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Maturing the Soul - Hebrews 5

A worship service plan focused on the theme of spiritual growth and based on Hebrews 5.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

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This series explores the importance of worshiping well, the privilege of leading God's people in worship, and the responsibility to carry out such tasks with excellence.

Theme of the Service

Spiritual growth is the focus of this service. Spiritual growth, however, is more than deciding to read our Bible more, pray and worship more, and come closer to tithing. Spiritual growth that is real involves the maturing of the soul (to use a phrase that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once used - see liturgy notes). That phrase has become the title of the sermon for this service.


Prelude: "All People That on Earth Do Dwell", Krapf, Cherwien [organ]
or: "All People That on Earth Do Dwell", Hayes [piano]
or: "All People That on Earth Do Dwell", Kerkorian [handbells]

The Call to Worship

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
O Come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For his is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

(Psalm 95:1-7, NRSV)

*Song of Approach: "All People That on Earth Do Dwell" (Old 100th: PH220, RL120, SFL10, TH1, TWC317; Genevan 100: PsH100)

*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

*Response: "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow" PH591-593, PsH637, 638, RL556, RN83, SFL11, TH731-733, TWC808, 809


The Call to Confession:

The Scriptures tell us that God desires to forgive his people. And as we prepare to come to the table of the Lord, let us remember that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to Calvary to pay the price of sin for our salvation. Believing that, let us trust ourselves to the grace and mercy of God and confess our sins to him and to one another.

The Prayer of Confession:


Merciful God,
We confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you
with our whole heart and mind and strength.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your holy name.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
From Book of Common Worship © Westminster John Knox Press 1993. Used by
permission of Westminster John Knox Press.

Sung: Kyrie Eleison PH565, 572-574, PsH258, RL564-567, RN86, SNC52, TWC821, 823, WOV 601, 602, 604

The Assurance of Pardon:

Remember the Word of the Lord to you:

Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ
rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us.
Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.
The old life has gone; a new life has begun.

Believe the good news of the gospel:
In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
(Romans 8:34 and 2 Corinthians 5:17) From Book of Common Worship ©
Westminster John Knox Press 1993. Used by permission of Westminster John
Knox Press.

And now come today to his table in fullness of faith. Come to meet him who has
pardoned you. Take the bread which he said "is my body", and take the cup
which he said "is my blood", and meet him here at his table.

Our Affirmation of Gratitude:

Let us declare our thanksgiving together:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

(Psalm 40:1-4, NIV)

*Song of Gratitude: "I Worship You, O Lord" (Bishop Tucker) PsH 30:1,2,5


The Reading of Scripture: Hebrews 5:11-6:3

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Prayer for Illumination

Lord God,
may your Word be a lamp to our feet
and a light to our path
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
(from Psalm 119:105, NRSV)

Sermon: Maturing the Soul
(Full Membership - #3)

The Prayer of Application

Anthem: "Just a Closer Walk with Thee", Lojeski


The Declaration of God's Invitation and Promises

*Our Affirmation of Faith - the Apostles' Creed in unison

*Song: "Lift Up Your Hearts unto the Lord" PsH309, SFL63, TWC771

The Preparation of the Bread and the Cup

Our Participation in the Bread
Music for Meditation: "In the Quiet Consecration", Cherwien
Song: "In the Quiet Consecration" (Kingdom) PsH302

Our Participation in the Cup
Music for Meditation: "This Holy Covenant Was Made", Krapf
Song: "This Holy Covenant Was Made" (Lasst uns erfreuen) SNC173

Our Prayer of Thanksgiving

Offertory: "This Holy Covenant Was Made", Rowley [organ]; Porter [piano]; Hopson [handbells]


*Song: "All Creatures of Our God and King" PH455:1,6; PsH 431:1,5; RL4:1,7; RN47:1,5; SFL86:1,2; TH115:1,5; TWC356:1,5

*Words of Sending:

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*A Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "All Creatures of Our God and King", Kemner [organ]

* - you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

1. The title of this sermon comes from a quote of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and our intent is not to expound on what Solzhenitsyn meant or why and where he said it, but to note that in such a phrase he captured well the core of spiritual growth. The desire for such spiritual growth is an indispensable part of being a "full member" of the church.

2. It probably will help the thought/listening process of the hearers if the message first addresses the question of what health in a church and a Christian looks like. How do we identify or measure health? And, for that matter, how do we identify and measure the presence of disease? Many different criteria are used today.

3. Hebrews 5 and 6 includes the contrast between "maturity" and "immaturity". The book of Hebrews includes six sections of warnings about perils and dangers; this is the fourth one and focuses on the danger of immaturity. See 5:11,12 and 6:1 for the writer's concerned expression about it. Add Paul's complaint and plea from 1 Corinthians 3:1-3.

4. The goal of this message is to make clear the importance and content of maturity. Hear his exhortation in Hebrews 6:1. Maturity means to be "complete, seasoned, stable and prepared for action." Such maturity must be the goal of the growing Christian. The message will be most helpful if it closes with pastoral advice on personal practices that will best promote our growth in maturity.

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:
    - "Sing and Rejoice" vol. 3 by Gerhard Krapf, published by SMP KK278 [1983] (E)
    - "Interpretations" vol. 8 by David Cherwien, published by AMSI SP-105 [1991] (M-D)
    - "Lord, Be Glorified" by Mark Hayes, published by Word 301 0047 312 [1990] (M)
    - "Old Hundredth" by Greg Kerkorian for 3 octave handbell choir, published by Lake State HB00066 [2000] (M).
  1. The response "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow", as found in RN83 (Renew!), includes the text in Spanish, Hausa, Korean and Chinese.
  1. The SATB anthem "Just A Closer Walk with Thee" is arranged in gospel style by Ed Lojeski and is published by Hal Leonard 08330750 [1975] (M).
  1. We are suggesting pairs of instrumental music and congregational song during the distribution of the bread and cup. The instrumental music serves two purposes: both as music for meditation and as an extended introduction to the singing. The setting of "In the Quiet Consecration" can be found in "Interpretations" vol. 9 by David Cherwien, published by AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M). This can be played by organ alone or with a C instrument playing the melody. The setting of "This Holy Covenant Was Made" can be found in "Sing and Rejoice" vol. 2 by Gerhard Krapf, published by SMP KK235 [1982] (E). This also could be played by organ [or piano] alone or with a C instrument playing the hymn melody.

  2. The offertory music can be found in:
    - "Choral Preludes based on Famous Hymn Tunes" vol. 2 by Alec Rowley, published by Ashdown [1952] (M)
    - "Day by Day" by Rachel Trelstad Porter, published by Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (M)
    - "All Creatures of Our God and King" by Hal Hopson for 3-4 octave handbell choir, published by Agape 1546 [1992] (E-M).
  1. The postlude music can be found in "Fantasies on Nine Familiar Hymn Tunes" by Gerald Kemner, published by Augsburg 11-5919 [1990] (M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. Because this is a service of the Lord's Supper, we've incorporated references to the sacrament early in the service so that the Service of Confession and Renewal has the sacrament clearly in view and will aid our preparation for coming to the Table.

2. We have more completely scripted the material concerning the confession of sins and the assurance of God's pardon so that you can sense how it points to the sacrament. You are free to select or edit this material as your local needs require. The material here is a balance between that which is spoken to the worshipers and that which they take on their own lips. The prayer of confession, Kyrie, and the assurance of pardon are taken from Sing! A New Creation 52, as found in the Book of Common Worship.

3. For additional scripture readings we would suggest either Psalm 90:1-12 for an Old Testament lesson and/or 1 Corinthians 3:1-15 as a parallel New Testament reading.

4. As you craft the service of the Lord's Supper, we encourage you revisit the material we've written for July 20, 2003, "An Introduction to the Lord's Supper" (under Resources, Leadership, Occasional Services on the website). In that material you will find information about the sacrament, how to structure the liturgy, as well as music and written resources on the Lord's Supper.