Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 26 November 2017

Worship Suggestions

Reign of Christ, Ordinary Time (Proper 29)

Matthew 25:31–46/25:32–47 IV

See through God’s Eyes

Additional Scriptures

Ezekiel 34:11–16, 20–24; Psalm 95:1–7a; Ephesians 1:15–23; Doctrine and Covenants 164:9a–b


Prelude

Welcome

Call to Worship

Leader: O come, let us sing to the Lord!

All: For the Lord is our God!

Leader: Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

All: For the Lord is our God!

Leader: Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving!

All: For the Lord is our God!

Leader: Let us make a joyful noise to the Lord with songs of praise!

All: For the Lord is our God!

Leader: O come, let us worship and bow down!

All: For the Lord is our God!

Leader: Let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

All: For this is our God, and we are God’s people.

—Psalm 95:1–3, 6–7, adapted

Song of Rejoicing

“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” CCS 87
OR “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” CCS 101

Invocation

Response

Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

Prayer

God, we ask for insight into ways that we can be instruments of your peace in our communities. Give us courage like Jesus, the courage that comes from inner peace. Help us show our world that peace will exist when you are resident within each of us.

May we always be willing to kneel before you in true repentance, at the same time, extending forgiveness to others. With the Holy Spirit, cleanse our hearts of prejudice and hate that separate us from one another. Let us know peace with each other—your sweet shalom. We pray. 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.

Confessional Reading

Leader reads “Is There One Who Feels Unworthy?” CCS 526. After each stanza the congregation reads or sings the refrain.

Moment of Silent Reflection (project or print the question)

Do I see through God’s eyes when encountering others?

Scripture Reading

Matthew 25:31–46/25:32–47 IV

Disciples’ Generous Response

Hymn of Generosity

“Take My Life and Let It Be” CCS 608
OR “God of Creation” CCS 147

Focus Moment: The Cobbler

An old cobbler lived alone in his shop. One day he asked God, “Please come to my lowly shop today, and show me your face.” Outside the cold winter winds brought new snow and the old cobbler saw a beggar shivering in the cold. He invited the beggar inside to warm up and offered a meager meal from his cupboards. The beggar thanked him and left.

Later that same day, a young child whose feet were wrapped in old dirty rags stuffed with paper sought shelter from the snow. The cobbler invited the child inside, made some warm milk and offered a sandwich from his own meal. He then went to his shop and found a pair of shoes that he fit to the child. So grateful, the child left and promised to visit him again.

As dusk approached, the cobbler lost hope of a visit from God. A woman with her baby appeared in the window of the shop. She was dressed in a thin dress and she looked as if she might freeze. The cobbler invited her inside and made her some tea then went to his closet to find a heavy woolen coat that had belonged to his wife. The woman thanked him and after he shared the rest of his dinner with her, she and the baby left.

That night the cobbler anguished, “Why didn’t you come and visit me today, God?” A voice spoke to him: “But I did come to you. When you invited in the beggar, the child, and the mother and her baby, I was there with you. In each of their faces you looked into my eyes.” The cobbler then remembered the scripture: “When I was hungry, you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing.” In the faces of his visitors he had looked into the eyes of God.

That night the cobbler slept happy and at peace for the first time in many months.

—adapted from “Where Love Is, God Is” by Leo Tolstoy

Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.

Sermon

Based on Matthew 25:31–46/25:32–47 IV

Song of Commitment

“O Living God” CCS 183
OR “Bring Forth the Kingdom” CCS 387

Sending Forth

God has given us a spirit of wisdom and revelation. With the eyes of our hearts enlightened, we know the hope to which we are called from the immeasurable greatness of God’s power for us. Grace and peace to you from God the Eternal Source.

—Ephesians 1:2, 17–23, adapted

Doxology Response (use the tune of “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” CCS 53)

Praise God by whom our faith is led.
Praise God for vision now ahead.
Christ’s new creation may we be.
By Spirit live in harmony.

—Doctrine and Covenants 164:9a–b, adapted

Postlude


Sermon Helps

Reign of Christ, Ordinary Time (Proper 29) 

MATTHEW 25:31–46

Exploring the Scripture 

Today’s passage is Jesus’ conclusion to his last major instructional speech to his disciples. The teaching ends a series of cautions and parables, which encouraged responsible choices and vigilance in living out one’s discipleship. The writer of Matthew and his community lived during the last decades of the first century (around 80 CE). They were under stress and transition. Also, they questioned their own self-understanding because of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in 70 CE.

Issues of the Christian message, mission, identity, and lifestyle were important. The Gospel writer encouraged the reader to live a life counter to the world and to resist its claims. He believed Christians were called to be active, as well as countercultural. To the writer of Matthew, Christian community consisted of inclusive, merciful, and missional servants. Today’s passage pointedly stresses what should matter to the Christian community—service to those less fortunate. 
Jesus identified with these “the least ones.”

Our passage uses four major images: shepherd, king, goats, and sheep. The books in the Bible contain multiple references—both figurative and literal—of the shepherd. Earlier in Matthew, Jesus teaches a parable about lost sheep and the importance of finding the one lost sheep. In another parable in John, Jesus refers to himself as the “good shepherd” who “lays down his life for his sheep.” Other Biblical writers refer to Jesus as the “the shepherd and guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25), “the chief shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4), and the “great shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20). 

Contemporary Near Eastern literature often called kings shepherds. Matthew identified Jesus as a Jew whose lineage comes from King David. His use of the word king was consistent with his overall view that Jesus was the Messiah, who deserved to be worshiped. Matthew, like the other Gospel writers, used “Son of Man” as Jesus’ self-designation and highlighted Jesus’ royal claim to the title “Messiah, the Anointed One.”

The writer’s allegory using goats and sheep would have resonated well with the early Christians. Sheep and goats, were the most common domesticated animals of the time. Flocks in Palestine would contain both goats and sheep. Owners raised sheep for wool, milk and its by-products, dung, meat, bones, and horns. Although goats were hardier, they were not as desirable or valuable as sheep. The early Christian listeners would clearly understand the king, as a shepherd, would separate the more valuable sheep from the goats. One interesting part of this story is that Matthew writes that righteous (the sheep) and the accursed (goats) are surprised at what the king said. Each group asks the king, “When did we see you and then, fail to serve you?” In both cases Jesus replied that their lack of mercy to “the least” was to also neglect him.

Specific actions of the righteous—or inactions of the accursed—are key points in today’s passage (for example, feed the hungry, give drinks to the thirsty, offer hospitality, and give clothes). The Gospel writer highlights them four times. 

Parallel to these works of compassion and ministry is Jesus’ understanding of his own mission (Luke 4:18); the mission of Community of Christ.

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus is a loving shepherd who cares deeply about his flock.
  2. Our choices matter. We are called to serve “the least.” The acts of mercy outlined in this text are our mission, the mission of Jesus Christ, which matters most.
  3. Our lives have meaning. Our actions either of Christian service or of inaction impact others.
  4. God is in the world in the form of people who are dispossessed, vulnerable, and weak.

Questions to Consider

  1. Do you see Jesus as a shepherd or a king? How does each perspective influence your own Christian discipleship?
  2. When and where have you encountered Jesus in the form of the “least”?
  3. Is your congregation engaged in acts of compassion, as outlined in this text?
  4. Is your congregation hospitable to strangers?
  5. Have you ever been surprised in your service and ministry to others?