From Victim to Victory: Healing the wounds of abuse

Entering God's Presence (1)


"Awesome God"
[PCB 196, SPW 11,]

"King of Kings"
[PCB 196, SPW 94, TWC 110]

God Greets Us (2)

We Praise God for His Presence (3)

Hymn "God Himself Is with Us," st. 1
[PsH 244, TH 382]

We Confess Who We Are

Litany of Confession and Pardon.
(See box.)

We Pass the Peace of God to Each Other (4)

The peace of God be with you.
And also with you.

God Speaks to Us of His Will

Prayer for Illumination "Holy Spirit, Mighty God" (5)
[PsH 278]

Scripture Matthew 18:15-35

Sermon From Victim to Victory, a New Healing (6)

We Respond to God's Word

Hymn "Lord, We Cry to You for Help" (7)
[PsH 261]

Confession of Faith "Our World Belongs to God" (see box) (8)
[PsH pp. 1031-32]

Prayers of Intercession (9)

Offering (10)

God Sends Us Out (11)

Hymn "When Peace like a River"
[PsH 489, TH 691]



Worship Notes

1 A music worship leader other than the pastor will ask the congregation to stand. An overhead projector may be used since the songs are sung as a medley. The medley begins with "King of Kings" twice through, each time a little faster. Then 'Awesome God" is sung three times through, with the tempo picking up slightly The medley is closed with a return to "King of Kings," sung twice through, the last time very fast. Percussion and clapping are important. In addition, instruments such as guitar, piano, and maybe a bass could be used. Note that these are upbeat songs in a minor key. My intent is to create the feeling of anticipation that the Jews might have experienced while heading to the temple.

2 Second worship leader leads in the greeting:

"God greets us as he did Israel, centuries ago. In Jeremiah God says: I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt" (Jer. 31:3-4).

3 Second worship leader:

"That God who loves us enough to rebuild our lives is here! Sing praise to his presence by turning with me to 'God Himself Is with Us/ the first stanza".

4 After the Prayer of Confession, the second leader will say:

"Since we have been pardoned by God through the work of his Son, we can greet each other with the peace that comes only from him and his gift. Please turn to your neighbors to pass the peace."

5 After the passing of the peace, the music leader will ask the congregation to pray for the illumination of God's Word in Scripture by singing "Holy Spirit, Mighty God."

During the singing of this song, a reader or group of readers will arise from the congregation to read the Scripture. It is important that they come from the congregation, since the Word belongs to all. This passage could be read by a narrator reading the part of Jesus, and others taking the parts of Peter, the servants, and the master. It could also be read by one reader.

6 Sermon ideas

The sermons intent is to move people to own the process of healing that exists in forgiveness—to take the stance of victory, leaving behind the identity of survivor. The Scripture passage outlines a process of forgiveness that leads to healing. In contrast, the typical starting point of "becoming survivors instead of remaining victims" used in many self-help groups does not lead to complete healing. "Becoming a survivor" means our identity is that of "survivor," instead of "image-bearer of God." The process of healing outlined in the passage is as follows:

a. We must acknowledge our pain in order to start the process of forgiveness. (This is implicit in verse 15. We cannot face our perpetrator if we do not recognize our feelings of being the victim.)

b. We must reframe the perpetrator. (In verse 27, the master takes pity which is God reframing us.) Most perpetrators were once abused.

c. We must face the one who hurt us (back to verse 15 and following). Make special note of the fact that we do not have to face the perpetrator alone if there is danger of denial.

d. Then we must forgive. The difficulty of forgiveness is brought out in verses 21-22. Not seventy-seven sins, but seventy-seven times. Jesus knows that we will have to go through it over and over again. He knows our limits.

The sermon closes by recognizing the difficulty we have in following the process and reminding us that the power of the Holy Spirit can give us the strength we need.

7 The sermon ends with a sung rather than a spoken prayer. The pastor makes the transition to the sung prayer in the sermon.

8 The pastor will introduce the Confession of Faith:

"As a people seeking forgiveness and learning how to forgive, we confess our faith in what God is doing among us. Please rise and in unison say with me:

9 Suggestions for Intercessory Prayer based on the Lord's Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Remind God and us of his name of Loving Parent, like no earthly parent.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Pray for Gods will in Hie injustice of abuse, personal and social. Include prayers for justice to the perpetrators of personal abuse. Pray for Hie injustice of hunger and war in world and nation.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Thank God for caring for us and suppying all of our needs. Pray for those who have extra needs, such as emotional or physical healing.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Repent of our lack of forgiveness and of our trespassing against others. Silence could be used here for reflection on personal failures and sins.
Lead us not into temptation.
Deliver us from the evil one.
Bind Hie demons that encourage or cause abuse. Bii id She forces of evil that cause injustice. Protect us from continuing the patterns of abuse in our lives We are dealing with principalities and powers. Use that concept here.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

10 The pastor announces the offerings. They should be for a cause that has to with abuse, such as a shelter for women. The announcement should relate to the sermon and the theme: healing the wounds of abuse. Music to be played during the offering should also reflect the theme.

When presenting the offerings, a deacon should pray:

"Jesus, your grace to us is great. Though you were rich, yet for our sake you became poor, so that by your poverty you might become rich. Bless those who need your healing riches in (insert name of cause.) Use us and our gifts to bring your grace to the marry persons who suffer abuse in our society. Amen."

11 Suggested parting words by the pastor:

"Jesus' words to us today bring the victory of true healing. Jesus comes to all of us in our helpless state. Such healing brings us peace that passes all understanding. Let us go out with this song on our heart, with this assurance in our soul. Please rise and sing 'When Peace like a River'."

The pastor gives the blessing:
Receive God's blessing:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In addition to the hymnals listed on page one, he following hymnals are referenced: Maranatha! Music Praise Chorus Book (PCB), Songs for Praise and Worship (SPW) and The Worshiping Church (TWC).


A Journey from Earthly Reality to Heavenly Light

Based on Psalm 130

O Lord, we come into this place singing praise.
Yet there is darkness in our hearts.
Come to us in that dark loneliness.
Hear us as we are:
afraid of your light,
afraid of your blinding honesty.
Hear us Lord, as we cry:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, we come to this place washed with soap,
perfumed with deodorants,
hiding behind our clothes and jewelry.
But your light is piercing.
You know our sins.
How can we stand so naked?
Lord of light, have mercy.
Lord, the world says "get even."
But you tell us to feel our pain and forgive 77 times.
That is scary, Lord.
We do not want to be vulnerable.
We fear the honesty of your forgiveness.
Lord of the universe, have mercy.
Lord, our only hope is your unfailing love.
The world is naked and empty without it.
Cover our nakedness with the cloth of your love.
Shine your light into our darkness.
Redeem us from our fears and loneliness.
Lord Jesus, your blood can make us cleaner than
any soap.
Wash our sins from our naked frames.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy.
[A brief silence]
Lord Jesus, as we look at your empty tomb;
We remember
the light of your love.
We remember
the brightness of your light.
We remember
the forgiving power of your bright spirit.
We remember
the love of your bloody act of forgiveness.
We remember,
And our darkness,
vengeful spirit,
and sins
cease to exist.
We praise you Lord Jesus,
for your unfailing love.
We praise you Lord Jesus,
for remembering us
We praise you Lord Jesus,
for hearing our cry.
We praise you
that through your name,
we can come to you.
Thank you, Jesus.


37. In our world, bent under the weight of sin,
Christ gathers a new community.
Satan and his evil forces
seek whom they may confuse and swallow;
but Jesus builds his church,
his Spirit guides,
and grace abounds.

41. The Spirit empowers each member
to take part in the ministry of all,
so that hurts are healed
and all may rejoice
in the life and growth of the fellowship.

42. The church is a gathering
of forgiven sinners,
called to be holy,
dedicated to service.
Saved by the patient grace of God,
we deal patiently with others.
Knowing our own weakness and failures,
we bring good news to all sinners
with understanding of their condition,
and with hope in God.

43. We grieve that the church
which shares one Spirit, one faith, one hope,
and spans all time, place, race, and language
has become a broken communion in a broken world.
When we struggle for the purity of the church
and for the righteousness God demands,
we pray for saintly courage.
When our pride or blindness blocks
the unity of God's household,
we seek forgiveness.
We marvel that the Lord gathers the broken pieces
to do his work,
and that he blesses us still
with joy new members,
and surprising evidences of unity.
We commit ourselves to seeking and expressing
the oneness of all who follow Jesus.

Charles H. Fondse is a chaplain at North Memorial Hospital, Bloomington, Minnesota. He prepared this service for Pathway Ministries (CRC) in Byron Center, Michigan.


Reformed Worship 34 © December 1994, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.