Ordinary Time (Proper 17), World Hunger Emphasis
Mark 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23/7:1–9, 14–15, 20–21 IV
Into My Heart
Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–9; Psalm 15; James 1:17–27; 1 Nephi 1:65; Doctrine and Covenants 165:3a–b
Announce for several weeks prior to the service that there will be a collection of nonperishable food for World Hunger Emphasis Sunday. Prepare four children or youth to pray for people throughout the world who are hungry as part of the World Hunger Emphasis during the Disciples’ Generous Response.
Listening to the Heart of God
Welcome to Worship
Let us reflect on our core traditions and beliefs that are important to this congregation. They make us who we are; they define our behaviors and the way we treat each other. Spend a moment in silence. With your thoughts as background, we will now share our pastoral joys and concerns with one another.
Sharing and Caring
“I Will Talk to My Heart” CCS 168
OR “Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire” CCS 166
Opening Our Hearts
Call to Worship
Open your heart
Open your heart like Jesus
Without hesitation, loving creation
Loving for love’s sake, our pain—his heartbreak
Compassionate heart of Jesus
Open your arms
Open your arms like Jesus
Without reservation, embracing each nation
Trusting, believing, freely receiving
Compassionate arms of Jesus
Open your life
Open your life for Jesus
Without fear of crying, failure or dying
Urgent, compelling, in spirit now dwelling
Compassionate life of Jesus.
“Into My Heart” CCS 573
Encourage the congregants to sing in languages other than their own
OR “God the Sculptor of the Mountains” CCS 21
Focus Moment and Disciples’ Generous Response
Position one of the children or youth offering the prayers in each direction (north, south, east, west) within the sanctuary. Ask the congregation to stand and face north as the first prayer is offered. This one is specifically for the hungry in the north. The one who prayed will take his or her food offering to the altar and then return to the group of four who are offering the prayers. Follow the same pattern for each direction.
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
“I Am Standing Waiting” CCS 298
OR “For the Healing of the Nations” CCS 297
Mark 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23/7:1–9, 14–15, 20–21 IV
Based on Mark 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23/7:1–9, 14–15, 20–21 IV
Scripture of Confession
Doctrine and Covenants 165:3a–b
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
“In the Singing” CCS 519
OR “O Lord, How Can It Be” (stanzas 1, 3, 5) CCS 529
Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine
Out from Our Hearts
“Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” CCS 605
OR “Till All the Jails Are Empty” CCS 303
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
We call on your presence, knowing you are already with us.
assured our cry to you is not unheard.
We ask you to bless us, knowing you have blessed us many times over.
and yet we do not feel we ask in vain.
We yearn for you to strengthen our faith—
and our faith is stronger even as we speak.
We praise you for your grace, and are forgiven
even as we sing “Glory to God.”
We cry to you for a peace that passes understanding,
and yet we begin to understand, even as we weep.
We grasp the humble hem of Christ’s robe to dry our eyes,
knowing your love spills in our salty tears.
We respond by inviting others to commune in peace,
knowing you have prepared a place for them at the table.
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org/daily -prayer-for-peace.
Go and do the things which the Lord has commanded, for we know that the Lord gives no commandments without preparing the way for us.
—1 Nephi 1:65, adapted
Ordinary Time (Proper 17)
Mark 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23
Exploring the Scripture
Today’s text can provide for a good conversation on hypocrisy, tradition, and inclusion. First, when the scribes and Pharisees accused the disciples of eating with unwashed, or defiled hands, Jesus asked them to examine the state of their hearts. It is “the things that come out that are what defile” (v. 15), he said, not what goes into a person. Note that Jesus did not condemn Judaism or its traditions in this text. Jesus, as an observant Jew himself, would have known and followed these customs. He was not criticizing the importance of traditions, but was concerned about the spirit in which traditions were enforced, missing the greater point of reverence in relationship to God.
This leaves us, as Christians, with a similar question. Do we judge others because of what we think they should be doing when we lack sincerity within ourselves? Jesus continues to show in this text an ability to cut right to the heart of ideas and challenge us with what matters most. The depth and quality of what is going on within, in the state of our spiritual lives, makes a difference as we live out our faith in a complex world.
There is also a more nuanced conversation happening in today’s text about inclusion and exclusion. “Unclean” also refers to Gentiles, who were excluded from the Jewish community because they did not follow Jewish customs. Similarly, it was often the poor who could not follow tradition strictly because of a lack of proper resources. Jesus is standing on the side of the oppressed and marginalized when he criticizes tradition for the sake of tradition which misses the point and excludes others with whom God wants to be in relationship. Tradition is not inherently bad, but when it hinders one’s ability to be in right relationship with others, strict adherence deserves a serious evaluation.
It can be easy for us today to criticize the Pharisees’ response and neglect the ways we can be just as harsh in our judgment and criticism, often without meaning to be. Consider parents with small children who are making much noise in church. Though some may think worship requires of us a silent respect, this passage may cause one to pause and first consider what worship really means before making a remark or taking a possibly offensive course of action. Maybe the disruption in routine gives opportunity to rediscover a deeper meaning to worship that may have been missing, and to give thanks for diversity of age and opportunities for loving mentorship.
Or consider a new priesthood member who does not follow the ritual of Communion preparation in the exact way we are used to. Will we allow this departure from tradition to negatively affect a sacrament of reconciliation meant to draw us closer to one another and God? Or will we offer grace and live into the deeper meaning of our ritual in the first place?
Today’s text reminds us purity of heart is more important than getting the rituals of faith exactly right. May we continue to grow into the disciples who honor God with our lips and our hearts!
- What matters most is what is within a person, the state of one’s heart, where positive and negative intents grow.
- We miss the point of our traditions when they are used to exclude or judge others instead of drawing us closer to others and God.
- Tradition is not inherently bad, but when it hinders one’s ability to be in right relationship with others, strict adherence deserves a serious evaluation.
Questions to Consider
- Have you ever experienced a ritual or tradition that excluded you or someone else?
- How is God inviting you, and your congregation, to go deeper and give honor with your hearts?
- Is purity of heart more important than strict adherence to tradition?