Ordinary Time (Proper 24)
Give from Our True Capacity
Isaiah 45:1–7; Psalm 96:1–13; 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10; Mosiah 5:81; Doctrine and Covenants 153:9a–c, 163:9
Arrange several baskets at the front of the sanctuary to receive the Disciples’ Generous Response. Ahead of time, designate and promote this Sunday as a time to bring non-perishable food for donation to local food banks as a way to demonstrate our true capacity.
Distribute blank thank-you cards and something to write with as people enter the service.
“Great and Marvelous Are Thy Works” CCS 118
OR “God, Who Touches Earth with Beauty” CCS 568
Call to Worship Responsive Reading
Leader: Sing to our God a new song!
Congregation: Sing to our God, all the earth!
Leader: Sing to our God, bless God’s name!
Congregation: Declare God’s glory among the nations.
Leader: God is coming to rule the earth with justice and its people with truth!
Congregation: Let the heavens be glad, let the earth rejoice.
Leader: Bring an offering and come into God’s courts.
All: Let us worship our God in the beauty of Holiness.
—Psalm 96:1–3, 8, 11–13; adapted
Hymn of Praise
“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!” CCS 52
OR “Creator God We Sing (Cantemos al Creador)” CCS 114
“Come, Holy Spirit, Come” (sing twice) CCS 154
Prayer for Peace
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 153:9a–c
Light the peace candle.
Offer a prayer of confession based on Doctrine and Covenants 153:9a–c.
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.
Focus Moment: Giving Thanks
There are many ways to give generously as disciples of Jesus. Some of our giving involves words of gratitude. As you entered the service you received a thank-you note. Think about the people in this room and those with whom you have relationships. Who needs to hear words of gratitude from you? When have you been thankful for this person in your life?
Spend a few moments writing a thank-you note to the person you have in mind. Acknowledging the blessing this person has been to you is a way of giving to your true capacity. We often think of giving in terms or money, but being thankful and expressing our gratitude to others is also giving.
Allow some time for people to write a thank-you note. Have soft music playing during this time. These thank-you notes can be used as part of the Disciples’ Generous Response (see below). OR at the end of the writing time, encourage people to hand deliver or mail their thank-you notes in the next week to the people for whom they are thankful.
Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn
“Let Your Heart Be Broken” CCS 353
OR “Can We Calculate Our Giving” CCS 617
Based on Matthew 22:15–22
“Brothers and Sisters of Mine” CCS 616
OR “Take My Life and Let It Be” CCS 608
OR “Take My Life, That I May Be/Toma, oh Dios, mi voluntad” CCS 610
Disciples’ Generous Response
Allow time for people to deliver the thank-you notes from the focus moment to the addressees. Have extra thank-you notes prepared ahead of time to ensure that everyone receives at least one thank-you note.
We have talked a lot about giving today. And we have also demonstrated giving out of gratitude. Let us now consider giving generously to support local and worldwide mission tithes. Our gifts are meant to be shared freely with others and tithing is one way we have of addressing worldwide mission. Our generosity empowers others to fulfill their mission. We also offer tangible food items for [insert local food ministry] as another way to demonstrate giving from our true capacity.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
Invite the congregants to place their offerings in the baskets in front and bring forward their donations of food.
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Hymn of True Capacity
“For the Life That You Have Given” CCS 619
OR “Go with Us, Lord” (sing through twice or sing as a four-part round) CCS 612
Give generously according to your true capacity. Eternal joy and peace await those who grow in the grace of generosity that flows from compassionate hearts without thought of return. —Doctrine and Covenants 163:9, excerpt
Ordinary Time (Proper 24)
Exploring the Scripture
In today’s passage, an unlikely coalition of Pharisees and Herodians try to force Jesus to answer a yes-or-no question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” (v. 17). No matter which response he chooses, Jesus will be in trouble. Rather than becoming entangled in their web of trickery, Jesus asks for a coin and shows it to them. “Whose head is this, and whose title?” (v. 20) he asks. When they respond that it is the emperor’s, Jesus declares, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v. 21).
As onlookers to this exchange, it is important to move beyond the tendency to think this passage is only about politics and how Christians should interact with governments. While the story also shows Jesus’ ability to outwit the Pharisees’ malicious intent, we need to go deeper. Jesus is asking them, and us, to distinguish between a government’s jurisdiction and God’s jurisdiction. To whom do we belong? In whatever area we find ourselves—political, social, religious, or economic—we belong to God. All that we have and are come from a generous God.
Jesus’ response does not solve the problem, he simply moves the discussion to a different realm—God’s. Daily, we face the struggle of placing God at the center of our living, ahead of worldly priorities. Our call as disciples is to make God the priority in our lives. God generously gives to us the many blessings we have in our lives. We receive those blessings and respond with thanksgiving and service to others. Giving thanks for what we have, recognizing God’s presence in our lives and God’s blessings among us helps us gain focus for what is important, the kingdom of God.
- We belong to God.
- All that we are and have come from a generous God.
- When faced with worldly priorities, disciples of Jesus are called to place God at the center of living—top priority!
- As we consider what is God’s, the greatness of God’s generosity is so humbling that we respond with thanksgiving and service to others.
Questions to Consider
- What takes precedence in your life?
- How does being aware of God’s generosity influence your decisions?
- To whom do we belong?
- Are there ways to make this passage relevant to children and youth in your congregation?