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Growing With Peter Series: When Faith Takes Risks - Matthew 14

A service plan in a Lenten series focused on drawing close to Christ, who gives us courage to step out of our comfort zones.

Theme of the Service

The story of Peter's experience in walking on the water will shape the theme of this service. As we attempt to grow with Peter, we learn that our faith at times draws us out of our comfort zone and directs us to take risks.

Since we are not usually very comfortable with risks, the theme of this service should focus on our need to draw as close to Christ as we can so that his presence will stir our faith and give us the courage we need to serve him the way he desires.


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

The Call to Worship

Welcome to the worship of the Lord!

There is no privilege we have that is quite as great as that of coming into the presence of God at his invitation. God our Father delights in his children coming to him in worship and he draws us in the name of his Son and in the power of his Holy Spirit. Come to worship with sincerity of heart and an eagerness to meet God.

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Congregation of Jesus 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 Approach: "O God, Our Father, We Come" PsH 450


The Call to Confession
The Apostle John has written:
My little children, I am writing these things to you
so that you may not sin.
But if anyone does sin,
we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,
and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1,2)
In the strength of this assurance,
and with the prompting of God's Spirit,
let us confess our sins to God.

Our Prayer of Confession
Most holy and merciful Father,
We confess to you and to one another,
that we have sinned against you
in thought, word and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you
with our whole heart and mind and strength.
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your holy name.
For the sake of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Assurance of God's Pardon:

Pastor: The Gospel of Christ speaks to us of the assurance we may have of God's pardon. Please rise for the reading of the Holy Gospel.
(worshipers rise; readings are by lay persons)

*The Reading of John 6:35-40

The Gospel of Christ.
Thanks be to God!

*Song of Testimony: "There Is a Redeemer" RN 232, SNC 145

*Passing the Peace:
Pastor: The peace of the Lord be with you.
People: And also with you!

(The worshipers pass the peace to each other, saying "the peace of the Lord to you", and then are seated.)

Our Commitment to Holy Living:

Since we have been saved by grace, how shall we live in relationship to Him who saved us?
We will have no other gods before Him; we will not make for ourselves any substitute gods; we will not abuse the name of the Lord, but speak it only in reverence and love; we will honor the Lord's day through worship, witness and fellowship with His people.
How shall we live in relationship with others?
We will honor our parents and hold the family in high esteem; we will not abuse, hate or injure our friends or neighbors by words, gestures or deeds; we will not commit adultery, but live holy disciplined lives; we will not steal; we will not lie; we will not grasp for what we do not have, nor reject others for having it.
How does Jesus summarize these commandments?
He says that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves, and by God's grace, we will do it!


The Children's Moment

The Reading of Scripture: Matthew 14:22-33
(see liturgy notes)

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

*Hymn of Response to Scripture: "Jesus Called to Peter" SFL 114:1-3, 8

or: "Jesus Calls Us, O'er the Tumult (Halton Holgate: PsH 553) (Sussex: RL 258) (Galilee: RL 259, TH 591) (Pleading Savior: TWC 580)

The Prayer for Illumination
Lord, even as you have written your Word long ago,
and have preserved it through the generations,
so today we ask that you speak to us through it.
Guide your servant who speaks your Word,
and illumine our minds to hear and receive
that we may know how to serve you.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

(Growing with Peter - #3)

The Applicatory Prayer


Song: "Faith Begins by Letting Go" SNC 172

Offertory: "Faith Begins by Letting Go", Diemer
or: "If You But Trust in God to Guide You", Leupold

Anthem: "Everywhere I Go", Sleeth

The Pastoral Prayer

*Our Profession of Faith
Christ has redeemed us by his blood.
And now we do good because
Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself,
so that in all our living
we may show that we are thankful to God
for all he has done for us,
and so that he may be praised through us.
And we do good
so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,
and so that by our godly living
our neighbors may be won over to Christ.

From Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 32, Q&A 86 (Psalter Hymnal p.901,
©1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI, 1-800-333-8300. Used by permission.

*Song: "If You [Thou] But Trust in God to Guide You [Thee]" PH 282, PsH 446, RL 151, SFL 210, TH 670, TWC 636


*The Sending - Philippians 2:12,13

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen

Postlude: "Prelude and Fugue in G Minor", J.S. Bach

* - you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

As you prepare this sermon, remember that there are six disciples-in-a-storm-and-Jesus-comes-to-help-them stories in the four Gospels. And if you compare them carefully, you'll discover that these six accounts are about two different events. In one event Jesus is with them in the boat, but sleeping. In the other, Jesus is behind on land and comes out to meet them walking on the water. Of the latter, Matthew's account is most unique because it includes the story of Peter walking on the water to meet Jesus. Matthew, by choosing to include this story, must have been one of the disciples in the boat and deeply impressed by this event.

The story includes two surprises - that Jesus came walking on the water to meet them, and that Peter was able to walk out on the water to meet Jesus. The big question to deal with in this sermon is what to make of Peter and his actions? Was he a fool to attempt this? Does his sinking into the water indicate he was a failure? And if either of these is true, why is there an absence of any rebuke from Jesus?

Develop your sermon in the direction of learning more about the journey of faith. Consider the fact that Peter teaches us that a healthy faith often takes risks and leads us into territory that is outside our comfort zone. His later ministry amply illustrates this fact. You may want to illustrate the truth by the lives of other people of faith who accomplished great things for God by stepping outside of their comfort zone, even if it did get them wet at times!

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)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. The prelude music by Wilbur Held has three variations on the hymn "All Glory Be to God on High". This is published by Morningstar MSM-10-706 [1995] (M). Consider playing all three variations as prelude or divide the piece to use each setting as prelude, offertory and postlude music.
  2. Notice that the prelude music and opening hymn are both Passion oriented and Trinity based.
  3. We are giving two suggestions for the hymn response to Scripture. "Jesus Called to Peter" is a children's hymn taken from Songs for LiFE in which the stanzas provide a narrative on Peter's life story. Each week we will suggest stanzas that portray the Scripture of the sermon or that will remind the worshipers of Scripture from previous weeks in this sermon series. "Jesus Calls Us, O'er the Tumult" is the alternative suggestion. This hymn is also based on the Scripture of this service.
  4. "Faith Begins by Letting Go" is a contemporary text by Carl Daw that is set to a historic tune Lux Prima.
  5. Two suggestions are given for the organ offertory music - a setting of Lux Prima by Emma Lou Diemer in Celebration, published by Augsburg 11-9097 [1975] (M) or a transcription of "If You But Trust in God to Guide You" by A.W. Leupold, published by Chantry Press [1960] (E-M).
  6. "Everywhere I Go" by Natalie Sleeth is published as a unison anthem by Choristers Guild CGA-171 [1975] (E). It can also be found in a hymnal setting in Songs for LiFE (211).
  7. The postlude is one of Bach's "little" prelude and fugues that can be found in many different editions of Bach's music.

Liturgy Notes:

1. Notice that the Call to Worship makes it very clear that worship happens because God calls us together into his presence. Worship leaders have only a few opening sentences to clearly establish the fact that we are in worship at the call of God. It is healthy to establish the vertical dimension immediately. Horizontal relationships, though important, are clearly to be secondary.

2. Notice that the service of confession is the same as previous weeks, throughout the season of Lent. The movement (drama) here is clearly to be that of worshipers corporately asking for forgiveness, standing while the assurance from the gospel is read, and extending God's peace to one another as they have received it from Christ.

3. A service like this is an ideal time to make the Children's Moment a well-told Bible story. Since the sermon will treat Peter's faith, the children could be told a story of any of the other heroes of faith from Hebrews 11. Pick any of them that you feel might appeal to children, check out the story in a children's Bible story book, and tell them the story on their level.

4. There is much drama inherent in this passage of Scripture and so we have suggested that it be read as a Scripture drama. Four persons will be needed for different reading parts - A Narrator, a Disciple, Jesus, and Peter. The passage can easily be divided between these four persons. A specific formulation can be found in THE DRAMATIZED NEW TESTAMENT (ed. Michael Perry, Baker Books, 1993), an excellent source for Scripture drama readings. The readers should be positioned in such a way that the narrator is separated from the other three who are standing close to each other. In doing such a reading it is important that the readers rehearse together with some coaching so that the reading can be done with expression.

5. It often is best if the prayer for illumination is led by a lay member of the congregation. This lay leader then lifts up the request of all worshipers that the Spirit of God will do his work while the Word is proclaimed. He/she also provides encouragement to the preacher who may feel awkward praying for himself/herself.

6. In the response section of the service, the profession of faith from the Heidelberg Catechism and the sending from Philippians 2:12,13 are intended to focus on the challenge to obedient action that our faith carries with it.