Ordinary Time (Proper 18)
Mark 7:24–37/7:22–36 IV
All Have Worth
Isaiah 35:4–7a, Psalm 146, James 2:1–17, Doctrine and Covenants 165:3d
Make plans to project or display the Focus Moment pictures for The Ugly Duckling.
Living Worship Setting
Have very few or no decorations on the rostrum. Gather several people identified below to become part of the worship setting. The participants may be asked ahead of time, or it could be spontaneous—discern the needs. After the initial gathering of the congregation for the worship service, greet the participants or those who will be asked to participate, in the aisle and bring them to the front. One by one, place them in a comfortable position and invite them to stay a moment. Let them know they are part of the worship “setting” and will stay through the Call to Worship.
Place the participants as follows. Use your imagination to fit your congregation’s specific size and needs.
- Two people hold hands standing or sitting in chairs
- Two people stand and look at each other; may talk softly and listen actively
- A child stands and an adult kneels so their heads are at the same level
- One person holds a hymnal, ready to sing
- One person sits in a chair and two people lay their hands on the head of the one who is seated
- An adult sits on a low stool with a child sitting on his or her lap looking at a book
Read the Call to Worship while walking among the people in the worship setting. Afterward, invite the participants to take their seats in the congregation.
Welcome to Worship
Each story in today’s Gospel reading from Mark tells of someone’s personal suffering, a helpless situation, and each story is also linked by Jesus’ own desire for silence and solitude, as if he, too, was overwhelmed by the horrifying needs of the world. Listen for the hope and the worth of all persons, in our worship today.
Sharing and Caring
Brothers and Sisters
“Brothers and Sisters of Mine” CCS 616
OR “We Cannot Own the Sunlit Sky” CCS 301
Call to Worship
Living Worship Setting (see description above)
A building. Just brick and glass and wood.
But when the people enter…
they become the worship center
A sacred scene, indeed.
The community files down the aisles
and settles in the pews (chairs)
sharing joys and sharing news (cares)
we listen to those in need
Coming in as community…
our faith, our hope, our humanity
It is our Holy God
our spirits come to heed
To honor the worth of all
hear the lost and lonely call.
we are peace in word and deed.
When people arrive, they come alive
forming a procession of diversity
A response to grace and generosity
It is a sacred space, indeed.
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Prayer (read by child or youth)
Draw us close, God. We have wounds to be healed.
We have joy to spread as flowers in the field.
We have tears to dry and friends who need care.
We have hope to bring and peace to share. 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.
Hymn of Peace
“Let There Be Peace on Earth” (could be sung by children) CCS 307
OR “Lord, Prepare Me” (sing several times) CCS 280
See Others as God Sees
Show the pictures and read The Ugly Duckling, based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen, then discuss. See the PowerPoint at www.CofChrist.org/worship.
- Why did the other animals call the Ugly Duckling ugly? What did they mean when they called him ugly? Does looking different make someone ugly?
- Why would people make fun of others who look different from them?
- Do you have to look like those around you to fit in with them?
- Does the way one looks on the outside determine who they are?
Mark 7:31–37/7:22–36 IV
Disciples’ Generous Response
Six principles of A Disciples’ Generous Response guide us in managing and sharing our resources: Receive God’s Gifts, Respond Faithfully, Align Heart and Money, Share Generously, Save Wisely, and Spend Responsibly (www.CofChrist.org/disciples-gener ous-response).
When we consider the ways each principle applies in our lives, we respond faithfully and begin to align our priorities with God’s priorities, align our hearts with God’s heart.
Saving wisely involves discerning for an understanding of the gifts you have been given from God, then making a wise choice about how to look after God’s generous gifts.
Saving is a way to prepare for the future. It gives us the chance to extend our love and create a better tomorrow for our families, friends, the church’s mission, and the world.
Question for Reflection
- What are the gifts from God that you are called to save wisely? (Give examples from your own life such as money, Earth, and love.)
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 of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
Creator, God, who loves us all,
We give thanks for all things;
for we know that all you have given us,
those things that are great and small,
that are on the earth and in the oceans,
atop the mountains and across the deserts,
are really yours, not ours to keep.
But you have trusted us to care for them,
To plant, to grow, to love, and to share.
God who creates all things, great and small
Thank you, accept our all. Amen.
Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
Unity in Diversity
Hymn of Unity
“Draw the Circle Wide” CCS 273
OR “Leftover People in Leftover Places” CCS 275
Mark 7:24–37/7:22–36 IV
Based on Mark 7:24–37/7:22–36 IV
Hymn of Diversity
“There’s a Church within Us” CCS 278
OR “For Everyone Born” CCS 285
OR “Restless Weaver” CCS 145
Ordinary Time (Proper 18)
Exploring the Scripture
The two stories in this week’s Gospel reading may seem unrelated, but they are not thrown together haphazardly—they serve to interpret one another. Thus, it is important to work with both stories, even though they present challenges for the preacher.
Each story begins with locale. The Gentile woman (verses 24–30) was from Syrophoenicia, and the man who was deaf (verses 31–37) was near the Sea of Galilee. However, if we map Jesus’ route as reported by Mark, it doesn’t make much geographic sense. But perhaps it does make theological sense. To say Jesus traveled to the region of Tyre is to say he crossed the border from Jewish lands into Gentile territory—home to the historic oppressors of the Jews in the region. Here Jesus is the outsider—an important theological distinction. If each person in the encounter was typical of the area’s population, Jesus would have been poor and the Syrophoenician woman wealthy.
Whether the political and economic imbalances of the region played a part, we are shocked by Jesus’ harsh response to the woman’s pleas for help. In the words of Amy C. Howe, “Jesus is caught with his…compassion down” (Feasting on the Word Year B, vol. 4, 44). Jesus calls the woman a dog, but the woman absorbs the insult and continues to make her case. “Even the dogs…,” she says (v. 28). What must it have cost her to say this? Her daughter is worth more.
If mission begins with encounter, then this is surely a prophetic encounter. Like Jacob wrestling with God, refusing to let go until God blesses him (Genesis 32:22–32), the woman persists. Jesus, who had been focused on his primary mission—which he understood as being to his people—expresses his assignment more clearly in Matthew’s version of this story: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Could this story be a kind of conversion moment for Jesus, where he realizes the greater truth of her response and its implications for his mission? The woman’s prophetic response refocuses Jesus on his mission and opens him to its broader implications.
Having been opened himself, Jesus is now prepared to open the ears of the deaf man. In the first century—lacking understanding of the biology of birth defects—physical disability was often viewed as a result of sin. Such people often held little or no status and were excluded from most social and religious institutions.
Whenever Jesus healed people, he healed not only the body but the relationship with the community as well, restoring that person to wholeness. In their book In Heaven There Are No Thunderstorms: Celebrating the Liturgy with Developmentally Disabled People, Gijs Okhuijsen and Cees van Opzeeland point out that “Jesus deals with a deaf-mute. He takes suffering to heart.” With this simple statement we can also turn our hearts toward those who suffer.
- Engaging in Christ’s mission may call us beyond our comfort zones into surprising encounters.
- Mission is relational: God wishes to heal us in ways that restore us to community with others.
- We must be open to God’s movement in our lives to effectively minister to others.
Questions to Consider
- Have you ever been in a foreign place, out of your comfort zone? What does it feel like to be an outsider?
- When have you been bold and persistent in seeking and claiming God’s blessings? What was the result?
- When have you been so focused on the task at hand that you missed the missional opportunity right in front of you?