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My Father - Romans 8

A service plan from the Apostles' Creed focused on God the Father and what fatherhood means in a series on the Apostles' Creed as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service
The Apostles' Creed

Theme of the Service

Last week, on Trinity Sunday, we focused on an overview of the Trinity and the work of each person. This week we begin a two-part focus on the work of God the Father. These are part of a twelve-part series of messages and services that focus on each article of faith in the Apostles' Creed as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Days 8-22.

Today and next week the work of the Father will be our focus. Today our theme is his fatherhood, what that means, and what it means for us.


Prelude: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Call to Worship

*Song of Praise: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" (st. 1-3) PH 478, PsH 475, RL 144, RN 53, TH 76, TWC 26, UMH 66[see<href="#music" > music notes]

*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.

*Our Song of Response: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" (st. 4)


The Children's Moment

The Call to Confession

Our Sung Prayer of Confession: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty" (st. 1, 6) PsH 562

Our Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 1: 2, 18

*Our Response of Gratitude: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty" (st. 8)

God's Call to Grateful Living [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]


*Our Song of Faith: "In God the Father I Believe" (st. 1-4) PsH 518, TH 741 [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 40:25-31
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The New Testament Reading: Romans 8:9-17
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Prayer for Illumination

Sermon: "My Father" (The Apostles' Creed - #2)
Text: Romans 8:15-17

The Prayer of Application


*Song of Faith: "Children of the Heavenly Father" PsH 440, RL 585, TH 131, TWC 84, UMH 141

*Our Affirmation of Faith
What do you believe when you say:
"I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth"?

That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who out of nothing created heaven and earth
and everything in them,
who still upholds and rules them
by his eternal counsel and providence,
is my God and Father
because of Christ his Son.

I trust him so much that I do not doubt
he will provide
whatever I need for body and soul,
and he will turn to my good
whatever adversity he sends me
in this sad world.

He is able to do this because he is almighty God;
he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.
(The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 9)

Anthem: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," Courtney [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory
The Offering of Music: "Children of the Heavenly Father" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
We Offer our Gifts


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

* Song: "Go, My Children, With My Blessing" SNC 284, WOV 721 [see <href="#music" >music notes]

*A Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" [see <href="#music" >music notes]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

1. Fatherhood is a very strange thing, as those of us who are fathers or grandfathers know. Fathers are expected to be very strong, and able; yet at the same time fathers are supposed to be able to stoop to relate to and play with the smallest child. Fathers are to be strong; and to be tender. Fathers are to represent God in our lives, and create our idea of who God is and what God is like; yet fathers have all the weaknesses that all human beings have. So it is a momentous thing that God calls himself a Father and us his children.

2. This concept, and this message, will likely be difficult for those who feel that their earthly father has been neither respectable nor caring. Those who have fathers who abuse, abandon, or mistreat them will not find it easy, or possible, to form an accurate picture of God as father. This difficultly may well warrant at least brief attention and understanding in your sermon. We should not assume that all worshipers can recall a positive experience with their earthly fathers.

3. God's fatherhood has four dimensions; it may be helpful to spell them out. God is a creative father in that he is the source of our physical life, a father of daily mercies in that all human beings benefit from his daily care in many ways, a father of rebellious children who therefore knows the pain of being rejected, and a redeeming father who has paid the ultimate price to adopt his children.

4. In Romans 8, Paul opens up several rich and comforting dimensions of the personality and character of this heavenly father.

  • God's love adopts us. In Romans 8:15 we are told that instead of being slaves we've been adopted as children.
  • God stoops to be intimate with us. In the same verse, we are given the privilege of crying the warm, secure, affectionate address of "Abba."
  • God's faithfulness gives us certainty. Romans 8:16 explains that God's faithfulness creates the secure assurance of knowing we belong to him.
  • God is generous in the inheritance that he gives. See Romans 8:17.

5. No wonder the worldwide church of Christ is often thought of as a family. And we talk about taking our place in the family!

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)

1. The suggestions for prelude are based on the hymn tune LAUDA ANIMA ('Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven") and can be found in the following resources:


  • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 5. Morningstar MSM-10-755 [1993] (E-M).
  • Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. Partita on Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven. Concordia 97-6082 [1991] (E-M).
  • Hustad, Don. Three Organ Hymns for Weddings or General Use. Hope 341 [1970] (E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 6. SMP KK339 [1986] (E-M, adaptable for piano).
  • Manz, Paul. Two Pieces for Festive Occasions. Morningstar MSM-10-840 [1990] (E-M).


  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven. Agape 1974 [1988] (3-5 octaves, level 3).

2. Alternative harmonizations and a concertato setting for the opening hymn "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" can be found in:

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986].

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

Concertato Setting:

  • Ferguson, John. Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven. GIA G-3073.

3. The Song of Faith, "In God the Father I Believe," is a sung expression of the Apostles' Creed.

4. Alternative harmonizations for the hymn "Children of the Heavenly Father" (TRYGGARE KAN INGEN VARA) can be found in the following:

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Seven Hymn Improvisations and Free Accompaniments, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-847 [1992].
  • Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000].

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

5. The SATB anthem "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," arranged by Craig Courtney, is published by Beckenhorst BP 1522 [1998] (E-M).

6. The offertory suggestions based on TRYGGARE KAN INGEN VARA ("Children of the Heavenly Father") can be found in the following sources:


  • Behnke, John A. Five Preludes of Praise, set 4. Concordia 97-7039 [2003] (E-M).
  • Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 4. Fred Bock B-G0776 [1985] (E-M).
  • Burkhardt, Michael. Seven Hymn Improvisations and Free Accompaniments, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-847 [1992] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 2. AMSI OR-3 [1981] (E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. For All the Saints. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7537-1 [2002] (E-M).
  • Kerr, J. Wayne. I'll Praise My Maker. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7570-3 [2003] (E-M).
  • Rotermund, Melvin. Five Preludes. Augsburg 11-6040 [1990] (E-M).
  • Sedio, Mark. Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ. Augsburg 11-10718 [1996] (E-M).
  • Wood, Dale. Seven Folk Tune Sketches. H.W. Grey GB 357 [1966] (E-M).


  • Medema, Ken. Sanctuary. Genevox 4181-16 [1989] (M).

7. Alternative accompaniments for "Go, My Children, with My Blessing" [AR HYD Y NOS] can be found in:

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].
  • Burkhardt, Michael. Seven Hymn Improvisations and Free Accompaniments, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-847 [1992].
  • Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000].
  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983].
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Evening Hymns, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-514 [1998].

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Albrecht, Mark. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

8. Suggestions for the postlude can be found in the following sources:

FAITHFULNESS ["Great Is Thy Faithfulness"]

  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 8. AMSI SP-105 [1991] (E-M).


  • Wilson, John F. A Sacrifice of Praise. Hope 347 [1994] (E-M).
  • Wyrtzen, Don. Don Wyrtsen Piano. Hope 1711 [1994] (M).


  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Agape 1280 [1987] (3-5 octaves, E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. Intelligent worshiping warrants identifying the theme of this service at the opening. The Call to Worship can briefly cite the attention given to the Trinity last week, and then point to the focus on God the Father this week, and introduce the first song, which incorporates reference to the fatherhood of God.

2. For the children's moment you may wish to point to the three-in-one nature of God, but don't hold out great hopes of making this understandable to children! Instead point to the greatness of this three-in-one who loves us and wants us to worship him today. It's an ideal time to point to the nature of worship as a dialog with God, "we are talking to the Trinity and they are talking to us!"

3. For God's Call to Grateful Living, you may select from a variety of Old Testament or New Testament Scriptures to express the grateful and ethical manner of life we are called to follow. (It's good for a pastor to have a readily available list of possible passages. You'll find many of them on pp. 127-138 of The Worship Sourcebook.)

4. The Affirmation of Faith after the sermon takes the testimony of the Heidelberg Catechism and allows worshipers to take it on their own lips. As a testimony of faith it becomes a fitting personal response to the Word of God and a beautiful expression of the faith of a believing community.