The Sermon on the Mount:
A Worship Service of Lessons and Songs
This worship service is a wonderful way for a congregation to celebrate all of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount from Matthew's gospel in one worship service. Jesus' most famous sermon is powerful when heard in one service.
"The Sermon on the Mount Service by Carolyn Gillette beautifully
coordinates Jesus' deep words with contemporary music and prayers. I
warmly recommend her work to the churches!"
— F. Dale Bruner, author of Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 1: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12 and Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 2: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28
Because there are so many readings from scripture in this worship service, worship planners may want to invite many people of a variety of ages and backgrounds, including children and youth, to participate in reading the different scripture lessons and prayers. One congregation used about 20 different readers. People will pay attention more carefully when they hear the words of Jesus in many different voices.
To keep the worship service moving without a lot of long pauses, make sure that readers are "in place" when it is time for their readings to begin. For example, a reader may go forward to the chancel during the last stanza of a hymn, to be ready for his or her reading that follows the hymn.
Although this worship service may be led by a pastor and others, it may also be used for a Lay Sunday.
The scripture readings are from the New Revised Standard
Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education
of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United
States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Hymn texts and prayers Copyright © 2011 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
The hymns and prayers in this worship service are copyrighted and are not covered by any organization (such as CCLI or OneLicense) that gives churches permission to use church music. If you would like to use this worship service, please contact Carolyn and Bruce Gillette for permission (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please let us know what you think is a reasonable amount for your church to pay for a worship service that includes four original hymns and prayers. We will ask that you make your donation to UrbanPromise in Honduras; you can learn more about this wonderful ministry at UrbanPromise Honduras. Carolyn has volunteered as a reading tutor for inner-city children with UrbanPromise in Wilmington for several years. Our daughter Catherine worked the summer of 2011 with UrbanPromise in Honduras. We appreciate your support of this ecumenical ministry for children in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
The service is also available on request as a Microsoft Word document for easy printing in a bulletin.
Grace and Peace,
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
The Sermon on the Mount
A Worship Service of Lessons and Songs
by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
Call to Worship: Psalm 1:1-3
Leader: 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.
People: But their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.
Leader: They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.
People: In all that they do, they prosper.
Leader: Let us worship God together.
Introduction to This Worship Service
Based on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
Welcome to our worship service today. This morning we will be hearing Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7. This sermon is a wonderful collection of Jesus' teachings that tells us about living in God's way — in God's kingdom. Matthew tells us that Jesus went up a mountain to preach, and so we are reminded of all the other places in the Bible where people encounter God, and the word of God, on mountaintops. For example, Exodus tells us that Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19-20). First Kings tells us that Elijah encountered God on a mountain (1 Kings 19). So when Matthew says, "Jesus went up a mountain and taught," he is saying to us: "Listen carefully! What you are about to hear is important; God is speaking to you here!" Each section of Jesus' teaching that we read will be followed by a hymn based on that section, and then by a prayer or other response. Our opening hymn is based on the words of the Beatitudes — probably one of the most familiar and beloved parts of Jesus' teaching.
Opening Hymn: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit
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
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
14 You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
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.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:21-42
21 You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, "You shall not murder"; and "whoever murders shall be liable to judgment."
22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, "You fool," you will be liable to the hell of fire.
23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you,
24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.
25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.
26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
27 You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery."
28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 It was also said, "Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce."
32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, "You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord."
34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
37 Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
38 You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;
40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well;
41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.
42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
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
Leader: 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.
People: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38-48
43 You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy."
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
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.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:1-15
1 Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.
8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
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 ("debts" and "debtors")
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:16-21 as a Responsive Reading
Leader: 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.
People: 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.
Leader: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;
People: But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
All: 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
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:22-34
22 The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light;
23 but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin,
29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith?
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, "What will we eat?" or "What will we drink?" or "What will we wear?"
32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.
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.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:1-6
1 Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.
2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?
4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," while the log is in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye.
6 Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
Hymn: 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.
Leader: Let us affirm this precious faith that God has given us, using the words of the Apostles' Creed:
The Apostles' Creed
Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:7-12
7 Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?
10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?
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!
12 In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Hymn: 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...
Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:13-20
13 Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it.
14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.
Hymn: 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.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:21-29
21 Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?"
23 Then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers."
24 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.
26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!
28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching,
29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Hymn: 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 160+ hymns can be found at www.carolynshymns.com/.