Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 13 May 2018

Worship Suggestions

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Ascension of the Lord

LUKE 24:44–53/24:43–52 IV

Open Our Minds to the Scriptures

Additional Scriptures

Acts 1:1–11, Psalm 47, Ephesians 1:15–23, Doctrine and Covenants 85:2–3


Worship Setting

Use pictures or objects to illustrate stars, the earth, the moon, plants, fruits, vegetables, and other organic matter to illustrate embodying “all things.”

Prelude

Welcome

Today’s theme is “Open Our Minds to the Scriptures.” The writer of Luke concludes his Gospel by describing the final blessing and ascension of Jesus Christ as he commissioned his disciples to become witnesses of the gospel. In Doctrine and Covenants 85:2–3, we read that Jesus is in and through all things—the sun, the moon, stars, even the earth. Let us open our minds to the messages of these scriptures as we worship today.

Scripture Reading

Doctrine and Covenants 85:2–3

Responsive Call to Worship

Leader: Clap your hands, all you peoples;

People: Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Leader: For God has ascended with shouts of triumph,

People: And trumpet fanfare!

Leader: Our God is exalted on high,

People: Sovereign over all the nations,

Leader: And Lord of our lives.

People: Let us worship together.

—Based on Psalm 47

Opening Hymn

“Wind upon the Waters”               CCS 49

OR “The Living Word of Scripture”             CCS 65

OR “Gather Us In”            CCS 72

Invocation

Response

Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

Song of Peace or Ministry of Music

“My Peace”        CCS 149

OR “Dona Nobis Pacem”               CCS 155

OR “Peace of Jesus”        CCS 318

Prayer for Peace

Creator God,

Today I pray for peace in all things. May my voice combine with the thousands of others praising your name for the beautiful Earth which you have passed to us.

Lord, I pray for peace in your forests, in your oceans, in your towns and villages.

Unfortunately, God, I know the greatest conflict lies within your people, so I pray for peace in their hearts as well. May we be blessed by your peace and seek refuge in your presence.

In the name of Jesus Christ, the one who showed us how to be peacemakers. 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 Joy and Praise

“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!”    CCS 52

OR “Earth and All Stars”  CCS 102

OR “Je louerai l’Eternel/Praise, I Will Praise You, Lord”      CCS 115

Focus Moment

Spiritual Practice: Holding the Light

This spiritual practice is a form of communal intercessory prayer adapted from the Quaker movement. It is a way of praying for others using silence and imaging.

1. Gather in a circle.
2. Invite people into intercessory prayer in which specific people and needs are placed in God’s care.
3. Spend a few moments centering on God’s presence and the group’s intention of praying for others.
4. Ask people to share aloud the needs and people for whom the group should pray.
5. Enter a period of silent prayer on behalf of those people or needs named.
6. Encourage the “pray-ers” to trust God to know the needs of those being prayed for without a lot of words or explanations.
7. Continue in silent intercession for several minutes.
8. Offer a brief prayer of thanks to close your prayer experience.

See www.CofChrist.org/spiritual-practice-holding-in-the-light for additional instructions.

Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn

“Speak, O Lord” CCS 66

OR “We Thank You, O God, for Our Prophets”       CCS 180

OR “Clouds of Witnesses Surround Us”     CCS 372

Message

Based on Luke 24:44–53/24:43–52 IV

Disciples’ Generous Response

Read the lyrics from “For the Beauty of the Earth,” CCS 130.

Statement

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 -generous-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.

Spend Responsibly

Responsible spending is a commitment to live a healthy, happy life together with God and others. The teachings of Jesus challenge us to make lifestyle choices that are often countercultural.

Questions for Reflection

  • What changes could you make to align your spending with God’s priorities?
  • Responsible spending is more than treasure. It also includes time, talent, and testimony. Which of these are you spending responsibly and which are you challenged to increase?

Rod Downing is a leader of the Canadian Peace and Justice Committee of Community of Christ. The committee promotes just habits and alerts members and friends to causes. Rod also challenges people to join letter-writing campaigns. His committee maintains a website, drawing attention to various peace, justice, and human-rights matters (www.Cof Christpeacejustice.ca).

Through the website, many have begun to use fair-trade coffee and shop for organic cotton clothing. After a deadly extremist attack in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, the Vancouver Congregation and the committee reached out to a mosque with offers of mutual respect. They developed and shared resources with other congregations to help others reach out for peace and justice in similar ways.

Prayer of Gratitude

Focus on our gratitude for everything God has provided.

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.

Hymn of Blessing

“O Breath of Life”            CCS 486

OR “Go, My Children, with My Blessing”   CCS 650

OR “God Be with You Till We Meet Again”              CCS 664

Response

Responsive Sending Forth

Leader: In this place, we have gathered for worship.

People: From this place, we now return to the world.

Leader: We leave to share the story of Jesus.

People: We leave to share the message with those around us.

Leader: We share the faith in word and in deed, in speech and in action.

People: We go out to be living witnesses.

Leader: As we go to testify to God’s active love in the world,

People: We know that God goes with us,

Leader: Sharing the laughter and the hope, the fears and the tears.

All: Thank you, God! Amen.

 Postlude

Sermon Helps

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Ascension of the Lord

LUKE 24:44–53

Exploring the Scripture

Today’s passage is part of the longer account in Luke 24 that includes the empty tomb and the encounter of two disciples with Christ on the road to Emmaus. These stories are in harmony with Luke’s entire message that Jesus has come to bring restoration to Israel. In other words, Jesus’ mission is fulfilling God’s promise.

Specifically, the text encompasses Christ’s appearance in Jerusalem and includes Christ’s blessing and his ascension. Consistent with the author’s purpose, verses 44–53 provide continuity between the past and present, then move toward the future. In verse 44, Jesus refers the disciples to the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms. Jesus stresses this link with the past. God was involved from the beginning. God is faithful and engaged in history. 

People in modern cultures tend to discount the past. But it is important to recognize that tradition and history have much to contribute. The Holy Spirit has encountered many who have gone before us. We are not the first to be blessed by God. We would do well to listen to their stories and testimonies about their encounters with the Divine.

In verse 45, Jesus opens their minds. In the following verses disciples witness where God is moving at their particular moment in history. He describes divine events they witnessed. It is a reality for them. They know it as truth. Now, Christ has their attention. He challenges them to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sin to all.

As disciples, we, too, need to be aware of where God is moving today. When we allow God’s grace to enter our lives, transformation occurs. When we worship, pray, study, hear the word, and share in the sacraments, God appears and blesses. We are called to share that good news with the world.

Then, in the text, Jesus brings the future into the story. Jesus tells the disciples he is sending what God has promised. He directs them to stay in Jerusalem until they have power from on high. The power they will receive is not theirs. Rather, it is God’s power. It is a gift. This power will come from the Divine. Because they are to wait for it, they have a heightened sense of expectancy and excitement. Something is going to happen. How will the power be revealed?

In verses 50–53, Jesus leads his followers to Bethany and blesses them before he ascends. The Greek word the author uses for bless means “to speak well of.” So, in this text Jesus speaks well of them and praises them. He is asking God to help them gain peace, well-being, and wholeness. We, too, receive Christ’s blessing. As disciples, we are called to share that blessing with others. There are many among us who need blessing. We are to “speak well of” them and ask God’s Spirit to give them peace and wholeness.

In the text, after being blessed, the disciples worship Jesus. They return to Jerusalem with great joy and continually “speak well of” God (verses 52–53). Our families, congregations, and faith community should also be continually full of joy and praise. Today we speak “well of God” because of our experience that God’s unbounded love and unconditional grace embraces all.

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus came to fulfill everything written about him in the Law of Moses, the prophets, and in the psalms.
  2. The power we receive is from God. It is a divine gift to be used for God’s purposes. It is not power to use for our own benefit.
  3. We are called to be witnesses—proclaimers of repentance and forgiveness of sins—to all nations. Christ’s mission is our mission.

Questions to Consider

  1. How do the traditions of your congregation reflect God’s presence? (past)
  2. When has your “mind been opened to scripture”? (present)
  3. Have you ever felt expectant to receive from God? (future)
  4. What are some ways you and your congregation witness of and proclaim the Risen Christ?
  5. How would you explain the ascension of Jesus to a new disciple?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Ascension Day

LUKE 24:44–53

The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.

The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.


Gathering

Welcome

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.

Creator God,

Today I pray for peace in all things. May my voice combine with the multitudes praising your name for the beautiful Earth, which you have passed to us.

Lord, I pray for peace in your forests, in your oceans, in your towns and villages.

Unfortunately, God, I know the greatest conflict lies within your people, so I pray for peace in their hearts as well. May we be blessed by your peace and seek refuge in your presence.

In the name of Jesus Christ, who showed us how to be peacemakers. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Dwelling in the Word

I will read a scripture aloud. As you hear it, allow words, images, or phrases to come to mind. Try not to focus on them. Let them rest with you.

After a moment of silence I will read the scripture a second time. As you hear it again, listen for how God’s Spirit nudges you or catches your attention.

Read the scripture:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

—Acts 1:6–11 NRSV

Pause. Read the scripture a second time.

Questions

  1. What words, phrases, or images stood out to you?
  2. What feelings did you experience? Peace? Surety? Confusion? Doubt?
  3. How might the Spirit be nudging you through this scripture?

Sharing Around the Table

Luke 24:44–53 NRSV

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

People in modern cultures tend to discount the past. But it is important to recognize that tradition and history have much to contribute. The Holy Spirit has encountered many who have gone before us. We are not the first to be blessed by God. We would do well to listen to their stories and testimonies about their encounters with the Divine.

Jesus is speaking to the disciples and connecting their experiences to what had been prophesied in the past. He describes the divine events they witnessed, blesses them, and sends them to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sin to all.

The Greek word the author uses for bless means “to speak well of.” Jesus speaks well of them and praises them. He is asking God to help them gain peace, well-being, and wholeness. We, too, receive Christ’s blessing. As disciples, we are called to share that blessing with others. Many among us need blessing. We are to “speak well of” them and ask God’s Spirit to give them peace and wholeness.

Questions

  1. How have you learned about God from the experiences of others?
  2. When have you felt God’s presence through blessing—someone “speaking well” of you?
  3. What are some ways you would “speak well of God.”

Sending

Generosity Statement

“Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f).

We receive God’s grace and generosity. The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.

This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

God of rejoicing, we share our gifts joyfully and with thanksgiving in response to the generous gifts you have given us. May the offerings we share bring joy, hope, love, and peace into the lives of others that they might experience your mercy and grace. Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

CCS 625, “You Are Called to Tell the Story”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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