Ordinary Time (Proper 24), Children’s Sabbath
Become Servant Leaders
Isaiah 53:4–12; Psalm 91:9–16; Hebrews 5:1–10; Doctrine and Covenants 163:4c, 163:9
Materials needed for Focus Moment: whiteboard or flip chart and markers.
Play a recording of the choruses, “Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs,” “And with His Stripes We Are Healed,” and “All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray,” from Handel’s oratorio, Messiah. If no recording is available, move directly to reading the associated scripture.
A Reading from Isaiah
Welcome and Community Sharing
Include information about the Children’s Sabbath. See www.childrensdefense.org/programs /faithbased/faith-based-action-programs-pages/childrens-sabbaths/planning-in-your -community.html.
A Reading from the Psalms
“Strong, Gentle Children” CCS 233
OR “Gather Your Children” CCS 77
Prayer of Peace for the Children of the World
Light the peace candle.
God of Love and Peace,
Today we pray for the children of the world. We pray for children without food, shelter, and healthcare. We pray for children who are privileged to have each of these necessities. We pray for all children who wonder about you, and seek hope in a tumultuous world.
Give us courage to teach our children the way of peace. Give us strength to denounce injustice, and show our children the way of compassion. Give us insight to care for our planet, and preserve the earth for future generations. Give us the foresight to raise children who address “the other” with love, rather than fear.
May we each become, like Jesus, the embodiment of God’s shalom. 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.
“like a child” CCS 403
OR “I Am Standing Waiting” CCS 298
A Reading from the Gospel
- Invite children to come to the front, and share an overview of the lectionary text from Mark 10:35–45, particularly focusing on James’ and John’s desire to sit on the right and left sides of Jesus in his glory. Explain that this was something both disciples wanted.
- On the chart or whiteboard, draw a line down the center, creating two halves. Ask the children to name some things that they want, that they don’t already have and list them on one side of the whiteboard. If they struggle to answer, remind them that Christmas is a couple months away, and ask if they’ve thought at all about what they might want. If there are older children who come up, offer to let one of them be the scribe to write the group’s answers.
- Next, ask the children to name things all children need and list them on the other side of the whiteboard. They may name necessities like food, shelter, and water, but may also name nonmaterial needs like loving parents, and friends who care about them.
- Transition back to the scriptural passage from Mark, and focus on Jesus’ words. Paraphrase: I didn’t come to be served, but rather to serve others. The disciples were focused on what they wanted and allowed their personal desires to guide their vision for life with Jesus. Jesus helped them remember that at the core of his message is to serve others and share God’s love with everyone. It is okay to want things for ourselves, but we must always remember the needs of others.
- Highlight that today is Children’s Sabbath, a day celebrated worldwide at churches, congregations, synagogues, temples, and mosques. On this day, we remember the needs of children all over the world and work as followers of Jesus to help all children have their needs met.
- Say a prayer for the children of the world, and then invite the children to return to their seats.
Hymn of Calling
“Make Me a Servant” CCS 597
OR “O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come” CCS 544
OR “Sing a New World into Being” CCS 576
Based on Mark 10:35–45
Hymn of Mission
“Take the Path of the Disciple” CCS 558
OR “How Many Times We Start Again” CCS 560
OR “We Serve the Prince of Peace” CCS 348
Disciples’ Generous Response
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-gener ous-response).
When we consider the ways each principle applies to our lives, we respond faithfully and begin to discover our true capacity for giving. The promise in Doctrine and Covenants 163:9 is clear: “Eternal joy and peace await those who grow in the grace of generosity that flows from compassionate hearts without thought of return.”
When we faithfully respond to the ministry of Jesus Christ, we become accountable to one another, God, and ourselves. Our response to God’s gifts of love and grace is to serve others and let generosity become part of our nature.
Questions for Reflection
- Jesus is our greatest example of a servant leader. How is God calling you to be a servant leader?
- In what areas of your life are you called to make changes to live as a servant leader for all?
Equipping the people of God to be skilled and informed servants is key. We want to help leaders understand the volunteer and team nature of priesthood in Community of Christ. It sometimes is difficult to get people out of the mindset of one-person ministry, a minister who must be paid. However, we stress that All Are Called, all can be ministers.
—Andrew Bolton, “Stubborn Hope: Mission Moments,” Herald, October 2015, 11.
Through the offerings received today, resources like The Priesthood Manual can be updated and translated into several languages, and disciple formation materials can be created.
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 Sending Forth
“Hands of Blessing” CCS 548
OR “Lord, Whose Love” CCS 346
OR “Go, My Children, with My Blessing” CCS 650
A Reading from Continuing Revelation
Doctrine and Covenants 163:4c
Ordinary Time (Proper 24)
Exploring the Scripture
Today’s scripture focuses on a persistent misunderstanding of the disciples. They don’t realize Jesus will suffer nor do they understand they must, too. James and John requested positions of honor. In doing so, they were unaware of their own callings to servanthood. This scripture highlights important challenges. First, as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we face the same question as James and John: Are we willing to drink the same cup as Jesus? Second, our journey as Christians is not one of power, position, or recognition. Third, servant leadership is paramount.
As Christians, we must answer a major question asked in verse 38, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” As followers of Jesus, we need to accept suffering and carrying the burdens of others. Neighborly love and devotion to God are central tenets of our conviction. We may not pay the ultimate sacrifice like Jesus or the face the same suffering as the sons of Zebedee. However, as devout followers we must be willing to suffer and to sacrifice on behalf of others.
In the scripture, the disciples’ viewpoint is one of self-concern. Status is critical to this perspective—exercising authority over others. We, too, fall prey to the misdirected desire to worry more about ourselves than serving others. As Christians, we need to recognize the journey is not one of prestige but one of unadulterated servanthood. It is not a question of being taken advantage of or of honor but of giving our “advantage” to others. Servanthood is critically important not only within the church community but in our cultures and societies as a whole.
If we find ourselves dulled by excess comfort and distracted by our problems and self-concern, we may tend to separate ourselves from those less fortunate—people who are poor (or poorer) and people who are marginalized. They may remain far from us, if not invisible, whether far or near. We can be enslaved—insensitive to the maladies our world. Our separation from people who are destitute and poor may be great, or we may be very close.
In these verses, we are called into service as servants and slaves. Jesus’ description of Christian leadership, “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all” (vv. 43–44) is as important today as it was when Jesus walked with his disciples to Jerusalem to suffer on our behalf.
Today, in our journey, we join with the disciples of old as we walk and talk with Jesus. We are no different from our ancient colleagues— like the sons of Zebedee or the other “10.” Many times we fail to understand what it means to follow Jesus. We don’t grasp the meaning of our discipleship. We become competitive with one another. We become overly self-concerned, seeking prestige and honor. We want to exercise our leadership the way the world teaches us to lead rather than by service. Our list of inadequacies and misunderstandings could be endless.
However, these verses provide wise counsel when placed with the other stories and parables of Jesus. In our weakness, shortcomings, and inadequacies, Jesus calls us to servanthood and continues to help his disciples (us) overcome our failures, and reconciles us to our Creator. As we walk with Jesus, we slowly but assuredly comprehend the central theme of his ministry. Our call of discipleship is servanthood—service to our fellow beings. The desire and drive for prestige, power, and recognition is as misplaced to us as it was to James and John.
- Christian discipleship calls us to share the burdens of others.
- Servant leadership is paramount as a disciple of Christ.
- We must learn to give whatever “advantage” we have to others who are less fortunate.
Questions to Consider
- Have you ever wanted power, status, and prestige within the church?
- Have you ever been jealous of someone’s giftedness?
- Do you find sharing the burdens of others difficult?
- Has the congregation shown the surrounding community the meaning of service?
- Do you have an example of someone who exemplifies a servant leader?
- How does one’s ego influence one’s ability to become a servant?