Ordinary Time (Proper 25)
Jeremiah 14:7–10, 19–22; Psalm 84:1–7; 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 16–18; Alma 16:137
For Disciples’ Generous Response you will need matches or a lighter.
“Humble Yourself” CCS 211 (play the vocal recording from Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings)
Welcome and Sharing of Blessings and Concerns
The need for us to humble ourselves before our Creator is essential and universal in God’s world. We come to worship in the name of Jesus Christ. Let us begin to open ourselves to this encounter with the Divine by sharing the blessings that have happened in our lives this past week and giving thanks. After each offered blessing we will say together, “Praise be to God.” If you feel comfortable, raise your arms with joy! Presider models raising arms while saying “Praise be to God.” Spend time sharing blessings.
What are the concerns on our hearts and minds for which we need the support of this sacred community? After sharing each concern, let us say together “Lord, hear our prayer.” If you feel comfortable, slowly raise your arms while saying, “Lord, hear our prayer.” Presider models this prayerful action while saying, “Lord, hear our prayer.” Spend time sharing concerns.
Prayer for Community Blessings and Concerns
Call to Worship
Leader: Humbly we come…
Congregation: from our busy, chaotic, joyful, broken, and, sometimes, lonely lives. We humbly come “home.”
Leader: “Home” to this sacred space…
Congregation: to share our faith, to fellowship together, to praise our Creator.
Leader: We humbly come before you, Lord…
Congregation: for you know and love us best.
Leader: Help us, Lord…
Congregation: to be real, to tear down our walls of pride, and relax in the warmth of your Spirit.
All: We humbly come to find strength, that we might truly experience your unconditional love and be open to your blessings and hope. Amen.
“Gather Us In” (stanzas 1, 2, and 4) CCS 72
OR “The Love of God” CCS 210
Prayer for Peace
To find personal peace and peace in our world, we begin by seeing that we are all equal in the eyes of God. All are beloved and worthy of an equal portion of God’s love.
Light the peace candle.
Can we find a home of peace and grace
Where false veneers of place and race
Are stripped away from ev’ry face,
And old and young and weak and strong
Sing sacred songs of God’s embrace?
Can we find this home?
Can we find a home where wars will end,
Where children play and wounds will mend,
Where laughter’s balm pours hope on dreams,
Where weapons rust for want of schemes,
And violence dies and justice streams?
Can we find this home?
Can we find a home where faith’s aflame
Where God is called by many names,
Where mosque and pew have equal claim,
And bread and wine and paschal lamb
Join incense burnt and whirling dance?
Can we find this home?
Can we find this home that’s birthed within,
Where God resides, where love begins-
Where Spirit melts the frozen heart,
Where Love unites what’s torn apart,
A home for all who seek God’s heart?
We can be this home!
—Danny A. Belrose, “Can We Find a Home?” in Let the Spirit Breathe,
(Herald Publishing House, 2004, ISBN 9780830911301), 91.
May it be so. Amen.
Additional ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, are on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Hymn of Finding Home
“My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” CCS 247
OR “Restless Weaver” CCS 145
Focus Moment: Worth of All Persons
Worth of All Persons is an Enduring Principle of Community of Christ. Worth of All Persons means: “We value and love all people, just as God does” (We Share by Monica Bradford, illustrated by Sue Cornelison [Herald Publishing House, 2012, ISBN 9780830915224], 20–21).
Show the illustration (pp. 20–21) from We Share or project this image from the We Share CD (sold with the book). Ask participants to first identify the differences between the children, and then say what the children have in common. Discuss:
- Are the children more alike than different?
- What is good about being different?
- What is good about being similar to one another?
In today’s lectionary reading, Jesus told a parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector to teach his disciples that no one is better than another. Think about a time when you thought you were better than someone else. How do you feel about that now? What practices can you do to serve Jesus humbly and honor the Worth of All Persons?
Ministry of Music
“Speak, O Lord” CCS 66
OR Congregational Hymn
“O Young and Fearless Prophet” CCS 36
OR “Redeeming Grace” (stanzas 1, 2, and 4) CCS 497
Based on Luke 18:9–14
Disciples’ Generous Response
You will need matches or a lighter.
The Pharisee in our scripture reading today was far from being humble like we are called to be. He was all flash and no substance, wasn’t he? Quickly light a match and blow out the flame (or flick a lighter on and off). Kind of like this flame. It’s here for a moment, and then it’s gone without a trace. God calls us to be people of substance, true servants and disciples—to relieve poverty and end suffering. As humble servants, we build others up not put them down. One way we can do this is by sharing what we have with others. What is your contribution so people will receive ministry here in this church, neighborhood, city, and on the other side of the Earth? Let us be generous and respond to God’s call to humbly share to our true capacity.
For additional ideas and resources, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
Hymn of Commitment
“Make Me a Servant” CCS 597
OR “God of Grace and God of Glory” CCS 624
OR “According to the Gifts” CCS 591
Those that truly become humble and repent of their sins, and endure to the end, will be blessed. —Alma 16:137, adapted
Prayer of Blessing
Read “Church of Christ Now Poised Anew” (stanzas 1 and 2) CCS 373.
Ordinary Time (Proper 25)
Exploring the Scripture
In today’s scripture text, both the Pharisee and tax collector are sinners. But only one is willing to humbly admit that condition. By doing so the tax collector acknowledges several facts. First, he realizes his relationship to God is broken. By his actions (which are not stated) he has found himself separated from God and probably from many other people. His declaration is that he is lonely, an outcast, not trusted, and not in a right relationship with God. Like the Pharisee, he is separated and apart because of his own actions.
The tax collector’s choices are clear: he can remain separated, unloved, and an outcast or recognize his condition and chart new ways to begin healing while he reconnects with the community. In humility he throws himself on God’s mercy, not even looking up like one would usually do when praying in the temple.
The Pharisee’s position is more desperate. Why? Because he believes he is right with the community and with God. He follows all the rules required and does not let himself associate with folks who do not follow similar rules. He never sees himself as a sinner in life’s mirror. He does not recognize he is separated from society like the tax collector. In fact, his claim to be better than others separates him further than the tax collector. Who are you more like?
God’s grace is available to all, freely given, but it must be received. God is generous, always willing to love unconditionally. If we believe we are living fully all that God requires, we may become self-righteous. Our generous God offers unconditional grace and love through Jesus Christ. Having received this grace and love, we are asked to share it. Unconditionally! The tax collector, by admitting his sinfulness, opens his heart to receive God’s love. The next steps include healing and deciding how to generously share the love he experienced.
- God is generous. God unconditionally shares grace and love through Jesus Christ.
- The Pharisee and tax collector are both sinners but on different paths.
- Righteousness involves humility not pride.
- Once we experience God’s grace and love, we want to share it with others.
Questions to Consider
- Who are the righteous?
- What does it mean to admit our sinfulness?
- What does it mean to be humble?
- The Pharisee’s contempt for the tax collector is similar to our society’s contempt for [fill in the blank].
- How do we access God’s unconditional grace and love?
- Who are you? Tax collector or Pharisee? Or some of both?