Ordinary Time (Proper 17), World Hunger Emphasis
Matthew 16:21–28/16:22–31 IV
Jeremiah 15:15–21, Psalm 26:1–8, Romans 12:9–21, Mosiah 9:60–62, Doctrine and Covenants 164:9d
In the weeks prior to this service, which includes World Hunger Emphasis, ask the congregation to provide food for those with need. It might be serving meals in a shelter, packing meals for later use, distributing food at a food pantry, providing sandwiches to those who are homeless or standing in line for social services, or sharing garden produce. The idea is to provide for others and then reflect on the experience with the congregation.
Make paper and pencils, pens, crayons, or chalk available for everyone in the service.
Call to Worship
Prove us, O Lord, and try us; test our hearts and minds. For your steadfast love is before our eyes, and we walk in faithfulness to you.
—Psalm 26:2–3, adapted
Hymn of Praise
“O Young and Fearless Prophet” CCS 36
OR “Gather Us In” CCS 72
The Face of Hunger
The purpose of the World Hunger and Tangible Love grants is to encourage congregations and mission centers to consider ministries and projects that address the needs of those enmeshed in poverty, hunger, and injustice. Seed money from World Hunger and Tangible Love is shared through grants that will provide a basis for long-term sustainable ministries. These funds are made possible by the generous contributions from church members and friends to the Abolish Poverty, End Suffering initiative.
“Community of Christ: World Hunger and Tangible Love” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLm2jS-9-Cw)
On the paper provided, ask people to draw a picture of what hunger looks like and then, in small groups, share what they have drawn.
Disciples’ Generous Response
…the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which they had… of their own free will and good desires towards God. —Mosiah 9:60–62, adapted
Provide a challenge for the congregation to lessen hunger and end needless suffering.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
If a sharing-food activity was done prior to the service, have those participants share their testimonies of God’s presence in their experiences.
OR Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21–28/16:22–31 IV
Hymn of Assurance
“By Gracious Powers/Von guten Mächten treu und still umgeben” CCS 268
OR “Open My Heart” CCS 171
Based on Matthew 16:21–28/16:22–31 IV
Hymn of Preparation
“You Satisfy the Hungry Heart” CCS 531
OR “Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” CCS 609
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Holy One, Mysterious One, we have entered this quiet space in search of peace. We need these moments. Within them we can open our deep places, our soul places to you. And it is in you that we find the possibility of peace awakening and igniting our dreams once more.
We become weary, God. Weary of believing in the healing of all nations, weary of hoping for the reign of your compassionate justice in all lands. We become afraid of the violence and toxic hatreds that engulf the human family. We weep for the children, for the mothers and fathers of the children. We hope we will not have to hear another story of human life, beautiful, miraculous life wasted frivolously as though it were of no value.
But the world outside these walls is a sea of such stories. And at times we feel we will drown in the tears of earth’s peoples, your people, God. Meet us now, God, in this aching, yearning, empty space and break our hearts wide open. Connect us with both the suffering and the sacredness. For if you are the strand of grace between these realities, we shall be able to bear the anguish of the “not yet” as we live into the healed, holy creation of the “yet to be.”
Speak peace, your peace into the silence of this moment, Creator. And we shall believe it in this moment and work for it in all the moments to come. In the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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.
“Brothers and Sisters of Mine” CCS 616
OR “When I Can Ache” CCS 590
Sending Forth: Doctrine and Covenants 164:9d
Go in peace!
“Now Go in Joy” (refrain only) CCS 659
OR “The Trees of the Field” CCS 645
Ordinary Time (Proper 17)
Exploring the Scripture
The speaker is challenged to help hearers set aside their knowledge of the “rest of the story” and to understand what knowledge the actors of the scripture passage had at that moment. To understand this text the hearers will need to grasp the image of Jesus which Peter had claimed. For Peter, the Messiah was one who would be triumphant militarily and politically.
Most likely Peter imagined that triumph coming because of might and force. However, this was not what Jesus had taught and represented, but rather a Messiah Peter had created.
Peter may have imagined himself as one who would reap some of the benefits of victory by following this Messiah he had created. However, the words “suffering” and “death” did not have a victory ring and did not fit his understanding of Messiah. With this idea of the Messiah, we can understand why Peter pulled Jesus aside and chastised him for using language of defeat and surrender. Peter must have been frustrated and confused about why the one leading them on the path to victory was declaring defeat amid the journey. He may have also been concerned about his own self-preservation. If he was following and supporting the cause of one who would suffer and die, what might that mean for him?
It is easy to be critical of Peter’s misunderstanding and the possible motives in his life which helped create this misunderstanding. But what about our understanding of the Living Christ and the motives in our lives which have helped shape that understanding? No doubt Peter’s agenda and worldview contributed to the Jesus he wanted to follow. At times, our confident claims about Christ and his mission may be more reflective of our agendas and wishes than the true mission of Christ. The speaker might consider challenging the congregation to reflect on how their agendas and worldviews have shaped the Christ they follow.
Jesus chastised Peter and told him he was setting his mind on human and not divine matters, similar to his response in the temptation scene in chapter 4. In both scenes, Jesus rejects the path that would not require pain or suffering. Human tendency is to avoid pain. Jesus was not on a mission seeking pain; however, fulfilling his mission upset the status quo, which was oppressing people. Those who disrupt, as did Jesus, may suffer from challenging the status quo.
We may be tempted to opt for an easier path, one without suffering and appearing safer. Challenge the congregation to think about the mission of Christ and paths they are traveling in that mission.
After Jesus chastised Peter he says that those who want to follow him must deny themselves and take up their cross. Denial might include those facets of our lives that keep us from being vulnerable to others. Jesus’ suffering came because of his deep vulnerability to those who were broken, excluded, and hurting. One mark of faithful discipleship is the capacity to deny personal biases that shield one from being vulnerable to needless suffering in the world.
We, like Peter, may be unaware how our agendas and biases contribute to our understanding of Jesus and the mission to which we are called. Reviewing Community of Christ Enduring Principles and Mission Initiatives (see Sharing in Community of Christ, 3rd Ed.) can provide us with lenses to see beyond those agendas and biases and better understand Jesus and his mission.
- We are called to examine our understanding of the Jesus we claim to follow.
- Those who engage in Christ’s mission are vulnerable. The path of the disciple will not always be free of suffering.
- Sometimes our biases are most difficult to deny.
Questions to Consider
- How do you view Jesus in today’s world?
- What experiences in life have contributed to your understanding of who Jesus is?
- Do you believe that suffering is a necessary part of the mission of Christ? Why or why not?
- How can Enduring Principles and Mission Initiatives help us understand Christ’s mission?