH 101, PsH 384, RL 293, RN 236, SFL 166, TH 252, TWC 213
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

*The Gospel Reading: Luke 4:16-21
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

*Passing the Peace
Pastor: The peace of Christ be with you.
All: And also with you.
(The worshipers are encouraged to greet each other saying, "The peace of Christ
be with you.")

*Sung Response: "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" (st. 4)
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.


Anthem: "Psalm 42: As a Doe," Fitzgerald

Our Testimony of Faith
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
(Psalm 23)

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Reading of Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Prayer for Illumination

*Song: "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" (st. 1-3) PH 172, PsH 550

Sermon: Come to Me and Rest (Walking with Jesus through Psalm 23 - #2)

View sermon notes for this sermon

The Prayer of Application


Song: "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" (st. 1-3) PH 387, PsH 591, TH 599, TWC 522

Anthem: "Come Unto Me," Nickel

The Prayers of the People

Offertory: "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need," Wood [organ] or Leavitt [piano]

Receiving the Promises of God


*Song: "Go, My Children, With My Blessing" (st. 1-4) SNC 284

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Go Now in Peace" PsH 317, RN 293, SFL 79

Postlude: "Go, My Children, with My Blessing," Stoldt [organ] or Shackley [piano]

Or "Choral Song," Wesley [organ]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

View sermon notes for this sermon

    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 prelude music can be found in the following sources:
      - "Psalm 42" by Johann Pachelbel in the organ collection "Selected Organ Works," vol. 4, published by Barenreiter 1016 (M). This piece is a set of variations, most of which are for keyboard without pedal. As such, they could effectively be played on the piano.
      - "Sheep May Safely Graze" by J. S. Bach, arranged for organ by E. Power Biggs and published by H. W. Grey 666 [1940] (M); arranged for piano by John Carter in "Songs of the Shepherd," published by Hope 1967 [1996] (E-M).
    2. John Ferguson has written a concertato on "Ah, Dearest Jesus" titled "Ah, Holy Jesus" published by Morningstar MSM-50-3012 [1991]. The accompaniment could effectively be used as the accompaniment for the congregational prayer of confession.
    3. "Psalm 42: As a Doe" composed by Mike Fitzgerald is a SATB anthem which has many folk-like characteristics. It can be adapted for solo use. It is published by GIA G-2032 [1973] (E-M).
    4. The SATB anthem "Come Unto Me" by Larry Nickel is published by Galliard Press GP92113 [1992] (E). This piece includes an instrumental part for treble instrument and also is easily adapted for solo use.
    5. The offertory music based on "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" can be found in the following sources:
      - the organ collection "Wood Works" vol. 2 by Dale Wood, published by SMP KK400 [1989] (E-M)
      - the piano collection "How Sweet the Sound" by John Leavitt, published by CPH 97-6891 [2000] (M)
    6. The postlude music "Go, My Children, with My Blessing" by Frank Stoldt [organ] is published by Morningstar MSM-10-931 [1988] (E-M). The piano arrangement by Larry Shackley can be found in the collection "Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano" published by Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M). The alternative suggestion, "Choral Song" by Samuel Wesley, can be found in "Wedding Music" part 1 published by Concordia 97-1369 [1952].

    Liturgy Notes:

    1. From the beginning we should communicate to the worshipers that our aim in this service is to create the same atmosphere that existed when Jesus called the disciples away to get some rest. Agitation, distraction, and weariness are present, to be sure. But we come to worship knowing that our Shepherd has exactly the rest that we need.
    2. The Call to Worship, by drawing on several of these scenes, and by including very short responses, aims to make each worshiper conscious of coming here for no other reason than to seek the rest of soul and spirit that only God can give. Such a spirit gives us permission to come honestly about our needs and expectantly about the rest we will receive.
    3. The service of confession follows the same pattern as last week, except for the Scripture reading from the Gospels. We will follow this pattern throughout Lent so that worshipers sense that we make our confession in a standard way, hopefully reinforcing it each time.
    4. You will notice that in this service all worshipers take the words of Psalm 23 on their own lips. This accomplishes multiple purposes: since the psalm is David's personal testimony, we use his words to make it our testimony, we give a stirring corporate expression of our faith, and we read Scripture to each other! After the group reading the pastor or worship leader should be ready to respond with "The Word of the Lord." Following this group reading, the reading of Jesus' words from Matthew 11 becomes the answer to the need we have.
    5. The section of worship after the sermon is our response to the Word of God by actively appropriating his rest to ourselves. Songs and prayers help us to do this. The Prayers of the People should pay particular attention to intercede for those who are distressed, oppressed, suffering, and agitated. (And our view of these will be much broader if we intercede not only for those of our congregation, but include other Christians around the world in such circumstances.) For the time of "Reviewing God's Promises" we have taken some of the very same promises cited in the sermon and repeated them again, with emphasis, and then added others slowly and quietly, with pastoral encouragement to "be sure you take these home with you."