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Surely Not I, Lord? - Matthew 26

A service plan for the second Sunday of Lent planned around Matthew 26:22. This service is part of "Questions of the Last Week," a series of Lent service plans.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Questions of the Last Week

This Lent series is titled "Questions of the Last Week." Each of the questions comes from the narratives of the week before Christ's resurrection. It is our hope and prayer that these series will provide you with variety, thoughtful content, and an excellent opportunity to enrich the spiritual journey of worshipers of all ages.

Theme of the Service

This service focuses on an event in the Upper Room as Jesus prepares to celebrate the Passover with the disciples. He is increasingly revealing the agony that he will experience. The question of this service rises from frightened hearts that are trying to resist facing their weaknesses. This service will focus on our devotion to Christ, which should lead to healthy Lenten self-examination.

* * * * *


Prelude: "What Wondrous Love" [see music notes]

The Call and Invitation to Worship

*Opening Hymn: "What Wondrous Love" PH 85, PsH 379, RN 277, SFL 169, TH 261, TWC 212, UMH 292 [see music notes]

*The Welcome and Greeting

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

[see liturgy notes]

The Call to Confession:
Because we trust in God's grace and mercy, we are able to make our honest confessions to him without fear of rejection. We know he will be merciful. So let us call on him for his mercy and grace that we may be renewed.

The Prayer of Confession
O Christ,
out of your fullness we have all received grace upon grace.
You are our eternal hope;
you are patient and full of mercy;
you are generous to all who call upon you.
Save us, Lord.
O Christ, fountain of life and holiness,
you have taken away our sins.
On the cross you were wounded for our transgressions
and were bruised for our iniquities.
Save us, Lord.
O Christ, obedient unto death,
source of all comfort,
our life and our resurrection,
our peace and reconciliation:
Save us, Lord.
O Christ, Savior of all who trust you,
hope of all who die for you,
and joy of all the saints:
Save us, Lord.
Jesus, Lamb of God,
have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins,
have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
grant us peace. Amen. (The Worship Sourcebook, J.2.2.7)
Sung: "Agnus Dei" [see music notes]

The Assurance of Pardon:
When the Holy Gospels give us the account of the suffering and death of our Savior Jesus Christ, they are reassuring us that he has laid down his life for his sheep. As you hear this account, receive in faith that he was ".pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wound we are healed."

Please rise for the reading of the Gospel.

*The reading of Matthew 27:11-23
This is the Gospel of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

On the basis of the Gospel of Christ, we may be assured that our sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ.

*Passing the Peace
The peace of Christ be with you all.
And also with you.

(The worshipers greet each other saying, "The peace of Christ be with you.")

*Our Grateful Affirmation [see liturgy notes]
What do you believe about your forgiveness?
We believe
that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins
because of Jesus Christ,
and that in it our righteousness before God is contained,
as David and Paul teach us
when they declare that man blessed
to whom God grants righteousness
apart from works.
Is such forgiveness given to you freely?
We are justified "freely" or "by grace"
through the redemption in Jesus Christ.
And therefore we cling to this foundation,
which is firm forever,
giving all glory to God,
humbling ourselves,
and recognizing ourselves as we are;
not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits
and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified,
which is ours when we believe in him.
Does this forgiveness give you peace toward God?
This is enough to cover all our sins
and to make us confident,
freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God's approach,
without doing what our first father, Adam, did,
who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves. (from The Belgic Confession of Faith, art.23)

*Song of Testimony: "Not What My Hands Have Done" PsH 260, TWC 476, TH 461

The Children's Moment


The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: Matthew 26:17-30
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: Surely Not I, Lord?
Questions of the Last Week 2
Text: Matthew 26:22

The Prayer of Application


*Song: "Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended" PH 93, PsH 386, RL 285, RN 183, TH 248, TWC 231, UMH 289 [seemusic notes]

*Our Affirmation of Faith: Apostles' or Nicene Creed [see liturgy notes]

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory
The Offering of Music: "Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended" [see music notes]
or: "And Can It Be," Lamb
The Offering of Our Gifts


*The Words of Sending:
Keep alert,
stand firm in your faith,
be courageous,
be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, NRSV)

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen

*Song: "And Can It Be" PsH 267, RL 451, RN 193, TH 455, TWC 473, UMH 363 [see music notes]

Postlude: "Prelude and Fugue in G Major," Bach [see music notes]

* You are invited to stand

* * * * *

Sermon Notes

The question being considered in this service is one that the disciples asked their Lord on Thursday night while in the Upper Room. This question arises out of trouble, in this case, three layers of trouble! First, it was a troubled night. It was the night in which Jesus was to be betrayed and arrested. Earlier in the evening Judas had struck his deal with the religious leaders. Jesus washed the disciples' feet and embarrassed them in doing so, and he revealed that someone from around that table would betray him. Second, the question was directed to a troubled Savior. John 13:21 describes Jesus as "troubled in spirit," and the word used means deeply agitated. He knew what lay ahead of him. He knew one of his disciples would betray him, another would deny him, and all would forsake him. Third, it came from a troubled group of disciples. All four gospels tell this story to portray the disturbance around the Passover. The disciples were beginning to sense the coming ordeal. They were all stunned by the Master's revelations and were anxiously whispering back and forth to determine just what the Master meant.

This question has puzzled many translators. Though it has a question mark at the end, it's a strange form of question: The negative answer is not only expected, but asked for. It's a begging plea that says, "Please, Master, give me the assurance that I am OK!" There is disbelief, sadness and a deep sense of vulnerability surrounding this question.

What could be behind this question that would warrant preserving it this many years later? There is a message about our capability of great sin. The sharp realism here makes us recognize that someone who had been a most intimate companion with Jesus for several years could actually betray him. Fallen human nature can be that unpredictable! Also, there is teaching here about a wholesome self-distrust. There is incredibility in this question; the disciples can't manage to believe about themselves the things they fear they may be hearing. This is not the kind of self-deprecating actions that smother our self-esteem, but rather it is the awareness that only by God's grace through Jesus Christ can we be protected from who we are. Carefully listen to Paul in Romans 7:14-25. We learn to trust Christ best when we have honestly glimpsed the great possibilities of evil within our own hearts.

The good news of the Gospel that is embedded in this probing and frightening question is that Jesus Christ came to save us from ourselves and our unpredictable sinful natures. After Paul's clear admission in Romans 7, he soon soars on the wings of powerful secure professions in chapter 8. It's a long journey from this question to Romans 8, but a journey on which God's Spirit desires to take us.

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)
SWM Sing With Me (children's songbook; 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 and alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn can be found in the following resources:

WONDROUS LOVE ["What Wondrous Love"]

Barber, Samuel. Wondrous Love. Schirmer 44477 [1959] (M-D)
Callahan, Charles. Six Meditations on American Folk Hymns. Concordia 97-6140 [1992]
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 9. AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M)
Johnson, David N. Hymns Settings for Organ. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7498-7
[2002] (E)
Johnson, David N. Wondrous Love. Augsburg 11-0821 [1965] (E)
Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (M)
Middleswarth, Jean E. Were You There. Broadman 4570-64 (POP) [1984] (E-M)
Phillips, Don. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (ed. Lyon, Sharron) Broadman 4570-31
[1976] (E)

Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M)
Carter, John. The Wondrous Cross. Hope 1747 [1994] (E-M)
Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns.Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (M)

Larson, Lloyd. What Wondrous Love. Beckenhorst HB 150 [1994] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
Wagner, Douglas E. What Wondrous Love. Agape 1312 [1988] (3-5 octaves, E-M)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

You may notice that we are beginning this service with the same hymn with which we closed last week's service. Often the season of Lent is practiced through the concept of a journey or walk. The continuation of the journey can be reinforced by using a hymn in this way.

The anthem "God So Loved the World" by John Stainer is published by Schirmer 3798 and scored for SATB a cappella voices. (E-M)

The text of "Agnus Dei" which has been spoken already in the prayer of confession can also be repeated as a sung prayer. Musical settings of this text can be found directly in PsH 257 and SNC 253. A more contemporary indirect setting can be found in SWM 124.

Alternative harmonizations for the sermon response hymn as well as suggestions for offertory can be found in:

HERZLIEBSTER JESU ["Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555
Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983]

Behnke, John A. Road to Calvary. Concordia 97-7072 [2004] (E)
Brahms, Johannes. Eleven Chorale Preludes. (ed. West) Schirmer 2091 (M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 5. AMSI SP-102 [1985] (E-M)
Clarke, Andrew. Chorale Prelude on Ah, Holy Jesus. Morningstar MSM-10-310 [1991]
Held, Wilbur. A Suite of Passion Hymn Settings. Concordia 97-4843 [1967] (E-M)
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 1. SMP KK234 [1978] (adaptable for piano; E)
Leupold, A. W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M)
Middleswarth, Jean E. Were You There. Broadman 4570-64 (POP) [1984] (E-M)
Peeters, Flor. 30 Chorale Preludes, set 3. Peters 6025 [1950] (E-M)
Stearns, Peter Pindar. Eight Hymn Preludes for Lent. Flammer HF-5133 [1985] (E-M)
Walcha, H. Chorale Preludes, bk. 1. Peters 4850 (E)
Young, Gordon. Hymn Preludes for the Church Service. Flammer 4188 [1964] (E-M)

Berns, Susan Ullom. Ah, Holy Jesus. Lorenz HB273-3 [1989] (3-4 octaves, E-M)

An alternate suggestion based on the closing hymn of the service is as follows:

SAGINA ["And Can It Be"]

Lamb, Linda R. And Can It Be. Lorenz 20/1209L [2001] (2-3 octaves, level 2)

The strong closing hymn "And Can It Be" is consistent with the theme of Romans 8 which the sermon both alludes to and concludes with.

The organ postlude suggestion "Prelude and Fugues in G Major "by J. S. Bach can be found in "Eight Little Preludes and Fugues" published by Schirmer 1456. This classic organ piece can be found in many different editions.

Liturgy Notes

1. The Service of Confession/Renewal is designed to be a standard form for each week of Lent. This will reinforce its impact and meaning. Each Service will include both a spoken and a sung prayer of confession. And each week a different gospel reading will be included. These passages will be included in the weeks ahead:
March 11: Matthew 27:24-31
March 18: Matthew 27:32-44
March 25: Matthew 27:45-50
April 1: John 19:28-30

2. Worshipers have the opportunity after the Assurance of Pardon to give a grateful affirmation of their faith by using the words of the historic Belgic Confession of Faith. Article 23 is adapted so that it is in a format for responsive congregational use. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom us, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. . Reprinted with permission.

3. The Affirmation of Faith may use the words of the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed to publicly profess our unity with the worldwide body of Christ.

4. The Words of Sending are a challenge to go forth in watchfulness, a challenge consistent with the theme of the text for this service.


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