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When the Big Day Comes - Philippians 3

A service plan from the Apostles' Creed focused on Christian hope and confidence in our own resurrection to eternal life in a series on the Apostles' Creed as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service
The Apostles' Creed

Theme of the Service

With this service and sermon, we arrive at the completion of our twelve-part study of the historic doctrines of the church as set forth in the Apostles' Creed.

Since the Apostles' Creed ends with "I believe . . . the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting," the theme of this service must focus on those events that we will experience when Christ returns-our own resurrection to eternal life. Christian hope and confidence should come through in every part of this service.


Prelude: "How Can I Keep From Singing" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
"Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"

Introit: "How Can I Keep from Singing," Honoré [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Call to Worship

*Song of Praise: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" (st. 1-2) PH 376, PsH 568, RN 196, RL 464, TH 529, TWC 558, UMH 384

*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 Response: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (st. 3) [see <href="#music" >music notes]


The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession

The Assurance of God's Pardon

Song of Response: "Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer" PH 281, PsH 543, RL 50, TH 598, TWC 634, UMH 127

God's Call to Grateful Living

The Offertory
The Offering of Music: "Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
The Offering of our Gifts for . . .


*Song: "In God the Father I Believe" PsH 518, TH 741
or "I Believe in God Almighty" SNC 175 [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of the Catechism
How does "the resurrection of the body"
comfort you?

Not only my soul
will be taken immediately after this life
to Christ its head,
but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ,
will be reunited with my soul
and made like Christ's glorious body.

How does the article
concerning "life everlasting"
comfort you?

Even as I already now
experience in my heart
the beginning of eternal joy,
so after this life I will have
perfect blessedness such as
no eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no human heart has ever imagined:
a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 22)

The Reading of Scripture: Philippians 3:12-4:1
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: "When the Big Day Comes" (The Apostles' Creed - #12)
Text: Philippians 3:20-21

The Prayer of Application


The First Reading from 1 Corinthians 15 (see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes)
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Song: "Jesus Lives, and So Do We" (st. 1, 5) PsH 399, TWC 246 [see <href="#music" >music notes]

Our Affirmation of Faith
What is your only comfort
in life and in death?

That I am not my own,
but belong-
body and soul,
in life and in death-
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 1)

The Pastoral Prayer

Song: "Beams of Heaven" (st. 1-3) PsH 577, UMH 524
or Anthem: "City Called Heaven," Poelinutz [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Second Reading from 1 Corinthians 15
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

*Song: "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" PsH 617, SFL 197, UMH 703

*Song: "Soon and Very Soon" RN 276, SFL 194, SNC 106, TWC 677, UMH 706, WOV 744


*The Blessing with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Holy God, We Praise Your Name" PH 460, PsH 504, RL 619, TH 103, TWC 3, UMH 79

Postlude: "Holy God, We Praise Your Name"
or "Jesus Lives, and So Do We" [see <href="#music" >music notes]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

1. My insurance representative once told me that I must be sure that I have "comprehensive coverage," that I would be foolish to have anything less. He went on to say that if I have anything less than "comprehensive" the day would come in which I would severely regret it. The last two lines of the Apostles' Creed and this text tell us how comprehensive the coverage of our faith is!

2. Franz Borkenau, an author, historian, and political commentator, has said you can know a lot about a culture by analyzing their thoughts and attitudes about death. He identified three cultural perspectives on death. Some are death-accepting, very matter-of-factly, such as ancient Greek society and those in our society today who readily accept assisted suicide, etc. Others are death-denying, speaking of it only in euphemisms and doing everything to avoid it and postpone it. And still others are death-defying, such as Christians who accept the reality of death but firmly claim that it does not have the last word. Christians are people who, in the deepest sense of the word, claim "death doesn't ultimately matter." Paul says that our real life, our real citizenship, is in heaven. (See also John 3:36; 6:47; 8:51; and 11:25-26.)

3. The catechism reflects our Scripture text in pointing to the afterlife, which involves (1) the physical return of Jesus Christ, (2) the resurrection of our body, (3) the transformation of our body, and (4) the continuous eternal state. If words fail us to adequately describe the experience and anticipation associated with this hope, no wonder! Paul also feels that. Listen to him in 1 Corinthians 2:9, echoing Isaiah (64:4). This same wonder is expressed by the catechism (Q&A 58). The hope and joy here defy adequate description in human language!

4. But the hope and comfort is firm and deep. The focus of the catechism is not on intellectual inquiry but on the deep-seated comfort provided. We find greater appreciation for the ultimate permanence of our physical body; we have the confidence that our personhood has permanent existence; confidence that all the effects of sin will be past ("made like his glorious body," Phil. 3:21); and security that all this is surely promised to us. All of this is sure because of the central place of the finished work and current reign of Jesus Christ.

5. Rev. J. Eppinga in As Long As I Live (CRC Publications, 1993, pp. 194-195) speaks richly about growing older and uses an illustration that is worth quoting here:

"A doctor had an office adjoining his house. His dog was trained never to enter his office even if the door was open. One day a patient whose death was imminent came to see the doctor. Since both were Christians, the conversation drifted to a discussion of the hereafter. The patient expressed some apprehensions, 'I don't know what it's like up there', he said.

" 'Neither do I,' said the doctor. Then he had an idea. He told his patient he had a dog that had been trained never to enter his office even if the door was open. 'But now,' said the doctor, 'I'm going to call him in.'

"The doctor opened the door. He returned to his chair behind his desk. He called the dog, who appeared in the doorway but, being trained, did not enter the office. The doctor called, urged, and encouraged the animal to cross the threshold. Finally, the dog could resist no longer and with a few giant leaps landed happily in his master's lap.

"The doctor turned to his patient and said, 'For a Christian, dying is like that. It is going where you have never been before. But it's all right because the Master is there.' "

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 suggestions for prelude based on the hymn tunes HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING/QUAKER HYMN and HYFRYDOL can be found in the following resources:


  • Boertje, Barbara. Piano Improvisations for the Church Year. Unity Music Press 70/1194U [1998] (E-M).


  • McFadden, Jane. How Can I Keep From Singing? Augsburg 11-10984 [1999] (3-5 octaves, level 3).

HYFRYDOL ["Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"]

  • Barr, John G. Processional Prelude on Hyfrydol. H.W. Grey GSTC 01083 [1992] (E-M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Hyfrydol. Concordia 97-5940 [1986] (E-M).
  • Carlson, J. Bert. A New Look at the Old. Augsburg 11-11009 [1999] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Groundings. Augsburg 11-11119 [2001] (E-M).
  • Childs, Edwin T. Organ Music for the Seasons, vol. 3. AugsburgFortress ISBN 0-8006-7564-9 [2003] (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).
  • Honoré, Jeffrey. Classic Embellishments. Augsburg 11-11005 [1999] (could include a solo instrument, E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 2. SMP KK235 [1982] (adaptable to piano, E).
  • Lasky, David M. Partita on "Hyfrydol." Egan EO-300 [1993] (E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (M).
  • Sedio, Mark. Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ. Augsburg 11-10718 [1996] (E-M).
  • Sedio, Mark. The Praises of Zion. CPH 97-6728 [1998] (E-M).
  • Stearns, Peter Pindar. Twelve Hymn Preludes for General Use. Flammer HF-5145 [1987] (E-M).
  • Vaughan Williams, Ralph. Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (M).
  • Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes, set 1. Peters 6011 [1956] (E-M).


  • Wilson, John F. A Sacrifice of Praise. Hope 347 [1994] (E-M).


  • Cranshaw, 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).

2. The introit "How Can I Keep from Singing," an arrangement of the hymn tune QUAKER HYMN by Jeffrey Honoré is published by Choristers Guild CGA-567 [1991] (SATB, E-M).

3. Alternative harmonizations for "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" and "Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer" can be found in the following resources:

HYFRYDOL ["I Will Sing of My Redeemer"]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • 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].

CWM RHONDDA ["Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer"]
Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

4. Suggestions for the offertory music, based on the hymn tune CWM RHONDDA ("Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer") can be found in the following resources:

  • Barr, John G. Three Preludes on Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GSTC 01079 [1992] (E-M).
  • Carlson, J. Bert. A New Look at the Old. Augsburg 11-11009 [1999] (E-M).
  • Carlson, J. Bert. Augsburg Organ Library - Autumn. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7579-7 [2003] (E-M).
  • Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M).
  • Held, Wilbur. Those Wonderful Welsh, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-842 [1992] (E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Hymns of Praise, set 6. Morningstar MSM-10-542 [2000] (E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 6. SMP KK339 [1986] (adaptable to piano, E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (M).
  • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 5. Concordia 97-5257 [1974] (M).
  • Rotermund, Melvin. Five Preludes. Augsburg 11-6040 [1990] (E-M).


  • Shackley, Larry. Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano. Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M).
  • Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns . . . Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (M).


  • McChesney, Kevin. God of Grace and God of Glory. Concordia 97-6584 [1996] (3-5 octaves, M).

5. We suggest singing a setting of the Apostles' Creed for this service. We began this series of services with a sung setting and feel it's appropriate to conclude the series with the same.

6. If your congregation is not familiar with the historic tune with which the text of "Jesus Lives and So Do We" is paired, we would encourage you to use an alternate tune of your choice.

7. The three congregational songs following the pastoral prayer are from African-American heritage and would be best accompanied by piano. The alternate anthem suggestion "City Called Heaven" arranged by Josephine Poelinutz also comes from this tradition. The anthem is published by Plymouth Music HL-05 [1994] (SATB with soloist, E-M) .

8. The organ postlude suggestions "Holy God, We Praise Your Name" or "Jesus Lives, and So Do We" can be found in the following resources:

GROSSER GOTT ["Holy God, We Praise Your Name"]

  • Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 1. Fred Bock B-G0548 [1980] (E-M).
  • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-754 [1991] (E-M).
  • Dahl, David P. Hymn Interpretations. Augsburg 11-10972 [1999] (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).

JESUS, MEINE ZUVERSICHT ["Jesus Lives, and So Do We"]

  • Bender, Jan. Five Festive Preludes on Easter Hymns. Concordia 97-5495 [1979] (M).
  • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 8. AMSI SP-105 [1991] (M).
  • Leupold, A.W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M).
  • Leupold, Anton Wilhelm. Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. Because this is the final service in the twelve-part series on the Apostles' Creed, we suggest that the congregation sing the Apostles' Creed prior to the sermon. If this song is not available to you, a corporate profession of the Creed can be included.

2. We have designed this service so there is a significant period of response to the Word. We believe worshipers will need to affirm their faith in word and song after the sermon so we have woven together readings from Scripture, affirmations of faith, and songs of hope. This is a very important part of this worship event and should not be rushed. For the first reading from 1 Corinthians 15 we suggest verses 12-22; and for the second reading from 1 Corinthians 15 we suggest verses 50-58. The Pastoral Prayer in this part of the service should express thanks for our hope, thanks for those who have lived and died in faith, and intercession for those who are traveling through dark valleys currently.

3. The service ends with the very strong hymn of praise and celebration "Holy God, We Praise Your Name." As the song is introduced it will be helpful for all to note that the song calls us to envision others who join us in song, including "all in heaven above" (st. 1), "angel choirs" (st. 2), "the apostolic train" and "white-robed martyrs" (st. 3). Once we've caught this vision, the Trinitarian praise of stanza 4 surely ought to swell our hearts in praise!