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Reformation Day Festival: A Doxology to Grace - Ephesians 1, 2 Timothy 1, Romans 11

A worship service intended to mark the significance of the Protestant Reformation, aiding worshipers to claim the legacy of the Reformed faith and stirring them to give all glory to God for salvation.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

This worship service is intended to mark the significance of the Protestant Reformation, aid worshipers to claim the legacy of the Reformed faith, and stir them to give all glory to God for salvation.

As such the primary theme is the glory of God. The secondary theme is our reflection on the power of God's grace that provides our salvation. Our prayer is that such reflection (by reviewing the Scriptural teachings of the "five points of Calvinism") will stir all to raise a doxology to grace!

We have found it helpful for a special service like this to include an introductory paragraph, such as the boxed information below, on the bulletin cover. This information provides a teaching opportunity and prepares worshipers more fully for the service.

The Protestant Reformation has shaped our identity as Reformed Christians. When Martin Luther, John Calvin and others examined the Word of God, they found truths that were like lost gems. They wrote and spoke vigorously to promote and teach this Reformation faith. We are privileged to share it. The acronym TULIP is familiar to many of us in the Reformed tradition and expressive of the sovereignty of God's grace and the primacy of God's glory as taught in the Canons of Dort. You will notice that our worship today is structured around those Reformation truths. May God be praised and may He receive all the glory in our worship today as we mark the Protestant Reformation.


Prelude: "Built on the Rock", Hobby
"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God", Johnson [organ], or Walther [organ or piano]

The Call to Worship:

As followers of Jesus Christ, living in this world -
which some seek to control, but which others view with despair -
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!
From the beginning,
through all the crises of our times,
until his kingdom fully comes,
God keeps covenant forever.
Our world belongs to him!
God is King!
Let the earth be glad!
Christ is victor;
his rule has begun.
The Spirit is at work, renewing the creation.
Praise the Lord!
Come, Lord Jesus!
Our world belongs to you.
(from Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, art. 1, 2, 6, PsH pp. 1019, 1021)

*Processional Hymn: "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" PH259/260, PsH 469, RL179, TH92, TWC43

*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.

Anthem: "God Is My Rock", Pote

The Children's Moment


We Are Dead in Sin (Total Depravity)

Our Testimony:

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.
(from Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, art. 15, PsH p. 1023)

The Reading of Ephesians 2:1-5

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Responsorial Psalm: "Psalm 51" (SFL 41 or with alternative sung response RN 181/SNC 49)

(The choir will sing the initial response; the choir and congregation will sing each subsequent response. [See music note #4.])

We are Chosen in Christ (Unconditional Election)

Our Testimony:

Jesus alone paid the debt of our sin; there is no other Savior!
In him the Father chose those whom he would save.
His electing love sustains our hope:
God's grace is free to save sinners
who offer nothing but their need for mercy.

(from Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, art. 28, PsH p. 1027)

*Song: "Father, Long Before Creation" vv. 1, 3 Coronae: PsH464, Miller Chapel: RL353

The Reading of Ephesians 1:3-6

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!


The Prayer

Anthem: "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry", Helgen

Christ Has Paid for Our Sins (Limited Atonement)

Our Testimony:

As our substitute Jesus suffered all his years on earth,
especially in the horrible torture of the cross.
He carried God's judgment on our sin;
his sacrifice removes our guilt.

He walked out of the grave, the Lord of life!
He conquered sin and death.
We are set right with God, we are given new life,
and called to walk with him in freedom from sin's dominion.

(from Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, art. 27, PsH p. 1027)

*The Reading of John 6:35-40

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Anthem: "Jesus Paid It All", Sterling

God Has Opened Our Hearts (Irresistible Grace)

Our Testimony:

Jesus stays with us in the Spirit,
who renews our hearts,
moves us to faith,
leads us in the truth,
stands by us in our need,
and makes our obedience fresh and vibrant.

(from Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, art. 31, PsH p. 1028)

Song: "There Is a Redeemer" RN232, SNC145

The Reading of 2 Timothy 1:8-12

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!


The Prayer

Anthem: "Amazing Grace", Kallman

(see music note #7 re verse order)

Instrumental introduction
v. 1, 2 - all
v. 4 - choir
v. 5 - all
v. 3 - choir

No One Shall Separate Us from God's Love (Perseverance of the Saints)

Our Testimony:

1. Our hope for a new earth is not tied to what humans can do,
for we believe that one day every challenge to God's rule
and every resistance to his will shall be crushed.
2. Then his kingdom shall come fully, and our Lord shall rule forever.
With the whole creation we wait for the purifying fire of judgment.
For then we will see the Lord face to face.
1. He will heal our hurts, end our wars, and make the crooked straight.
Then we will join in the new song to the Lamb without blemish
who made us a kingdom and priests.
2. God will be all in all,
righteousness and peace will flourish,
everything will be made new,
All: and every eye will see at last that our world belongs to God!
Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus.

(from Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, art. 56, 58, PsH pp. 1037-1038)

The Reading of 1 Peter 1:3-5

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Anthem: "He Never Failed Me Yet", Ray

Offertory and Offerings
An Offering of Music: "Praise the Savior, Now and Ever", Haan


The Invitation

The Lord is risen!
He is risen indeed!
This is the Lord's Table.
Come, for he is waiting.
We come in celebration that Christ is risen.

The Thanksgiving

May the Lord abide in us,
and we in him.
Let us raise our hearts to the Lord our God,
that we may be filled with his presence.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Institution - 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The Remembrance

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Dying he destroyed our death,
rising he restored our life.
Lord Jesus, come in glory.

The Prayer of Consecration

Let us pray.
Holy Father, give your Holy Spirit in the breaking of the bread, so that we may be drawn together, and, joined to Christ the Lord, receive spiritual nourishment, and remain his glad and faithful people until he comes. Amen.

Our Participation in the Bread

(While you receive the bread, spend time in personal meditation and reflection.
[See the Liturgy Notes.])

Our Participation in the Cup
(While you receive the cup, profess your faith in song.)

"I Will Sing of My Redeemer" Hyfrydol: PsH479, 3 vvs.; TWC492, 4vvs.; My Redeemer: TH650 4vvs.
"Thine Is/Be the Glory" PH122, RL327, TH274, TWC251

The Prayer of Thanksgiving


*Words of Doxology:

O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen!

Romans 11:33-36, NIV
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song of Thanksgiving: "Now Thank We All Our God" vv. 1, 3 PH555, PsH454, RL61, SFL33, SNC228 (refrain only), TH98, TWC374

Postlude: "Now Thank We All Our God", Burkhardt

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

Since this service is intended to be a festival of song, confession, and sacrament, the message of the Word is proclaimed throughout the service. Multiple Scripture readings are included, and the entire service is built around the substance of the gospel of Christ.

The sermon, therefore, has not occupied as large a time block in this service as in others. We have chosen to place two meditations throughout the service. The first is located in the part of the service that focuses on Unconditional Election and highlights the powerful message of Paul in Ephesians 1. There are many things about life and God that are too big for our limited minds. Agur refers to four such things in Proverbs 30:18-19. But even further beyond our understanding is the mystery that God can and does love us and has decided to do so before all eternity. Paul clearly proclaims God's electing love in Ephesians 1. We find it hard to understand because we have just focused on our total depravity (how can people like that be loved by God?). We can think of many reasons why God should not love us. But . He does!

The second meditation is located in the fourth section of TULIP- Irresistible Grace (see liturgy notes #2-4) - and sets the truth of 2 Timothy 1:8-12 before our hearts. While Paul speaks about his own suffering for the gospel, his main concern is not about his suffering but about the purpose and grace of God in providing our salvation through Christ. This salvation was not designed by humans. It was God's idea, conceived entirely in his gracious heart. Reflecting on this astonishing reality can provoke the response of gratitude and joy, and therefore is excellent preparation of the heart for approaching the Lord's Table.

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 organ prelude on "Built on the Rock" can be found in "Three Hymns of Praise" set 3 by Robert A. Hobby, published by Morningstar MSM-10-757 [1994] (M). The setting of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" by David Johnson is published by Augsburg 11-822 [1965] (E-M, though D if you include the optional pedal solo). The setting for piano or organ by Johann Walther can be found in "Piano Preludes on Hymns and Chorales", arranged by Reginald Gerig and published by Hope 251 [1959] (M).
  2. Alternative harmonizations for "A Mighty Fortress" can be found in "Hymn Harmonizations for Organ" book 2 by John Ferguson, published by Ludwig O-07 [1983], "New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes" by Dale Wood, published by Augsburg 11-9292 [1968] and in a concertato by John Rutter published by Hinshaw HMC1798.
  3. The SATB anthem "God Is My Rock" by Allen Pote is published by BelwinMills BSC00131 [1990].
  4. We are providing two suggestions for sung responses of Psalm 51. The musical setting in SFL41 has a more penitential tone; that in RN181/SNC49 has a more restorative mood. Given the placement in the service, the setting in SFL41 may be more appropriate. (See also RN182 for a chant setting of Psalm 51, as well as your own hymnal for other settings.)
  5. The anthem "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry" by John Helgen is for SATB choir with some division within parts. It is published by Kjos 8826 [1996] (M).
  6. The SATB anthem setting of the hymn "Jesus Paid It All" by Robert Sterling is published by GlorySound A6223 [1985] (M).
  7. The anthem "Amazing Grace" by Daniel Kallman is published by Morningstar MSM-50-9073 [1995]. This anthem in gospel style can be adapted to include the congregation on selected verses. Regarding the verse numbers listed in the service: these correspond to the hymn as found in PsH462, RN189, SFL209, and TWC460. [PH280, RL456, and TH460 have a different number of verses and/or a different order of verses.] Check your own hymnal for the number and order of verses, comparing them with the anthem text (or simply print the verses/numbers in the bulletin along with instructions). You may wish to consider having an instrumentalist freely play the melody of the hymn as an introduction to the singing of this anthem.
  8. The black gospel anthem "He Never Failed Me Yet" by Robert Ray is published by Jenson 44708014 [1982]. The piano accompaniment is well written and is a model for this style of music. The anthem includes an extensive solo line with choral refrains.
  9. The offertory music on "Praise the Savior, Now and Ever" can be found in "Four Hymns of Rejoicing" by Raymond H. Haan, published by Morningstar MSM-10-518 [1998] (E-M).
  10. An alternative harmonization for "Now Thank We All Our God" can be found in "New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes" by Dale Wood, published by Augsburg 11-9292 [1968].
  11. The postlude on "Now Thank We All Our God" can be found in "Praise and Thanksgiving" set 4 by Michael Burkhardt, published by Morningstar MSM-10-754 [1991] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. This service is a Festival in Celebration of the Protestant Reformation. Its structure therefore differs from most services and includes many hymns, anthems and readings. Multiple choirs can play a major role. If you do not have access to choirs, modifications could be made to fit your situation (perhaps substitute hymns or small ensembles for anthems). When this worship service originally took place it was a combined service of the Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church of Hudsonville and the Ridgewood CRC of Jenison. The two adult choirs, directors and accompanists shared responsibilities.

Such festive services provide an excellent opportunity for congregations to join in worship. Because of the many additions, and the celebration of the Lord's Supper, it was lengthier than usual (90 minutes), but well worth it!

2. The Call to Worship and Our Testimony sections are taken from "Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony", a confession that was provisionally approved for use by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in 1983, and finally approved for use in 1986. We have deliberately taken selections from it to proclaim the truths of "TULIP" because it meaningfully weds historic truths with a contemporary testimony (see following notes). Though the formulation of our faith may change, its substance does not.

For copyright permission, please contact CRC Publications at (616) 224-0819, 1-800-333-8300

3. Five different Scripture readings are included in this service, corresponding to each of the five points of doctrine ("TULIP"). We encourage using lay persons for these readings.

4. The major portion of the service is "A Service of Doxologies" which is structured around the five points of Calvinism. Each of the five doctrines is identified with a subtitle; each doctrine appears in parentheses after the subtitle. For worshipers to sense the flow of this worship service, they must notice each doctrine along the way. It might be wise for the worship leader to identify each with a very brief explanation as the worshipers prepare for the testimony recitation that begins each section.

5. The fifth "testimony" which begins the section on the Perseverance of the Saints is printed differently than the others, with "1,2,1,2,all". There are multiple ways in which this may be read. It can be a responsive reading between a worship leader and the congregation, or between two lay readers, or between two halves of the choir, or two halves of the congregation, or the choir and the congregation, etc. However you arrange it, the intent is to create the awareness that the community of Christ is giving this testimony of hope to each other and to the world.

6. During the passing of the bread, we chose to read several passages of Scripture that point to the suffering of Christ for us, and the security of the believer in Him. We asked the accompanist to play reflective music quietly in the background.

7. Since the Canons of Dort form much of the structure of this service, one of our artists prepared a beautiful banner that symbolized the Canons as a tulip. You may contact her for permission to reproduce, or for more ideas (Marsha Vander Laan, phone 616-669-1548).