Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 20 May 2018

Worship Suggestions

Day of Pentecost/Endowment Sunday

Acts 2:1–21 and JOHN 15:26–27, 16:4b–15

The Spirit of Truth

Additional Scriptures

Ezekiel 37:1–14; Psalm 104:24–34, 35b; Romans 8:22–27; Alma 5:13–14; Doctrine and Covenants 162:2e–3a


Invite People to Christ

Welcome

Call to Worship

Scripture Reading: Psalm 104:24–34, 35b and Alma 5:13–14

Congregational Response

Leader: Spirit of life

All:         Fill our emptiness with your fullness

Leader: Spirit of power

All:         Stir our hearts afresh

Leader: Spirit of love

All:         Touch us, and through us, our neighbor

Leader: Spirit of creativity

All:         Enable and empower the gifts you have given

Leader: Spirit of eternity

All:         Draw us ever deeper into your kingdom

Opening Hymn of Praise

“O Breath of Life”            CCS  486

OR “For the Fruit of All Creation”               CCS 132

OR “Lord, Lead Me by Your Spirit”             CCS 209

Invocation

Response

Develop Disciples to Serve

Focus Moment of Confession

The Jesus Prayer

Rather than praying with just the head, the Jesus Prayer, or the prayer of the heart, seeks to engage the whole human person in prayer. By repeating a phrase from scripture, the practitioner bypasses the distracting activity of mental prayer to commune with God in the quiet inner places hidden deep inside their beings. Invite the congregants to find a comfortable prayer-meditation position, then suggest one of the following phrases or words:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Jesus

Mercy

For additional information, see: www.CofChrist.org/spiritual-practice-jesus-prayer.

Hymn of Contemplation

“Lord, Have Mercy”         CCS 197

OR “Kyrie Eleison”            CCS 184

Day of Pentecost Focus

Adapt the following reading on Pentecost to your group. Hand out lengths of orange and red ribbon, construction paper, or crepe paper. Alternatively, purchase or make pinwheels for everyone.

Pentecost, which means 50th, shows how disciples following Jesus Christ created a blessed community. During one of the most important festivals for the Jews—which commemorated Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai—people from all over came to Jerusalem for the festival. When the Holy Spirit appeared at Pentecost, it was said to feel like a rushing wind and was seen as tongues of fire.

Community of Christ believes in the Holy Spirit. We experience the Spirit’s revealing, redeeming, restoring, renewing presence in our midst. The Spirit, who through the prophets called Israel to walk justly, is calling us to the same path today. The Spirit poured out on Jesus is calling us in his name to make real today God’s vision of the world that will be.

—Anthony J. Chvala-Smith, Understanding the Way, rev. ed., (Herald Publishing House, 2011, ISBN 9780830914692), 39–40.

The events at Pentecost empowered the church to do Christ’s mission. The Spirit that descended on Jesus now descended on the disciples, giving power to the church. Just as Jesus began his ministry filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples were beginning their ministry filled with the Spirit.

Ask everyone to stand and wave their ribbons, papers, or pinwheels recognizing the presence of the Holy Spirit while sharing a message from God with those around them such as “God loves you,” or “God’s grace is generous,” or “Respond faithfully, with the help of the Holy Spirit.”

Scripture Reading

John 15:26–27, 16:4b–15

Hymn of Truth

“We Limit Not the Truth of God” CCS 69

OR “God Is a Wonder to My Soul”       CCS 216

OR “O God We Call” (sing several times)  CCS 195

Message

Based on John 15:26–27, 16:4b–15 or Acts 2:1–21

Abolish Poverty, End Suffering

Disciples’ Generous Response

Read the lyrics from “Rain Down” CCS 260.

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

Focus today’s prayer on asking that we may help to provide ways to rain down God’s love on people and make progress toward abolishing poverty and ending needless suffering.

Pursue Peace on Earth

Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

Hymn of Peace

“The Peace of Jesus Christ”      CCS 317

OR “Put Peace into Each Other’s Hands”  CCS 309

OR “Prayer of Peace”      CCS 164

Prayer

To the God of Shalom, the Lord who encourages peace and gives us the motivation to work toward a better world. We dwell in your presence today and pray for peace in all nations. Jesus showed us the way of peace and through the scriptures we know true peace. Grow that peace within our souls so we can keep moving toward a world that knows no war, knows not what hunger is, where all children are loved and supported, where all people are fed, not just by earthly food but also by your Spirit. Lord, we pray together as a choir of voices struggling for peace. May you hear our prayer O Lord, Amen.

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

Experience Congregations in Mission

Sending Forth Scripture Reading

Doctrine and Covenants 162:2e–3a

Hymn of Sending Forth

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”    CCS 248

OR “My Life Flows On in Endless Song”     CCS 263

OR “God Turned the Spirit Loose in Wind”          CCS 484

Benediction

Creator,

As we leave this time of worship today, we do so knowing we have experienced the blessing of God’s presence. We have been filled with a renewal breath of life as a gift from the Holy Spirit. May we be transformed by this generosity, warmed by this presence, and as a result, emboldened to share the good news of God’s love with those we encounter in our daily lives, trusting that God will translate where needed.

We go forth now in God’s promises to guide us, with the grace of Christ Jesus leading us, and with the breath of hope and love from the Holy Spirit pouring over us. Amen.

Response

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Day of Pentecost/Endowment Sunday

ACTS 2:1–21

Exploring the Scripture

Pentecost comes at the end of the Easter season. Christ had promised to return and promised his disciples would not be left alone. With the coming of the Holy Spirit those promises are fulfilled.

Today’s text is set in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was one of three most important festivals for the Jews (the others being Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles). They celebrated Pentecost seven weeks after Passover. The word Pentecost meant “fiftieth.” It was celebrated on the 50th day after the Sabbath on which Passover began. For Christians Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Easter.

Acts was written by the same author as the Gospel according to Luke. There are many parallels between the two books. If the Gospel is the story of Jesus, the book of Acts is the story of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Spirit is responsible for the birth of Jesus in Luke chapters 1 and 2, in today’s text the Spirit is responsible for the birth of the church.

The promise of John the Baptist in Luke 3:16 that people would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire is fulfilled in today’s text. The Spirit that descended on Jesus (Luke 3:22), now descends on the disciples giving power to the church. Just as Jesus began his ministry filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples are beginning their ministry filled with the Spirit.

The Jewish festival of Pentecost is a celebration of giving the Law on Mount Sinai. During that encounter with God there were dramatic signs—thunder, lightning, smoke, and fire (Exodus 19:16–24). As God comes to the church in the Holy Spirit similar signs appear. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the words breath, wind, and spirit are all the same word. So, it is not surprising the Spirit arrives as “a rush of a violent wind” (verse 2).

While fire might be feared, fire in the Hebrew Scriptures was understood to purify or cleanse. When Isaiah was called to be a prophet, hot coals from the fire were touched to his lips as a cleansing agent (Isaiah 6:5–8). Just as giving the law was a key founding event for the Jewish people, giving the Holy Spirit will start the church.

The noise of these events obviously draws a crowd. The text goes into some detail listing all the nations present. The people of Israel had hoped the Messiah would bring together Jews from all nations. Peter will connect this with prophecy suggesting they are in “the last days” (Acts 2:17). By the end of the book of Acts the Spirit will be leading the church not just to Jews of all nations but to all people of all nations. This passage connects Jewish expectation with God’s vision for an inclusive community that goes beyond Judaism.

For the gospel to go to the entire world, to every ethnic group, culture, and tribe, it will have to be taught in all languages. Some people have understood this passage to describe the speaking in tongues Paul talks about in his letter to the Corinthians. But the miracle of this story is that everyone could understand in their own language. This is what continues to happen today as people are led by the Spirit to learn languages and share the gospel around the world.

Central Ideas

  1. The church is dependent on the Holy Spirit for its life.
  2. The Pentecost experience takes place among a diverse community, where all are invited to hear apostolic witness.
  3. The book of Acts is not so much the story of what the apostles did as it is the story of what the Holy Spirit came to do in and through the church.
  4. The same Peter who had denied Jesus three times, is now on fire with the Spirit and preaching the gospel so all the nations can understand. The Holy Spirit is prepared to do the same for us.

Questions to Consider

  1. What has the Holy Spirit done in your life and in the life of your congregation in the past? How has that Spirit led you beyond your human weaknesses?
  2. What is the Spirit doing in your life today and in the life of your congregation?
  3. How can you and your congregation be involved in bringing the gospel to all ethnic groups, cultures, and nations?
  4. What groups are present in your neighborhood or city?
  5. Have you sometimes felt despair in your life or in the life of the church, only to realize the Holy Spirit is breathing new life into you and the church?

Sermon Helps 2

Day of Pentecost/Endowment Sunday

JOHN 15:26–27, 16:4b–15 

Exploring the Scripture

Today’s scripture is part of Jesus’ farewell discourse in the Gospel of John. From chapter 14 through verse 16:33 Jesus delivers a farewell to his disciples. To understand today’s verses one must understand them as the part of this final testament. This speech sophisticatedly interweaves themes important to the writer of John and his community.

First comes the promise of Jesus’ continued presence. Second, there’s the requirement for Jesus to return to the Father. Third is primacy of the believing community. Fourth is the importance of love. Added to these themes is one more important topic: the Spirit (or Paraclete—literal translation is the one who “is called alongside”). The New Revised Standard Version uses the word Advocate. The writer of John highlights this term, Paraclete, on five occasions in this final discourse.

The Spirit, a key part of Jesus’ speech, is rich in meaning. In no other Gospel is the Holy Spirit so central to Jesus’ teaching. The writer explains how this Advocate engages in and supports Jesus’ teaching. The Paraclete is the continued presence of Jesus to the post-resurrection community and is a witness and teacher. The Paraclete has a personal and significant role, which we cannot overemphasize in the life of the disciple and community. Through this living presence of Christ, the Christian community learns about hope—it is not abandoned and is called to witness to the love of God.

Similar to the early Christians and later Christian communities throughout history, the message is clear for us today. The Holy Spirit is basic to our Christian life in community. This Paraclete—Advocate, Helper, Comforter—is the one who walks alongside, encouraging and teaching us hope. The Holy Spirit challenges us to speak truthfully and to testify of what we see reflected in the life of Jesus—a generous and loving God, who calls us to serve others.

Verse 15:26 mentions the “Spirit of truth.” This truth is not about facts, but rather a way of life—an essence of our very being, projecting openness, awe, and servant leadership. This living presence of the Holy Spirit provides Christian hope. We practice hope during our active life as disciples. As disciples, we worship, we pray, we gather in community, and we share the sacraments. 

Additionally, as Christians, we are called to provide hospitality to the stranger, to serve the needy, to feed the hungry, to relieve suffering, and to set free. All of these activities help us reconcile and forgive, granting us God’s peace. Regardless of what the future might bring, the Paraclete teaches us and our community that true Christian hope is to share joyously in the good news of Jesus Christ. We are to witness to God’s gift of grace and generosity with unbounded love.

We are to struggle against violence and inequality, to enter into solidarity with all who suffer, and to take risks for freedom, peace, and justice for all. True Christian hope is action in which we wholeheartedly work toward the consummation of life in communion with God and all of creation.

On this Pentecost Sunday, these verses in John remind us that it is the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, who guides us to speak the truth and to open ourselves to the grace and beauty of creation. The Triune God is acting and loving amid our lives and our world. We are called to follow the Holy Spirit, to join in service, and to share in Christian hope God’s blessings to creation.

Central Ideas

  1. The Spirit teaches disciples and the Christian community to become truth-telling witnesses. 
  2. The Advocate inspires spiritual vision and courage.
  3. The Paraclete reflects Christ’s presence and projects a Christian hope that humanity be in partnership with the Triune God—to be in action with the Divine.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does your congregation listen to the Spirit?
  2. How has the Holy Spirit taught you?
  3. How does the Spirit of truth live in your life?
  4. Have you felt expectant to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit?
  5. Can you provide examples of how your congregation has shared the witness of the Paraclete?
  6. How have you projected Christian hope?
  7. Does your congregation truth-tell?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Day of Pentecost

ACTS 2:1–21 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.

To the God of shalom, the Lord who encourages peace and gives us the motivation to work toward a better world. We dwell in your presence today and pray for peace in all nations. Jesus showed us the way of peace, and through the scriptures we know true peace.

Grow that peace within our souls so we can keep moving toward a world that knows no war, knows no hunger, where all children are loved and supported, where all people are fed, not just by earthly food but by your Spirit. Lord, we pray together as a choir of voices struggling for peace. May you hear our prayer, O Lord. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Breath Prayer

Sit with relaxed posture and close your eyes. We will spend five minutes in centering prayer. Breathe in a regular, natural rhythm.

As you breathe in, name what you would like to receive. As you exhale, state what you would like to release. For example, breathe in peace, breathe out fear. As you breathe focus on what you are breathing in and what you are exhaling.

Watch the time and encourage the group to continue the breath prayer for five minutes. When time is up offer a brief word of thanks to God, take a deep breath, and open your eyes when you are ready.

Sharing Around the Table

Acts 2:1–21 NRSV

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
        and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
        before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

Christ had promised his disciples that they would not be left alone. With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, this promise is fulfilled.

Pentecost was an important festival for the Jews. They celebrated Pentecost seven weeks after Passover. The word Pentecost meant 50th.

It was celebrated on the 50th day after the Sabbath on which Passover began. For Christians, Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Easter.

At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was present in “a rush of a violent wind.” The wind and commotion draw a crowd, and the text goes into detail, listing all the nations present.

For the gospel to go to the entire world, to every ethnic group, culture, and tribe, it will have to be taught in all languages. Some people have understood this passage to describe the speaking in tongues Paul talks about in his letter to the Corinthians. But the miracle of this story is that everyone could hear and understand in their own language. This is what continues to happen today as people are led by the Spirit to learn languages and share the gospel around the world.

Questions

  1. How has the Spirit led you beyond your understanding?
  2. What is the Spirit doing in your life today?
  3. Have you ever felt despair or frustration, only to realize the Holy Spirit is breathing new life into you, your community, or your activities?

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.

Pray with me:

God of wisdom and purpose, may your Spirit guide our decisions as we make Responsible Choices with our resources. May we be wise in spending, prudent in saving, and generous in sharing, that your purposes of healing, wholeness, and well-being might be extended to all. Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

CCS 484, “God Turned the Spirit Loose in Wind”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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