Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 11 December 2016

Worship Suggestions

Third Sunday of Advent (Peace)

Matthew 11:2–11

Are You the One Who Is to Come?

Additional Scriptures

Isaiah 35:1–10, Psalm 146:5–10, James 5:7–10, Doctrine and Covenants 102:11


The Advent Focus and Advent Responsive Prayer portions of the worship services intentionally carry over into the other three Sundays of Advent. Use these sections each week to provide continuity and establish a sacred rhythm and formative repetition throughout the Advent season.

Prelude

Carols of the Season

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” CCS 415
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” CCS 434

Welcome

Vision of Peace

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. …And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. —Isaiah 35, excerpted

Hymn of Peace

“Blessed Be the God of Israel” CCS 396
OR “Comfort, Comfort Now My People” CCS 407

Advent Focus

The season of Advent is a time of preparing for the light of God to come into the world through Jesus Christ. This is the gift Advent brings: a slowing, unfolding, waiting time that refuses to be rushed in the name of efficiency, convenience, and urgency. Today is the third Sunday of Advent—the Sunday of peace.

In a world obsessed with outcomes and achievement, Advent reminds us of the process of formation that happens in the details of the long, dark nights along the way....Advent promises to reveal, if we are patient to endure the waiting, a holy depth and substance to life that cannot be manufactured....Be present long enough to hear the voice of the holy speaking to your heart about your place in the promise of peace.

—Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, “Advent’s Waiting Wisdom,” Herald, November 2015, 18–19.

Each week as we gather for worship, we come with holy expectation. Expecting to encounter the Divine as we are shaped and sent. As we journey in this season of Advent, let us be especially mindful in our worship of the need to slow down. Let us be vulnerable to God, and to sense the light of Christ’s hope being born anew within us.

Advent is a time to take inventory of our expectations. How is God-with-us seeking to be peace where you are this Advent season? Let us pause in silence, deeply breathing, that we may be present to hear the voice of the Holy. Pause for one minute.

Hymn of Centering (sing softly, three times)

“O God We Call” CCS 195
OR “Wait for the Lord” CCS 399

Lighting the Advent Candle of Peace

Statement

Today we light the Advent candle of peace. Peace reflects wholeness in God’s embrace, both within our hearts and in our world. Peace is born as we seek reconciliation, justice for those who don’t have it, and to reduce the fear and violence which separates people. Peace is a light that comforts amid the darkness.

Light the candle of peace.

Advent Responsive Prayer

Leader: God, we lift this Advent prayer to you:

All: That we might wait in your peace,

Leader: Hear our prayer, O Lord. (pause for a moment of silence)

All: That we might find peace as our home,

Leader: Hear our prayer, O Lord. (pause for a moment of silence)

All: That we might nurture peace within,

Leader: Hear our prayer, O Lord. (pause for a moment of silence)

All: That we might bear your peace to others,

Leader: Hear our prayer, O Lord. (pause for a moment of silence)

All: That we may live in the light of your peace,

Leader: Hear our prayer, O Lord. (pause for a moment of silence)

Amen.

Reflection: Are You the One?

As disciples of Jesus, we take up his mission, his call, in the world. With our faith pointing to God as our source of life and purpose, we join with God in creating invitational, Christ-centered communities of justice and peace. God asks us daily: “Are you the one who will respond to my invitation to service? Are you the one through whom my peace will flow?”

Have the congregation either silently reflect on or write their individual responses to the following statement, which should be printed or projected. Allow several minutes for this activity, which can be done in silence or with soft meditative music playing. The activity is completed by offering a prayer for peace.

“I will respond and share Christ’s peace by ________.”

Prayer for Peace

An alternative to one person offering this prayer is to have the leader start the prayer and ask the congregation to “fill in the blanks” with their responses from the reflection question.

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

“Peace Child” CCS 402
OR “O God of Love, Grant Us Your Peace” CCS 316

Disciples’ Generous Response

Responsive Reading

Leader: The Lord sets the prisoners free

Congregation: We join with you in this work, O Lord of Peace

Leader: The Lord opens the eyes of the blind

Congregation: We join with you in this work, O Lord of Peace

Leader: The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down 

Congregation: We join with you in this work, O Lord of Peace

Leader: The Lord loves those who work for wholeness

Congregation: We join with you in this work, O Lord of Peace

Leader: The Lord watches over the strangers

Congregation: We join with you in this work, O Lord of Peace

Leader: The Lord upholds the orphan and the widow

Congregation: We join with you in this work, O Lord of Peace

—Psalm 146:7b–9a, adapted

Our generous response to the needs around us joins us with God in cultivating God’s peaceful reign on Earth.

Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.

Advent Scripture Reading

Matthew 11:2–11

Advent Message

Based on Matthew 11:2–11

Hymn of Response

“Come and Bring Light” CCS 287
OR “Come, Join in Mary’s Prophet Song” CCS 308

Prayer of Response

Leader: Come, long-expected Jesus

Congregation: Be born anew in us.

Leader: That in you the downtrodden may find hope,

Congregation: Be born anew in us.

Leader: That in you darkened lives may find peace,

Congregation: Be born anew in us.

Leader: That in you, we may rejoice,

Congregation: Be born anew in us.

Response

Postlude

For today’s sermon helps, see page 22 in Sermon & Class Helps.

Sermon Helps

Third Sunday of Advent

MATTHEW 11:2–11

Exploring the Scripture

In today’s text, we explore the human tendency to question one’s view of reality, even when the evidence seems clear. In Matthew’s Gospel, John the Baptist has already recognized that Jesus is the Messiah and at this point in the story Herod imprisons John. He has heard stories of healings and miracles performed not only by Jesus but by his disciples as well, and yet John questions whether Jesus was indeed the Messiah he prophesied would come. Like others at the time, John’s expectations of “messiahship” and the resulting political freedom and privilege of the Jewish people were not being met.

In contrast to acts of judgment and vengeance as recorded in Matthew 3:1–12, the acts of this Messiah were ones of compassion and love, just as Isaiah had prophesied. The deaf could hear, the blind regained their sight, the lame walked again; even the dead were raised, and the barriers to living in righteous relationship with others were being removed, one at a time. According to Matthew, Jesus commented that for some, these acts would cause offense and be unacceptable.

Regardless of John’s doubt, Jesus continued to speak well of the one who went before him to announce his coming to the world. Jesus reminded John’s disciples of the acts of love and compassion that signalled the prophecies were coming to pass and the new age was beginning. And Jesus reminded the crowds of what they had witnessed about John. 

Jesus contrasted for them the way of the prophet and the way of worldly power. Jesus recognized the greatness of John, and that no other person born was greater than he. John did not change who he was or what he said based on the whims of his culture or society, or what others expected of him. Rather, he remained faithful to his calling to preach repentance and to proclaim the coming of the Savior. His witness of what he knew, heard, and had seen cost him his life. Yet John played a significant role in the life of Jesus and in the history of the reign of God.

Jesus expected his disciples to share in his mission by performing the compassionate and healing ministries that led to sight, hearing, movement, freedom, and new life. But he also expected them to tell everyone what was taking place in this new way of kingdom living. They were called to proclaim in their words and their deeds God’s love as expressed in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. 

This call is to disciples today, and as members of the body of Christ our mission is still Christ’s mission; Christ’s mission is still our mission. We are called through compassionate ministries to heal, bring relief, and free those who are oppressed, imprisoned, and enslaved by ways of thinking and living that bring pain and death. And, we are called and expected as disciples of Christ to tell others the miraculous and ordinary ways we have witnessed the transforming power of love in our lives as well as in the lives of others. To engage in both the telling and the healing is to, like John, live the prophetic vision and call with which we as Community of Christ have been entrusted.

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus did not meet the expectations of all who awaited the Messiah, and perhaps surprises his followers even today.
  2. The proof of Jesus as Messiah is in his loving actions for others.
  3. Isaiah’s prophecies of what God would do for God’s people were revealed in the healing and freeing actions of Jesus and his disciples.
  4. The kingdom of .heaven and the kingdom of this world are different and are contrasted and spoken of by Jesus.

Questions to Consider

  1. How have you experienced the love of Christ through the compassionate actions of others toward you? Through your actions toward others?
  2. What prompts you to tell others of the transforming power of love you have seen and heard? What prevents you from sharing?
  3. How is your congregation or group living out the mission to tell others about what Christ has done and is doing in your lives? How can you support one another in living out the Mission Initiative to Experience Congregations in Mission?
  4. During this Advent season, how will you announce the coming of the Christ?