Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 15 July 2018

Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time (Proper 10)

MARK 6:14–29/6:15–30 IV

Choose Righteously

Additional Scriptures

Amos 7:7–15, Psalm 85:8–13, Ephesians 1:3–14, Doctrine and Covenants 153:9


Worship Setting

As a way to focus on our alignment with God’s guidance and purposes, prepare an open worship setting table or area. During the Call to Worship reading, have preselected people of differing ages bring an assortment of measuring tools and instruments (for example: a plumb line, level, measuring tape, ruler, yardstick, kitchen scale) to create the worship center. These items may also be used as examples during the Focus Moment.

Prelude

Welcome

Call to Worship

Use two or more readers. During the reading, have individuals bring up items to be arranged as part of the worship setting. OR have all the items already in a box or basket in place for the worship setting. Have each item taken out by someone one at a time and arranged to create the worship center area. Pausing after every line will allow time for items to be brought forward, or to be seen by the congregation, and then put into place.

Reader 1:             Lord, we focus on our alignment with your divine guidance and purposes. (pause)

Reader 2:             Let me hear what God the Lord will speak—a voice that speaks of peace… (pause)

Reader 1:             You call us to be your disciples—individually and as a church family. So many times, we fear our efforts have not measured up to our own or your expectations. (pause)

Reader 2:             …God will speak peace—peace for faithful people who turn toward God in their hearts. (pause)

Reader 1:             As your disciples, we are accountable for our actions and inactions; our words and our silence; the disconnect between our commitments and what we do. (pause)

Reader 2:             God, surely salvation is at hand for those who revere you and your glory will dwell in our land. (pause)

Reader 1:             Forgive us for the times we do not get along with each other, or with your creation. Forgive us for giving greater weight to our own desires than to your vision of shalom for the world. (pause)

Reader 2:             Love and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. (pause)

Reader 1:             Continue to guide and lead us. Help us be open to learning your ways anew for this place and this time. (pause)

Reader 2:             Our God will give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Justice will go before you, God, and peace will prepare the way for your steps.

—Psalm 85:8–10, 12–13, adapted

Opening Hymn

“Grace Moves in Rhythms”           CCS  375

OR “Clothe Us in Your Spirit”        CCS 584

OR “O God in Heaven, We Believe” (stanzas 1, 2, 4)            CCS 493

Prayer of Gratitude

Response

Focus Moment

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 153:9c

Invite everyone forward to see the tools and instruments in the worship setting or hold up each one so it can be seen, then enter the following discussion.

  • Each item is useful to help make or create something using specific measurements or amounts.
  • How is each item used? What might each help create or build? Some examples might be: a measuring tape to help sew clothes, or to make a quilt fit a certain bed size; a plumb line to paint a straight line or build a straight wall; and a measuring spoon or kitchen scale to follow a recipe.
  • How does God want us to build and create our lives?
  • What tools and instruments has God given us? Some examples might include scripture, prayer, family, friends, and church.

Scripture Reading: Luke 10:27

Present and discuss Luke 10:27 as God’s tool for us when following Jesus in our lives.

Testimonies

Two or three people, selected in advance, briefly share how their tools are useful and helpful to them personally or professionally. (They may each place a tool in the worship setting at the beginning of the service and retrieve it for the testimony.) Ask each one to relate the tool or instrument to God’s guidance for him or her as a disciple of Christ. This may be expressed as a life story, testimony, or future desire.

Focus Hymn

“O Carpenter, Why Leave the Bench”       CCS 25

OR “In the Crossroads of This Moment”   CCS 170

OR “If by Your Grace I Choose to Be”        CCS 587

Morning Message

Based on Mark 6:14–29/6:15–30 IV 

Community Prayer

Holy Creator,

You stood beside the wall, a plumb line in hand, asking us, “What do you see?” You set the plumb line and bid us to follow your instructions. Give us the courage to be steadfast and trust in your instructions. Strengthen us for the tasks that lie ahead. Support us as we strive to build your kingdom. We pray these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

—Amos 7:7–8 and Doctrine and Covenants 153:9, adapted

Disciples’ Generous Response

Preparing to Give

“God, Whose Grace Redeems Our Story” CCS 570

OR “I Know Not What the Future Hath”    CCS 246

Statement

Everything we receive from God changes us in some way. The gift of life changes us from infancy to every stage of life that follows. The gift of love for and from another changes us, too. School, work, professions, major events—some happy, some sad—each one leaves us transformed. As we change, we often see ourselves and the world differently, sometimes making different choices than before. Sometimes as we learn and experience new things, we forget important knowledge and experiences we once knew. Every gift received, lesson learned, experience lived, and choice made, helped bring us to this moment together before God.

In this next moment of silence, pause, and remember when you first knew you were loved just as you are. Or, remember when you first experienced God’s Spirit, or when someone helped you see the disciple God calls you to become.

Pause and remember… (moment of silence)

The gifts we give and share help change us, too. As God desires to be present in and through every aspect of our lives, pause and reflect on your whole-life offering. (moment of silence)

Follow this time of reflection with a prayer—blessing the offerings we give in the offering plate, the offerings we give through living our lives, and all the ways we give in gratitude to God’s grace 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 and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

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

Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

Have one person or several read each stanza of “Beauty for Brokenness” CCS 302 with the congregation reading the chorus. End the hymn-reading with “Amen” or “In Jesus’ name. 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.

Sending Forth Hymn

“Though the Spirit’s Gifts Are Many”         CCS 334

OR “We Need Each Other’s Voice to Sing”              CCS 324

Prayer of Commissioning

Response

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Ordinary Time (Proper 11)

MARK 6:14–29/6:15–30 IV

Exploring the Scripture

Rumors of Jesus’ actions and rising popularity traveled to King Herod, with various explanations of his identity. He is John the Baptist, resurrected. He is Elijah returned. He is one of the ancient prophets. He is a royal pretender. Herod believed he was John the Baptist: “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised” (v. 16). When Mark tells the story, it becomes the only account in his Gospel that does not obviously focus on Jesus or his disciples.

The Jewish historian, Josephus, writes in his Antiquities of the Jews 18.109–110 that Herod Antipas visited his brother, Philip, on a trip to Rome. During his stay, he began an affair with Philip’s wife, Herodias. Antipas then divorced his wife and married Herodias, who became a powerful influence at Herod’s court. There is some question whether the daughter who danced before Herod was named Herodias (like her mother) or Salome, as later tradition affirms. Josephus writes that Herod killed John the Baptist because of his rising popularity, not because John opposed Herod’s marriage to Herodias, as Mark said.

The reader must enter the story-world of Mark and accept his version as an important commentary on the morals of Herod and his court. Taking his brother’s wife was immoral. It also was considered improper for a woman to dance for strangers outside her family. Herod commanded his daughter to dance. It was shameful for a man to lust after a woman in public. Mark portrays Herod in that way. Herod offered her half of all he possessed, the maximum the law would allow. It was a public pledge he had to honor to preserve trust with his officials. John died for all the wrong reasons.

John the Baptist’s death parallels Jesus’ trial before Pilate. Both Herod and Pilate were weak rulers, threatened by the popularity of the man before them. Neither was personally convinced that execution was proper. Both gave in to public demand. Followers of the victims recovered their bodies and laid them in a tomb. Mark’s first readers did not know John’s death was a formula that would be repeated with Jesus, but later they would have noticed the likenesses (Mark 15).

Mark uses the story to say something about the nature of life as a disciple. Just before this story, Jesus sent his apostles to preach and heal. After telling the story, he relates the return of those followers and their success. The fate of John the Baptist warns of the outcomes of engaging in Christ’s mission (Mark 13:9–13). In the community of Mark’s listeners, disciples were being martyred for their faith.
The verses that immediately follow Herod and John the Baptist form a stark contrast to the story. The scene shifts from Herod’s luxurious palace to a desert place. The courtiers and officers around Herod become peasants and followers who crowd around Jesus and his disciples. The lavish banquet and shameful dancing contrast with the hunger and neediness of those Jesus taught. The feast of Herod contrasts with five loaves and two fishes. Just as Herod displayed his patronage by providing a feast for his courtiers, so Jesus, in providing food for the multitude, was declaring his care and compassion for those whom he taught. In both scenes, Herod and Jesus declare their central values and character by their actions.

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus’ growing popularity was sensed as a threat among the political figures of his day.
  2. Herod displayed weakness and lack of integrity in being manipulated into beheading John.
  3. The death of John the Baptist foreshadows and parallels the death of Jesus and his followers.
  4. The simplicity of Jesus’ ministry contrasts sharply with the ostentatious display of wealth and power that characterized those in authority.

Questions to Consider

  1. What questions haunt you when you consider who Jesus was, is, and might be?
  2. When have you acted to please public demand instead of acting according to your personal convictions? When have you braved public censure to act with integrity?
  3. How does political and religious power suppress the gospel today? How is the gospel subverting the systems of power and control?
  4. What does John the Baptist’s death mean to you? What does Jesus’ death mean to you? Why?


Small-group Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time

Mark 6:14–29 NRSV

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.

Read each stanza of CCS 302, “Beauty for Brokenness.”

End the hymn-reading with “Amen.”

Spiritual Practice

Jesus Prayer

The traditional form of the Jesus Prayer comes from the petition of the beggar on the road to Jericho, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” However, a shorter phrase that focuses on the name of Jesus and the desire for God’s mercy can be used as a meditative prayer. Today we will use “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”

Sit in a comfortable position. Let your breathing become relaxed and easy.

Let the words Lord Jesus, have mercy on me form in your mind.

Gradually fit the words of the prayer to the natural rhythm of your breath. For example, internally say the words Lord Jesus Christ as you inhale and have mercy on me as you exhale.

Remember, the prayer is not intended for rational analysis of content and words. Allow your mind to simply rest in the words as you breathe.

We will silently pray the Jesus Prayer together for three to five minutes.

Draw the prayer time to a close by saying amen.

Engage in a brief time of sharing about the experience of the Jesus Prayer.

Sharing Around the Table

Mark 6:14–29 NRSV

Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

King Herod was hearing reports of Jesus’ teachings and actions. With the reports came various explanations of his identity. But Herod believed he was John the Baptist, raised from the dead. Mark then tells the story of the death of John the Baptist.

Herod Antipas visited his brother, Philip, on a trip to Rome. During his stay, he began an affair with Philip’s wife, Herodias. Antipas then divorced his wife and married Herodias, who became a powerful influence at Herod’s court.

Mark offers this story as commentary on the morals of Herod and his court. Taking his brother’s wife was immoral. It was improper for a woman to dance for strangers. It was shameful for a man to lust after a woman in public. Mark portrays Herod as an immoral father who makes a public pledge he then must honor to save face.

John the Baptist’s death parallels Jesus’ trial before Pilate. Both Herod and Pilate were weak rulers, threatened by the popularity of the man before them. Neither was personally convinced execution was proper. Both gave in to public demand.

Mark uses the story to say something about the nature of life as a disciple. Just before this story, Jesus sent his apostles to preach and heal. After telling the story, he relates the return of those followers and their success. The fate of John the Baptist placed between the sending and the returning offers a warning. It says that following Jesus in ways that speak truth to power or challenge the status quo can carry a significant cost.

Questions

  1. What questions come to mind when you consider who Jesus was, is, and might be?
  2. When have you acted to please public demand instead of your personal convictions? When have you braved public censure to act with integrity?
  3. How does political and religious power suppress the gospel today? How is the gospel subverting the systems of power and control?

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:

Covenant God, As we navigate our world of debt and consumerism, help us to save wisely. In this way may we better prepare for the future and create a better tomorrow for our families, friends, the mission of Christ, and the world. Amen.

(If Thoughts for Children is used, have children share their drawings.)

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

CCS 222, “Gentle God, When We Are Driven”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group


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