Join our mailing list

Radical Surgery - Matthew 18

A service plan in an Epiphany series in preparation for Lent focused on listening well, examining Jesus' teachings carefully, and gaining a more complete understanding of the life of discipleship.

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

This is the in-between season of Jesus' ministry. We have celebrated his birth; we will soon be making preparation to mark his death and resurrection. For these weeks of "growing time" we will step into his teaching ministry and receive his instructions for living as disciples. Jesus was regarded very highly as a teacher. His hearers knew that he came with a special kind of authority, and they recognized that he was a teacher who came from God.

So in this worship service we must position ourselves to listen well, examine his teachings carefully, and aim to gain a more complete understanding of the life of discipleship to which he calls us.

Worship Service

We Gather in the Presence of God

Prelude: "Partita on 'Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven' ", arr. Hobby

Introit: "In This Place", Meyer

*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, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*We Greet Each Other

*Song: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" PH 478, PsH 475, RL 144, RN 53, TH 76/77, TWC 25/26

We are Renewed in God's Grace

The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession
(The pastor or worship leader begins the prayer, leaving silence for worshipers to make
their personal confessions, after which the leader concludes the prayer.)

The Assurance of God's Pardon

God's Call to Grateful Living - Colossians 3:12-17

Song of Commitment: "May the Mind of Christ, My Savior" PsH 291, RN 285, SFL 72, TH 644, TWC 560

God Speaks Through His Word

Anthem: "Fix These Words", Schurr

The Reading of Scripture: Matthew 18:1-9

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Prayer for Illumination

(Gems from Christ - #1)
Text - Matthew 18:8-9

Prayer of Application

We Respond to God's Word

Song: "Healer of Our Every Ill" SNC 205, WOV 738

The Pastoral Prayer

Offertory: "Healer of Our Every Ill", Honoré

Our Commitment to Obedience:

The church is a gathering
of forgiven sinners,
called to be holy,
dedicated to service.
Saved by the patient grace of God,
we deal patiently with others.
Knowing our own weakness and failures,
we bring good news to all sinners
with understanding of their condition,
and with hope in God.
The rule of Jesus Christ covers the whole world.
To follow this Lord is
to serve him everywhere,
without fitting in,
as light in the darkness,
as salt in a spoiling world.
("Our World Belongs to God" art. 42,45)

Song of Proclamation: "Bring Forth the Kingdom" RN 153, SFL 154, SNC 123

We Go Out to Serve the Lord

*The Sending

Go out in obedience to your Lord, Jesus Christ.
Walk obediently before him in all things.
Care for those who have fallen,
Encourage those who have lost heart,
And in all things cultivate the mind of Christ.

*The Benediction

Postlude: "Rondeau", Mouret, arr. Gardner

* - you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes

Because this message is the opener of a new sermon series, it is necessary to set an introduction to the entire series before the congregation. Often it's better to do that prior to the Scripture reading. Explain the theme of the series, the reason for it, and the general map of what will be covered in the coming sermons. In this case, it would be well to explain what an "aphorism" is and cite a number of examples in the gospels.

With regard to today's text, some careful groundwork must be laid to assist your hearers in understanding the intent of Jesus. It could be very easy to misinterpret this one. Begin with an explanation of what an hyperbole is. Jesus uses them often and our text is a classic. Illustrating it with current hyperboles that we often use can be helpful. ("I have told you a thousand times not to do that!")

Then you will have to recreate the setting of this teaching session of Jesus. An examination of the context will indicate there are three things going on - a discussion about greatness and who is the greatest (see v.1); a concern for children (see v.2-5); and a concern for sinful behavior that harms little children (see v.6,7). All of this leads up to and explicates the text.

It's obvious that the text should not be interpreted literally, and you'll have to spend some time explaining why and how it can be applied figuratively and spiritually. Jesus had in mind the idea of the "trigger" on a trap (things that cause people to sin). These must be eradicated from our lives.

A careful examination of his intent will reveal he's trying to teach us a better understanding of the seriousness of sin, a greater willingness to assume responsibility for our negative influence on others, efforts that are preventative, and a healthy fear of making the Christian walk more difficult for our fellow Christians.

Music Notes

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:

PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
The Worshipping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. The organ prelude arranged by Robert Hobby is published by Concordia (97-6082 [1991]) (E-M).
  2. "In This Place", by Daniel C. Meyer is a SAB anthem published by GIA (G-5102 [2000]) (E).
  3. "Fix These Words" composed by Walter W Schurr is published by Kjos (8836) (M). The text of this SATB anthem is based on Deuteronomy 11:18.
  4. The offertory music arranged by Jeffrey Honoré is taken from the collection Augsburg Organ Library - Lent (11-11036 [2000]) (E-M).
  5. The postlude is published by H. W. Grey (GSTC 980 [1974]) (E).

Liturgy Notes

  1. Notice the spirit of welcome in the Introit. Aim to create an atmosphere of fellowship at the opening of worship, so that as soon as God greets us, we greet each other.
  2. In crafting the section of the service that includes our confession of sin, we encourage you to draw on the theme of this service and the new series of messages. The call to confession can come from the words of Jesus' ministry, the suggestions for the prayer of confession can focus on matters that our text would include, and the words of assurance should come from Jesus himself.
  3. The post-sermon section of the service is crafted so that we can corporately respond to the message of the text. By bringing our gifts, our songs, professing our faith and affirming our commitment to obedience, we give expression to the fact that we have heard the Lord and aim to follow.
  4. If you desire to incorporate the readings from the common lectionary, the passages for this week in year B are:
    • Deuteronomy 18:15-20
    • Psalm 111
    • 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
    • Mark 1:21-28
    You will find these passages very compatible with the theme of this service. In Deuteronomy 18 God speaks about the new prophet he will raise up who will come with the words of the Lord. Psalm 111 speaks about the wisdom we learn from God. I Corinthians 8 speaks about the triggers and stumbling blocks we place before others. And Mark 1 sets forth the teaching ministry of Jesus. We suggest that any of these passages, if desired, can be incorporated into the section of the service that includes the renewal in God's grace, or the response to the message.