Ordinary Time (Proper 28)
Mark 13:1–8/13:1–10, 27, 33–34 IV
Wait in Faithfulness
Daniel 12:1–3, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11–25, 1 Nephi 1:76, Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
For the Focus Moment, provide paper and crayons (pastels) or markers.
“Seek Ye First” CCS 599
OR “Blessed Be Your Name” CCS 252
This song is well suited for guitar(s) and drums.
Call to Worship
I say to God, “You are my God; I have no good apart from you.” Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of our God.
—Psalm 16:2 and 1 Nephi 1:76, adapted
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” CCS 11
OR “How Can We Name a Love” CCS 2
OR “Lord, You Have Brought Us” CCS 76
“Santo, santo, santo/Holy, Holy, Holy” CCS 159
Encourage people to sing in languages other than their own.
OR “O God We Call” (repeat several times) CCS 195
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
We pray today
for an end to the violence carried out by tough words, lethal weapons, or cold triviality. May our homes, our nation, and countries around the world become harbors of peace.
We pray today
for the wisdom to listen to the experiences of those different from ourselves and to respond with respect.
We pray today
for the strength to teach our youngsters how to resolve altercations nonviolently and courteously, and the courage to model peaceful resolution in our own conduct.
We pray today
for our church, that we may celebrate and welcome the diverse faces of Christ in our worship, our ministries, and our leaders.
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.
Disciples’ Generous Response
Watch the video “Disciples Generous Response—The Butterfly Effect” (www.CofChrist.org /resources?tags=DGR-Videos|Generosity-Formation#/1859/disciples-generous-response -the-butterfly-effect).
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).
Receive God’s Gifts
When we consider the ways each principle applies to our lives, we respond faithfully and begin to discover our true capacity for giving. One principle of A Disciple’s Generous Response is Receive God’s Gifts. God gives us many gifts. If we choose to respond to God’s love and grace for us, a deep happiness is one gift we receive.
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
Receive God’s gifts. God gifts each person with boundless grace and unending love. God’s gifts for each of us are expressed through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
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.
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
Mark 13:1–8/13:1–10, 27, 33–34 IV
Read the children’s book, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012, ISBN 9780399246524). Summary: When Ms. Albert teaches a lesson on kindness, Chloe realizes she and her friends have been wrong in making fun of new student Maya’s shabby clothes and refusing to play with her. Each kindness makes the world a better place.
Discuss the book using these questions as a starting point:
- Why do you think Maya wore “spring” shoes in the winter?
- Why wouldn’t Chloe return Maya’s smiles?
- Why did Chloe, Kendra, and Sophie whisper about Maya? Did it make them feel more powerful and in charge?
- The teacher said that everything we do goes out, like a ripple into the world. What did she mean? If your group is not familiar with a “ripple effect,” consider doing the activity the teacher did with her students.
Afterward, encourage the group to write or draw pictures of how they can be kind. These can be posted near the sanctuary exit during the Silent Reflection time so they can be viewed as people leave.
OR “Church Is the Faith Community” by Erica Blevins Nye (see script below)
Conclusion (use at the end of either option for the Focus Moment)
After we hear a short scripture, we are going to sing a song. It’s called “There’s a Church within Us.” Remember, Jesus said that church isn’t about things. When we sing the song it’s not really saying there is a building inside of us. Let’s turn to CCS 278 and read the words before we sing it to see what the song says really matters at church. Consider reading the entire text aloud before singing it. The music could play quietly behind the reading to introduce the tune.
“There’s a Church within Us” CCS 278
Based on Mark 13:1–8/13:1–10, 27, 33–34 IV
Time of Silent Reflection
If applicable, post people’s drawings near the sanctuary exit for all to see.
Scriptural Sending Forth
Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
“O God, Our Help in Ages Past” CCS 16
OR “Now in This Moment” CCS 96
Church Is the Faith Community
The narrator can read the lines, but it is best to deliver them directly. Modify the questions and focal points to fit your congregation. Allow opportunities for children to respond.
Narrator: Welcome to church today! We are in church, right? Well, how do you know for sure? Take responses, if you like.
Just look around! Look at all the pews. And the pulpit up front. And the hymnals. This is definitely church! What else do you see that tells us we are in church?
Take more responses. Perhaps point out the organ or piano, a cross or pictures hanging on the wall, the steeple on the roof, stained glass windows, the presider or preacher up front, etc.
Now I have something for you to imagine. Close your eyes. Imagine all of the hymnals have disappeared! Poof—they’re gone! Pause for people to imagine.
You can open your eyes. I wonder…if all the hymnals are gone, are we still at church? What if the pews were gone? Are we still at church? What about the pulpit up front? The cross? The organ? The stained-glass windows? The preacher? Still church?
What if everything including the walls and roof and steeple was gone? Are we still at church? What is left when all these things are gone? Take responses.
The people! And Jesus! Even if everything else is taken away, it is the people and the love of Jesus (we call that “community”) that make up the church. Everything else is just stuff to help us along the way.
It says in the Bible, in the Gospel of Mark, that Jesus was walking with his disciples near the huge temple. The disciples looked at the spectacular temple and said, “Wow! Now that is a strong, impressive building! The church must be great!” Did Jesus agree? He told the disciples, “It does appear strong and important, but even this big building will fall down one day.” Then he reminded his disciples not to get distracted by what appears powerful today or by worrying about the future.
What really matters at church? The love and message of Jesus are what matters most. That’s what makes us the church! That’s what helps to keep us faithful to God. Let’s stick to putting Jesus and people first. Let’s not get too attached to the place and the stuff around us.
—Erica Blevins Nye in Scripture-based Focus Moments, Community of Christ, 2015, 31, adapted.
Ordinary Time (Proper 28)
Exploring the Scripture
The chapters preceding this passage find Jesus triumphantly entering Jerusalem, reflecting on the greatest commandment (Mark 12:28–31), and teaching in the courtyards of the temple. Throughout this time, he warned his disciples not to become enamored with the grandeur around them or follow things that would distract them from his central mission. And what did they do next? They commented on how glorious the stones and buildings were that made up the temple complex!
Several of these stones weighed over 100 tons and measured nearly 45 feet long. The temple and its surrounding buildings and courtyards—the center of Jewish religion and culture during Jesus’ day—also served as a testament to the power of the Roman Empire and as impressive feats of engineering. No matter how strong a building may be, it can still be destroyed: when the Romans sacked Jerusalem during the Jewish rebellion in 70 CE, they left the once-grand temple in ruins. To be faithful to Christ is to look beyond the presumed stability of institutions, buildings, nations, and glittering wealth of the world. We do not put our trust in that which will topple or fade, but in the gospel message and the Living Word to which it points.
Some of his disciples, who presumed Jesus’ words of warning about the temple indicated the imminence of God’s judgment, asked when these events would take place. Many around
them were predicting the end of the world, a cosmic upheaval where the righteous of God would overthrow those they perceived to be oppressive and in contradiction of God’s desires. They believed a new world order was coming soon, and would be heralded by catastrophic events signaling its arrival.
It is tempting for many people in our world— and throughout the ages—to see contemporary calamities as signs of the so-called “end times.” But “wars and rumors of wars” (Mark 13:7), earthquakes, famines, and other times of suffering we experience do not signal the coming of God’s kingdom in its completion in the world, Jesus said. He did not tell the disciples the signs they should seek, but rather warned them to be on guard against those who would claim a certain event or series of catastrophes signaled the end times. Even as popular Christianity today tends to teach disciples to pay attention to “the signs of the end times,” Jesus firmly rebukes such speculation. Those who come “in [his] name” and prophesy this imminent destruction do not act within the authority of Jesus’ teachings (v. 6). Many people will focus on doomsday predictions, Jesus said, but his disciples were not to be among them or be tempted to wander down such paths of distraction.
Instead, Jesus calls his disciples to be faithful to the message he came to share. In the next passage (Mark 13:9–13), Jesus reminds us our task is to proclaim the good news to all people by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is our mission. We do not cling to the rocks on buildings or attempt to make sense of turmoil around us by declaring catastrophes as the fulfillment of end-time prophecies. To be faithful to Christ is to proclaim him and him alone as the Rock of our faith and the fulfillment of our hopes, even—and perhaps, especially—in the face of suffering.
We can receive further insight about the concept of “end time” from Community of Christ Basic Beliefs, which says, “The future of the creation belongs to the Prince of Peace, not to those who oppress, dominate, or destroy. As we anticipate that future, we devote ourselves to seek Christ’s peace and pursue it. We do not know the day or hour of Christ’s coming but know only that God is faithful” (Sharing in Community of Christ, 3rd ed., 2012, 16). We remain faithful by focusing on Jesus and the pursuit of peace and sharing Christ with others.
- Being faithful to the gospel means we place our ultimate trust in Christ and his mission, rather than impermanent things that can distract us from his priorities.
- Jesus instructs his followers to avoid the apocalyptic fervor around them and instead focus on how they conduct themselves amid turmoil.
- We must listen and remain faithful to Jesus and his teachings rather than be caught up in what our culture dictates we must believe.
Questions to Consider
- What does it mean to you to remain faithful amid the struggles of life? How has God been faithful to you during these times?
- In what ways does the community of faith help keep us grounded and focused on those things that matter most?
- What emphasis does your congregation place on maintaining your building rather than sharing the mission of Jesus Christ? Are they at conflict at times? Is there a challenge there?