All Saints’ Day, Ordinary Time (Proper 26)
Matthew 23:1–12/23:1–9 IV
Micah 3:5–12; Psalm 43; 1 Thessalonians 2:9–13; Doctrine and Covenants 11:4-5, 153:9, 163:2
“Alleluia” CCS 117
OR “Open My Heart” CCS 171
Call to Worship
Read the lyrics of “God Is Here!” CCS 70.
Use a different reader for each verse, or two alternating readers.
Hymn of Invitation
“Speak, O Lord” CCS 66
OR “O God of Vision” CCS 78
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Francis of Assisi, who lived during the Renaissance, took the gospels literally and joyfully as he attempted to live as Jesus had instructed us to live. He felt God communicated to him through prayer that he must learn to let go of all the worldly things which he loved to better know God’s will. Then he would find true joy!
A humble man, he was torn between devoting his life to constant prayer and a life of actively preaching the good news of Jesus. Francis of Assisi is also credited as the author of this Peace Prayer:
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; where there is sadness, joy. Amen.
Play “Lord, Make Us Instruments” CCS 364 quietly as the prayer for peace is read.
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.
Behold, I speak to all those who have desires to bring forth and establish this work; no one can assist in this work, except they shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things that have been entrusted into their care. I am the light and the life of the world; therefore, pay attention with all your might, and then you are called.
—Doctrine and Covenants 11:4–5, adapted
Hymn of Confession
“Humble Yourself” CCS 211
OR “What Does the Lord Require” CCS 300
Focus Moment: All Saints’ Day
Today we recognize that 1 November this past week was All Saints’ Day. It is a day set aside each year on the Christian calendar to honor people who served the church faithfully as disciples of Jesus all 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:
Someone who taught me about God (pause)
Someone who loved God with all their heart (pause)
Someone who humbly served God (pause)
Someone whose faith in God I want to emulate (pause)
All Saints’ Day Recognition
Ask the congregation to share testimonies of the impact 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 “God of Every Generation” CCS 361
Matthew 23:1–12/23:1–9 IV
Based on Matthew 23:1–12/23:1–9 IV
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:16–17, 31
Hymn of Preparation
“This Is a Day of New Beginnings” (use alternate stanza 4) CCS 495
OR “God Extends an Invitation/Nuestro Padre nos invita” (sing twice) CCS 520
Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 163:2
“Who Stands Behind You?” (www.CofChrist.org/resources#/1660/disciples-generous-response-who-stands-behind-you)
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
Hymn of Generosity
“Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” CCS 609
OR “My Gratitude Now Accept, O God/Gracias Señor” CCS 614/615
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Hymn of Sending Forth
“We Are Pilgrims on a Journey” CCS 550
OR “The Church of Christ in Every Age” CCS 295
OR “Let Us Give Praise to the God of Creation” CCS 607
Sending Forth Scripture
Doctrine and Covenants 153:9
Ordinary Time (Proper 26)
Exploring the Scripture
The phrase make me a servant is very familiar to Christians today. We often quote it. We know the teachings of Jesus Christ teach us that we must be humble, but for many it is difficult to live out. Matthew 23:1–12 highlights this struggle. The people Jesus speaks to and the examples he gives may not be familiar to us, however, we easily recognize the underlying human wish to get attention and be noticed.
The author of Matthew was Jewish, writing to and amid a Jewish community. We can think of this as “Matthew’s church,” probably located in Antioch, a city in southern Galilee. In Galilee certain groups of Pharisees were in conflict with devoted Jewish followers of Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew emerged during a time when the early church was struggling with its identity and what it means to be the church. Should the early leaders organize the church in the familiar ways of Judaism or was Christ calling them to a different way? The author of Matthew argues for a different way. Matthew obviously has issues with the Pharisees and scribes. Chapter 23 begins a long speech known as “the woes against the Pharisees.” This section of Matthew reflects the growing conflict between Judaism and Christianity during the end of the first century.
Scribes were a professional group with formal training in the law. They were educated in the tradition and law of Judaism and its application to current issues. Pharisees were a rather small group of laypersons within Judaism without formal training, whose wish it was to adhere as closely as they could to all the rules of Judaism. “Moses’ seat” is an expression that represents the teaching and administrative authority of the synagogue leaders, scribes, and Pharisees.
Interestingly, Jesus does not condemn the scribes’ and Pharisees’ teaching, but the way they went about it. This passage highlights three issues. First, they don’t “practice what they preach.” This universal struggle plagues people even today.
Second, they place heavy burdens on others, which fails to help them. This is a complex issue. The Pharisees expected the average person to be able to keep all the priestly purity laws. Matthew condemns this as focusing on human-made laws, not on God, and sees these laws as unnecessary burdens for people to take on. Jesus’ burden is easy because it focuses on God, not on personal abilities. One of the basic teachings of Jesus throughout the Gospels is that worshiping God is not about making sure we follow all the rules of a religion. It is about giving our hearts over to Jesus; God will help guide us and carry our burdens.
Third, the Pharisees are too focused on impressing others and not on what is important—their relationship with God. So we are not too critical of the them, let’s look at the background in which Matthew was written. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE, and the rabbinic leadership then 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 do so. Matthew’s church was also tempted to conform to such practices.
The author of Matthew challenges people to resist and cautions them that such action is not what Jesus would do.
In chapter 23 we are reminded of the importance of being humble. All we do should point to God, not ourselves. This can be hard to do because humans are social creatures. We like attention and want people to like us. We live under pressure to be accepted by others. We like to be promoted at work. To get a job or a promotion we have to highlight all the good we have done. The world is one in which 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 zionic vision where we no longer have the pressure to justify our being or prove our worth. In God’s kingdom, God is the Parent and we are all brothers and sisters; God is the Teacher and we are all students; God is the Master and we are the servants.
- While the text uses examples that are not necessarily important to us today, the message is still relevant.
- The social setting out of which this passage was written is helpful to understand the text and its meaning for us.
- We are called to practice what we preach, realize we cannot do it alone, and realize that in God’s kingdom we do not have to prove ourselves to others.
- We are called to be humble servants of God.
Questions to Consider
- What are some modern examples of the critiques Matthew brings up?
- Have there been times in our denomination when we have struggled with what sets us apart from other denominations? What is Christ’s message to us in these struggles?
- What are the implications for you as you invite God to “make me a servant”?
- How can we be better servants in our community and congregation?