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Losers and Finders - Matthew 16

A service plan in an Epiphany series in preparation for Lent based on Matthew 16:21-28. The central focus is the twist of losing our lives to find them in Christ.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Gems for Christ

In this series we explore Jesus' teaching ministry and receive his instructions for living as disciples.

Theme of the Service

The ironic twist of our text for today must shape the theme of this worship service. We don't usually assume that we save something by losing it, or lose something by finding it. But life in Christ is built on principles that don't always make sense in our culture. In worship today we need to focus on a certain healthy detachment from ourselves and our desires in order that we can be fully attached to Christ.


Prelude: "Partita on 'Now with Joyful Exaltation' ", Janson
or: "Psalm 95: 'Come, Worship God' ", Edmundson, Cherwien

The Call to Worship

*The Opening Litany

If today you hear God's voice in your heart, follow it.
We have heard God's voice in our heart and we are here to follow it.
Come, everyone, let's sing to the Lord.
Let us tell the world that he has saved us.
Let us thank him from the bottom of our hearts.
Let us sing songs of praise to him.
We have heard God's voice in our heart and we are here to follow it.
Come, let us bow our heads and pray to God.
In fact, let us also raise our voices to the one who has made us.
He is our God. We are his people. He loves us.
We have heard God's voice in our heart and we are here to follow it.
Today if you hear the voice of God in your hearts, follow it.
Do not grumble or argue that way the people in the desert did
when everything didn't go the way they expected it to.
We have heard God's voice in our heart and we are here to follow it.
(from Psalm 95)

*God's Greeting:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come,
and from the seven spirits before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ,
who is the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead,
and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Revelation 1:7)

*The Worshipers Greet One Another

*Song of Approach: "Now with Joyful Exultation" PsH 95
or: "Psalm 95: Come, Worship God" SNC 25


The Children's Moment

The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession:


Jesus Christ, eternal Son of the Father,
Forgive our sin and show us how you want us to live.
Jesus Christ, our loving Savior,
Forgive our sin and stay by us day and night.
Jesus Christ, our eternal High Priest,
Forgive our sin and keep us from doing foolish things.
Jesus Christ, the eternal Word who reveals divine wisdom and glory,
Forgive our sin and help us to be wise.
Jesus Christ, the only way to eternal life,
We are sorry for our sin; please forgive us.
In your name, O Christ, Amen.

Sung: "Lord, I Pray" SFL 37

The Assurance of God's Pardon

Response: "When Peace like a River" (vv.3,4) PsH 489, TH 691, TWC 519

God's Call to Grateful Living


Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21-28

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Prayer for Illumination

O Lord, it is our prayer
that your Spirit will come down
and enlighten our hearts
so that your Word is truly
a lamp to our feet
and a light to our path.
Through Jesus Christ our Savior, Amen.

(Gems from Christ - #5)
Text - Matthew 16:25


The Pastoral Prayer

Our Offerings of Gratitude
Offering our tithes and gifts for ministry
Offering our fellowship through signing the Friendship Folder
Offering of music: Anthem - "Consecration", Beck

*Our Corporate Profession of Faith

I am called a Christian
because by faith I am a member of Christ
and so I share in his anointing.
I am anointed
to confess his name,
to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks,
to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life,
and afterward to reign with Christ
over all creation for all eternity.
From Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 12, Q/A 32 (Psalter Hymnal p.873),
©1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI, 1-800-333-8300. Used by permission.

*Song of Commitment: "Take My Life That It May Be" (Tebben: PsH 289, RN 150, SFL 74)
"Take My Life and Let It Be" (Hendon: Ph 391, PsH 288, TH 585, TWC 568)
(Hollingside: RL 475) (St. Bees: TH 586)

*The Sending: Hear the words of Jesus from Matthew 16:24-26

*The Benediction

*Song of Commitment: "Lord, Be Glorified" (v.1) RN 172, SFL 71, SNC 43, TWC 537

Postlude: "Choral Song", Wesley

* - you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

The text on which this sermon is based is intended by Christ to be a challenge to the superficial ways in which many view their religion. He has invested a whole Christian view of life in the pithy statement of our text. And yet it is so familiar to us that we find it easy to read it without plumbing the depths of the profound statement he is making.

Locate this text in its context. Jesus is speaking about the demands of discipleship. Careful work should be done to explain the three elements in the instruction of verse 24. What does he mean by "self-denial", "cross-bearing" and "following"? Having done that, the groundwork has been laid to make clear what he means by "saving" our life and "losing" our life.

The manner of living to which he is calling his followers is a discipleship that is quite different from what the world teaches us. This is strikingly counter-cultural advice! Therefore, the sermon should engage in a critique of the dangerous contradictory voices that we hear daily, and clearly set forth the call of Christ.

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 options for the prelude are all organ pieces which are based on either of the opening hymns. The "Partita on 'Beecher' " is published by Brookside Publishing [1989] (M). Arrangements of "Come, Worship God" [O Quanta Qualia] can be found in David Cherwien's Interpretations vol. 7, published by ASMI (SP-104 [1988]) (E-M) and in Garth Edmundson's Seven Service Preludes published by Fischer (9206 [1960]) (E-M).
  2. The two options for the opening hymn are both settings of Psalm 95. If your congregation is not familiar with singing metrical psalmody, the Psalter Hymnal setting is copyright-free and would be a good way to introduce them to this form of singing Scripture.
  3. The service of confession is really geared towards children - from the teaching moment to the language of the spoken prayer. It would be ideal to have the children - either an ensemble, choir or the church school classes sing the confession "Lord, I Pray". The setting in Songs for LiFE includes Orff instrumentation as an option for the accompaniment.
  4. The adult SATB anthem "Consecration" by John Ness Beck is published by Beckenhorst (BP1250 [1986]) (M). This very singable anthem uses the familiar text authored by Frances Havergal.
  5. The hymn "Take My Life" revises Frances Havergal's text and is paired with a musical setting composed by Timothy Hoekman, a Calvin College alumnus.
  6. The postlude is taken from Wedding Music Vol. 1, published by Concordia (97-1369 [1952]) (M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. From the beginning this should be a liturgy that stresses the importance of hearing God's voice clearly and responding willingly. The spirit of Christian challenge should appear immediately.

2. The Children's Moment has been placed before the service of confession so that the worship leader has the opportunity to explain to them what is about to happen during the confession of sin. We suggest that the message to the children should begin with the idea that there are many times when we must apologize to one another for the wrong we've done. What is about to happen is that they will hear an entire congregation apologize (confess) to God for their sins. But be sure to go the next step and point to the sure grace of God that will give us the good news that we are forgiven! (In that light, notice how direct the words of the prayer of confession are.)

3. The corporate profession of faith is taken from the Heidelberg Catechism and gives worshipers an opportunity to express their own understanding of their identity and their calling in response to God's Word. The songs at the end of the service are a means by which they express their commitment to God to be obedient.

4. The Sending at the close of the service could be taken from The Message, a contemporary paraphrase by Eugene Peterson. Often a fresh contemporary paraphrase of a familiar passage earns a better ear to hear it. This will reinforce the passage that is at the heart of this service.