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The Forgiveness Matter - Psalm 32, Matthew 6, HCLD 51

A service plan from the Lord's Prayer focused on the forgiveness we receive and extend to others in a series on prayer as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Multi-directional forgiveness, that which we receive from God and that we extend to others, is the theme of this service.

Structure of this Service

It seems best to structure this liturgy differently in order to do justice to the two sides of this theme and to integrate the sermon and the liturgy. Notice that the service will involve a sermon that is divided into two halves. The first half about God's forgiveness to us will be followed with a service of renewal in which we ask, receive and give thanks for God's forgiveness. We hope that you can sense the personal and theological "flow" of this liturgy when structured in that way. After God's word has spoken about his willingness to forgive, we confess and receive his pardon, and then celebrate the price that was paid by coming to the Lord's Table. After we have communed, we receive the challenge to be as forgiving to others as God has been to us. The second half of the sermon about the forgiveness we extend to others will follow the celebration of the Lord's Supper. This will conclude with our response of rededication.


We suggest a number of resources that will be valuable tools for you in this study of the Lord's Prayer.

  • Each week we will provide references for you from the Heidelberg Catechism and both the Larger and the Shorter Westminster Catechism.
  • The website of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary also provides sermon ideas for each Lord's Days.
  • Comfort and Joy: A Study of the Heidelberg Catechism, Andrew Kuyvenhoven, Grand Rapids: CRC Publications, 1988.
  • Our Only Comfort: A Comprehensive Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (vol. 2), Fred Klooster, Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2001.

Catechism References:
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 51
Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 194
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 105

* * * * *


Prelude: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" [seemusic notes]

Call to Worship

*Song: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" CEL 1, PH 478, PsH 475, RL 144, RN 53, TH 76/77, TWC 25/26, UMH 66, WR 82[seemusic notes]

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Congregation of Jesus Christ, where is your trust placed?
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.

*Worshipers greet each other

*Response: "All Creatures of Our God and King" CEL 63:5, PH 455:5, PsH 431:5, RL 4:5, RN 47:5, SFL 86:5, SWM 14:5, TH 115:5, TWC 356:5, UMH 62:5, WR 23:5 [seemusic notes]

Children's Moment [seeliturgy notes]


Anthem: "Te Ensalzaré Señor / I Will Praise You, O Lord," Bell [seemusic notes]

Reading the Catechism [seeliturgy notes]

Prayer for Illumination

Reading of Old Testament Scripture: Psalm 32:1-7
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: The Forgiveness Matter
Prayer Patterns 7


Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession [see liturgy notes]
Spoken: from Psalm 51
Sung: "Kyrie" [seemusic notes]

Assurance of God's Pardon: Romans 8:1

Song of Thanks: "And Can It Be" CEL 347, PsH 267, RL 451, RN 193, TH 455, TWC 473, UMH 363, WR 366


Invitation and Promise

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

Preparing the Bread and Cup

Our Participation in the Bread

Our Participation in the Cup

*Our Response of Praise
Spoken: Psalm 103:1-5, 11-13
Sung: "Bless His Holy Name" CEL 55, PsH 627, RN 16, TWC 36, WR 4


Reading of New Testament Scripture: Matthew 6:14-15
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: The Forgiveness Matter (cont.)
Prayer Patterns 7

Prayer of Application


*Song of Response: "Help Us Accept Each Other" PH 358, TWC 437, UMH 560, WR 596

Prayers of the People [seeliturgy notes]

We offer our gifts for .
The offering of music: An anthem setting of Psalm 103 [seemusic notes]


*Words of Sending: Colossians 3:12-14

Benediction with congregational Amen!

*Song: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" CEL 648, PH 376, PsH 568, RN 196, RL 464, TH 529, TWC 558, UMH 384, WR 358[seemusic notes]

*Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" [seemusic notes]

*Please stand if you are able.

* * * * *

Sermon Notes

The first half of this petition has a thrill: God forgives us! The second half has a challenge: We must extend forgiveness to others. The sharp contrast in direction between the two halves makes it wise to deal with them at separate locations in the liturgy.

Dealing with guilt properly is the only path to spiritual health and wholeness. Though Matthew uses "debt" and Luke uses "sins," the common message is that we have been disobedient. This failure produces guilt which can become crushing and lead to condemnation.

David's experience in Psalm 32 is informative for all. His adultery with Bathsheba, denial, lying, and murder finally produces a terrible burden (Psalm 32:3-4 and Psalm 38:1-8). Many today carry a heavy burden even though some of us find ways to deny it.

How well a religion deals with guilt determines how able it is to provide "shalom," or wholeness and healing. Some religions dismiss guilt as though it's no big deal at all. Other religions seem to thrive on stirring up guilt and leave their followers with a heavy load. Christianity, however, stirs up the awareness of guilt for the purpose of achieving resolution through pardon! (See the first half of Lord's Day 51, Psalm 32:5, Psalm 103:12, Romans 8:1, and Hebrews 10:10ff.) The finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross is clearly in view here! "Blessedness" is available for guilty sinners because of Christ. (Following up this portion of the sermon with a genuine confession of sins, the clear promise of God's pardon, and gathering at the Lord's Table will be very meaningful.)

The receipt of this gift of grace also carries a large challenge with it. "As we also have forgiven." ought to stir us. This is the only petition of the Lord's Prayer on which Jesus specifically provided commentary (Matthew 6:14-15). Though there are some difficult theological questions associated with Jesus' words in Matthew, what is clear is that he calls for an equivalency between his willingness to forgive us and our willingness to forgive others.

It is clear in Scripture that Jesus cannot be saying that we earn his forgiveness by forgiving others for that would violate the nature of grace. Nor can he be saying that his forgiveness is conditional for that would be stating the matter too strongly. But he is saying that the genuine practice of forgiving in our lives is to be an expression of the credibility of our request for our own forgiveness as well as an act of gratitude for being forgiven. This also raises a challenge for those who refuse or struggle to forgive others. Having heard his promise of "shalom" and having met him with his assurance at the table, he sends us back into the world with new responsibilities to exercise a forgiving spirit.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
CEL Celebration Hymnal (Word Music/Integrity Music)
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)
WR Worship & Rejoice (Hope Publishing Company)

You may wish to include the singing of the Lord's Prayer throughout this series of services. Here are some suggested settings that could be used congregationally:

GREGORIAN [The Lord's Prayer (UMH 270)
LANGDON [The Lord's Prayer] (PsH 207)
MALOTTE [The Lord's Prayer] (RN 177)
MELITA [The Lord's Prayer] (TH 725)
ST. MICHAEL [Our Heav'nly Father] (RL 262)
VATER UNSER [Our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth] (PsH 208)
VATER UNSER [Our Father, Clothed with Majesty] (PsH 562)
Our Father in Heaven (PH 571)
Our Father in Heaven (SNC 196)
The Lord's Prayer/Our Father (SWM 174)

Resources for prelude and alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn can be found in the following resources:

LAUDA ANIMA ["Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven"]

Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 5. Morningstar MSM-10-755 [1993] (E-M)
Farlee, Robert Buckley. Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001]
Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (E-M)
Hobby, Robert A. Partita on Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven. Concordia 97-6082
[1991] (E-M)
Hustad, Don. Three Organ Hymns for Weddings or General Use. Hope 341 [1970] (E-M)
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 6. SMP KK339 [1986] (adaptable for piano; E)
Manz, Paul. Two Pieces for Festive Occasions. Morningstar MSM-10-840 [1990] (M)

Organ, Anne Krentz. Piano Reflections for the Church Year. Augsburg Fortress 11-11209
[2001] (E-M)

Dobrinski, Cynthia. Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven. Agape 1974 [1988] (3-5 octaves,
level 3)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986]

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

The response following God's greeting continues the "flavor" of the last stanza of the opening hymn. Please note we are suggesting singing only the final stanza of "All Creatures of Our God and King" as a response.

The anthem Te Ensalzaré Señor/I Will Praise You, O Lord by John L. Bell is published by GIA G-5156 [1999] for SATB voices with solo, congregation, flute and opt. trumpet. (E-M).

Many hymnals have settings of the "Kyrie." Settings can be found in PsH 257 and 258 and SNC 50, 52 and 54.

We are suggesting the following anthems based on Psalm 103 for the musical offertory. The opening hymn, the reading and response following communion and this music will all be based on Palm 103, a unifying force in this service.

Schram, Ruth Elaine. Bless the Lord. Belwin BSC00299 [1994] (SATB and Keyboard; E-M)
Pachelbel, Johann/Hopson, Hal. Canon of Praise. Somerset MW1226 [1984] (SAB or 3 treble
voices and piano or organ; E-M)
Smith, Jeffrey. Psalm 103. Concordia 98-3025 [1992] (Two-part choir and organ and opt.
congregation; E-M)

Alternative harmonizations to the closing hymn and suggestions for postlude are as follows:

HYFRYDOL ["Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Ferguson, John Festival Hymns for Organ Brass and Tympani. set 3 GIA G-4124 [1995]
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 1. Ludwig O-05 [1975]

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

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)
Kemner, Gerald. Fantasies on Nine Familiar Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-5919 [1990]
Schalk, Carl. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 1. Concordia 97-7001 [2002] (E)
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)

Carter, John. Merrily on High. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-2347-9 [2006] (E-M)
Leavitt, John. A Mighty Fortress Sacred Reflections for Piano. Concordia 97-7254 [2007]
Wilson, John F. A Sacrifice of Praise. Hope 347 [1994] (E-M)

Crawshaw, Craig. Hallelujah, What a Savior. Jenson 469-08019 [1984] (3 octaves, E-M)
Honoré, Jeffrey. Alleluia Passacaglia. Agape 1552 [1992] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
Hopson, Hal. H. Fantasy on "Hyfrydol". Agape 1048 [1982] (2 octaves, E-M)
Hopson, Hal. H. Fantasy on "Hyfrydol". Agape 2078 [1999] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
Tucker, Sondra K. Meditation on Hyfrydol. Choristers Guild CGB-182 [1996] (3 octaves, E-M)

Liturgy Notes

1. Since the theme and message of this service is very focused (forgiveness from God and for one another), and since children have the same problem adults do with hurts from others, this Children's Moment provides an excellent opportunity to address the subject with them on their level. It is important that children as well as adults hear the instruction from Scripture on the need for forgiveness.

2. The text of Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Day 51 reflects on the meaning of the petition on which this service focuses. We encourage you to incorporate it in your service. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.
What does the fifth request mean?
"Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors" means,
because of Christ's blood,
do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are,
any of the sins we do
or the evil that constantly clings to us.
Forgive us just as we are fully determined,
as evidence of your grace in us,
to forgive our neighbors. (The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 51)

3. We suggest that the Prayer of Confession have two parts: spoken verses from David's confession in Psalm 51 (particularly verses 1-4, 7, 9-12) and a sung "Kyrie." We have suggested several forms of the Kyrie. You may either sing it at the end of the prayer, or intersperse it within the prayer.

4. The Prayers of the People may take any one of the forms it has taken in previous weeks. We've encouraged that each week during this series this prayer be an expression of or built around the Lord's Prayer. We have offered several alternatives in the preceding weeks: an extended paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer with phrases from one of the catechisms, a prayer structured according to the Lord's Prayer with each line expanded according to the prayers written by the leader, or a combination of sung and spoken words. See the material of other services in this series.

Also in this series: