The Sermon on the Mount:
A Worship Service of Lessons and Songs
Hymn texts and prayers Copyright © 2011 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved
Call to Worship: Psalm 1:1-3
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers.
But their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
Let us worship God together.
Blessed are the poor in spirit; all God’s realm is surely theirs.
Those in mourning will find comfort as an answer to their prayers.
Meek ones whom this world despises will inherit everything.
God, your kingdom still surprises; may we seek the reign you bring.
Blessed, too, are those who hunger and who thirst for what is right.
They will not be prone to wander, for your will is their delight.
Those who show God’s care and mercy will receive that mercy too.
God, in Christ you show us clearly of the joy we have in you.
Those who share the peace God gives them will find blessings as God’s own.
Those oppressed for faithful living will call heaven’s kingdom Home.
When the world’s ways seem distressing and we feel life’s painful sting,
God, remind us of the blessings of the wondrous life you bring.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-20
Up on a mountaintop, Jesus sat down,
Teaching the people who gathered around:
Look for the blessings that God kindly brings;
God’s loving kingdom is changing all things.
You are the salt and you’re also the light.
Flavor God’s world, with your faith shining bright.
Know that I’ve come here, God’s word to fulfill.
Keep the commandments and follow them well.
O God, we thank you for Jesus’ teachings to all who follow him. We thank you for the blessings of the Beatitudes, and for the wonderful surprises they bring us, about what it means for your church to live in your kingdom. Help us by your Spirit to hear your word in scripture, and to follow your way in our lives. Make us salt and light to your world. Amen.
Matthew 5:21- 26, 33-42
Let go of anger, for it is a sin.
It will destroy you, both outside and in.
Even your thinking can lead you astray;
Whatever tempts you, just throw it away.
Keep strong the bonds between husband and wife;
Keep your commitments for all of your life.
Don’t swear by heaven or by earth below;
Let “yes” be “yes” then, and let “no” be “no.”
If any hurt you, then you may resist,
But not with hatred or weapon or fist.
God’s way is stronger than any you face;
Stand up and love them! And give them God’s grace.
Prayer of Confession (unison)
O God, we have heard Jesus’ teachings many times, but we confess that sometimes we think they are impractical. We let anger take hold of us. We fail to keep our commitments to you and to others. We lack courage to follow Jesus’ way of love. Forgive us, we pray. Help us to find joy in obedience to you. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
Jesus teaches us in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” In Jesus Christ, God gives us the gift of forgiveness.
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!
Love those who hate you and pray for them, too.
God’s mercy reaches out far beyond you.
Seek, as God’s people, God’s wholeness each day
So you can witness to God’s perfect way.
Sharing of the Peace
Leader: Jesus forgives us and calls us to new relationships with God and with each other. Let us share the peace of Christ with those around us in the pews.
Leader: The peace of Christ be with you.
People: And also with you.
Don’t show off your giving — the good you are doing —
But quietly give without public display.
Let prayer be in secret, your spirit renewing.
Don’t heap empty phrases, but pray then this way:
“Our Father in heaven, may your name be holy.
We pray for your kingdom and our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we, too, pardon freely.
Protect us from troubles and evils we dread.”
The Lord’s Prayer
Matthew 6:16-21 as a Responsive Reading
And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Whenever you’re fasting, don’t show off to others
In hopes that your neighbors will speak well of you.
Don’t brag of your faith to your sisters and brothers,
For it is enough that God sees what you do.
Don’t hoard earthly treasure or trust your possessions;
They rust and are stolen; you’ll have them no more!
Instead seek God’s kingdom — its worth never lessens —
And find your heart’s treasure in things that endure.
Presentation of Tithes and Offerings
Prayer of Dedication
The eye is a lamp and we need it for seeing,
So be like that lamp and let God’s light shine through.
You can’t serve two masters with all of your being,
So choose God or money! Which one will rule you?
And so, too, I tell you to put away worry
Of what you’ll consume or the clothes that you’ll wear.
God cares for the birds and gives flowers their glory,
So trust God for shelter and safety and care.
Leader: We trust that God loves us and cares for our daily needs. Let us bring to God our worries, our concerns for others, and our joys. Let us pray.
Don’t Go Round Judging Others (stanza 1)
Don’t go round judging others, or they may judge you, too.
Don’t criticize your neighbors for things you also do.
Don’t squander what is holy or waste what you’ve received.
Hold fast the faith God gives you; rejoice, give thanks, believe!
God, you have given us the wondrous gift of faith, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to find joy in this precious gift — not wasting it or ignoring it — but sharing it with others. Amen.
Don’t Go Round Judging Others (stanza 2)
Ask God, and God will give you; search well, and you will find.
Knock and the door will open for God is just and kind.
Do everything for others that you want them to do.
The Law and Prophets matter! This is God’s Word for you.
Time of Silent Prayer
Leader: What do you need to ask of God? Please take a few moments for silent prayer, and ask… seek… knock…
Don’t Go Round Judging Others (stanza 3)
The gate to life is narrow; destruction’s way is wide.
So take the way that’s harder and let God be your guide.
Beware of those who lead you down pathways that destroy.
And seek the fruit of heaven; God gives us kingdom joy!
Loving God, help us to give ourselves to you anew, each day. Help us to listen to your voice and to find joy in following your way. Amen.
Don’t Go Round Judging Others (stanza 4)
Not all who call the Lord’s name will enter heaven’s realm,
But only those obeying will call God’s kingdom Home.
The wise hear God and follow; on rock, they stand secure.
The storms of life may shatter, but they will still endure.
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor(Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books, 2009) and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today’s Worship (Geneva Press, 2000) and the co-pastor of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware. A complete list of her 300+ hymns can be found at www.carolynshymns.com/.