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Painful Honesty - Genesis 3, Ephesians 2, Proverbs 28, HCLD 2-3

A service plan focusing on Lord's Days 2 and 3 of the Heidelberg Catechism with the seriousness of our sin and a call to confession in a series on the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

After beginning with a warm personal testimony about "our only comfort in life and death," the Heidelberg Catechism begins to explore how we can arrive at such a testimony. The first step must involve knowing our sin and misery and how great it is. The message of this service examines the Biblical teaching of the origin and severity of sin in the human race. After hearing the message of our sinfulness, we are called to make confession of it to God. Such honest confession can be painful.

* * *
Jesus, the friend for sinners, welcomes our worship today.


Prelude: "As Moses Raised the Serpent Up" and/or
"Jesus, Lover of My Soul" [see music notes]

The Call to Worship

*Song: "As Moses Raised the Serpent Up" PsH 219:1, 3, 4; RN 132:1, 3, 4; SFL 165:1, 3, 4

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
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.

*Response: “Alleluia” PsH 640, RN 136, SFL 87, TWC 114, UMH 186


The Children's Moment [see liturgy notes]

The Profession of our Belief: [see liturgy notes]

How do you come to know your misery?
The law of God tells me.

What does God's law require of us?
Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22--
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind
and with all your strength.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Can you live up to all this perfectly?
No. I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.

Did God create people so wicked and perverse?
No. God created them good and in his own image,
that is, in true righteousness and holiness,
so that they might truly know God their creator,
love him with all their heart,
and live with him in eternal happiness for his praise and glory.

Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?
From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise.
This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners--
corrupt from conception on.

But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good
and inclined toward all evil?
Yes, unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Days 2-3)

Sung Prayer: “Spirit of God, Who Dwells within My Heart” PH 326:1, PsH 419:1, RL 445:1, TH 338:1, TWC 290:1, UMH 500:1

The Reading of the Old Testament Scripture: Genesis 3:1-9
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Reading of New Testament Scripture: Ephesians 2:1-5
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Anthem: “God So Loved the World,” Stainer [see music notes]

The Prayer for Illumination

Sermon: "Painful Honesty"
Text: Proverbs 28:13

*Song: “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” PsH 287, TH 688, TWC 584, UMH 382
or: “Come, Let Us Reason” RN 190, TWC 456, SNC 57


The Call to Confession

Our Confession of Sin: SNC 52 or 53 [see liturgy notes]

Assurance of Pardon: Ephesians 2:4-5


*Song: "Give Thanks" RN 266, SNC 216, TWC 496

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory:
The offering of music: “Amazing Grace” or “Give Thanks” [see music notes]
We offer our gifts for….

*Song: "Our Great Savior / Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners" TH 498, TWC 89


*The Sending: Ephesians 4:22-32 [see liturgy notes]

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Moment of Meditation

Postlude: “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners” [see music notes]

* You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

Anyone who has made an apology knows that it can be painful to be honest. Yet, there are benefits that can be achieved in no other way than through honesty, especially the benefit of receiving pardon for failures. We can each think of multiple personal examples of this. Therefore, the proverbial teaching of our text (Proverbs 28:13) becomes the guiding truth to aid us in interpreting the teachings of Genesis 3 and Ephesians 2.

There are several levels of honesty that are needed. (1) Horizontal honesty is the kind we exercise toward each other in our personal relationships. Marriage, family life, and friendships are built on this honesty. (2) Internal honesty is the kind we practice within ourselves. We refuse to play games with ourselves, give up our self-delusions, and face our personal truth. And (3) vertical honesty is that which we exercise toward God. While nothing is hidden from him, we still frequently try to do so. (You may want to use the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican as an example of all three levels of honesty being played out.)

The Christian doctrine of sin, as explained in Lord's Days 2 and 3 of the Heidelberg Catechism, require honesty on all three levels. Hearing the truth about the origin of sin in the human race from Genesis 3 is painful. Hearing about how pervasive our sinfulness is (Q&A 5 and 8) is also painful. Saying with Ephesians 2 that we are not merely "sick" but "dead" hurts even more. Admitting this to ourselves, others and God is something we all resist. Yet, therein lies the great truth of the gospel. To resist the pain and remain dishonest shuts us off from the wonderful grace-filled benefit of being pardoned (by God, others, and ourselves). Accepting the pain and honestly confessing brings a new dawn of pardon, hope and release.

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)

Suggestions for prelude, based on two different hymn tunes can be found in the following sources:

GIFT OF LOVE/O WALY WALY [“As Moses Raised the Serpent Up”]

Diemer, Emma Lou. Augsburg Organ Library – Autumn. Augsburg
ISBN 0-8006-7579-7 [2003] (M)
Ferguson, John. A Wedding Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-650 [2003] (E-M)
Powell, Robert J. Sing a New Song. Augsburg 11-10766 [1996] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Wood Works on International Folk Hymns. Sacred Music Press 70/1070 S
[1995] (E-M)

Carter, John. Today’s Hymns and Songs for Piano. Hope 244 [1995] (E-M)
Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Day by Day. Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (E-M)

ABERYSTWYTH [“Jesus, Lover of My Soul”]

Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M)
Harris, David S. Ten Hymn Preludes in Trio Style, set 2. H. W. Grey GB643 [1978] (E)
Held, Wilbur. Those Wonderful Welsh, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-842 [1992] (E-M)
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 5. SMP KK323 [1984] (adaptable for piano, E-M)
Linker, Janet. Suite for Holy Week. Beckenhorst OC5 [1989] (E-M)
Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes, set 1. Peters 6011 [1956] (E-M)

Organ, Anne Krentz. Christ, Mighty Savior. Augsburg 11-10819 [1997] (E-M)

An alternative harmonization for the opening hymn can be found in:

GIFT OF LOVE/O WALY WALY [“As Moses Raised The Serpent Up”]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg
ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]

The SATB, a cappella anthem “God So Loved the World” by John Stainer is published by Schirmer 3798.
It is based on John 3:16-17. (E-M)

The suggestions for offertory based on “Amazing Grace” could be played instrumentally. You may wish to consider having a choir sing an anthem arrangement of this hymn during the offertory. The alternate suggestion is based on the praise and worship refrain “Give Thanks.”

AMAZING GRACE/NEW BRITAIN [“Amazing Grace – How Sweet the Sound”]

Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 1. Fred Bock B-G0548 [1980] (E-M)
Gehring, Philip. Augsburg Organ Library – Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. The King of Love. SMP KK277 [1983] (E-M) (E-M)
Held, Wilbur. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 1. Augsburg 11-9318 [1972] (E)
Hobby, Robert A. For All the Saints. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7537-1 [2002] (E-M)
Martin, Gilbert. Two Preludes on American Hymn Tunes. H. W. Grey GSTC 962
[1972] (E-M)
Schalk, Carl. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ,. vol. 1. Concordia 97-7001 [2002] (E-M)

Albrecht, Mark. Timeless Hymns of Faith. Augsburg 11-10863 [1998] (E-M)
Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M)
Leavitt, John. How Sweet the Sound. CPH 97-6891 [2000] (M; gospel style)
Sanborn, Jan. Piano Music for the Care of the Soul. Ron Harris RHP0403 [1997] (M)
Schrader, Jack. Amazing Grace. Hope 8138 [2001] (M)
Schubert, Myra. Give Him Praise. Lillenas MB-511 [1983] (M-D)

Dobrinski, Cynthia. Amazing Grace. Lake State HB 00067 [2000] (2-3 octaves, E-M)
Kauffmann, Ronald. Amazing Grace. Flammer HP-5207 [1986] (3 octaves, E-M)

Choral Resource:
Coates, John Jr. Amazing Grace. Shawnee A-1130 [1971]
(SATB with piano; black gospel style; M)
Kallman, Daniel. Amazing Grace. Morningstar MSM-50-9073 [1995]
(SATB with piano; black gospel style; M)

GIVE THANKS [“Give Thanks”]

Hayes, Mark. Lord Be Glorified. Word 301 0047 312 [1990] (M)
Wilson, John F. This Is the Day. Hope 243 [1992] (E-M)

Wilson, John F. Give Thanks. Agape 1771 [1995] (3-5 octaves, E-M)

HYFRYDOL [“Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners”]

Barr, John G. Processional Prelude on Hyfrydol. H. W. Grey GSTC 01083 [1992] (M)
Coleman, Henry. A Book of Hymn Tune Voluntaries. Oxford ISBN 0-19-375115-1 [1950] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M)
Sedio, Mark. The Praises of Zion. CPH 97-6728 [1998] (E-M)
Stearns, Peter Pindar. Twelve Hymn Preludes for General Use. Flammer HF-5145 [1987] (M)
Vaughan Williams, Ralph. Augsburg Organ Library – Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (M)
Vaughan Williams, Ralph. Three Preludes. Galaxy ( Stainer and Bell) (M)
Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes, set 1. Peters 6011 [1956] (E-M)

Wilson, John F. A Sacrifice of Praise. Hope 347 [1994] (E-M)

Liturgy Notes:

1. The children's moment is placed very early in the service so that the truth that envelopes this entire service (we are pardoned only when we are honest about our sin) can be explained to the children also. Teaching it to them on their level will prepare them to participate fully in the remainder of the service.

2. The entire text of Lord's Days 2 and 3 is included here. If you believe this is too much reading, along with the two Scripture passages, you may want to make some variation and edit it. Some congregations are more adept and comfortable with group readings than others. In any event, it would be helpful to introduce the reading of the catechism with a short explanation of last week's testimony.

3. Sing! A New Creation contains two litanies for the Service of Confession (52 and 53). You may select one or the other. We have suggested that the words of assurance of pardon are taken from Ephesians 2 for consistency with the Scripture Reading. This can be used in place of the words of SNC 52/53, or you may choose to keep the reading of SNC.

4. Many worship services conclude the Service of Confession/Renewal with words from Scripture that form God's Guide to Grateful Living. The words of Sending at the close of this service are intended to serve in that capacity. They may be presented in that light. Ephesians is used here to be consistent with previous readings in this service. If this reading seems too lengthy for the close of the service, you may choose to shorten it.