My Father's Care - Matthew 10

A service plan from the Apostles' Creed focused on God the Father and the comfort and encouragement we find in the truth that God the Father cares for us and all of creation in a series on the Apostles' Creed as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

This service is the second of a pair that focuses on the work of God the Father. In the service for last week, our attention was drawn to the fact that God is our adoptive father through the work of Jesus Christ.

This service draws our attention to the comfort and encouragement that we find in the truth that God our Father is the one who cares for us and all of creation. The providence of God is the sequel to the creative work of God.

These services belong to a twelve-part series of messages and services that will focus on each article of faith in the Apostles' Creed as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Days 8-22.

WE GATHER IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Prelude: "All Creatures of Our God and King"
"When Morning Gilds the Sky" [see music notes]

The Call to Worship

*Our Song of Praise: "When Morning Gilds the Sky" (st. 1, 3, 5) PH 487, PsH 438, RL 365, TH 167, TWC 99, UMH 185

*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.
Amen.

Anthem: "Praise to the Creator" Larson

The Children's Moment

WE ARE RENEWED IN GOD'S GRACE

The Call to Confession
Early in human history
our first parents listened to the intruder's voice.
Rather than living by the Creator's
word of life,
they fell for Satan's lie
and sinned!

They forgot their place;
they tried to be like God.
But as sinners they feared
the nearness of God
and hid from him.

Apart from grace
we prove each day
that we are guilty sinners.
Fallen in that first sin,
we fail to thank God,
we break his laws,
we ignore our tasks.

Looking for life without God, we find only death;
grasping for freedom outside his law,
we trap ourselves in Satan's snares;
pursuing pleasure, we lose the gift of joy.
(Our World Belongs to God, art. 14-15)

Our Prayer of Confession [see liturgy notes]

The Assurance of God's Pardon

God's Call to Grateful Living

*Song: "Let All Creation Bless the Lord" SNC 34

GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS WORD

The Reading of the Catechism
What do you understand
by the providence of God?

Providence is
the almighty and ever present power of God
by which he upholds, as with his hand,
heaven
and earth
and all creatures,
and so rules them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty-
all things, in fact, come to us
not by chance
but from his fatherly hand.

How does the knowledge
of God's creation and providence
help us?

We can be patient when things go against us,
thankful when things go well,
and for the future we can have
good confidence in our faithful God and Father
that nothing will separate us from his love.
All creatures are so completely in his hand
that without his will
they can neither move nor be moved.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 10)

*Song of Faith: "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" PsH 457, SFL 198, TWC 518

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: Matthew 10:29-31
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: "My Father's Care" (The Apostles' Creed - #3)

The Prayer of Application

WE RESPOND TO GOD'S WORD

*Song: "He Leadeth Me" PsH 452, RL 161, TH 600, TWC 635, UMH 128

*Our Affirmation of Faith
What do you believe concerning the providence of God?

We believe that this good God,
after he created all things,
did not abandon them to chance or fortune
but leads and governs them
according to his holy will,
in such a way that nothing happens in this world
without his orderly arrangement.

Does it bother you that you do not understand it all?

We do not wish to inquire
with undue curiosity
into what he does that surpasses human understanding
and is beyond our ability to comprehend.
But in all humility and reverence
we adore the just judgments of God,
which are hidden from us,
being content to be Christ's disciples,
so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word,
without going beyond those limits.

What benefits do you receive from the teaching of God's Providence?

This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort
since it teaches us
that nothing can happen to us by chance
but only by the arrangement of our gracious
heavenly Father.
He watches over us with fatherly care,
keeping all creatures under his control,
so that not one of the hairs on our heads
(for they are all numbered)
nor even a little bird
can fall to the ground
without the will of our Father.
In this thought we rest,
knowing that he holds in check the devils
and all our enemies,
who cannot hurt us
without his permission and will.
(Belgic Confession, art. 13)

Anthem: "Neither Death nor Life," Haugen

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory
Our Offering of Music: "He Leadeth Me" [see music notes]
We Offer Our Gifts

WE GO OUT TRUSTING OUR FATHER

*Song of Faith: "Let All Things Now Living" PH 554, PsH 453, RN 48, TH 125, TWC 53

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Let All Things Now Living" [see music notes]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

1. The theme of this sermon will be understood best when seen in the context of the previous two messages. We began with the Trinity, a mysterious doctrine, yet the message is that the three persons of the Trinity are joined together to care for us. Last week we centered our thoughts on God the Father who has become our adoptive Father through the grace of Jesus Christ. It is now a natural step to speak of his providence and how that affects our world and our personal lives.

2. The providence of God is one of the doctrines that is most easily recognized on the pages of Scripture. Many references can be cited to support this, both instructional and narrative. All of these teachings are represented in the hyperbole of our text in Matthew 10. This is a teaching that can be illustrated easily from the functioning of the universe, the evidence in nature, and the experiences of our lives.

3. Yet it is also true that there are dimensions of this teaching that are baffling because there are indeed events that happen which tempt us to question whether God is caring the way he should. Giving pastoral guidance in these matters means pointing to several key ideas and providing examples from biblical narrative and contemporary life for each:

a. competing intentions. While God has good intentions and seeks the good of all his creatures, there are also competing forces and influences. Satan, evil forces, and sometimes other people can be determined to harm us. This is so because we live in a fallen world in which there is an antithesis of good and evil.
b. permission. God operates in his rule of our world with a permission-giving activity. He permits others freedom to carry out their intentions because the humans he created are not robots but persons with a moral and ethical will. We are given freedom to exercise this will, either for good or evil. While God permits such room to move, he is not the cause of any evil actions that result.
c. activity. We hold that while God permits others to carry out their intentions, which are sometimes contrary to God's intentions, he yet remains active in such events in a way that will bring good for his people, even though that good may be different from what they desired.

4. The Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession challenge us to respond properly in the face of such providential care. This involves patience when things go against us, thankfulness when things go well, confidence in the protecting care of our Father, contentment that is willing to leave some of the big mysteries in his hand, and comfort that comes from resting in the thought of his sovereign care.

5. This sermon, more than most, needs to end on a warm, supportive note of pastoral encouragement for those who are experiencing both tests and blessings.

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 based on the hymn tunes LASST UNS ERFREUEN and LAUDES DOMINI can be found in the following resources:

LASST UNS ERFREUEN ["All Creatures of Our God and King"]
Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Psalm Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-511 [1997] (E-M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Lasst uns Erfreuen. Morningstar MSM-10-700 [1989] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 5. AMSI SP-102 [1985] (D).
  • Held, Wilbur. Hymn Preludes for the Autumn Festivals. Concordia 97-5360 [1976] (E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Easter Hymn Settings. Morningstar MSM-10-421 [1999] (E-M).
  • Kemner, Gerald. Fantasies on Nine Familiar Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-5919 [1990] (E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 2. SMP KK235 [1982] (E, adaptable to piano).
  • Rowley, Alec. Choral Preludes based on Famous Hymn Tunes, vol. 2. Ashdown [1952] (E-M).
  • Sedio, Mark (1996). Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E-M).

Piano:

  • Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Day by Day. Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (M).

Handbells:

  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. All Creatures of Our God & King. Agape 1737 [1995] (3-5 octaves, M).
  • HonorĂ©, Jeffrey. Alleluia Passacaglia. Agape 1552 [1992] (3-5 octaves, E-M).
  • Hopson, Hal H. All Creatures of Our God & King. Agape 1546 [1992] (3-4 octaves, E-M).

LAUDES DOMINI ["When Morning Gilds the Sky"]
Organ:

  • Haan, Raymond H. O Worship the King. Broadman 4570-42 [1979] (E-M).
  • Lutkin, Peter Christian. Hymn Tune Transcriptions. H.W. Grey [1908] (E-M).
  • Miller, Aaron David. Improvisations for the Church Year, vol. 2. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7676-9 [2004] (M).
  • Sedio, Mark. Organ Tapestries, vol. 2. Concordia 97-6861 [2000] (E-M).

Handbells:

  • Buckwalter, Karen L. Daystar. Flammer HP-5190 [1985 (3-5 octaves, E-M).

2. An alternative harmonization for piano on the opening hymn "When Morning Gilds the Sky" can be found in Wayne L. Wold, Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2 (Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]).

3. The SATB anthem "Praise to the Creator" by Lloyd Larson is published by Richmond Press MI-241 [1985] (E-M). This setting concludes with a stanza from "All Creatures of Our God and King."

4. The SATB anthem "Neither Death nor Life" composed by Marty Haugen is a setting based on the concluding verses of Romans 8. It includes a reprintable refrain for the congregation and is published by GIA G-5650 [2001] (E-M).

5. The offertory suggestions based on AUGHTON ("He Leadeth Me") can be found in the following sources:
Organ:

  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 9. AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M).
  • Goode, Jack. Seven Communion Meditations. Flammer HF-5084 [1976] (E-M).
  • Spong, Jon. Partita on "He Leadeth Me." Egan [1991] (E-M).

Handbells:

  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. He Leadeth Me. Agape 1461 [1991] (3-5 octaves, M).

6. Alternative accompaniments for "Let All Things Now Living" [ASH GROVE] can be found in the following sources:
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].
  • Cherwien, David. Triptych on The Ash Grove. Augsburg 11-10971 [1999].
  • Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000].
  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986].

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

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

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

  • Cherwien, David. Triptych on The Ash Grove. Augsburg 11-10971 [1999] (+, M-D).
  • Held, Wilbur. Those Wonderful Welsh, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-842 [1992] (adaptable for piano, E).
  • Schulz, Christine. Variations on The Ash Grove. Morningstar MSM-10-708 [1995] (M).
  • Sedio, Mark. Recessional on Sent Forth by God's Blessing. Concordia 97-6864 [2000] (E-M).

Piano:

  • Leavitt, John. How Sweet the Sound. CPH 97-6891 [2000] (M).

Handbells:

  • Moklebust, Cathy. Let All Things Now Living. Choristers Guild CGB-170 [1995] (3-5 octaves, D).

Liturgy Notes:

1. The Children's Moment has been placed very near the opening of this worship service. (You'll notice that its location in the service varies from week to week. We're convinced that it's helpful to move it around because it gives the worship leader greater flexibility in shaping the message to children. Either the location can shape the subject of the message to them; or the subject to them can determine where the best location for the children's moment might be.) In this service we suggest that either (1) the subject of the children's message be related to God's creation around us and his providence that cares for it, since that is the theme of this service, or (2) the message may focus on the confession of sin and the sinfulness of our world as will immediately follow in the service. In this case, you might want to place the Children's Moment within the section of the service labeled "We Are Renewed in God's Grace."

2. The Confession of Sin is shaped by the reading from "Our World Belongs to God." If that's too lengthy for you, perhaps you'll want to shorten it. If you use this reading it will create the setting for a very meaningful directed prayer of confession. Let the worshipers raise their own prayer silently, while the worship leader directs them to two or three categories of confession ("Let us confess how we have hurt God by taking things into our own hands. . . . Let us confess how we have hurt others during recent days. . . . Let us make our plea to God on the basis of the cross of Christ and his sacrifice there. . . ."). God's Call to Grateful Living may include any of a variety of passages of Scripture that express his moral will for our lives.

3. Since the providence of God is so rich with meaning and encouragement for God's children, we have included two readings from historic confessions. The reading of Lord's Day 10 of the Heidelberg Catechism is included before the sermon because of its "teaching spirit." After the sermon a reading from the Belgic Confession is included in an altered format that will make it more accessible and usable as an affirmation of faith by worshipers in response to God's Word. If these are too lengthy for your congregation, you may wish to edit them or be selective in the portions you include.

4. It is important in a worship service on this theme that the Prayers of the People carry a warm, pastoral spirit that is consistent with the subject of the sermon/service. Either seek prayer requests/suggestions or study the congregation well while writing the prayer so the worshipers' experiences are represented fairly. Include thanks for God's gifts of providence, including many we don't normally even recognize, but also for those which are more noticeable (about which you've prayed in previous weeks, for instance). But also intercede for those who experience disappointments and may be in a time in their life where they cannot "see" providence, but need the strength to trust and hold on! If lay people are appointed to lead in this prayer, select those who are sensitive to such concerns.

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