Ordinary Time (Proper 19), Heritage Day
Mark 8:27–38/8:28–41 IV
Take Up Your Cross
Isaiah 50:4–9a; Psalm 116:1–9; James 3:1–12; Doctrine and Covenants 162:3a–b, 163:2b
Ask several people prior to the service to briefly speak during the Focus Moment about what a specific Christian symbol means to them. See the worship setting instructions for symbol suggestions. Have small crosses to distribute to each person following the service.
To incorporate Heritage Day, the last hymn suggestion each time also includes a short description of the hymn’s connection to our history from “Celebrating the Bicentennial of the Birth of Joseph Smith Jr. and Central Tenets of His Message” created by Richard Clothier, www.CofChrist.org/heritage-ideas and from www.historicsitesfoundation.org/page .do?act=lo&page=Heritage_Day_Service. Read the descriptions prior to singing the hymn.
Place a cross on a table at the front of the sanctuary along with a Communion tray, an offering basket, a small fountain or pitcher of water, a symbol of peace (lion and lamb, semaphore symbol, olive branch, dove, etc.), and other Christian symbols for discussion during the Focus Moment.
Welcome to Worship
How do you listen for God in your surroundings, in your everyday life? What words do you listen for to find the path Jesus followed? Listen to the words that are shared today to discern a deeper understanding of who you are called to be.
Scripture to Prepare
Doctrine and Covenants 162:3a–b and 163:2b
Sharing and Caring
Were You There?
Call to Worship
See before you, O God, disciples gathered to worship you—
disciples who are broken too:
See before you, O God, your cross accepted.
“God Is Here!” CCS 70
OR “O Christ Who by a Cross” CCS 315
OR “O God in Heaven, We Believe” CCS 493
Early missionaries often used music to Invite People to Christ. This hymn was written by Parley P. Pratt, one of the first missionaries in the church, who was among four missionaries sent from western New York to the Missouri frontier—an 800-mile journey—in 1830.
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Prayer of Peace
O God, Creator of the Universe and Giver of Life,
Often in the hustle and bustle of activities we overlook your gracious concern for each of us. In your love, continue to forgive our negligence, we pray.
Help us all to realize the greatness of our heritage and the task before us to carry on the message of your mission of peace. With that whispered voice of counsel and direction from you, we will have the strength, courage, and knowledge necessary for this time and place as did those who came before us. In our more thoughtful and responsive moments it is our desire to help make possible a more peaceful society and loving environment.
The wonderful world you have created and permitted us to enjoy does not always provide the peace and safety which you envisioned. This, we know, is a result of our not fully accepting your counsel and fulfilling your desires for your creation. However, Lord, in all of this we continue to see, to sense and recognize your love for us individually and collectively. For this we are grateful.
May we have your presence helping us purge our hearts of apathy and replace it with an active desire for peace and unity in this, your world. We offer our thanks and ask your guidance in the name of the Great Peacemaker…Jesus Christ. Amen.
—Donald Lents, adapted
Hymn of Peace
“Come, Join in Mary’s Prophet Song” CCS 308
OR “God’s Melody of Peace” CCS 319
OR “God, Whose Grace Redeems Our Story” CCS 570
Generations of our faith community all over the world have worked tirelessly in building signal communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. This hymn written by Barbara Howard captures the inspiration of our shared past, acknowledges our present calling, and inspires us onward to continue writing our sacred story, weaving peace and justice through the vision.
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.
Scripture Reading: Mark 8:27–38/8:28–41 IV
“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” CCS 499
OR “Send Forth Your Light, O Zion” CCS 622
This hymn, written by Roy Cheville, a strong and enthusiastic minister known for his emphasis on “doing,” echoes the message from the Gospel of Mark: “What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?” The hymn reflects the passionate mission of our early faith community to share the gospel of Christ and to intentionally create zionic communities wherever they were called to go.
Are You Still There?
Symbols of Discipleship (see Preparation and Worship Setting above)
Have each person hold their designated Christian symbol or move it to the worship center for everyone to see while explaining to the congregation its personal meaning to them.
“Community of Christ” CCS 354
OR “Redeemer of Israel” CCS 388
This hymn was written by W.W. Phelps and was printed in the church’s first printing office located in Independence, Missouri, in 1832. The hymn reflects our faith community’s early attempts at building community and linking its struggles to those of the children of Israel in the Old Testament.
Disciples’ Generous Response
Throughout Community of Christ history, we discover empowering examples of generosity. As we lift up the Mission Initiative to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering, we are called to help those who hurt—feed the hungry, support compassionate ministries, and respond in times of crisis.
An early example of such generosity happened on the streets of Nauvoo, Illinois, over 170 years ago. Andrew Workman remembered standing with Joseph Smith and several other men alongside a fence next to the Smith house. While the men conversed with one another, they were interrupted by an approaching man who appeared very concerned. The man shared that a poor brother of the church had just lost his home and belongings in a house fire the night before. Immediately, the men gathered around and shared their sympathies and concern for their fellow friend. What a tragedy! Then, Brother Joseph reached into his pocket, pulled out five dollars and said, “I feel sorry for this brother to the amount of five dollars; how much do you all feel sorry?”
This story exemplifies Community of Christ’s timeless calling to help those in need. Today, we have the opportunity, like those in Nauvoo 170 years ago, to model compassion and generosity for future generations.
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
“Sometimes We Wait, Expecting God” CCS 304
OR “We Are the Ones the World Awaits” CCS 305
OR “Let Us Give Praise to the God of Creation” CCS 607
Geoffrey Spencer, a native of Australia, served the church in many roles during his lifetime, among them president of the Council of Twelve Apostles. Several foundational principles are incorporated into the five verses of this hymn he created: Restoration; Worth of All Persons, the living presence of divine power; stewardship of the earth; the sacredness of all things; the unity of spirit and element; the ongoing search for truth; men and women together in ministry; the role of the church as sin-bearer; the power of our heritage; and the experience of the God who calls us into the future.
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
Based on Mark 8:27–38/8:28–41 IV
Cross as a Symbol
Display a large cross or draw one large enough for everyone to see. Refer to the parts of the cross as you make these statements:
One way to think about the symbolic meaning of the cross is first to consider the vertical piece. It could represent our individual relationship with God. In this example of symbolic meaning, the horizontal piece would represent the outstretching arms of love, encompassing everyone into community.
Have small crosses to distribute as people leave the service.
Sending Forth Hymn
“Now Let Our Hearts within Us Burn” CCS 658
OR “The Spirit of God like a Fire Is Burning” CCS 384
This historic hymn is near and dear to the heart of the church, and it is fitting to have it send us forth today. It was written by W.W. Phelps in preparation for the dedication of the Kirtland Temple and captures the spiritual excitement and enthusiasm experienced by early church members in 1830s Kirtland. Emma Smith included the hymn as the last selection in her first hymnal, which came off the presses only a few weeks before the Kirtland Temple dedication in March 1836.
Ordinary Time (Proper 19)
Exploring the Scripture
Most scholars agree that Mark is the earliest of the four Gospels, probably written sometime around 60 CE. The author focuses throughout the book on three primary themes: (1) Jesus’ suffering servanthood, (2) the person and authority of Jesus, and (3) total commitment involved in life as a disciple. The main intent, however, is showing who Jesus was. As is so often the case with scripture, today’s text has multiple layers and each layer is multifaceted. However, the three focuses are seen clearly in these 11 verses.
The exchange between Jesus and his disciples, especially Peter, addresses the question of who Jesus was. His stern order for them to not tell anyone about him was a signal that Jesus didn’t want to be identified with what people of that day understood about the nature of “the Messiah.” Jesus signals a radical shift in understanding who and what the Messiah was. In Jesus’ day, that person was expected to be a powerful political or military leader. We have the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. But for his disciples, this represented a major shift in understanding and required a significant leap of faith.
What happens next in the text clearly highlights the point about the suffering Jesus. Jesus continues his discussion with the disciples explaining the Son of Man must “undergo great suffering” (v. 31), eventually be killed, but rise again after three days. The extent of the disciples’ reaction is seen in Peter’s rebuke of Jesus who then, himself, rebukes Peter, calling him Satan. Jesus’ next words again express the divine nature of the Messiah as he tells Peter that he (and by extension, the other disciples) was focusing on “human things” rather than on divine things (v. 33). Jesus was saying the disciples simply didn’t understand what was really involved in his messiahship and, therefore, he didn’t want the disciples proclaiming him as the Messiah based on their errant understanding.
The third point above comes through loud and clear in the later passages of the text. Jesus makes clear that to follow him requires denying oneself, taking up one’s individual “cross,” and following him. As the late German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes it in his book by the same name, there is a “Cost of Discipleship.” Scholars have proposed the idea of denying oneself goes far beyond simply not indulging in one thing or another as we might during the Lenten season. They suggest what Jesus meant was that to follow him involves putting others before oneself—an especially difficult idea in cultures where individualism and the “self” reign supreme.
This theme also cuts across all arenas of life and calls to mind again Jesus’ words that “you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (v. 33). The Apostle Paul put it differently in his letter to the church in Rome, “do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). Paul was seemingly suggesting disciples of Jesus should not follow worldly ways or be concerned about human or earthly comfort or pleasure of self, but instead should focus on “divine things” and live out the gospel in the world.
Jesus’ expectations of disciples are not just about sacrificial giving. His admonition includes the promise that “those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (v. 33).
- Jesus presents a radically new understanding of who and what the Messiah was to be; one who must suffer instead of the popular understanding that this person would be a conquering political or military hero.
- To be a true disciple of Jesus, one must give up the self and be willing to bear heavy burdens, possibly to the extent of giving up one’s own life.
Questions to Consider
- After reading these verses, why would anyone want to be a follower of Jesus?
- Do we fully understand the meaning of messiah?
- When have you experienced denying yourself and bearing a “cross” as a disciple of Jesus? How did that feel?
- What does this text mean within the culture in which your congregation and its participants live?