Jesus went to a mountain to pray, and shortly after an all-night prayer session he called the twelve to himself to serve as apostles. On coming down from the mountain, he stood on a level place accompanied by a crowd of his disciples and a great multitude from all Judea and Jerusalem and the region of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and be healed of their diseases. Jesus cured many who were troubled by unclean spirits, and healed those who were sick by the power that went forth from him.
In this “Sermon on the Plain” Jesus announced with unabashed authority the blessings and woes of God on two distinctive groups. He pronounced the blessings of God on the poor, the hungry, those who weep, and those hated and reviled on account of the Son of Man. Likewise, he pronounced woes on those who are rich, those who are full now, those who laugh now, and those whom all people speak well about. Jesus spoke not as the Old Testament prophets had spoken, with their familiar “Thus saith the Lord.” Rather, he spoke to the multitudes on the basis of his own authority as God’s Messiah and King. He could with finality and clarity establish those who would be blessed and those who would suffer, those whose lives would receive God’s favor and those who would receive his judgment.
These blessing statements, i.e., “Beatitudes,” announce the truths of God for two contrasting groups: those who appear to suffer now but will be blessed in God’s good time, and those who appear to be blessed now but who will be judged in the end.
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Gracious Father, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for your Son and his pronouncements concerning the Kingdom of God in his sermon to the multitudes on the plain. We desire to learn from him, to submit to his authority, to please him by our obedience and faith. Grant us through your Spirit the strength to honor his Word by keeping his commands, and through that obedience, to truly understand the meaning of true blessedness in your sight. In Jesus’s name we pray, amen.
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, Amen.
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord's Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Affirmation for the Day
Blessed are those who weep now, for they will laugh.
Pray without Ceasing - Flash Prayer for the Day
You are the Lord, who speaks with absolute authority, and can direct us by your Word into the fullness of God’s will.