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Imitating Christ (Philippians 2)

The “mind of Christ” is powerfully portrayed for us in his humiliation and in receiving the name above all names as the one to be worshiped. We will give him this worship by coming to His Table.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

The “mind of Christ” is powerfully portrayed for us in his emptying of himself (humiliation) and in receiving the name above all names (exaltation) as the one to be worshiped. We will give him this worship by coming to His Table.


Prelude/Gathering Music: “At the Name of Jesus” [see music notes] [see also ELW 416, HW 154]

The Call to Worship: Reading of Revelation 5:1-10 (ending with “So, come, let us give him all honor and praise!”)

*Song of Adoration: “At the Name of Jesus” [see also ELW 416, HW 154]

*God’s Greeting with Congregational Amen!

*Song of Adoration: “Meekness and Majesty

God Speaks to Us from His Word

Prayer for Illumination

Reading of Scripture: Philippians 2:1-11 [see liturgy notes, to be read as Scripture Drama]

Sermon: Imitating Christ

Prayer of Application

*Song of Response: “Christus Paradox” [see music notes] [see also HW 248]

*Profession of Faith: Nicene Creed [see liturgy notes]

Prayers of the People

Offertory: “What Wondrous Love” [see music notes] [see also ELW 666, HW 171]

We Respond by Coming to His Table [see liturgy notes]

Prayer for Humility [see liturgy notes]

Words of Assurance and Welcome: Romans 8:5, 1-2

*Passing the Peace to One Another

Declaration of God’s Invitation and Promises

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

Preparing and Distributing the Bread:

Reading of Psalm 116 [see liturgy notes]

Preparing and Distributing the Cup:

Song of Faith: “What Wondrous Love” [see music notes] [see also ELW 666, HW 171] or

Before the Throne of God Above” [CSW 28]

Prayer of Thanksgiving

We Return to the World to Live Our Faith

*Song of Praise: “All Praise to Christ” [Dwelling with Philippians 2:5-11, sung to SINE NOMINE] [see music notes]

*God’s Parting Blessing with Congregational Amen!

Postlude: “All Praise to Christ” [see music notes]

*Indicates standing if you are able.

The materials included here from THE WORSHIP SOURCEBOOK are used by permission from THE WORSHIP SOURCEBOOK, © 2004, CRC Publications. This permission is granted for one time worship use in an order of service for a congregation, or in a special program or lesson resource, provided that no part of such reproduction is sold, directly or indirectly. For all other uses, please contact the copyright holder.


Liturgy Notes

1.      Instead of having one voice read the Scripture passage, you may want to use multiple voices in a Scripture Drama Reading. Michael Perry, in The Dramatized New Testament (Baker Books, 1993) suggests this formulation of it for a narrator who is Paul and four other voices (though we’ve printed it here in the NRSV).

Paul: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.

Voice 1: Who, though we was in the form of God,

Voice 2: did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

Voice 1: And being found in human form,

Voice 2: he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.

Voice 3: Therefore God also highly exalted him,

Voice 4: and gave him the name that is above every name,

Voice 3: so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

Voice 4: and every tongue should confess

Voices 1-4: That Jesus Christ is Lord,

Voice 4: To the glory of God the Father.

2.      For the corporate profession of faith, we are suggesting the use of the Nicene Creed. Though not as familiar as the Apostles’ Creed it is a beautiful expression of our Trinitarian Faith, and includes greater affirmation of the nature and work of Christ – the focus on our passage for today.  The Nicene Creed is a statement of the orthodox historic Christian Faith from the centuries of the early church. If you do not have ready access to this Creed, we include it here.

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,

begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,

and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.

We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.

3.      For the structure of the sacrament, you will likely have local practices and traditions to draw on. If you are in need of additional guidance and information, we suggest consulting The Worship Sourcebook for both teachings and a model of the service of the Lord’s Supper (pages 305-309) and many resources to include within the sacrament (pages 310-349).

4.      The Prayer for Humility is intended to serve as our confession of unworthiness while it leads us in approaching the Table of the Lord. These words, penned by Gracia Garland as The Joyful Exchange, are found in Dwelling in Philippians (p.    .) We suggest these words be prayed responsively.

Lord, strip my righteousness away
and dress me in your grace,
for I cannot endure my pride
while looking at your face

For when I look upon your face,
I feel unclothed and bare.
I know that I am dressed in rags

and need a robe to wear.

The shining robe I need to wear
to stand before your throne
is woven from the seamless love
that took me as your own.

In death you took me as your won;
your rising set me free,
when you gave up your righteousness
to dress and cover me. Amen.

5.      While the bread is distributed to the communicants, or during the first part of the communing if all come forward, we suggest a reading of Psalm 116. It is important that the person reading it does so very clearly and with expression. We also suggest that the paraphrase of this Psalm, offered by Calvin Seerveld in Voicing God’s Psalms (Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 2005) could be particularly poignant.

I love the Lord because God hears me when I cry and pray.
Yes, God bent God’s ear down to me, and I’ll talk about it the rest of my life!
I was caught in a dead end.

The cramp of the grave had a hold on me;
Pain and trouble kept hurting.
So I called out loud on the name of the Lord:
Lord God, please! Get me out – save my life!
That’s so.
That’s so.
You got me out of the dead end.
You have stopped my eyes from filling with tears!
You have kept me from walking into ruin –
I may walk around in front of God’s nose on the earth where people are alive!
Even when I said, “How utterly miserable I am,” I kept faith, Lord.
Worked up and distraught, when I said, You can’t trust anybody – they lfe,” I
did still  hold on believing you, Lord.
What shall I give the Lord God?
So many lovely surprises God has given.
I know, I shall toast the Lord with the cup of victory –
Cheers for Yahweh!
I will do what I vowed the Lord God I would too, and I’ll do it right among God’s people.
The death of one of the Lords’ simple believers costs God a lot;
And I am one of your serving believers, isn’t that so, Lord?
I am your serving believer, just a servant –
Is that why you got me out of what hurt!
Yes, I will really offer thanksgiving to you:

Cheers for Yahweh!
I mean it, I will do what I vowed to God, and I’ll do it among the faithful,
Near the house of the Lord God, right in the middle of Jerusalem –
Glory, Hallelujah!

Sermon Notes

Paul has high expectations of those who are followers of Christ. Nearly all his epistles have a “therefore” section – since you believe, “therefore” certain things follow. To the Romans he said, therefore be transformed and not conformed to the world (see Romans 12:1-2). To the Ephesians he said, therefore put away your former manner of life and be renewed (see Ephesians 4:22-24). To the Colossians he said, therefore seek the things that are above (see Colossians 3:1). There is a distinct manner of life which essentially flows from the fact that you are in Christ!

In this letter from prison, he uses the same methodology again but focuses this time on “being of one mind.” No cheap unity here! This is unity that is built on their identity in Christ, expressed through a selfless and unflinching focus on communicating God’s life-giving work through Jesus Christ to the world. In chapter one, he was even willing to overlook some mixed motives in certain preachers (see 1:15-18), and in chapter four he will exhort certain sisters that whatever personal differences they may have, they learn to set them aside for the sake of being “of the same mind in the Lord” (see 4:2).

It is hard to imagine that any words of Paul could be more urgently needed in the Church of Christ today. The fractured state of many families of churches, the persistent quarrels over non-essentials, and the never-ending brush fires of frayed personal relationships that most pastors have to deal with speak very clearly about how the strength of the Church of Christ is being sapped! Paul would have none of it!

And so in these opening verses of Chapter Two, which lead into the great hymn of the Christian Faith about the emptying of Christ, he firmly ties together their single-mindedness and their position in Christ.

His intent is not to tell us that we must have exactly the same opinion about everything. Nor does he intend to tell us we must be exact duplicates of each other. And he has clearly said in other epistles that we certainly will have different patterns of giftedness (see Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12). But he insists, for the sake of Christ, that we all have a heart that is as selfless as was the mind of Christ himself. A selfless heart will enable us to remain focused on the tasks of the gospel – selfish ambition and conceit will disappear, in humility we’ll each consider others better than ourselves, and we’ll look eagerly to the interests of others.

In other words…we’ll be like Christ!

Music Notes

1.        Suggestions for prelude and alternative harmonizations based on the opening hymn “At the Name of Jesus” can be found in the following resources: 


  • Organ:
    • Bates, William H. Triptych on “At the Name of Jesus”. Concordia 97-7253 [2007] (M-D)
    • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving. set 3 Morningstar MSM-10-753 [1990] (E-M)
    • Johnson, David N. Easy Trios. Augsburg 11-9291 [1969] (E)
    • Powell, Robert J. Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. Augsburg 11-10478 [1994] (E-M)
    • Schaffner. John Hebden. Organ Music for the Seasons. Vol. 2 Augsburg 11-11010 [1999] (E-M)
  • Handbells:
    • Gramann, Fred. Fantasy on “King’s Weston. Agape 1671 [1994] (3-6 0ctaves, D)
  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
    • Burkhardt, Michael  As Though the Whole Creation Cried  vol. 2. Morningstar MSM-10-606 [2009]
    • Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ. vol. 2 CPH97-6851 [2000]

2.      The anthem “Christus Paradox” by Alfred Fedak is published by GIA G-5463 [2000]. It is set for SATB voices and organ. The text can also be found in hymn form in the following resources: PICARDY: HW 248; SNC 182.  REGENT SQUARE: W&R 99.

3.      Offertory Music and alternative harmonizations on “What Wondrous Love” can be found in the following:


  • Organ:
    • Barber, Samuel. Wondrous Love. Schrimer 44477 [1959] (M-D)
    • Callahan, Charles. Six Meditations on American Folk Hymns. Concordia 97-6140 [1992] (E-M)
    • Cherwien, David. Interpretations. bk. 9 AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M)
    • Haan, Raymond H. Ah, Dearest Jesus. Morningstar MSM-20-363 [2003] (Cello and Organ)
    • Johnson, David N. Hymns Settings for Organ. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7498-7 [2002] (E)
    • Johnson, David N. Wondrous Love. Augsburg 11-0821 [1965] (E)
    • Langlois, Kristina. Miniatures and Interpretations for Organ. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-2354-1 [2006] (E-M)
    • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (M)
    • Young, Gordon. Preludes on the Familiar. Fischer 0 4886 [1972] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M)
    • Carter, John. The Wondrous Cross. Hope 1747 [1994] (E-M)
    • Eithun, Sandra. Wondrous Love. Concordia 97-7325 [2009] (E-M)
    • Larkin, Michael. Be Thou My Vision. Morningstar MSM-15-832 [2004] (E-M)
    • Raney, Joel. Meditations for Quiet Worship. Hope 8320 [2007] (E-M; contemporary pop style)
    • Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns…Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (M)
  • Handbells:
    • Larson, Lloyd. What Wondrous Love. Beckenhorst HB 150 [1994] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
    • Wagner, Douglas E. What Wondrous Love. Agape 1312 [1988] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]
    • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]

4.      The text for the closing Song of Praise can be found in “Dwelling with Philippians” 2:5-11, p.???. We suggest pairing this text with the tune SINE NOMINE. The following are suggestions for alternative harmonizations and postlude.


  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Burkhardt, Michael  As Though the Whole Creation Cried  vol. 2. Morningstar MSM-10-606 [2009]
    • Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]
  • Organ:
    • Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations. set 2 Morningstar MSM-10-534 [1999] (E-M)
    • Cherwien, David. Postludes on Well Known Hymns. Augsburg 11-10795 [1997] (M)
    • Culli, Benjamin M. Musica Sacra: Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ. vol. 5 Concordia 97-7193 [2006] (E-M)
    • Culli, Benjamin. Praise the One. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-2351-7 [2006] (M-D)
    • Culli, Benjamin. Saints with Christ. Concordia 97-7226 [2007] (E-M)
    • Haan, Raymond H. Pilgrimage. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7752-8 [2005] (E-M)
    • Helman, Michael. Five for Autumn. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7671-8 [2004] (E-M)
    • Hildebrand, Kevin. Musica Sacra: Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ. vol 3 Concordia 97-7052 [2004] (E-M)
    • Hobby, Robert A. For All the Saints. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7537-1 [2002] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Bottomley, Greg. Piano Sunday Morning. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-6384-1 [2009] (M)
    • Organ, Anne Krentz. Reflections on Hymn Tunes for the Fall Festivals. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-6383-4 [2009] (M)
    • Page, Anna Laura. Blest Be the Tie. Morningstar MSM-15-838 [2008] (E-M)

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations

  • CSW: Contemporary Songs for Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • ELW: Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Augsburg Fortress Publishing)
  • GSW: Global Songs for Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • HW: Hymns for Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • 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)
  • SNT: Singing the New Testament (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • SWM: Sing With Me (Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • TWC: The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing)
  • TH: Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
  • UMH: The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
  • WOV: With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)
  • W&R: Worship and Rejoice (Hope Publishing)