Ordinary Time (Proper 21)
Matthew 21:23–32/21:21–32 IV
Be Receptive to God’s Will
Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32; Psalm 25:1–9; Philippians 2:1–13; Doctrine and Covenants 164:3b
Share your joys and concerns. Offer a prayer.
Greet Each Other
Call to Worship
Psalm 25:1, 4–5
Hymn of Praise
“All Creatures of Our God and King” CCS 98
OR “Creator God We Sing/Cantemos al Creador” CCS 114
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 164:3b
Traditionally in Community of Christ, we associate oblation with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Any undesignated money received today will be used toward the Mission Initiative Abolish Poverty, End Suffering. May we generously give to world and local tithing as well as to those in need.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Sacrament of Lord’s Supper
In addition to the challenge or video below, include a short talk about the purpose and symbols of this sacrament.
Hymn of Preparation
“Let Us Break Bread Together” CCS 521
OR “Bread of the World” CCS 527
Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine
Consider offering the combined prayer on the bread and wine and ask the communicants to come forward as they are able to receive the bread and the wine. The bread portions might be torn off from a loaf of bread by the recipients. Make sure that one loaf is gluten free and that you don’t touch the gluten-free loaf after you have touched the wheat loaf. Make sure that those who might be uncomfortable with this type of serving or those who are not able to come forward are served in their seats.
Hymn of Assurance
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” CCS 11
OR “I Know Not What the Future Hath” CCS 246
Based on Matthew 21:23–32/21:21–32 IV
“Ways of Discovering God’s Will” by Stephen M. Veazey (www.youtube.com/watch?v=50wS1LB7MHg)
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Lord, we have shared in your supper and we have heard the challenge for our gathered community. We ask now that you combine our strength and commitment so those in need of food, shelter, and consolation will be touched by the love that we share. Help us be a strong force for good that puts a stop to mindless cruelty that runs rampant in our world. Whisper the needs of people to us and help us to know how to be most helpful. Thank you, Lord. 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.
Hymn of Receptivity
“Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” CCS 648
OR “Christ’s Partners All Are We” CCS 630
Ordinary Time (Proper 21)
Exploring the Scripture
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and cleansing of the temple angered the Sanhedrin, the religious council responsible for supervising the Jewish faith. The crowds were excited and expected deeds of power or rebellion. In this setting, the chief priests and elders (probably representing the Sanhedrin) asked Jesus by what authority he spoke and acted. He was not a priest, a temple official, or a recognized scholar. Yet he spoke and acted with confidence, as if he had authority. Was Jesus acting with God’s authority, or his own? This question referred to Jesus’ recent actions in Jerusalem as well as his entire ministry. But Jesus knew the chief priests and elders didn’t want an answer. The question was a trap laid by those with power to discredit one who they believed had no power. His answer would condemn him as a fraud with no authority or convict him of blasphemy for claiming God’s authority.
Jesus responded with another question: Under what authority did John the Baptist act? He was asking if God acts only through recognized religious leaders or also through a prophet called to share an important truth. The thoughts of his opponents point out their dilemma. They believed the age of prophecy was over. If John truly was a prophet, then the chief priests themselves should have been baptized. But if they said John was not a prophet, the crowds who supported John would turn against the chief priests and elders. They would lose power and control. They chose ignorance and confusion as their answer.
Jesus might have claimed to be a prophet called by God or even declared himself the Messiah. Instead, he refused to engage them in a public debate and denied their authority to examine him. Jesus responded with three parables about authority.
In Jesus’ first parable, a father asks two sons to go and work in his vineyard. One son refused to go but changed his mind and obeyed his father. The second son agreed readily but did not go. When Jesus asks which of the sons did the will of the father, the answer is “the first one” (v. 31). The reasoning is obvious to us today: true obedience is shown by action.
Jesus made it clear that God cares more about action than verbal promises. The message to the crowds—and later generations—was to put aside their past behaviors and begin living the teachings of Jesus. Then they, too, would enter the kingdom of God. Disciples today are called to live Christ’s teachings and engage in his mission, not just hear or repeat them.
- Today, the question of Jesus’ authority is still an important question, which different people answer in different ways.
- Jesus stressed that the question of his credentials was less important than responding to the message.
- God cares more about our actions than our verbal promises.
- Those who face Jesus’ teachings are responsible for their choices as to how they will live as Christ’s disciples and engage in his mission.
Questions to Consider
- What do you believe about Jesus’ authority to speak and act? How are you living your answer?
- Can God act only through approved religious leaders? How does the issue of authority connect with Community of Christ’s understanding of being a prophetic people?
- How are you being prompted to engage in the mission of Christ? How is your congregation engaging in the mission of Christ? How is such engagement reflected in the covenants of baptism and confirmation?
- Has there ever been a time when your actions did not align with your words and promises?
- What might this scripture have to say about discipleship and the Enduring Principle of Responsible Choices?