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Designed for Work

A service plan based on Genesis 1-3 and Matthew 25 recognizing our need to work--that is, we were created for productive creation-caring efforts that provide for our needs and the needs of others. Part of a series focused on vocation and how faith and work are integrated.

"Your Work Matters" Worship Service Series

Theme of the Service

We now turn to God's intent when he created human beings. Did he design us for work, or did work come later? The theme of this service is that we humans who have been made in the image of God have been designed to "work;" that is, we were created for productive creation-caring efforts that provide for our needs and the needs of others. We find fulfillment and satisfaction through living for the purposes for which we have been designed.

* * * * *


Prelude: "When Morning Gilds the Sky" 

*The Call to Worship 

*Song of Praise: "When Morning Gilds the Sky" PH 487: 1, 3, PsH 438:1-3, RL 365:1, 4, 5, TH 167:1, 5, TWC 99:1, UMH 185:1, 3

*God's Greeting and Congregational "Amen"
Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, who do you trust?
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.

*Song Response: "When Morning Gilds the Sky" PH487:6, PsH 438:5, RL 365:6, TH 167:6, UMH 185:4


The Call to Confession

The Prayer of Confession

Sovereign creator God, we give you thanks for the gift of life, and for the honor and privilege of being those who have been made in your image. And even more do we thank you for the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.

However, we confess that often we have thought less of ourselves and others than we ought. We have failed to appreciate the gifts you have placed with us. We have ignored your image in others. We have demeaned them when we should have loved them. We have ignored their needs when we should have cared for them.

And we confess that often we have failed to receive our daily tasks as holy assignments from your designing hand. We have desired leisure over work. We have done our work half-heartedly when we should have done so with our whole heart. And we have called your assigned tasks for us a necessary evil.

Forgive us, we pray, for our disobedience. Wash us clean through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.


The Assurance of Pardon: 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Our Song of Praise and Dedication: "Lord, I Want to be a Christian" PH 372:2-4, PsH 264:2-4, RN 145:2-4, SFL 40:2-4, TH 530:2-4, TWC 563:2-4, UMH 402:2-4

God's Call to Grateful Living: Ephesians 4:17-24

The Children's Moment 


*Song of Preparation: "How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord" PH 419, RL 433, TWC 395 

The Prayer for Illumination

The Readings from Scripture: Genesis 2:15 and Matthew 25:14-30 
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: Designed for Work
Your Work Matters #3

The Prayer of Application


*Our Affirmation: 
In our work, even in dull routine,
we hear the call to serve our Lord.
We must work for more than wages,
and manage for more than profit,
so that mutual respect
and the just use of goods and skills
may shape the work place,
and so that, while we earn or profit,
useful products and services may result.
Rest and leisure are gifts of God
to relax us and to set us free
to discover and to explore.
Believing that he provides for us,
we can rest more trustingly
and entertain ourselves more simply. ("Our World Belongs to God", par.51)

*Song: "When a Prophet Sings of Justice" SNC 264

The Prayers of the People 

The Offertory Prayer
The Offering of Music: "When a Prophet Sings of Justice" 
or: "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian"
We offer our gifts for..


*Words of Sending:
Go into the world in peace:
have courage;
hold on to what is good;
return no one evil for evil;
help the suffering;
honor all;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
With God's help we will.

*The Benediction:
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be upon you, and remain with you forever.
Amen. (TWS 9.1.23, based on 1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:13-22; 1 Peter 2:17)

*Song: "Sent by the Lord" RN 154, SFL 249

Postlude: "Chant Heroique," Young 

* - You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes

Since we cannot assume that all listeners have been present for the first two sermons of this series, we begin by citing the themes of the first two. First, religion and work DO mix, and both need to influence the other. Second, our personal concept of vocation should be an adventurous undertaking as part of our life of obedience. This message explains that Scripture teaches that God designed us for work.

Where did work begin? While some assume it began after the fall when Adam and Eve were cursed, Genesis 1 and 2 teaches us that God's plan included work assignments from the beginning (see Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15). Why does work get so hard? Genesis 3 explains that our work is difficult because of the curse that God levied after Adam and Eve's fall into sin (see Genesis 3:14-19).

A study of the biblical material can shows us that life and work are integrated by God's design.

  • First, God is a worker. As creator God, he remains involved in the governance of his creation. (See Genesis 1:1, Exodus 20:8-11, Ephesians 1:11-12.)
  • Second, this world is a place that needs "keeping." Creation would not remain productive by itself. Human beings need to govern and keep it. (See Genesis 1:26, 2:15, 3:17ff.)
  • Third, humans are created in the image of God. We are "in the likeness" of him who is a worker. (See Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15 and Psalm 8:5-8.)
  • Fourth, humans are new creatures in Christ and therefore "new workers." Our renewal through redemption in Jesus Christ has made us able to function in new ways with new motives. (See 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and Colossians 3:23-24.)

The Gospel reading for this message adds insight into this subject. Jesus uses a parable in Matthew 25:14-30 to set before us a model of work. This model has several ingredients: a manager who owns everything (v.14); servants who are assigned the work (v.14); a mandate by which he entrusted responsibilities to them (v.14); great differences of ability and resources among the servants (v. 15); diversity of efforts among the servants (vs.16-18); and accountability (vs.19-28).

Sometimes our work is very hard for many, and they are tempted to lose heart. Yet, we are designed by God to be a "keeper" of his creation and society. Our newness in Christ leads us to see newness in our work as a part of our stewardly obedience to our Redeemer. We all need encouragement, understanding, and a reminder of the new perspective our redemption in Christ brings.

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)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

The suggestions of prelude music can be found in these resources:

LAUDES DOMINI ["When Morning Gilds the Sky"]

Haan, Raymond H. O Worship the King. Broadman 4570-42 [1979] (E-M)
Lutkin, Peter. Christian Hymn Tune Transcriptions. H. W. Grey. [1908] (E-M)
Miller, Aaron David. Improvisations for the Church Year, vol. 2. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-
7676-9 [2004] (M)
Sedio, Mark. Organ Tapestries, vol. 2. Concordia 97-6861 [2000] (E-M)

Buckwalter, Karen L. Daystar. Flammer HP-5190 [1985 (3-5 octaves, E-M)

We are suggesting using the hymn "How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord" as a recurring theme hymn for this series of services. It was introduced in last week's service and would be beneficial to be reinforced in this service.

Suggestions for alternative harmonizations and offertory music baseed on "When a Prophet Sings of Justice" are as follows:

FREU DICH SEHR/GENEVAN 42 ["When a Prophet Sings of Justice"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
Burkhardt, Michael. Festival Hymn Settings for the Christmas Season, set 1. Morningstar
MSM-10-126 [1995]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Sedio, Mark. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]

Böhm, Georg. Music for a Celebration, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-579 [2005] (E-M)
Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 6. Morningstar MSM-10-763 [2002] (E-M)
Ferguson, John. An Advent Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-008 [1995] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Five Organ Preludes. Flammer HF5094 [1977] (E-M)
Karg-Elert, Sigfrid. Karg-Elert Album for Organ. Marks M 152 [1944] (M)
Kosche, Kenneth T. Four Organ Preludes for Advent. Morningstar MSM-10-020 [2004] (E-M)
Leupold, A. W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M)
Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (E)
Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 5. Concordia 97-5257 [1974] (E)
Oley, Johann Christoph. Music for a Celebration, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-579 [2005] (E-M)
Pachelbel, Johann. Selected Organ Works, vol. 4. Barenreiter 1016 (E-M)
The Church Organist's Golden Treasury (ed. Pfarreicher and Davison), vol. 1. Ditson [1949] E-M)

Dobrinski, Cynthia. Comfort, Comfort Ye My People. Agape 1861 [1996] (3-5 octaves with opt.
flute and hand drum, level 3-4)

Arrangements of the alternate suggestion "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian" can be found in:

I WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN ["Lord, I Want to Be a Christian"]

Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 1. Fred Bock B-G0548 [1980] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. O Worship the King. Broadman 4570-42 [1979] (E-M)
Kerr, J. Wayne. I'll Praise My Maker. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7570-3 [2003] (E-M)

Edison, June. Great Day! Houston B41 [1991] (E-M)

Lloyd, Sallie. Lord, I Want to Be a Christian. Beckenhorst HB134 [1993] (3 octaves, E)

The organ postlude "Chant Heroique" by Gordon Young is published by Galaxy GMC 2161 [1959] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes

1. It will be helpful if the theme of this service and series becomes clear at the very beginning. A reminder of the theme during the call to worship might be helpful. You will notice that the Prayer of Confession also is very theme-specific.

2. The Children's Moment has been placed at the end of the service of renewal. It gives an opportunity to speak to the children about the theme of the service. You may want to consider telling them the story of Adam and Eve who, when they were created, were "put to work" by God in the Garden of Eden. After telling them of Adam and Eve's creation, begin to wonder what Adam and Eve did all day. Then point to Genesis 2:15 as the clue. Imagine what kinds of things they did in the garden to "work it and take care of it" (Gen.2:15). From there, think of some of the things people of your congregation do to work in God's creation today. Use specific examples for the children.

3. Both Genesis 1 and Matthew 25 are listed are references for this service and sermon. We have included only Genesis 2:15 and the reading of Matthew 25:14-30 as the Scripture reading before the sermon. The other selections from Genesis 1-3 will be embedded in the sermon.

4. The words of our affirmation are from "Our World Belongs to God," a Contemporary Testimony that has been adopted by the synod of the Christian Reformed Church. The excerpt here is from paragraph 51. The entire text can be found in the Psalter Hymnal (pp. 1019-1038). We repeat this affirmation from two weeks ago believing that it effectively reinforces our response to God's call to work. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

5. Due to the topic of this series, there may be a natural tendency to target an audience of working adults. Try to use diverse examples that demonstrate the importance of this series for various age groups whenever possible (i.e. teens with part time jobs, stay at home moms, retired people who volunteer). It may also be helpful to be mindful of a diverse group in the Prayers of the People by praying for young people discerning their callings, people searching for jobs after being laid-off, people adjusting to new positions, etc.