Ordinary Time (Proper 26)
Welcome the Outcast
Isaiah 1:10–18; Psalm 32:1–7; 2 Thessalonians 1:1–4, 11–12; Doctrine and Covenants 157:17
Gathering Hymn of Invitation
“All Are Welcome” CCS 276
OR “God, We Gather as Your People” CCS 274
Invitation to Worship
God, the author of this instant; God, whose voice is present tense,
help us love as you have loved us and forgive without defense.
For your mercy marks this moment, all abiding, boldly true,
plant your Spirit deep within us to transform our lives anew.
—Barbara Howard, “God, Whose Grace Redeems Our Story” CCS 570
“Leftover People in Leftover Places” CCS 275
OR “God, Whose Grace Redeems Our Story” CCS 570
Unison Statement of Confession
We confess we often lose the vision of your peace.
We confess we often fail to have faith in your grace.
We confess we often take care of “our own,” neglecting the outcasts.
O God, hear our confessions and grant us your peace.
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Invite the congregants to offer silent prayers for peace focused around personal, local, and worldwide needs.
“Hear Our Prayer, O Lord” CCS 196
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.
The Joy of Forgiveness
Scripture Story Based on Luke 19:1–10
Tell the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus from a children’s story Bible (Lectionary Story Bible, Year C, by Ralph Milton (Wood Lake Publishing, 2009, ISBN 9781551455761) OR The Children’s Illustrated Bible, by Selina Hastings (Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc., 2004, ISBN 9780756602611).
Place a few items in a paper bag. Have individuals feel the items through the bag, without opening the bag, and guess what the items are. Reveal the items, one at a time. Discuss how difficult it was to guess by feeling through the bag and how accurate (or not) the guesses were.
With people, we sometimes judge too quickly, just by looking at them or hearing about their actions. In Zacchaeus’ time, he was viewed by many people in a negative way because he was a tax collector and wealthy. People didn’t want to get to know him. He was an outcast. Jesus took the time to welcome Zacchaeus and have a meal with him. Zacchaeus was transformed from a greedy outcast to a generous disciple.
Hymn of Transformation
“Spirit, Open My Heart” CCS 564
OR “Spirit of the Living God” (encourage people to sing in a language other than their own) CCS 567
Based on Luke 19:1–10
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture Reading: Luke 19:8–9
How much are we willing to give? Zacchaeus promised to give half his possessions to the poor.
No expression of generosity is as complete or astounding as the life of Christ. Abundant generosity is defined solely by Christ. He embodies, teaches, and is the spirit of generosity. To seek an understanding of abundant generosity is to see Jesus. To love and follow Christ is to love and follow a life of increasing generosity. To give as he gives is the most natural act of all when God abides in us.
—Generosity as a Spiritual Discipline, 2014 high priest pilot project
Let us give and hold nothing back.
For additional ideas and resources, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
Hymn of Sending Forth
“O for a World” CCS 379
OR “Come and Bring Light” CCS 302
Doctrine and Covenants 157:17
Ordinary Time (Proper 26)
Exploring the Scripture
The story of Zacchaeus is one of many stories that speak to the mission Jesus proclaimed in Luke 4:18–19. Luke continues his central theme that Jesus is the one who is sent to express God’s salvation for all people. Simply, Jesus is the one who saves. But even more, Jesus’ mission becomes clearly directed to the poor and outsiders who need to hear about God’s love and acceptance for them. The story of Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus focuses on one who is an outcast among his people. It is a story that reflects the Enduring Principle Worth of All Persons. Redemption and salvation transform the life of Zacchaeus and release in him radical generosity for the welfare of others.
As the chief tax collector, Zacchaeus was likely one of the most despised people in town; despised because he profited by collecting taxes from the Jews for the Roman government. Jews who worked for the invaders, the occupying Romans, were viewed as traitors. Tax collectors often took advantage of the citizenry in ways that had a crushing impact on their lives and continued the cycle of poverty.
In his enthusiasm to meet Jesus, Zacchaeus puts his self-image at risk as he runs ahead of the crowd and climbs a tree. Grown men typically do not run or climb trees. Why was he willing to make a spectacle of himself? Zacchaeus is yearning for something more in his life than what he had. The story reaches a critical point of tension when both Zacchaeus and Jesus make themselves vulnerable to each other when Jesus makes the public statement that he will go to Zacchaeus’ home. This is a powerful moment when Jesus lives his mission as he engages in a relationship with one considered a sinner.
In this expression of love and acceptance, Zacchaeus encounters the divine redemption and grace Jesus reflects. The wealthy, but empty life Zacchaeus lived is transformed and a new expression of radical generosity is born. The one who contributed to oppressing the Jews is now living generously and engaging in acts of justice for the poor. His life-changing discovery with Jesus breaks open Zacchaeus’ heart and genuine generosity flows.
The custom of providing voluntary compensation was to return the original amount plus 20 percent. Compulsory compensation called for doubling the original amount. But Zacchaeus would do more. He would return four times the amount. Instead of giving 10 percent, Zacchaeus offers 50 percent of his wealth.
This story is a living example of Jesus’ mission that made it possible for people to experience healing, wholeness, and a new way of belonging. The story challenges the social mindset that having money is what makes one happy, or is a sign of success. It is about God’s grace and acceptance, which make it possible for all people to discover their fullest potential in Christ. When we live from this place of growing awareness, our generosity is released and we join in the mission Jesus lived for us. And when all people discover who they are in Christ, then salvation in all of its dimensions—present and future, social and spiritual—has the potential to become real.
- Jesus’ willingness to be in relationship with Zacchaeus, even when Zacchaeus was considered a sinner by the people, allowed Zacchaeus to become vulnerable to the emptiness in his life and experience the blessings of radical generosity.
- Salvation in its multiple dimensions—present and future, social and spiritual—is what Zacchaeus encountered when Jesus called him down from the tree.
- Justice for those who are poor and disadvantaged was the mission Zacchaeus committed his life to as Jesus lived his mission into the heart of Zacchaeus.
Questions to Consider
- How has your encounter with God’s grace released in you a radical generosity that you have extended to others?
- How do members in your congregation model Christ’s mission?
- What different dimensions of salvation have people in your congregation or community experienced?
- This story highlights at least three Enduring Principles: Grace and Generosity, Worth of All Persons, and Blessings of Community. How are these Enduring Principles expressed and modeled by your congregation?
- How does forgiveness free your generosity?