Reign of Christ, Ordinary Time (Proper 29)
Listen to the Voice
Daniel 7:9–10, 13–14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1:4b–8; Doctrine and Covenants 163:3b, 164:9b, 165:2d
Prelude Music for Personal Meditation
Call to Worship
Scripture: Revelation 1:4b–8
Have three readers stand in different parts of the sanctuary and recite dramatically.
Reader 1 reads verses 4b–6, Reader 2 reads verse 7, and Reader 3 reads verse 8.
All three readers say together: “Let us praise God!”
Hymn of Praise
“God of the Ages” CCS 7
OR “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” CCS 13
OR “Praise to the Living God” CCS 8
Prayer of Praise
Centering in the Spirit
Read the children’s book The Listening Walk by Paul Showers (HarperCollins, 1993, ISBN 9780064433228). This is the story of a little girl walking quietly with her father down city streets, a forest trail, and a park path. It describes the many sounds creation makes as prayers of praise to God.
Then use these questions as a starting point for discussion.
- What are some of the sounds the girl hears in her neighborhood?
- Why do you think the sounds in the park are not loud like the noises on the street?
- As the girl listens to her father’s shoes on the path, how do you think she feels about walking with her father?
OR Guided Prayer
Enter a time of guided prayer and meditation. Invite the congregation to offer silent prayers or meditate during the pauses.
Will you join with me to listen to the Voice that speaks to each of us from beyond the farthest hills, from the infinite heavens above and the vast seas below? Within all aspects of our lives and our world exist situations and conditions that need the healing touch of the Holy. (pause)
Listen to the Voice that invites you to surrender your fears and frustrations, anger, and anxieties, and to await with an open heart the peace that only Christ can bring. Allow the One who seeks only the best for you to offer the comfort you seek. (pause)
Listen to the Voice that whispers the invitation to reconciliation with those whose lives, words, decisions, or actions have wounded you. May you find space in your heart for healing to occur in your relationships with brothers and sisters, as well as your enemies. (pause)
Listen to the Voice that calls all people from all countries into unity and oneness. May we be attuned to hear the cries for mercy, forgiveness, and generosity. Listen to the One who reminds us that in the welfare of another resides our own well-being. (pause)
Listen to the Voice that echoes across the eons of time and yet speaks anew at this moment. The earth shudders in distress because creation’s natural and living systems are becoming exhausted from carrying the burden of our greed and conflicts. Listen to creation which struggles to provide life to the seas, the hills, and the heavens above. (pause)
May the One who spoke calm to the storm and stilled the waves with a word, bring peace to us and through us. May we be among those whose lives whisper, shout, and proclaim peace to those far and near for the sake of God’s shalom. Amen.
“Listen in the Silence” (solo, group, or congregational hymn) CCS 153
OR “Spirit Fill Us” CCS 160
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Creator of All,
We recognize your message that “The rise of Zion the beautiful, the peaceful reign of Christ, awaits your wholehearted response to the call to make and steadfastly hold to God’s covenant of peace in Jesus Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 164:9b). Work with us, we pray, as we endeavor to pursue this mission.
Enable each one of us to share unconditional love and resources pleasingly and eagerly, and treat all we meet equally with dignity in every aspect of their life.
We invite your spirit and presence to bless the peacemakers of every nation as they bring love, peace, joy, hope, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit to all your children. We ask this prayer in the name of the Prince of Peace, our Savior, Jesus Christ. 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.
Disciples’ Generous Response
“…innovation and Christ’s mission happen through dedication and perseverance, even without significant funding. But there is no question that doing something BIG, requires everyone to work together, combining our time, talent, treasures, and testimonies.” During World Conference 2016, “the church journeyed to define tithing and how it supports Christ’s mission. Delegates, members, and leaders listened to diverse perspectives and built consensus around shared values and understandings.” It was “repeatedly heard that the foundational understanding of 165:2 had to be a part of any statement on tithing.”
“The committee also heard these recurring themes:
- God’s generosity cannot be separated from God’s grace, so when we talk about generosity, it is incomplete without including grace.
- The literal definition of tithing must be connected to the spirit of tithing, which is giving generously to one’s true capacity.
- Tithing is broader than treasure and includes time, talent, and testimony.
- The call to faithful stewardship is for all disciples, not just priesthood.”
“May God bless us as we embody the six principles of A Disciple’s Generous Response and learn to share tithing as ‘a spiritual practice that demonstrates willingness to offer every dimension of one’s life to God’ (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2d).”
“Mission happens when we tithe!”
—Stassi Cramm, “Mission and Tithing,” Herald, September/October 2016, 5, 39, excerpted.
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.
Prayer of Confession
Jesus, we claim to follow you, yet we do not always live our lives as you would have us to do. Forgive us. We follow our own selfish desires. Have mercy on us. We do not always respond to your call to serve others who need our help. Open our hearts and minds to your purposes. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn of Assurance
“Jesus, Partner, Lover, Friend” CCS 40
OR “Who Is This Jesus” CCS 38
Based on John 18:33–37
“Community of Christ” CCS 354
OR “Fairest Lord Jesus” CCS 33
OR “Holy Wisdom, Lamp of Learning” CCS 55
Congregational Mission Prayer
Print or project this prayer so all in the congregation can share it.
God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.
Strive to be faithful to Christ’s mission of the peaceable reign of God on Earth. Courageously challenge cultural, political, and religious trends that are contrary to the reconciling and restoring purposes of God. Listen to the truth. Pursue peace.
—Doctrine and Covenants 163:3b, adapted
Can there be a clearer call to be a prophetic people than the call to courageously challenge demeaning and destructive “cultural, political, and religious trends”?
The commission to courageously challenge trends that hinder “God’s reconciling and restoring purposes” is double-sided. It is not enough to criticize or speak out against such destructive influences. We are called to eradicate them through ministries and programs. We must be for something as well against something.
Horizons of hope call to us. We will not remain silent. We will be your people, God.
—Danny A. Belrose, Vulnerable to Grace, (Herald Publishing House, 2008, ISBN 9780830914166), 32, 34.
Reign of Christ Ordinary Time (Proper 29)
Exploring the Scripture
We come to the final Sunday of the Christian year, known traditionally as “Reign of Christ,” or “Christ the King.” The annual journey with Jesus begins again in seven days. How does today’s text help close another year in our Christian life? What can be said to recognize the threshold of ending and beginning that now is being crossed again?
One fact that strikes the reader of this passage is how the interaction between Jesus and Pilate is, at first, an exchange of questions: Pilate: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus: “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate: “I am not a Jew, am I? …What have you done?” And later, “So you are a king?” These are two savvy men, each a leader, aware that the other is capable, powerful. They are probing and testing each other with carefully chosen words.
As commentators parse every word of politicians and public figures today, so we as sermon preparers are invited to pay close attention to the verbal exchange between Jesus and Pilate. Their words reveal the stark contrast between the values and principles that shape the lives of each! You may want to research Pilate to understand the difference between his motives and actions and those of Jesus.
“King” and “kingdom” are unpopular words in much of the world today, so it is helpful to remind the congregation that this was the governing model of the time. Jesus used common understandings of administrative structure to invite people into the “upside down kingdom.” Jesus redefines power as foot-washing servanthood, plowshares as preferred tools of peacemaking, children as teachers of adults, and death as the way to new life.
A most important conversation is Pilate’s question, “What have you done?” and Jesus’ response, “I came…to testify to the truth.” Jesus’ purpose was to live in the world. In his living and speaking he declares a truth that was (and
is) present, but so often missed. The truth is that God reigns over all creation and for all eternity. With such a perspective, what we view as so important in our nations, realms, and states is shown for what it is. Such is different from a permanent or stable reign, often led by shortsighted people whose power and importance is far less than they or their followers believe. That is a truth that threatens so many. The deeper truth shines a light on the distortions and time-bound nature of what we, too, often declare as permanent and primary.
Jesus recognizes he is a king, but a king like no other in a kingdom (kin-dom) like no other; a king in a kingdom not of this world.
- Today, the final Sunday of the Christian year, is known as “Christ the King Sunday.” It is important to recognize this “ending” and next Sunday’s beginning.
- One way to understand the nature of God in Christ is to show the sharp contrast between the values and principles of Jesus by holding them up against those of Pilate.
- “King” and “kingdom” are ideas unfamiliar and suspect for many of us. The point of the passage, however, is that God’s reign is of justice and peace. We are blinded to that reality by the kingdoms of this world.
- Jesus lived the truth of God’s reign. He embodied it. He was and is Truth. And he invites us to follow him into that upside-down community of joy, hope, love, and peace.
Questions to Consider
- How is Jesus “King” for you? How would you describe your loyalty to Jesus in other words and ways?
- What do you learn about Jesus and Pilate from their conversation?
- How would you define the “kingdom of this world” and the “kingdom not of this world”? Give examples of each as you study the world around you.
- Jesus said he came to testify to the truth. Of what truth did he testify?
- What truth do you proclaim today? How did Jesus testify to that truth? How do you and your congregation testify to that truth?