Community of Christ

COVID-19  Ongoing Response

Worship Resources - 05 September 2021

Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time (Proper 18) World Hunger Emphasis

MARK 7:24-37/7:22-36 IV

Called Outside Our Boundaries

Additional Scriptures

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125; James 2:1-17; Doctrine and Covenants 162:4a


Prelude

Welcome, Joys and Concerns Gathering Hymn

“Gather Your Children” CCS 77

OR “O God of Vision” CCS 78

OR “Praise the Lord Together Singing” Sing as a 4-part round. CCS 642

Call to Worship

Those who trust in the Lord are like mountains

which cannot be moved but abide forever.

As the mountains surround a valley

so the Lord surrounds his people,

from this time on and forevermore.

Peace be upon God’s people!

—Psalm 125:1-2,5b, adapted

Hymn of Praise

“For the Beauty of the Earth” CCS 130

OR “Arise, Your Light Is Come!” CCS 635

OR “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” Sing three times. CCS 86

Invocation

Sung Response

“Spirit of the Living God” Consider singing this a cappella. CCS 567

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.

Scripture Invitation: Doctrine and Covenants 162:4a

Prayer

Challenging God,

Sometimes it is so easy to accept the way things are even when the status quo includes conflict between people and war among nations. Yet you call us to move beyond the barriers that separate and work for peace and peaceful reconciliation of conflicts. Bless us with impatience so that we are willing to do the hard work of peacemaking. Lead us to new pathways of the peace of Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

Hymn of Peace

Ministry of Music or congregational hymn

“Through All the World a Hungry Christ” CCS 213

OR “Sometimes We Wait, Expecting God” CCS 304

OR “When the Poor Ones/Cuando el pobre” CCS 290/291

Consider singing in a language other than your own.

A Daily Prayer for Peace service is held at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA 365 days a year. Additional ideas for Prayer for Peace can be found on the church's website at http://www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

A Testimony from Scripture: Mark 7:31-37

The scripture story could be made more accessible for children by reading from a children’s story Bible. Invite worshippers to put their hands over their ears then remove them at the point in the story when the deaf man is healed, around verse 35.

A Testimony Today: Making the Deaf Hear

Read or summarize from the January 12, 2018, Daily Bread: www.CofChrist.org/daily- bread#!/2603/making-the-deaf-hear or printed below. A deaf man is finally able to communicate with family and friends.

Sacrament of the Lord's Supper

Communion Message: Called Outside Our Boundaries

Based on Mark 7:24-37 and the sacrament of Communion

Hymn of Preparation

“Lord, Lead Me by Your Spirit” CCS 209

OR “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ” CCS 522

OR “For Bread before Us Broken” CCS 524

Communion Scripture Reading: I Corinthians 11:23-26

Invitation to Communion

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.

Print or project the following meditation thoughts to aid worshippers in focusing their thoughts as the emblems are served.

Blessing and Serving of the Bread

Meditation Thought

Consider the phrase “...eat in remembrance of the body of your Son…” How do you “remember” Jesus?

Blessing and Serving of the Wine

Meditation Thought

What does “May they have his Spirit to be with them” mean to you this morning? How might it change your coming week?

For guidelines on the Lord’s Supper, including online participation, see

www.CofChrist.org/common/cms/resources/Guidelines-Lords-Supper-9-2019-EN.pdf.

Ministry of Music or Hymn of Response

“O Christ, My Lord, Create in Me” CCS 507

OR “Lord, Speak to Me” CCS 179

OR “Too Often, God, Your Name Is Used” CCS 342

Disciples’ Generous Response with World Hunger Emphasis

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9

Statement

During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our hearts with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.

The first Sunday of each month focuses on Abolish Poverty, End Suffering which includes Oblation and World Hunger ministry. Today is also World Hunger Emphasis. There are many throughout the world who struggle daily to find enough to eat. Though we will respond with a specific donation today, let us remember to be mindful daily of our call to be generous to those who have less. We are called to be Christ’s hands and feet, serve the poor and hungry, and stop conditions that diminish the worth of persons. Worshippers can bring their monetary and food donations recognizing World Hunger Emphasis to the front during the offertory.

As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

Prayer of Blessing

Gracious and Giving God,

In our plenty, we would remember your children who are poor, hungry, and broken. May you be with the blind, the ill, the destitute, the hungry, the refugees, and the despairing. Increase your spirit of generosity in our hearts, and multiply these gifts that your people everywhere may know new life, new hope, and new direction. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

—From worship suggestions for World Hunger Emphasis Day

www.CofChrist.org/hunger-ideas

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous- response-tools.

Hymn of Sending Forth

“Sing to the Lord No Threadbare Song” CCS 111

OR “The Love of God” CCS 210

OR “Send Me Forth” CCS 651

Sending Forth

I send you forth into the world, to turn your good intentions into action. Feed the hungry, comfort the sick, embrace the lost and lonely. Go with God’s blessings and the assurance that God’s Spirit goes before you. Amen.

—From worship suggestions for World Hunger Emphasis Day

www.CofChrist.org/hunger-ideas

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Ordinary Time (Proper 18)

Mark 7:24–37

Exploring the Scripture

The two stories in this week’s Gospel reading may seem unrelated, but they are not thrown together haphazardly—they serve to interpret one another. Thus, it is important to work with both stories, even though they present challenges for the preacher.

Each story begins with locale. The Gentile woman (verses 24–30) was from Syrophoenicia, and the man who was deaf (verses 31–37) was near the Sea of Galilee. However, if we map Jesus’ route as reported by Mark, it doesn’t make much geographic sense. But perhaps it does make theological sense. To say Jesus traveled to the region of Tyre is to say he crossed the border from Jewish lands into Gentile territory—home to the historic oppressors of the Jews in the region. Here Jesus is the outsider—an important theological distinction. If each person in the encounter was typical of the area’s population, Jesus would have been poor and the Syrophoenician woman wealthy.

Whether the political and economic imbalances of the region played a part, we are shocked by Jesus’ harsh response to the woman’s pleas for help. In the words of Amy C. Howe, “Jesus is caught with his…compassion down” (Feasting on the Word Year B, vol. 4, 44). Jesus calls the woman a dog, but the woman absorbs the insult and continues to make her case. “Even the dogs…,” she says (v. 28). What must it have cost her to say this? Her daughter is worth more.

If mission begins with encounter, then this is surely a prophetic encounter. Like Jacob wrestling with God, refusing to let go until God blesses him (Genesis 32:22–32), the woman persists. Jesus, who had been focused on his primary mission—which he understood as being to his people—expresses his assignment more clearly in Matthew’s version of this story: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Could this story be a kind of conversion moment for Jesus, where he realizes the greater truth of her response and its implications for his mission? The woman’s prophetic response refocuses Jesus on his mission and opens him to its broader implications.

Having been opened himself, Jesus is now prepared to open the ears of the deaf man. In the first century—lacking understanding of the biology of birth defects—physical disability was often viewed as a result of sin. Such people often held little or no status and were excluded from most social and religious institutions.

Whenever Jesus healed people, he healed not only the body but the relationship with the community as well, restoring that person to wholeness. In their book In Heaven There Are No Thunderstorms: Celebrating the Liturgy with Developmentally Disabled People, Gijs Okhuijsen and Cees van Opzeeland point out that “Jesus deals with a deaf-mute. He takes suffering to heart.” With this simple statement we can also turn our hearts toward those who suffer.

Central Ideas

  1. Engaging in Christ’s mission may call us beyond our comfort zones into surprising encounters.
  2. Mission is relational: God wishes to heal us in ways that restore us to community with others.
  3. We must be open to God’s movement in our lives to effectively minister to others.

Questions to Consider

  1. Have you ever been in a foreign place, out of your comfort zone? What does it feel like to be an outsider?
  2. When have you been bold and persistent in seeking and claiming God’s blessings? What was the result?
  3. When have you been so focused on the task at hand that you missed the missional opportunity right in front of you?


Small-group Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time Proper 18

Mark 7:24-37 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

Prayer for Peace

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

Creator God,

We call on your presence, knowing you are already with us,
assured our cry to you is not unheard.

We ask you to bless us, knowing you have blessed us many times over,
and yet we do not feel we ask in vain.

We yearn for you to strengthen our faith—
and our faith is stronger even as we speak.

We praise you for your grace and are forgiven
even as we sing “Glory to God.”

We cry to you for a peace that passes understanding,
and yet we begin to understand, even as we weep.

We grasp the humble hem of Christ’s robe to dry our eyes,
knowing your love spills in our salty tears.

We respond by inviting others to commune in peace,
knowing you have prepared a place for them at the table.

—Lu Mountenay

Spiritual Practice

Meditating on God’s Name

Materials: paper, pens, or pencils

Read:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

—Exodus 3:14 NRSV

We will enter a period of meditation that includes hearing some of God’s names, listening for new understandings of God’s nature and names, and praying God’s names together as a community.

As names for God slowly are read aloud, listen prayerfully and write the names that speak to you or catch your attention.

Holy One
Loving Parent
Healing Presence
Source of joy
Ancient One
Awesome God
Creator God
Father of lights
Compassionate One
Loving Spirit
Gracious Creator
Great Spirit
Grandfather/Grandmother
Great “I Am”
Beloved Friend
First Breath
Giver of life
Gentle Shepherd
Mother/Father God
Creator of beauty
My Rock

We now will pray silently. Spend a few minutes reflecting on how God’s nature has been made known to you. Listen for new names and descriptors for God. Write down names for God that surface during your meditation.

Observe three minutes of silence.

Invite participants to read aloud names for God that emerged during the meditation time.

When sharing is finished, close with “Amen.”

Sharing Around the Table

Mark 7:24-37 NRSV

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

This scripture relates two stories of healing and restoration. Traveling to Tyre, Jesus crosses the border from Jewish lands into Gentile territory—home to the historic oppressors of the Jews. Here he encounters the Syrophoenician woman.

We are shocked by Jesus’ harsh response to the woman’s pleas for help. We are not comfortable with this compassionless Jesus. He calls the woman a dog, but the woman absorbs the insult and continues to make her case.

Until this exchange Jesus understands his mission as being for his own people. But by crossing a border and engaging in an unexpected encounter, Jesus is opened to new understandings of his mission.

Jesus then opens the ears of the deaf man. In the first century, physical disability often was viewed as a result of sin. Disabled people were excluded from most social and religious institutions. By healing the deaf man Jesus also restores the man’s relationship with the community.

Questions

  1. Have you ever been in a foreign place, out of your comfort zone? What does it feel like to be an outsider?
  2. When have you been so focused on a task that you missed the opportunity for relationship and healing right in front of you?
  3. When have you needed to be healed so you could serve others more effectively?

Sending

Generosity Statement

“Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f).

We receive God’s grace and generosity. 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:

Generous God, Be with each of us as we manage our time, treasure, talent, and witness. May we use all our resources in ways that express our desire to bring blessings of healing and peace into the world. May we focus our giving on your purposes, and may our hearts be aligned with your heart.

Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

CCS 5, “Bring Many Names”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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