Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 09 September 2018

Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time (Proper 18)

Mark 7:24–37/7:22–36 IV

All Have Worth

Additional Scriptures

Isaiah 35:4–7a, Psalm 146, James 2:1–17, Doctrine and Covenants 165:3d


Preparation

Make plans to project or display the Focus Moment pictures for The Ugly Duckling.


Prelude

Living Worship Setting

Have very few or no decorations on the rostrum. Gather several people identified below to become part of the worship setting. The participants may be asked ahead of time, or it could be spontaneous—discern the needs. After the initial gathering of the congregation for the worship service, greet the participants or those who will be asked to participate, in the aisle and bring them to the front. One by one, place them in a comfortable position and invite them to stay a moment. Let them know they are part of the worship “setting” and will stay through the Call to Worship.

Place the participants as follows. Use your imagination to fit your congregation’s specific size and needs.

  • Two people hold hands standing or sitting in chairs
  • Two people stand and look at each other; may talk softly and listen actively
  • A child stands and an adult kneels so their heads are at the same level
  • One person holds a hymnal, ready to sing
  • One person sits in a chair and two people lay their hands on the head of the one who is seated
  • An adult sits on a low stool with a child sitting on his or her lap looking at a book

Read the Call to Worship while walking among the people in the worship setting. Afterward, invite the participants to take their seats in the congregation.

Welcome to Worship

Each story in today’s Gospel reading from Mark tells of someone’s personal suffering, a helpless situation, and each story is also linked by Jesus’ own desire for silence and solitude, as if he, too, was overwhelmed by the horrifying needs of the world. Listen for the hope and the worth of all persons, in our worship today.

Sharing and Caring

Brothers and Sisters

Gathering Hymn

“Brothers and Sisters of Mine” CCS 616

OR “We Cannot Own the Sunlit Sky” CCS 301

Call to Worship

Living Worship Setting (see description above)

A building. Just brick and glass and wood.
But when the people enter…
they become the worship center
A sacred scene, indeed.

The community files down the aisles
and settles in the pews (chairs)
sharing joys and sharing news (cares)
we listen to those in need

Coming in as community…
our faith, our hope, our humanity
It is our Holy God
our spirits come to heed

To honor the worth of all
hear the lost and lonely call.
Becoming sanctuary—
we are peace in word and deed.

When people arrive, they come alive
forming a procession of diversity
A response to grace and generosity
It is a sacred space, indeed.

Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

Prayer (read by child or youth)

Draw us close, God. We have wounds to be healed.
We have joy to spread as flowers in the field.
We have tears to dry and friends who need care.
We have hope to bring and peace to share. Amen.

—Lu Mountenay

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 Peace

“Let There Be Peace on Earth” (could be sung by children) CCS 307

OR “Lord, Prepare Me” (sing several times) CCS 280

Opening Prayer

Response

See Others as God Sees

Focus Moment

Show the pictures and read The Ugly Duckling, based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen, then discuss. See the PowerPoint.

  1. Why did the other animals call the Ugly Duckling ugly? What did they mean when they called him ugly? Does looking different make someone ugly?
  2. Why would people make fun of others who look different from them?
  3. Do you have to look like those around you to fit in with them?
  4. Does the way one looks on the outside determine who they are?

Scripture Reading

Mark 7:31–37/7:22–36 IV

Disciples’ Generous Response

Statement

Six principles of A Disciples’ Generous Response guide us in managing and sharing our resources: Receive God’s Gifts, Respond Faithfully, Align Heart and Money, Share Generously, Save Wisely, and Spend Responsibly (www.CofChrist.org/disciples-gener ous-response).

When we consider the ways each principle applies in our lives, we respond faithfully and begin to align our priorities with God’s priorities, align our hearts with God’s heart.

Save Wisely

Saving wisely involves discerning for an understanding of the gifts you have been given from God, then making a wise choice about how to look after God’s generous gifts.

Saving is a way to prepare for the future. It gives us the chance to extend our love and create a better tomorrow for our families, friends, the church’s mission, and the world.

Question for Reflection

  • What are the gifts from God that you are called to save wisely? (Give examples from your own life such as money, Earth, and love.)

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.

Blessing of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

Offertory Prayer

Creator, God, who loves us all,

We give thanks for all things;

for we know that all you have given us,

those things that are great and small,

that are on the earth and in the oceans,

atop the mountains and across the deserts,

are really yours, not ours to keep.

But you have trusted us to care for them,

To plant, to grow, to love, and to share.

God who creates all things, great and small

Thank you, accept our all. Amen.

Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

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

Unity in Diversity

Hymn of Unity

“Draw the Circle Wide” CCS 273

OR “Leftover People in Leftover Places” CCS 275

Scripture Reading

Mark 7:24–37/7:22–36 IV

Morning Message

Based on Mark 7:24–37/7:22–36 IV

Hymn of Diversity

“There’s a Church within Us” CCS 278

OR “For Everyone Born” CCS 285

OR “Restless Weaver” CCS 145

Benediction

Response

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

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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