Ordinary Time (Proper 20)
Mark 9:30–37/9:27–35 IV
Who Is Greatest?
Jeremiah 11:18–20; Psalm 54; James 3:13—4:3, 7–8a; Mosiah 1:49; Doctrine and Covenants 165:3e
For the Focus Moment, you will need lion and lamb puppets, stuffed animals, or figurines.
Save Me O God by the Power of Your Name
“Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” CCS 86
“Humble Yourself” CCS 211
“Make Me a Servant” CCS 597
Inform the congregation that the section dividers in this service (such as, Save Me O God by the Power of Your Name and Hear My Prayer, O God) are from Psalm 54.
Call to Worship
O God, save me by the power of your name,
Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth.
God is my helper; the one who upholds my life…
I will make a willing sacrifice
and praise your name, for it is good.
You have delivered me from every trouble…
—Psalm 54, adapted
Hymn of Praise
“Hidden Christ, Alive Forever” CCS 24
OR “Who Is This Jesus” CCS 38
OR “O God beyond All Praising” CCS 90
Hear My Prayer, O God
Centering Prayer of Invocation
Repeat three times.
Leader: Breathe in.
Leader: Breathe out.
Leader: Breathe in.
Leader: Breathe out.
All: Hear my prayer, O God. (Third time: Amen.)
Sharing Joys and Concerns
Note to presider: Use active listening skills to repeat back the joy or prayer concern of the one who shares. After each joy, say to the congregation: “Let us lift up our hands and say…”: “Thanks be to God!” or “Praise be to God!” After each prayer concern, “Let us lift up our hands and pray…”: “Lord, hear our prayer!” or “God have mercy, Christ have mercy.”
Pastoral Prayer for Joys and Concerns
Prayer for Peace
Hymn of Confession and Enlightenment
“Peace Among Earth’s Peoples” CCS 448
OR “Peace of Jesus” CCS 318
OR “God of Grace and God of Glory” CCS 624
Light the peace candle.
Prayer for Peace
Eternal God, present in all of life that is significant and holy, hear us now as we lift our voices in thanksgiving and praise, in confession, and in supplication.
We give thanks for your word of encouragement that enables us to face each new day. We also thank you for your word of faithfulness that gives us hope for the future. And we give thanks for your word of guidance that directs us as we seek to better understand your ways.
Gracious God, deliver us from the shallowness of our commitments, from the thousand ways our strivings separate us from each other. And most of all, deliver us from our fears that alienate us from you.
O God of faith, hear our prayer as we light our flame of peace and love at this hour and in this sacred place. May the flame here kindled grow within each heart, that all may sense more fully your spirit in the warmth of our concern for one another. Refresh us when we grow weary of opposing injustice and oppression, terrorism and war, and send us forth from this experience of dialogue and worship strengthened to bind up the wounds that afflict our world.
Grant us peace, O God—not the peace of slumber, but of quiet confidence in the triumph of your word. For the sake of all your creation, we pray. Amen.
—Wallace B. Smith, adapted
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.
I Will Make a Willing Sacrifice
Disciples’ Generous Response
See the Focus Moment script, “The Lion and the Lamb” at the end of this worship outline.
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.
Listen to the Words of My Mouth
Ministry of Music or Congregational Song
“On the Journey to Emmaus” CCS 272
OR “It’s Me, It’s Me, O Lord” CCS 208
Morning Message: “Who Is Greatest?”
Based on Mark 9:30–37/9:27–35 IV
The One Who Upholds My Life
Dwelling in the Words We Proclaim
Doctrine and Covenants 165:3e
As you listen to this paragraph, do you sense a particular word, phrase, or image that speaks to you?
As you listen a second time, think of someone with whom you might be able to embody the meaning of these words.
As you listen the final time, consider what kind of transformation these words cause in your life.
Hymn of Commitment
“Called by Christ to Love Each Other” CCS 577
OR “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” CCS 640
Scripture of Benediction
…the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
Submit yourselves therefore to God.… Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.
—James 3:17–18, 4:7–8, adapted
Focus Moment: The Lion and the Lamb
Use lion and lamb puppets, stuffed animals, or figurines to act out this worship drama.
Lion: Today’s scripture reading is from Mark, chapter 9, verses 33 to 37:
“Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest…”
Lamb: (interrupting) Well, I know I’m not the greatest.
Lion: Lamb, you’re interrupting. But wait…what you mean is you think you’re not the greatest. I think you’re pretty great.
Lamb: No, you’re so much bigger than me, so much stronger than me. After all, you’re, you’re… a lion!
Lion: But Lamb, listen to what Jesus said in the scripture when he heard the disciples arguing over who was greatest:
He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Lamb: Yeah, I know God wants us to serve, but what can I do? I’m not rich. See, I only have these few coins.
Lion: But that is great, Lamb. Your gift, no matter how small, is great in God’s eyes. Remember it was once written: “When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 1:49). And you’re always helping people. And you have talent galore! I don’t have any of the talents you do, Lamb.
Lamb: Well, sure you do, Lion. Remember the great vegetable stew you brought to the potluck? All the vegans were so happy! And I was a little relieved too. And remember how you always get people to laugh whenever there’s a tense situation? That’s a huge talent, Lion.
Lion: Well, for sure you’re right Lamb. We both are good servants when we remain humble. So I guess now we should help with the offering. But first, I think there’s going to be a prayer…
Ordinary Time (Proper 20)
Exploring the Scripture
The first three verses (Mark 9:30–32) of today’s text describe Jesus foretelling his crucifixion and resurrection for the second time. The reason Jesus needed to tell his closest followers again what he had already told them was because they didn’t get it the first time. In fact, when Jesus first told them of his destiny (Mark 8:31–33), Peter rebuked him. Such was the disciples’ lack of understanding. The second time was no different. The writer was specific: “They did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him” (v. 32). This lack of understanding on the disciples’ part is a common theme in Mark. In fact, Jesus repeats this a third time in the next chapter (Mark 10:32–35), providing even more details about what will happen to him.
The second part of today’s text (vv. 33–37) describes Jesus teaching his disciples an important lesson. As they journeyed, the disciples argued among themselves about who was the greatest. This was clear indication they had not taken to heart Jesus’ model of humility and his teaching that to serve, one must put oneself last. Jesus, perceiving what was going on, asked the disciples what they were talking about. They declined to reply, presumably out of embarrassment. So Jesus sat down—a sign he was about to teach—called the 12 to him and repeated what he told them earlier: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (v. 35).
To make his point stronger, Jesus then took a child and told his disciples that welcoming a child is the same as welcoming him. Today, we might think such an action to be cute or interesting. However, in Jesus’ time, this was most unusual.
Children were seldom seen or heard. They spent their time with women and not men. There would have been no place for a child in important conversations between a rabbi (Jesus) and his followers. However, Jesus made a place for a child—not just as someone present as he talked with his disciples, but as an example of what was basic to discipleship. The child, least important among the people, was made the greatest by Jesus as he talked about humility and what is required of a true servant minister.
When Jesus told the disciples that to accept him was to accept the one who sent him (God) would not have been unusual or startling to them. They would have had at least some understanding that Jesus represented God.
We are here to follow the One who showed God’s grace and mercy to all people, even those considered the least important. A child should serve as a symbol of everyone people might consider today as having little worth. We continue to honor our heritage and traditions as we respond to God’s call to humbly serve all we meet on our life journeys. Community of Christ began as a movement that sought to make the reign of God a reality here and now. This continues to be our call and reason for being.
- Jesus came to affirm the worth of each person. His death and resurrection marked his commitment to God’s reign.
- Arguing about one’s importance contradicts Jesus’ life and teaching.
- A child, or anyone else considered unimportant, is equally valuable in God’s sight to all others.
- We continue to affirm our tradition and heritage as we faithfully respond to God’s call and make Christ’s mission ours.
Questions to Consider
- When have you failed to understand the true meaning of Jesus’ ministry and mission?
- Whom do you tend to dismiss as less important?
- When have you been blessed by the presence or action of a child?
- Where do you sense God calling you to reach out in loving action or presence to another?
- What aspects of Community of Christ heritage are most meaningful for your discipleship?