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The Honor of Relationships - 1 John 3, HCLD 40

A service plan focused on the Sixth Commandment and that not only are we to refrain from murder, but we must also affirm the value and sacredness of life through loving our neighbors in a series on the Ten Commandments, as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

This service is built around the sixth commandment. Not only are we to refrain from murder, but we must also affirm the value and sacredness of life through loving our neighbors.


We suggest a number of resources that will be valuable tools for you in this study of the Ten Commandments.

  • 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 of these commandments and 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.
  • The Ten Commandments: Manual for the Christian Life, Jochem Douma, tr. Nelson D. Kloosterman, Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 1996.
  • Mere Morality: What God Expects from Ordinary People, Lewis B. Smedes, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1983.

Catechism References:
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 40
Westminster Larger Catechism, Q.134-136
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q.67-69


Prelude: "All Creatures of Our God and King" [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Call to Worship

*Song: "All Creatures of Our God and King" PH 455, PsH 431, RL 4, RN 47, SFL 86, SWM 14, TH 115, TWC 356, UMH 62 [see<href="#music" >music notes]

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

*Song of Response: "Praise the Savior Now and Ever" PsH 400, TH 243


The Call to Confession
Sung: "Thou Knowest Lord, the Secrets of Our Hearts," Purcell [see <href="#music" >music notes]
What is the great and first commandment?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.
What is the second commandment like it?
Love your neighbor as yourself.
What does this mean?
Love is the fulfilling of the law.
To what does this call us?
To a life of faith working through love. (The Worship Sourcebook, 2.7.5, based on Matthew 22:37-40)

Our Prayer of Confession [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]
Let us respond to God's call and make confession of our sins before him:
Loving God, you have made us in your image,
you have placed us together in community and relationships,
and you have called us to be protectors of one another.
Teach us to value each other
and the lives you have given each of us.
We confess we have often injured, hurt, and slandered one another,
sometimes unthinkingly and sometimes intentionally.
We confess that we have not always defended each other, protected each other,
and generously served each other.
At times we have ignored the needs of the poor,
forgotten the suffering of the oppressed,
and we've been too busy to bind up the wounds of the hurting.
Forgive us for the sake of Jesus Christ,
who totally gave himself for us. Amen.

The Assurance of God's Pardon: Romans 5:1,2

Song of Commitment: "Not for Tongues of Heaven's Angels" PH 531, SNC 275, TWC 597 [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Call to Grateful Living: Luke 10:36-39 or Micah 6:8 [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy and <href="#music" >music notes]


The Reading of the Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 40 [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]

*Song of Preparation: "Help Us Accept Each Other" TWC 437

The Prayer for Illumination

The Old Testament Reading: Genesis 4:1-16
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The New Testament Reading: 1 John 3:11-24
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: The Honor of Relationships
Shaping Our Gratitude 8

The Prayer of Application


*Our Renewed Vows of Obedience [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]

*Song of Response: "The Ten Commandments" PsH 153:1, 7, 9
or: "The Lord Is God, the One and True God" SNC 73

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory:
The Offering of Music: "The Ten Commandments" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
or: "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace"
We offer our gifts for..


*Words of Sending

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Sung Response: "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" PsH 545
or: "Father, Help Your People" PsH 607

Postlude: "Trumpet Tune," Mouret [see <href="#music" >music notes]

* You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes

The sixth commandment communicates that life is God-given and should be protected. It speaks about what you and I do with and toward other human beings who have been given life from God. It's a pro-life, in the broadest sense of that term, commandment.

There is a great deal of evidence to point to the fact that ever since the fall our world has lost its interest and ability to value and love life, as shown through Cain's murder of Abel, the bloody wars of history, and our contemporary society. Warfare, crime, and violence show that humanity has devised a diversity of methods of spilling blood. We have whole industries-alcohol, drugs, tobacco, street crime, and abortion-for the desecration of life. Poverty, injustice, oppression and abuse are frequently institutionalized and can be even more insidious. All these give evidence of how far we are from God's plan for us to "love our neighbors as ourselves."

God's call to us in the sixth commandment, therefore, is radical and calls us to live according to a completely different value system. God has created life (Genesis 2:7), and we are accountable to him for our actions toward life.

The exhortations of 1 John 3 make clear that Christians, who have experienced love from God in Christ (see v.16), are called to love others (see v.11). However, this exhortation puts us on a collision course with the world (see v.12-15). This "love of the brothers" to which we are called is practiced in a multitude of ways (see v.16-20). We clearly are called to be pro-life people in an anti-life culture.

The sixth commandment and 1 John 3 imply many different dimensions of obedience. These implications are identified helpfully in the Heidelberg Catechism and both Westminster Catechisms. A number of categories of obedience are found in these statements:

  • Prohibition against the destruction of life-no murder!
  • A Call for the protection of life-eliminate the forces that destroy life and promote a just society.
  • Efforts toward the affirmation of life's value-don't hate (see 1 John 3:15).
  • Service that will nurture the lives of others-share our material possessions (see 1 John 3:17).

Significantly, John directly ties our commitment to value and protect the lives of others with the credibility of our testimony that we know God (see 1 John 3:19-24)!

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:

LASST UNS ERFREUEN ["All Creatures of Our God and King"]

Burkhardt, Michael. Five Psalm Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-511 [1997] (E-M)
Callahan, Charles. Partita on Lasst uns Erfruen. Morningstar MSM-10-700 [1989] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 5. AMSI SP-102 [1985] (D)
Held, Wilbur. Hymn Preludes for the Autumn Festivals. Concordia 97-5360 [1976] (E-M)
Hobby, Robert A. Three Easter Hymn Settings. Morningstar MSM-10-421 [1999] (E-M)
Kemner, Gerald. Fantasies on Nine Familiar Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-5919 [1990] (M)
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 2. SMP KK235 [1982] (adaptable for piano; E-M)
Leavitt, John. With High Delight. Concordia 97-6845 [2000] (E-M)
Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 6. Concordia 97-5305 [1975] (E-M)
Rowley, Alec. Choral Preludes based on Famous Hymn Tunes, vol. 2. Ashdown [1952]
Sedio, Mark. (1996) Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E-M)
Sedio, Mark. Organ Tapestries, vol. 2. Concordia 97-6861 [2000] (E-M)
Stearns, Peter Pindar. Twelve Hymn Preludes for General Use. Flammer HF-5145 [1987]

Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Day by Day. Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (M)

Dobrinski, Cynthia. All Creatures of Our God & King. Agape 1737 [1995] (3-5 octaves, M)
Honoré, Jeffrey. Alleluia Passacaglia. Agape 1552 [1992] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
Hopson, Hal. H. All Creatures of Our God & King. Agape 1546 [1992] (3-4 octaves, E-M)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555
Burkhardt, Michael. 5 Psalm Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-511 [1997]
Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000]
Ferguson, John Festival Hymns for Organ Brass and Tympani, set 3. GIA G-4124 [1995]
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986]
Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H W Grey GB 644 [1978]
Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190

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

The opening response song can be sung in its entirety or it is appropriate to sing the 4th stanza alone because of its doxological Trinitarian text.

The sung Call to Confession "Thou Knowest, Lord, the Secrets of Our Hearts" by Henry Purcell (arranged by O. C. Christiansen is scored for SATB a capella voices. This classic choral anthem is published by Kjos 4 [1965] (E-M).

The hymn "Not for Tongues of Heaven's Angels" can be sung by congregation alone, or a combination of choir and congregation where the congregation would sing only the brief refrain at the close of each stanza. A soloist could also lead the congregation in this setting.

The Guide to Grateful Living from Micah 6:8 could also be sung in an anthem setting. The text of Micah 6:6-8 is found in "Offertory" by John Ness Beck, published by Beckenhorst BP1280 [1987] for SATB voices and keyboard; E-M).

Suggestions for offertory music can be found in:

LES COMMANDEMENTS ["The Ten Commandments" / "The Lord Is God, the One and True God"]

Bach, J. S. The Liturgical Year (ed. Riemenschneider ) Ditson [1933] (E-M)
Bunjes, Paul. G. Organ Music for the Communion Service. Concordia 97-1395 [1956] (E-M)
McKay, George Frederick. Suite on Sixteenth Hymn Tunes. H. W. Grey [1950] (E-M)

TEMPLE ["Make Me a Channel of Your Peace"]

Carter, John. Contemporary Hymns & Songs for Piano/4 Hands. Hope 8087 [2000] (E-M)

Wagner, Douglas E. Make Me a Channel of Your Peace. Agape 2064 [1998] (3-5 octaves, level

The organ postlude "Trumpet Tune" by Jean Joseph Mouret can be found in Sinfonies de Fanfares, published by H. W. Grey GSTC 980 [1974] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes

1. You will notice again that the Prayer of Confession is tailored to this commandment. This may be read by the worship leader as a representative of all, or it may be read in unison by all worshipers. It may also be wise, either with the Call to Worship or the Call to Confession, to focus on the theme of the sixth commandment.

2. The Call to Grateful Living may use either of the two passages provided or another that is appropriate and consistent with the theme. If the Luke 10 passage is used, a transitional statement may be helpful.

3. We suggest that the words of the Heidelberg Catechism be read responsively with the congregation. You may either design this so that the worship leader reads the question and the congregation responds with the answer, or vice versa. 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 is God's will for you in the sixth commandment?
I am not to belittle, insult, hate, or kill my neighbor-
not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture,
and certainly not by actual deeds-
and I am not to be party to this in others;
rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.
I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either.
Prevention of murder is also why
government is armed with the sword.
Does this commandment refer only to killing?
By forbidding murder God teaches us
that he hates the root of murder:
envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness.
In God's sight all such are murder.
Is it enough then that we do not kill our neighbor
in any such way?
No. By condemning envy, hatred, and anger
God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves,
to be patient, peace-loving, gentle,
merciful, and friendly to them,
to protect them from harm as much as we can,
and to do good even to our enemies. (Lord's Day 40, Heidelberg Catechism)

4. For each Sunday in this series, the service will include a section after the sermon entitled "We Respond with Our Renewed Commitments." The Commandments, in one of its forms, should be the substance of this commitment. There is a variety of resources you may draw from. Section 2.7 of The Worship Sourcebook(pp. 127-137) provides a variety of resources for this purpose. The Psalter Hymnal (pp. 1013-1018) provides additional responsive readings of the Ten Commandments.
To reprint responsive readings of the Ten Commandments for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom us, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. . Reprinted with permission.