Ordinary Time (Proper 26)
Mark 12:28–34/12:33–39 IV
Love Your Neighbor
Deuteronomy 6:1–9, Psalm 119:1–8, Hebrews 9:11–14, 3 Nephi 5:89–90, Doctrine and Covenants 165:2d
Preparation: Materials Needed
Focus Moment: tea lights, lighter (or use battery-powered tea lights)
Disciples’ Generous Response: 3"x 5" (7.62 cm x 12.7 cm) index cards and writing utensils. The cards can be passed out during the Disciples’ Generous Response, or they can be included with the order of worship.
Object Lesson: a large container of water (at least one quart), an eye dropper, and a clear bowl that can hold a quart of water
The worship theme today can be reflected by displaying pictures of those who exemplified the call of saintly service and copies of the Herald (Community of Christ magazine), which features those from local congregations and “saints” throughout the worldwide church community.
Leave enough room in the worship center for candles too. These candles will be lit during the Focus Moment.
“For All the Saints” CCS 331
OR “There’s an Old, Old Path” CCS 244/245
Particularly ask youth and children to play.
Welcome and Call to Worship
Each year on the Christian calendar, 1 November is a day of remembrance known as All Saints’ Day, celebrated in honor of all saints, known and unknown; a day that we remember those followers of Jesus who gave their all. Saints by the New Testament definition refers to “all Christian people of every time and place” (www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources /acts-of-worship-for-all-saints-day-or-sunday).
This morning we honor those individuals from our own lives that we hold up as saints; those from our local congregation and throughout the world who chose to orient their lives around the story of Jesus and have now passed from this life. These saints lived out the message “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30–31). This is also a time of asking how we should live our lives as saints now and how we intend to pass on the faith to future generations of believers.
“Rejoice, Ye Saints of Latter Days” CCS 81
OR “For All the Saints” CCS 331
OR “Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love” CCS 367
Object Lesson: A Drop of Water
With the eye dropper, place one drop of water from the large container in the bowl.
As we honor the saints in our faith community today, we think about those who have gone before us, who set an example of following Christ’s mission and became witnesses of his journey.
A “cloud of witnesses” [as they were referred to in the book of Hebrews] answers a deep human urge to be part of something larger, to not stand alone, to give our little lives meaning. One drop of water, left alone, evaporates quickly. But one drop of water in the immense sea endures.
Simplify the statement above to discuss how each of our lives is like a drop of water. One drop of water left alone will evaporate, but one drop with many other drops can make a huge difference—even an ocean or a sea of difference. Slowly pour water into the bowl while explaining. When we add our lives—our “drops”—to the lives of those who have gone before us, and then pour in the “drops” of those yet to come, the “cloud of witnesses” grows and endures. We are not alone, we are part of an immense community of saints. End by pouring all the remaining water into the bowl.
Repeat the statement.
A “cloud of witnesses” answers a deep human urge to be part of something larger, to not stand alone, to give our little lives meaning. One drop of water, left alone, evaporates quickly. But one drop of water in the immense sea endures.
—Kathy Coffey, God in the Moment: Making Every Day a Prayer, (Orbis Books, 2005, ISBN 9781570755781), 173 adapted.
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
…it is written that you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy; but I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use and persecute you.
—3 Nephi 5:89–90, adapted
Holy One, you are the beginning and ending of all things.
We live in your promise
to wipe away every tear,
that death and mourning will be no more.
You make your home among us, and abide with us as our God.
Teach us to live as the saints and peacemakers you call us to be,
that we may truly be your people,
living and doing your will,
in the name of Jesus, who is the 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.
Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn of Peace
“The Peace of Mind” CCS 320
OR “Dona Nobis Pacem” CCS 155
Focus Moment: All Saints’ Day
Play “With a Steadfast Faith,” CCS 649, quietly throughout the Focus Moment.
Lives dedicated to serving Jesus Christ become a sermon in themselves. As Jesus sat on the hillside speaking of the blessings of peacemakers and the mercy givers, he was really telling the crowd gathered, “Your very life becomes a sermon when you become those things in my world.”
Pause for a moment and consider two people you know or know of whose lives were devoted to the message of Christ; truly saints to be recognized on All Saints’ Day.
Hymn of Reflection
“With a Steadfast Faith” (stanza 1) CCS 649
You now have an opportunity this morning to light a candle to honor two people who embody the scripture, “Well done! Good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:23 IV). Write the names of these two people on a card to be placed in the basket on the worship center table. These “saints” might be a missionary, pastor, camp counselor, Sunday school teacher, priesthood member, perhaps the person who baptized you (as we remember our baptisms on this day of the Lord’s Supper), a family member, or close friend. After completing your cards, come forward to pay tribute to those who have passed from this life and who chose to orient their lives around the story of Jesus. Light a candle to lift up the ministry of these saints and servants.
Hymn of Reflection
“With a Steadfast Faith” (stanza 2) CCS 649
While “With a Steadfast Faith,” CCS 649, continues to play quietly in the background, read the names of those in the congregation who have died in the past year.
OR Open the time for congregants to speak the names of deceased loved ones out loud while the music plays.
OR Do both.
Hymn of Reflection
“With a Steadfast Faith” (stanza 3) CCS 649
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 165:2d
Mission and Tithing
…as I study our scriptures and history, I am amazed by the faithful, generous disciples who kept Christ’s mission alive, transforming the world. This unfolding story of God’s restoring purposes motivates me in my discipleship. I want to faithfully continue the story of bringing about God’s vision of shalom in the world.
We live in a world hungry for the restoring message of the gospel and experience with Christ’s mission. This is why considering the proposal that is now World Conference Resolution 1314 was so important at the 2016 World Conference. “Tithing of time, talent, treasure, and testimony supports local and worldwide ministries in pursuit of Jesus Christ’s mission.”
—Stassi Cramm, “Mission and Tithing,” Herald, September/October 2016, 5.
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.
The first Sunday of the month focuses on Abolish Poverty, End Suffering which includes Oblation and World Hunger ministry.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
Hymn of Generosity (as the offering is received)
“As Saints of Old” CCS 620
OR “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ” CCS 522
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
Based on Mark 12:28–34/12:33–39 IV
The Lord’s Supper
Hymn of Preparation (as the emblems are prepared)
“In These Moments We Remember” CCS 515
OR “O Lord, How Can It Be” CCS 529
OR “Joy and Wonder, Love and Longing” CCS 534
Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine
Hymn of Sending Forth
“Called by Christ to Love Each Other” CCS 577
OR “Christ, You Call Us All to Service” CCS 357
OR “Redeeming Grace” CCS 497
Leader: Go now remembering those before us who were empowered servants of great faith, who embodied the greatest commandment.
People: Like them may we be peacemakers and a strong witness of our Savior’s mercy and joy.
Leader: Consider their steadfastness, their strength of character, their fortitude.
People: We will go and be a blessing to others.
Leader: Carry the message to all who will hear in Christ’s name!
Ordinary Time (Proper 26)
Exploring the Scripture
The Gospel writer of Mark shared the good news of God’s coming reign through story: a fast-paced account of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. God’s new revelation in and through Jesus is communicated through events and characters. The Book of Mark is best understood as a whole, providing a balanced hearing of Mark’s emphasis on Jesus’ healing power and suffering servanthood.
Although today’s text appears as part of a lively series of exchanges in the temple, it is complete alone and can be shared effectively without extensive background information. It is important to remember the emphasis on and culture of community (family, tribe, religion) in first-century Judaism and Christianity, as well as the role and significance of the Jewish temple. To love your neighbor as yourself carries a communal connotation connected with kinship, love, and belonging. In the first-century setting it more accurately means love outsiders as you do your family or tribe.
The focus of this text is on Jesus’ conflict with the political, social, and religious authorities of the day. Writing shortly after the temple was destroyed, the Gospel writer was dealing with questions of identity: What does it mean to be a good Jew? What is at the core of our identity as a chosen people of God?
After a series of questions from Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees, intended to test and trap Jesus (Mark 12:13–27), a sympathetic friendly scribe emerges in the plot. The scribe seems sincere in his question; it speaks to the heart of both Judaism and Christianity. He asked, “Which commandment is the first of all?” (v. 28).
The scribe agreed with Jesus’ reply (v. 29–31) and we begin to see the scribe as a follower of Jesus. However, Jesus’ response takes us deeper, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (v. 34). His words revealed something missing in the scribe’s commitment. Reaching consensus on key theological points and “correct” answers is not enough. It is how we live, act, and relate to others that matters most. Love of God and love of neighbor are acts not rules. It is a way of being, not a way of thinking.
The exchange in this scene is important for several reasons. It authoritatively places Jesus in the prophetic tradition of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos. It claims the heart of Judaism and pulls it forward into the heart of Christianity—love one God (monotheism) and love your neighbor. It significantly argues the act of love is far more significant than any rule of ritual (“burnt offerings and sacrifices” [v. 33]). It clearly communicates that following Jesus is about our whole lives: how we live, what we do, and the depth of our love. Are we willing to love to the point of suffering, even death? This question is accented by the impending suffering of Jesus on the cross which begins in chapter 14.
- The center of our identity as followers of Christ is love for God and neighbor.
- Choosing to follow Jesus is a choice we make with our whole lives; to truly follow Jesus is to truly live in the way of Jesus and may be costly.
Questions to Consider
- In what ways do we allow ritual to take the place of love, or worship become about a church building instead of our whole lives?
- How does love for God and neighbor—the center of our identity—affect congregational life?
- How are we like the scribe? What is missing in our commitment to following Jesus?
- How has following Jesus with your whole life been “costly”?
All Saints' Day Sermon Help
All Saints’ Day, Ordinary Time 1 November
Exploring the Scripture
On the day in the Christian liturgical calendar designated to remember those faithful disciples who have gone before us (All Saints’ Day), the story of the resurrection of Lazarus brings a message of hope. We hear from Mary, who declares in faith, “…if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). The Jews in the crowd surrounding Jesus offer a more indirect belief statement: “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37).
Jesus weeps and is “greatly disturbed” by Lazarus’ death. His feelings may be motivated by his friendship with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. He also may be feeling frustration and anger at the unbelief of those around him.
Martha already has moved beyond hope and argues that the stone should not be moved from the tomb because “…there is a stench because he has been dead four days” (John 11:39). Jesus counters with a reminder that those who believe will “see the glory of God.”
As the stone is moved, Jesus is heard thanking God for hearing his request. He even explains his statement was made especially for the gathered crowd “so that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:42).
As Lazarus leaves the tomb, we witness the glory of God as death is defeated by eternal life. With foreshadowing of the Easter resurrection story, we see Jesus as the “resurrection and the life,” the Word made flesh. “Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live” (John 11:25). Can we embrace this in our living?
On this All Saints’ Day, we are confronted with the authenticity of our discipleship— maintaining our faith in the face of the death of so many before us. Can we profess our belief in resurrection, knowing at some point we all will die? In Community of Christ Sings 331, “For All the Saints,” William How’s hymn text says, “For all the saints, who from their labors rest, all who their faith before the world confessed, your name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia!”
Those faithful disciples who blessed us on our journey continue to be present in our living and thoughts, though they have passed from this Earth. We stand on their shoulders and benefit from their example. Today, we join them in the chorus, “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21–22, adapted).
- Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead to help those who do not believe in him or understand that he was sent by God into the world.
- Those who believe in Jesus will see the “glory of God” in this life and the next.
- Faithful disciples who have gone before us laid a foundation of belief on which we build today.
- Today we join with centuries of saints and confess our faith and belief in Jesus Christ.
Questions to Consider
- What do you think about the story of Lazarus foreshadowing the coming Easter story?
- What constitutes authentic belief in Jesus Christ?
- Who are the people you celebrate today who helped shape your discipleship? Can you think of examples of those who lived before your lifetime who have affected your belief?
- How have you been blessed by a heritage of believers in Jesus Christ?