Ordinary Time (Proper 22)
Increase Our Faith
Habakkuk 1:1–4, 2:1–4; Psalm 37:1–9; 2 Timothy 1:1–14, Doctrine and Covenants 162:7c–d
Hymns of Gathering
“The Lord Be with You” (repeat several times) CCS 74
“O Lord, Grace Our Communion” CCS 80
Call to Worship
Increase our faith, the apostles pleaded. These followers of Jesus had given up everything and were now stumbling in doubt. If you had faith, even as tiny as a mustard seed, Jesus replied, you could say to a mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. —Luke 17:5–6, adapted
Song of Faith
“When in Our Music God Is Glorified” CCS 1
OR “Standing on the Promises” CCS 257
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants Section 162:7c–d
Statement: Be Generous
God gifts each person with boundless grace and unending love. Our response to that love and grace is to serve others and let generosity become part of our nature. —www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response
When we give as generously as God gives, we enable Christ’s mission at its fullest potential. Our generosity is what frees the ability to do mission. There is deep joy in responding with great generosity, when your contribution goes to promote divine purposes on earth. Do you know any around you that are responding with God’s generosity? Then listen to their testimony to hear what they are experiencing and feel the longing to respond to God’s grace and generosity.
The Gospel is all about invitation and we are called to share that same invitation. It is about loving people so much that you want for them an intimate relationship with God.
As a church we are called to the same mission, to support the invitation to Christ everywhere throughout the world, in different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and anywhere there are people who do not know the life changing spirit that comes from an intimate relationship with God.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
Gospel Reading and Focus Thoughts
Moment of Reflection
Listen to the vocal recording of “Si tuvieras fe (If You Only Had Faith)” CCS 249, from Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings.
OR Ask the congregation to turn to “Si tuvieras fe (If You Only Had Faith)” CCS 249, to read the words during a period of reflection.
Focus Moment: Increase Our Faith (based on Luke 17:5–10)
Jesus Christ taught that the kingdom of heaven is made of small things that can grow large and strong. In today’s lectionary reading, Jesus tells his disciples their faith can increase from the size of a mustard seed to become the greatest in the garden.
Gather participants to taste mustard on a cracker or bread. Show a tiny mustard seed. If possible, show a photo of a full-grown mustard plant. Ask participants:
- How can such a strong taste comes from something so small?
- Is your faith sometimes as small as the mustard seed?
- How can it grow to be great, like the mustard plant?
- How can you help your faith grow?
Give each participant a mustard seed as a reminder to have faith, and know that great things can come from small beginnings.
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Hymn of Preparation
“Coming Together for Wine and for Bread” CCS 516
OR “Is There One Who Feels Unworthy?” CCS 526
Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine
Hymn of Commitment
“With a Steadfast Faith” CCS 649
OR “Church of Christ Now Poised Anew” CCS 373
Statement of Commitment and Faith
We believe in one Living God, revealed in Jesus Christ, who moves through all creation as the Holy Spirit. For us, peace is God’s shalom, which includes justice, righteousness, wholeness, and the well-being of creation.
We move forward in faith that God’s shalom is possible and, as disciples of Jesus, we commit ourselves to this purpose.
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
We praise you, God, for this day and its blessings, for your loving Spirit which comforts us, for the beauty of creation, and for the gift of Jesus our Christ who ever leads us toward peace. Amen.
Additional ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, are on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Sending Forth Song of Blessing
“I Wish God’s Love to Be with You” CCS 663
OR “Bwana Awabariki (May God Grant You a Blessing)” CCS 660
Ordinary Time (Proper 22)
Exploring the Scripture
Today’s text is part of the journey accounts of Jesus and his disciples as they travel to Jerusalem. They are in conversation on this journey and there are at least four independent sayings on discipleship in the opening verses. We will consider the last two sayings today.
Jesus had been talking with his disciples about forgiveness (vv. 1–4). The disciples then ask Jesus to give them an increase of faith. This question can be seen as asking for help, because the demands of life as a disciple are high. The disciples felt inadequate to meet the demands. Jesus responded by saying, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed… (v. 6).
The emphasis is on the word if. In Greek there are two meanings for the word if. Here Jesus is not condemning them for their lack of faith, but affirming and entrusting them by saying “You already have the faith. Use it! Nothing is impossible!” It was an invitation from Jesus to live their lives as disciples knowing they can do it. The faith they already had was enough and they had capacity beyond what they could now understand. He said, “You could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you” (v. 6). The faith the disciples already had would make the impossible possible (uprooting a tree), and improbable ideas could become reality (planting a tree in the sea).
The second saying is about how a slave is obedient to the master (vv. 7–10). This text can be troublesome for many as it could be misinterpreted to say slavery is acceptable and slaves must obey and do whatever the owner wants of them. Clearly slavery is not acceptable and it is not the issue in the story. It is that all a servant’s time belongs to the master. As this relates to being disciples, all our time belongs to God and we are always working to show our love to God and one another. Discipleship is all day, every day. It is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We belong to God.
Today’s text has deep meaning. It encourages us to exercise the faith we already have been given. The impossible is possible. Life as a disciple is not easy but with faith, we have the power to be obedient to the invitation to live in a new relationship with one another. We can live the full possibilities of discipleship when we understand that we are already empowered by faith.
As we respond to the invitation through baptismal covenant, to see each person from a “changed perspective” where “Former ways of defining people” (Doctrine and Covenants 164:5) are no longer important, it is possible for the reign of God to become a reality. Our faith is enough and gives us the ability to become such a community. With faith it is possible to live into a new way of being in relationship with one another. Nothing is impossible with God!
- The demands of discipleship can be difficult.
- As disciples, we already have faith. Let’s use it!
- With faith it is possible to live into a new way of being in relationship with one another in the peaceable kingdom of God.
- As disciples we belong to God—all of our time, energy, and possessions.
Questions to Consider
- What are some discipleship expectations that are hard to live up to?
- In what ways can you exercise the faith you already have?
- What ideas seem impossible and improbable that would further Christ’s mission?
- What “prophetic imagination” is God creating in you?
- How can the reign of God become a reality in your community?
- If we belong to God, what does it mean to live a life of generosity?