Community of Christ

COVID-19  Ongoing Response

Worship Resources - 01 November 2020

Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time (Proper 26)
All Saints’ Day

MATTHEW 5:1-12 (1-14 IV)

For All the Saints

Additional Scriptures

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 34:1-10,22; Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37; Matthew 23:1-12; 1
Thessalonians 2:9-13; 1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 7:9-17; Doctrine and Covenants 165:2b


Welcome

Prelude

Congregational Sharing

Call to Worship

We are gathered this morning to worship God, to hear God’s word, to partake in the sacrament. We are gathered, humbled, thankful, ready to worship, listen, and  learn.  Our hearts are full of praise, our ears are open to hear, and our minds are awake to new insights. We offer our praise to God for this day of blessing.

Opening Hymn

“O God, Our Help in Ages Past” ” CCS 16

OR “O God beyond All Praising” CCS 90

Opening Prayer Response

The Beatitudes: Matthew 5:1-12

Focus Moment: Blessings of Community

Matthew 5:1–12 includes the eight blessings we call the beatitudes. Each beatitude promises a blessing. Through these words, Jesus made clear what the good news of God’s reign was about.

Prepare 16 large cards. On one card, write one beatitude and on another card, write the blessing for that beatitude or write the blessing on the back of the beatitude card. Invite participants to help you display the cards.

Read aloud, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” The person with the “Poor in Spirit” card comes forward and holds the card. Continue reading, “For theirs is.” Ask the congregation to complete the sentence. If they are correct, the participant holds up the blessing card: “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Continue this way through all eight blessings. Display the blessing cards afterward.

—Community of Christ Scripture-based Focus Moments,
www.CofChrist.org/common/cms/resources/Documents/Focus-moments.pdf, p.17.

Hymn of the Beatitudes

“Oh, How Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit” CCS 378

All Saints’ Day

Today we recognize November 1 as All Saints’ Day. It is a day set aside each year on the Christian calendar to honor people who served faithfully as disciples of Jesus during their lives. All Saints’ Day has been celebrated since the fourth century. We pause to think about brothers and sisters in Christ who have influenced us and gone before us, leading the way. We are inspired by their faithfulness and obedience to God. What can we learn from Christians throughout history and how can they inspire us to serve God and others more faithfully?

Think about people in your life who have influenced your discipleship and silently fill in the blanks with their names as these statements are read:

Chime. Someone who taught me about God

Pause.

Chime. Someone who loved God with all their heart

Pause.

Chime. Someone who humbly served God

Pause.

Chime. Someone whose faith in God I want to emulate

Pause.

Chime once more to end.

All Saints’ Day Recognition

Ask the congregation to share testimonies of the effect of those members and friends who passed away during the preceding 12 months. Consider having a candle lit for each name mentioned.

OR Slowly read the names of those members and friends who passed away during the preceding 12 months, pausing after each name so the congregation can offer silent prayers of thanksgiving as well as support for their grieving families.

Hymn for All Saints’ Day

“For All the Saints” CCS 331

OR “Give Thanks for Life” CCS 563

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer

Sovereign God, we have been reminded of many of the ways we, your children, have been the source of pain, dissension, and separation. Your ways of living at peace with one another seem difficult to achieve. We pray that you will continue to guide us in our yearning to change, to become peacemakers in your troubled world. May the spark of peace you have placed in our hearts light a fire that ignites within us the ability to partner with you in restoring peace to all your creation. We offer this in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Amen.

For additional ideas, the Daily Prayer for Peace service offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA, can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

Communion Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Communion Message

Based on the sacrament of Communion

Hymn of Preparation

“As We Gather at Your Table” CCS 523

OR “We Meet as Friends at the Table” CCS 532

Invitation to the Table

All are welcome at Christ’s table. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is a sacrament in which we remember the life, death, resurrection, and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. In Community of Christ, we also experience Communion as an opportunity to renew our baptismal covenant and to be formed as disciples who live Christ’s mission. Others may have different or added understandings within their faith traditions. We invite all who participate in the Lord’s Supper to do so in the love and peace of Jesus Christ.

Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine

Disciples’ Generous Response

This is the fourth week of the Generosity Cycle. Today, the focus is again on the Discover phase specifically related to being grateful for the worldwide church.

Consider placing blank index cards or small sheets of paper in each bulletin or handing them out as people enter the worship space. More information about the Generosity Cycle can be found at www.cofchrist.org/generosity-cycle.

Scripture Reading

Listen to the testimonies of those responding generously. Follow your soul’s yearning to come home to God’s grace and generosity. Let gratitude show you the way.

—Doctrine and Covenants 165:2b

Statement

We live in a world in which we not only deal with our own worries and concerns, but we are in touch with national, international, and global issues even as they unfold right before our eyes. The vast amount of information we are continually exposed to can be overwhelming to the point of making us feel helpless.

As part of a world church committed to the pursuit of peace, our individual expressions of generosity contribute to the whole allowing us to be part of God’s generous care and compassion for the world and the planet.

Project the video “Change Your Life, Change Your World,” youtu.be/97avw00Jo2Q.

Take a moment to consider something that you’re grateful for about this worldwide church and write it on the card you were given. In what ways have you been blessed by being part of a global church?

Allow 1 minute for writing notes.

God’s astonishing generosity in the life of Jesus is the ultimate example of generosity. God loves us, and we love in response to being loved. When we are generous as God is generous, we release Jesus Christ’s mission to touch many lives around the world. Our generosity of time, talent, treasure, and testimony makes it possible to bring God’s vision of shalom into the world.

Let’s offer our gratitude to God as we place our cards along with our offerings in the baskets or plates this morning. For those that give through e-Tithing, thank you for your ongoing, sustained support of mission.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

Sending Forth Hymn

“Now Let Us from This Table Rise” CCS 644

OR “A Charge to Keep I Have” CCS 537

Benediction

Postlude

Sermon Helps

All Saints’ Day, Ordinary Time

PSALM 34:1–10, 22

Exploring the Scripture

Psalm 34 is a psalm of thanksgiving in which God is praised for God’s actions. It would have been sung in the synagogue or the temple. This psalm is written in a beautiful style, with each line starting with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. With most people at the time dependent on hearing rather than reading, this would have been a helpful memorization tool.

The psalmist intended to thank and praise God and to recount an experience of the Divine as a witness. Notice in the first six verses how many times the word “I” or “me” is used. We also find: “let the humble hear…,” “magnify the Lord with me,” “let us exalt…together,” and “Look to him….” Through these phrases, the psalmist calls on the listeners to connect to the same God the psalmist has experienced and whose acts the psalmist describes. The psalmist sets the example and invites the congregation to follow that example. The psalmist blesses the Lord always, praises the Lord continually—not just during good times, but also during bad times.

As is typical for thanksgiving psalms, the thanksgiving section is followed by sharing about God’s freeing acts. The psalmist describes seeking God and how God heard and responded with deliverance from fear. The psalmist cried out to God and was heard. God gave deliverance from trouble. The psalmist wants us to know that God responds to prayer and that God responds through freeing action.

Verse 5, between the two verses just described, invites the congregation to look to God and be radiant; they never have to be ashamed. The word radiant reminds one of the experience Moses had when he went into the presence of God. If the congregation seeks Gods presence, it will also be radiant.

In the next verses, the psalmist continues to share wisdom, inviting the listeners to use their senses, like taste, sight, and hearing, so they may know the goodness of God—to experience God for themselves. The psalmist says the angel of the Lord is with those who fear God and that God delivers. The word for fear used here is not negative. One might use the word trust or revere instead. The psalmist says that God is always present to those who put their trust in God and that God can be present in many ways.

Verse 10 declares that humans who seek God are better off than the young lions. Those who seek God will not lack anything according to the psalmist.

Verse 22 brings the song to its conclusion, confirming that God redeems or delivers God’s people and that none who take refuge in God will be condemned. The psalmist does not say that life will be perfect just because we are faithful. The psalmist’s testimony makes clear there are fears and troubles, but when seeking God in a time of need the cry is heard and we will not feel alone. The psalmist knew that God gave deliverance over and again. The witness to the congregation confirmed that God, who delivered them from captivity, continues to deliver them.

Central Ideas

  • God responds to prayer and delivers us from our fears and troubles.
  • When we seek the presence of God, we will radiate God’s presence to others.
  • We are invited to experience God for ourselves, using all our senses—listening, seeing, even tasting. Everything can remind us of God’s presence.
  • God is present in our lives in many ways, always delivering us from fear and trouble.

Questions to Consider

  • What can we thank God for and how can we share our thankfulness with others?
  • Many of us have at times experienced fear and anxiety or gone through troubling times. Do we trust that God hears our cry, our prayer?
  • How can we hold onto our faith when times are troubling?
  • How can we experience God’s presence? Could someone close to us be the “angel” who represents God?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time Proper 26/All Saints Day

Matthew 5:1–12, 23:1–12 NRSV

The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.

The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.


Gathering

Welcome

All Saints’ Day is observed as a day to remember disciples of old, people who made contributions to Christian community, and church members who lived lives of faithfulness and service. It is also a time to remember friends, family, and community members who died during the past year. In this way we honor those who have gone before us and reaffirm our belief in eternal life.

Ordinary Time is the period in the Christian calendar from Pentecost to Advent. This part of the Christian calendar is without major festivals or holy days. During Ordinary Time we focus on our discipleship as individuals and as a faith community.

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.

Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth, how often do we forget the unity of your creation? The world seems as though it is coming apart at its seams, and we feel so helpless that we fail to respond in any way except with utter despair. We become complacent when our own needs have been fulfilled. We experience compassion overload, and so we tune out those very people, those very places, and those very problems that we may well be able to alleviate. We feel somehow detached from those “others” if they are far enough off so as not to confront us with their needs directly. Yet, you created humans as one species. Our destinies individually are inextricably connected with our destiny collectively. May we always remember this essential truth about ourselves.

Amid our helplessness, we need to be reminded that all great things that have happened in our world, happened through the power of one. We look to our recent history and see the examples of Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and one lone man facing a tank in China—and we know one person really can make a difference. Each of us may be only one person, but each of us has something to offer. Grant us courage, O God, to stand up and exercise our power for others.

We acknowledge, O God, those of our sisters and brothers who are suffering this day from strife and tyranny. We have soft hearts and willing hands to do what we can to help them. We think of our children and families, and long to be with them. Our love for those we know is great. Magnify our love so it can extend to even those we do not know. We pray for our world that peace may prevail.

In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Divine Presence. Amen.

—Steven Shields

Spiritual Practice

Prayer for Peace

Read the following:

For today’s Enduring Principle we focus on the Pursuit of Peace (Shalom). Shalom for Community of Christ is defined as: “Led by the Holy Spirit, we work with God and others to restore peace (shalom) to creation.” By naming our Prayer for Peace for loved ones, the world, countries, and even those with whom we disagree, we focus our hearts on relationship and reconciliation.

Read the following prayer for peace by Saint Francis of Assisi (adapted):

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Amen.

Read the prayer again, having the group repeat each line after you.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

Amen.

Invite group members to share about the hope they have for peace and reconciliation in their lives. Close with the following prayer:

Peace be to this house, peace be to all relationships, peace be to all the world. Amen.

Sharing Around the Table

Matthew 5:1–12, 23:1–12 NRSV

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

In the Matthew 5 passage, Jesus clearly states what the good news of God’s reign looks like lived out in people’s lives.

In Matthew 23, Jesus does not condemn the scribes’ and Pharisees’ teachings, but rather how they fail to live them out. They do not “practice what they preach.” They place heavy burdens on others—expecting the average person to be able to keep all the priestly purity laws. And finally, they are too focused on impressing others and not on what is important—humility, service, and a relationship with God. 

To be fair, after Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE, the rabbinic leadership felt it was important to stress external signs of piety to set themselves apart as a holy people of God in a religiously diverse society. They no longer had the temple to distinguish them from other groups and felt external signs would fulfill this need. 

We are affected by our context as well. Our societies teach us we must prove our worth by what we do and how we look to the outside world. Matthew helps us see a different world, a reign of God where we no longer have the pressure to justify our existence or prove our worth. In God’s peaceable kingdom, God is parent, teacher, and liberator, and we have our identity in the divine, benevolent presence.

Questions

  1. How have you experienced someone who failed to “practice what they preach”?
  2. In what ways have you been tempted to act in a righteous or important way to prove your worth?
  3. Describe what it means to you to exercise humility.

Sending

Generosity Statement

Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9

The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing, small-group ministries as part of your generous response. This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

God of our discipleship, 

As we navigate our world of debt and consumerism, help us to save wisely, spend responsibly, and give generously. In these ways may we prepare for the future and create a better tomorrow for our families, friends, the mission of Christ, and the world. 
Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 378, “Oh, How Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on the Group

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