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I'll Show You the Path to Take - Psalm 23, John 10

A service plan for Lent focusing on Jesus Christ as our Good Shepherd always guides us on his paths in a Lenten series focused on "Walking with God through Psalm 23."

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Sheep usually follow paths. But some paths are dangerous whereas others are right and safe. Yet sheep are often unable to discern the difference between the two and can easily take a dangerous path assuming it is right and safe. They need a shepherd who is able to exercise such discernment and give them wise and healthy leadership and guidance. We need the same, and in this service we emphasize that Jesus Christ as our Good Shepherd always guides us on his paths.


Prelude: "Sinfonia" [from Cantata No. 29], J.S. Bach [organ]
"All People That on Earth Do Dwell," Krapf [organ or piano],
Cherwien [organ], Kerkorian [handbells]

The Call to Worship

*Song: "All People that on Earth Do Dwell" (st. 1-4) PH 220, PsH 100, RL 120, SFL 10, TH 1, TWC 317

*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: "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow" PH 591, PsH 638, SFL 11, TWC 808


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: John 14:5-7
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: "The King of Love My Shepherd Is," Beck

The Offertory: "The King of Love My Shepherd Is," Callahan [organ], Carter [piano]

The Offertory Prayer


Song: "See, Christ Was Wounded for Our Sake" (st. 1, 3; sung to alt. tune HAMBURG) PsH 196

The Prayer for Illumination:
O Lord, you have written this Word by your Holy Spirit,
and you have given it to us today for our benefit.
Now speak clearly through this Word,
and through your servant who proclaims it,
and cause our ears to be open
that we may hear what you have to say to us,
and cause our hearts to be responsive
that we may obey you. Amen.

The Reading of Scripture: John 10:1-10
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Songs: "The Lord Is My Shepherd" (all verses, without repeat) SFL 200
"The Lord, My Shepherd" (st. 1-2) PsH 23, SFL 201
"The Lord Is My Shepherd" (in canon) SFL 200

The Reading of Scripture: Psalm 23
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: I'll Show You the Path to Take ('Walking with Jesus through Psalm 23 - #3)
Text: Psalm 23:3b


Sung Prayer: "Lead Me, Guide Me" (st. 2-3) PsH 544, RN 176, SFL 220

The Prayers of the People

*Our Affirmation: "God Is My Rock and My Salvation" PsH 610
(Worshipers will sing the response with the repeat multiple times
after the readings. See Music Notes.)

*Song: "He Leadeth Me" (st. 1, 3) PsH 452, RL 161, TH 600, TWC 635

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Lord of Our Life" SFL 81

Postlude: "Sinfonia" [from Cantata No. 196], J.S.Bach

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

  1. A valuable and important technique in series preaching is that a sermon must be linked with the previous sermon(s) as it begins. Therefore, near the beginning of this one a link should be drawn with the thought of the Shepherd's care from sermon #1 and the invitation to rest in sermon #2.
  2. To enter the thought of this sermon, hearers must identify the need for choosing paths that are correct and right. Illustrations will help to identify the anxiety we feel when paths are not clear or correct choices are not made.
  3. The Bible's teaching on the Christian life describes numerous "paths" about which we make strategic choices: which religion to choose, our commitment to Jesus Christ, the spiritual disciplines we'll practice, moral behavior we'll follow, the vocation or calling that we'll answer. The faithful Christian life is shaped by the accumulation of correct choices. Even small deviations can have big consequences.
  4. The life of sheep illustrates this well. Sheep encounter many potential paths. Some are good; some are dangerous. But sheep cannot trust themselves to make wise choices, so they need a shepherd who has discernment-a master at reading paths, able to keep the sheep moving on the correct paths.
  5. In the New Testament, particularly in John 10, Jesus portrays himself as a reliable shepherd. He is committed to the welfare of his sheep, knows them by name, can identify thieves who would harm them, and knows the correct paths well. Jesus always guides us by his Word, his Spirit, and his daily discipline in our lives.
  6. Nearly all of us feel the tension between the shepherd's interest in leading us correctly and our own tendency to stray (accentuated by surrounding influences which distract us!). Our hope and confidence rests in the faithfulness of the Shepherd who is good!

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:
    - "Sinfonia" from J. S. Bach's cantata no.29, arranged for organ by Homer Whitford and published by H. W. Grey 759 [1950] (M).
    - "All People That on Earth Do Dwell" arranged by David Cherwien for organ in "Interpretations," vol. 8, published by AMSI SP-105 [1991] (M). An alternate or additional arrangement of this tune Old Hundredth can be found in the organ collection "Sing and Rejoice" vol. 3 arranged by Gerhard Krapf and published by SMP KK278 [1983] (E). The Krapf piece can be adapted for piano. The handbell piece "Old Hundredth" is arranged for 3-octave handbell choir by Greg Kerkorian and published by Lake State HB00066 [2000] (M).
  2. The SATB anthem "The King of Love My Shepherd Is," arranged by John Ness Beck, is published by Beckenhorst BP1247 [1985] (E-M).
  3. Both suggested offertory pieces are based on the hymn tune St. Columba. The organ transcription by Charles Callahan can be found in the collection "Five Improvisations on Communion Hymns," published by Concordia 97-6126 [1991] (E-M). The piano arrangement can be found in "Songs of the Shepherd" by John Carter, published by Hope 1967 [1996] (E).
  4. The trio of songs on Psalm 23 following the Scripture reading are meant to flow from one to another.
  5. The response of "God Is My Rock and My Salvation" is the refrain of PsH 610. A lay reader or the pastor can read the verses, or the congregation or an ensemble or a soloist could sing them. The refrain would be sung congregationally between each verse.
  6. The postlude "Sinfonia" from J. S. Bach's Cantata No. 196 is arranged by Porter for organ and published by H. W. Grey 764 [1950] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

  1. The Call to Worship often sets the tone and spirit for the entire service because it shapes the expectations of worshipers. In this service it would be helpful to set forth some of the feelings of anxiety that we all experience when there are multiple paths from which to choose and we're not sure about our choice. See the opening section "Theme of This Service" for some of these thoughts.
  2. Normally in Scripture reading, we place the Old Testament reading before the New Testament reading. In this service we do the opposite because Jesus' words in John 10 about the Good Shepherd will create a better context for the reading of Psalm 23. We suggest that a layperson lead in the prayer for illumination.
  3. The "prayers of the people" should have a very personal and pastoral tone for this service. Because it closely follows the sermon, the theme of the prayer should be that of intercession for leading and guidance when there are critical choices to make. Many within the congregation will be experiencing such situations, and these needs and concerns should be identified in the prayer. The one who composes this prayer should be sensitive to the choices that children and youth face and include such matters. Other choices about marriage, family life, work and business, ethics and morals, and so on should be included. It may be wise to leave a time of silence for the worshipers to raise up their personal needs for guidance and leading. A warm and concerned pastoral tone will make this prayer a special time of engagement with God.
  4. The song "He Leadeth Me" can meaningfully be incorporated as the conclusion of the "prayers of the people." The song can become our affirmation of the Lord's leading and becomes an "Amen" to the intercessions.