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The Time of Reassessment - Job 42, Psalm 92, Isaiah 46, Matthew 6, 1 Corinthians 10

The fifth service plan in a series entitled "Chapters of Life." This services focuses on the transition that takes place when the children are gone and the "nest is empty."

Worship Service
Also in this Series

The Chapters of Life

This series of worship services explores how children and adults can participate together with integrity to give honor to God while paying credit to the significance of each age level.

Theme of the Service

This is the fifth service and message in the series on "The Chapters of Life." The purpose of this service is to identify the transition that takes place in our lives when the children are gone and the "nest is empty," to point to the major reassessment of the values we live by, and to biblically guide such a reassessment.

The theme of this service has a significant pastoral task. Folks who are going through major reassessments in life need pastoral understanding, encouragement, and guidance in considering which values will shape their choices.


Prelude: "All Glory Be to God on High," Held [organ]

*The Call to Worship
Let us worship the eternal God,
the source of love and life, who creates us.
Let us worship Jesus Christ,
the risen one, who lives among us.
Let us worship the Spirit,
the holy fire, who renews us.
To the one true God be praise
in all times and places,
through the grace of Jesus Christ.

*God's Greeting
Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Song: "All Glory Be to God on High" PH 133, PsH 247, RL 620, TH 102
or " Uyai Mose /Come, All You People" SNC 4


The Call to Confession
We cannot come before God
unless we are first honest with ourselves
about who we are,
about the mistakes we make,
and about how well or poorly we care for others.
In this spirit, let us offer our prayers to God.

Our Prayer of Confession
Holy and merciful God,
in your presence we confess
our sinfulness, our shortcomings,
and our offenses against you.
You alone know how often we have sinned
in wandering from your ways,
in wasting your gifts,
in forgetting your love.
Have mercy on us, O Lord,
for we are ashamed and sorry
for all we have done to displease you.
Forgive our sins,
and help us to live in your light
and walk in your ways,
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

The Assurance of God's Pardon: Isaiah 1:18

Song of Praise: "Fill Thou My Life, O Lord, My God" PsH 547

God's Will for Grateful Living: Micah 6:8


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

The Prayer for Illumination

Scripture Readings : Job 42:10-17; Psalm 92:12-15; Isaiah 42:3-4; Matthew 6:25-33; 1 Corinthians 10:31
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Song: "O God, Your Constant Care and Love" (st . 1, 3, 4) PsH 592

Sermon: "The Time of Reassessment" (When the Children Are Gone)
(The Chapters of Life - #5)

The Prayer of Application

The Echo of God's Call: "Seek Ye First the Kingdom" PH 333, PsH 209, SFL 155, TWC 447, UMH 405, WOV 783


A Litany of Commitment
The Spirit thrusts God's people into worldwide mission.
He impels young and old, men and women,
to go next door and far away
into science and art,
media and marketplace,
with the good news of God's grace.
The Spirit goes before them and with them,
convincing the world of sin
and pleading the cause of Christ.
The Spirit's gifts are here to stay in rich variety-
fitting responses to timely needs.
We thankfully see each other
as gifted members of the fellowship
which delights in the creative Spirit's work.
He gives more than enough
to each believer
for God's praise and our neighbor's welfare.
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! (Our World Belongs to God, art. 32, 33, 1)

Intercessory Prayer

Our Offerings for God's Kingdom
The Offering of Music: "What Shall I Render to the Lord" PsH 178
Our Gift Offerings


*Song: "Father, Help Your People" (st . 1, 4) PsH 607
or "Bring Forth the Kingdom" RN 153, SNC 123
or " Will You Come and Follow Me" SNC 267
or "Here I Am, Lord" RN 149, SNC 268, UMH 593, WOV 752

*The Benediction and Congregational Amen!

Postlude: Trumpet Tune in D Major, Johnson

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

  1. Carefully explain what this fifth chapter of life includes. For some it can be a long period of time, stretching from the time when the last child leaves home, through retirement, to the closing days of life. For others that may be a rather short period of years. In any case, it is a chapter in which a reassessment is made, either intentional or not, because major changes usually precipitate such a reassessment. (It may be helpful to point out that such major reassessments are usually made at three change-points in life: adolescence, when the nest becomes empty, and when we enter retirement.)
  2. Reassessment means asking ourselves probing and self-examining questions about such matters as the use of our time, our finances, our relationships, and our energies. We ask questions about what we have been living for, the goals we have set, the values that guide us, and how we need to revise such matters.
  3. A sermon will aid worshipers best if it provides them with guidelines to make sure that such reassessments will be conducted along biblical lines. Society will give us plenty of other criteria, some very dangerous. And it would be helpful to point out that once again we are faced with a collision of several worldviews-one that says life is to be lived for God and others from start to finish, another that says we spend the earlier chapters serving others and this new chapter may be dominated by recreation and leisure, and still another that tells us all of life is to be lived for ourselves and our pleasure. C.S.Lewis, in Surprised by Joy, speaks of sehnsucht, a German word that points to the intense longing of the human heart to be fulfilled, feel significant, and be worthwhile. It is within us as an expression of the image of God.
  4. Four guidelines are presented in the multiple Scripture passages associated with this sermon:
    1. Enjoy God's Blessings. The closing chapter of Job's life illustrates that.
    2. Keep a Clear Testimony. The psalmist (92) speaks of that.
    3. Keep on Trusting. Isaiah 42 points to the promises we stand on.
    4. Keep the Kingdom First. Jesus' words in Matthew 6 make this clear.
  5. At the conclusion on the sermon, we presented a list of questions to be used for self-appraisal in this reassessment process. These were printed on the worship sheet so each worshiper could take a copy home. It included six questions:
    • How have my goals changed and what dreams or goals do I have that are not yet realized?
    • Am I still interested in learning and growing?
    • Have will I reallocate my time/energy now that my children are gone?
    • How will I reallocate my finances now that the expense of raising a family is completed?
    • What contribution can I make now to the church and the kingdom on the basis of the insight and experience I have gained?
    • How am I able to use my retirement to serve to the glory of God?

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)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice ( Augsburg Fortress)

  1. The prelude suggestion is a suite of three pieces based on the hymn tune ALLEIN GOTT. You may wish to consider dividing the sections of the suite so that you play a section each for the prelude, offertory, and postlude. "All Glory Be to God on High," arranged for organ by Wilbur Held, is published by Morningstar MSM-10-706 [1995] (M).
  2. Notice the Trinitarian emphasis present in both suggestions for the opening hymn. That emphasis reinforces the profession in the Call to Worship.
  3. The anthem "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry" by John Helgen is a (mostly) SATB arrangement of the theme hymn for this series. This anthem is published by Kjos 8826 [1996] (M).
  4. The Echo of God's Call could effectively be sung by a children's choir, or by a child or youth. In this way the children serve as encouragers to the adults of the congregation, who are the focus in this sermon.
  5. The offertory music could be sung congregationally during the giving of the offering or it could be played instrumentally. "What Shall I Render to the Lord" is a setting of Psalm 116 to the tune ROCKINGHAM. Michael Burkhardt has arranged this hymn tune in the organ collection "Four Hymn Improvisations for Holy Week"; it is published by Morningstar MSM-10-318 [1995] (E). You may wish to use a treble C instrument [or B-flat instrument, transposed] on the hymn tune melody line, instead of playing it only on the organ.
  6. We provide a variety of suggestions for the closing hymn. The first two hymns are written in the same key as the postlude music. Playing both the hymn and the postlude in the same key sometimes is useful in tying together a section of a service. The organ postlude "Trumpet Tune in D Major" by David Johnson is published by Augsburg 1-805 [1962] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

  1. Three readings in this service (The Call to Worship, the Call to Confession, and the Prayer of Confession) are taken from The Worship Sourcebook, recently published by Faith Alive Christian Resources, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, and Baker Book House (available from Faith Alive Christian Resources, 1-800-333-8300.) Find out more about The Worship Sourcebook.
  2. You will notice there are five Scripture readings in preparation for this sermon. We suggest that multiple persons read these passages in succession, immediately followed by the sung response. The passages will be commented on within the sermon.
  3. The Litany of Commitment from Our World Belongs to God is structured in two parts. However, use your creativity in discovering the most meaningful way for your congregation to read it: pastor/worship leader and congregation, two sections of the congregation, or a combination of those possibilities.
  4. The Intercessory Prayer, whether led by the pastor a lay leader, should be sensitive to the needs, struggles, and changing circumstances of those in this chapter of life. We gathered a group of members who were facing these changes and engaged them in a discussion meeting a couple of weeks before the service. Notes were taken as they expressed their concerns and needs. These concerns and needs formed the substance of the intercessory prayer.