Worship Service Planning 101: A King Soils Himself, A Prophet Loosens Knots

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

A church campus, built in 1915 as an elementary school, rests at the corner of Silver and Ekin. A cat looks at a hot tin roof but thinks better of it. It’s just another morning in Anytown, USA. Inside, a church creative team prepares for the coming Sunday’s worship service.

They’re in Week 5 of a sermon series on the book of Daniel called Stand: Staying Strong In A World Of Chaos. Pastor Jonah Sage will preach Daniel 5 (see the various ways this church creates pieces of communication that come out of these weekly meetings here)

This Week’s Players (in alphabetical order)

  • Lindsey Blair – Women’s Director
  • Bobby Gilles – Associate Pastor
  • Stephen Pierce — Family Pastor
  • Jonah Sage — Lead Pastor
  • Justin Shaffer — Worship Director

Jonah: Here is some Brene Brown level vulnerability: I feel like I’ve preached the peril of pride repeatedly in Daniel and Esther. I’m afraid people are going to be bored.

Lindsey: Think how Daniel must have felt. Time after time, a prideful king receives a warning from God, and Daniel is drawn into it.

Jonah: It’s like Daniel’s own Groundhog Day (Bill Murray film).

Bobby: Plus the king pooped himself when he saw the hand that was writing on the wall.

Jonah: Well, the Hebrew says his “loins were loosed.” Could have been pee.

Bobby: Say, “poop.”

Jonah: But translations obscure what was going on when they translate it as something like “His knees knocked.”

Bobby: The Wendy Widder commentary says that when the old Queen Mother tells Belshazzar to consult with Daniel, she says that Daniel “loosens knots” of mystery. So it’s a play on words. Either she or the narrator is making fun of the king whose loins were loosed — he has to ask for help from the one who loosens knots.

Jonah: That’s good.

So here we are, several kings in to the story of Daniel. Once again, a king puffed up with pride gets humiliated. I want to have a gotcha moment in the intro to help people really feel the craziness of the king’s party and how offensive it would have been to a Jewish person.

The gotcha is that this party is going on while the city is under siege. They’ve been under siege for two years.

Stephen: They’re using up all their food on this party. People in that city were probably starving, while the king is throwing a party.

Jonah: That’s a great observation.

Daniel has been the chief of the King’s Magi for 40+ years, and this king calls him one of the exiles. He’s being racist here. This is a dig. This is him putting Daniel in his place.

My “Big Idea” is straight from 1 Peter 5:5 – God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

I’m arguing that pride comes from a deep longing to feel safe and significant. Sin is parasitic – it takes something good and twists it.

The secret of the humble heart is knowing our infinite value as God’s children and our eternal security in his hands. Into our need for significance, God gives us his Son. Into the need for safety, God promises eternal life.

You are valuable and you are loved by God. This is the antidote to pride. This is the only road to clear eyes and full hearts. I put that in there for you, Bobby.

Bobby: Clear eyes, full hearts can’t lose. (Friday Night Lights reference).

Lindsey: I like how you come at pride, coming from a place of need to feel safe and significant. The idea of how sin twists legitimate desires is strong. And your manuscript does a good job of putting us in the place of the Belshazzar – how many times do we do the same things? How many times do we give in to pride?

Stephen: Daniel doesn’t seem afraid at all. How free would you feel (to do the right thing) if you really weren’t afraid of what would happen? Daniel knows who he is and who he belongs to.

Bobby: (looking at liturgy manuscript) The liturgy looks great.

Justin: We’ll do Psalm 25 by Joe Day for the prelude. For the Prayer of Confession I want to start pray through Psalm 25 – we’ll corporately read a verse, pause for quiet prayer after saying, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening,” and make our way through the psalm in that fashion.

For Communion I want to do the first verse of Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed, going straight into “You Say.” Then we’ll finish with When The Savior Reached Down For Me.

Meeting ends with the gang listening to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” while reflecting on the song’s accomplishment as the longest running #1 track in history.

Did Jonah say “poop” in the sermon? How did the Confession prayer go? For answers to these and other questions, see yesterday’s Christian Liturgy 101: How One Church Worshiped post.

Previous post:

Next post: