The Transforming Power of Easter - Fourth Sunday of Easter - 2 Peter 1

A worship service for the fourth Sunday of the Easter season based on 2 Peter 1. This service explores the way our lives serve as a reflection of Christ's transforming power in a broken world.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Eastertide Series

This is a series continuing the songs and themes of Easter’s victory during the fifty days of Eastertide that lead up to Pentecost

Theme of the Service

This service explores the way in which our lives serve as a reflection of Christ's transforming power in a broken world.

Christ's Easter victory over sin and death has transformed our lives as God's elect. Peter explains that the triumph of the cross has given us the power to live in accordance with the virtues to which God's people are called. We often fail to see the ways in which we fall into ineffective and unproductive faith. Just as the prophets foreshadowed the power of Christ in a broken world, so also Peter calls Christians to recognize this orientation towards God's power at work in their lives and in the world around them. God has given us everything we need to live in the power of the coming kingdom of heaven.

WE GATHER IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Prelude [see music notes]

The Call to Worship

* Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting
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.
(TWS, p. 53)

*Song: "Uyai Mose/Come, All You People" SNC 4, WOV 717

WE ARE RENEWED IN GOD'S GRACE

The Call to Confession

Our Corporate Confession

The Assurance of Pardon
While we were still weak,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—
though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood,
will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.
For if while we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,
much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. (TWS, p. 290)

God's Will for Grateful Living: Colossians 3:1-17

Song of Praise: "May the Mind of Christ My Savior" PsH 291, RN 285, TH 644, TWC 560

GOD SPEAKS TO US THROUGH HIS WORD

The Children's Moment

The Prayer for Illumination

The Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 11:1-9
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The New Testament Reading: 2 Peter 1:3-11
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: "The Transforming Power of Easter"

Song of Response: "Fill Thou My Life" PsH 547, RL 147, TH 589

WE RESPOND TO GOD'S WORD

The Prayers of the People

The Offering
The Offertory [see music notes]

*Song: "Give Thanks" RN 266, SNC 216, TWC 496

*Charge and Benediction
When you leave this place, thousands of gods will compete for your attention. Resist them,
and as you do, be confident that the true God, the One who created you, is with you.

*The Doxology
Hear now these words from the apostle Jude: To him who is able to keep you from falling, and
to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy, to the only God
our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all ages, now and forevermore.
Amen!

*Song: "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow" PH 591/592, PsH 637/638, RL 556, RN 83, SFL 11, UMH 95

Postlude: "Old Hundredth" [see music notes]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

  1. Though it may seem at first that 2 Peter 1:3-11 proclaims the transforming power of Christian living, it is important to read these verses in the context of verse 1, which announces that we receive our faith "through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ." The divine power and precious promises come from him alone. But note that this power has been given to us for a purpose: "for life and godliness" (v. 3). Some act as if the knowledge of Christ's resurrection does not have any effect on their lives beyond the intellectual realm. Peter's insistence here sounds much like James's statement that faith without deeds is dead (James 2:17).
  2. The qualities listed in verses 5-7 do not necessarily give us a hierarchy of spiritual virtues. Rather, Peter here lists examples of a lifestyle characterized by the transforming power of Easter. You may want to consider how these virtues help us understand what it means to live as a Christian in light of our Easter faith—what Peter here calls "effectiveness" or "productivity" for the sake of Christ. We live as Christians in light of the remembrance that we have been cleansed from our sins. How do our lives change once they have been touched by the power of this knowledge? The message should help the congregation understand what this means.
  3. Human cooperation does not cause righteousness, but confirms the "call and election" of believers, as verse 10 indicates. We have been called into righteousness through the victory of Christ's death and resurrection. Look for examples of how Christian belief and Christian living go hand in hand. The passage from Isaiah gives us some indication of this when it speaks of "righteousness" and "justice," two words which have a close connection to following God's law. God's redeemed people live according to the divinely revealed pattern for human life.
  4. Our contemporary culture focuses quite properly on the importance of transformation in this world. But Peter points out that this transformation extends beyond this world into the next. It is as if the outposts of God's eternal kingdom have taken hold on earth because of the victory of Easter. We should consider, though, how the power for Christian living and transformation come from God (see 2 Tim. 4:18). It might be useful to note how virtuous living points beyond itself to the vision of the new heaven and new earth presented in Revelation 21 and 22.

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. Following are music suggestions for prelude, offertory, and postlude:

"Give Thanks"
Piano:

  • Hayes, Mark. Lord, Be Glorified. Word 301 0047 312 [1990] (M).
  • Wilson, John F. This Is the Day. Hope 243 [1992] (E-M).

Handbells:

  • Wilson, John F. Give Thanks. Agape 1771 [1995] (3-5 octaves, E-M).

GROSSER GOTT ("Holy God, We Praise Your Name")
Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-754 [1991] (E-M).
  • Held, Wilbur. Hymn Preludes for the Pentecost Season. Concordia 97-5517 [1979] (E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Hymns of Praise, set 5. Morningstar MSM-10-760 [1998] (E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (D).
  • Peeters, Flor. 30 Chorale Preludes, set 3. Peters 6025 [1950] (M-D).

Handbells:

  • Wiltse, Carl. Holy God, We Praise Your Name. Stained Glass SGM-136 (3-4 octaves with hand chimes, level 4)

OLD HUNDREDTH/GENEVAN 134 ("Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow")
Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Psalm Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-511 [1997] (E-M).
  • Burkhardt Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-752 [1989] (E-M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Psalm of Praise. Concordia 97-6790 [1999] (E-M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Two Festive Organ Pieces. Morningstar MSM-10-761 [1999] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 8. AMSI SP-105 [1991] (M).
  • Ferguson, John. Three Psalm Preludes. Augsburg 11-10823 [1997] (M).
  • Jordan, Alice. Worship Service Music for the Organist. Broadman 4570-27 [1975] (E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 3. SMP KK278 [1983].
  • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 4. Concordia 97-4951 [1970].
  • Paine, John Knowles. The Complete Organ Works of John Knowles Paine (ed. Leupold). McAfee [1916] (D).
  • Purcell, Henry. A Collection of Thanksgiving Music. H.W. Grey [1938] (M).
  • Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes, set 1. Peters 6011 [1956] (E-M).

Piano:

  • Hayes, Mark. Lord, Be Glorified. Word 301 0047 312 [1990] (M).

Handbells:

  • Kerkorian, Greg. Old Hundredth. Lake State HB00066 [2000] (3 octaves, M).

UPP, MIN TUNGA ("Praise the Savior, Now and Ever")
Organ:

  • Haan, Raymond H. Four Hymns of Rejoicing. Morningstar MSM-10-518 [1998] (E-M).

2. Notes about the congregational songs within the service:

  • We might suggest using an additional verse to "Uyai Mose/Come, All You People" at the opening of the service. "Come, all you people, come and find forgiveness" would focus the worshipers' attention on God's transforming power and help the flow of the service into the call to confession. These and other verse suggestions may be found in the Leader's Edition of Sing! A New Creation (#4).
  • The song of response to the sermon, "Fill Thou My Life," gives the congregation the opportunity to sing about holy living in our everyday activities: ". . . in the common words I speak, life's common looks and tones." It might be helpful to draw this connection when introducing the song.
  • The song "Give Thanks" uses the same language as suggested in the children's moment earlier in the service. Feel free to make the connections between the Isaiah passage, the children's moment, and this song during those points in the worship service.
  • We conclude the service with the doxology "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow." This song flows naturally from the charge and benediction because of its confident assertion that it is from God alone that all blessings flow.

Liturgy Notes:

  1. The service begins with a reminder of the certain knowledge we have that we are God's people and calls us to speak our praise for that awareness.
  2. The time of confession reminds us of what Peter says about our condition apart from Christ's transforming power: we find ourselves "nearsighted, blind, ineffective, unproductive, and acting as if we are not cleansed." (Check out Peter's words in 2 Peter 1:8-9. You may want to include these expressions in the prayer of confession.) The gospel calls us to live differently, to set our minds on things above.
  3. It may be appropriate to use more than one song as a response to the sermon because there are so many great hymns which speak of being transformed through Christ and acting as "Christ's people" once again.
  4. We suggest using the children's moment to further help the kids understand the sermon. Using the Isaiah text, help them to understand what "transformation" means. For example, begin with how Christ turns things upside down. Christ makes the weak, ______ (strong). He makes the poor, _______ (rich), or the broken, _______ (fixed!). This is especially meaningful since the passage in Isaiah says "a child shall lead them" (v. 6). Our world is hurting, and children can help the congregation see the radical transformation of Christ.

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