Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 11 November 2018

Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time (Proper 27)

Mark 12:38–44/12:45–50 IV

Give of Your True Capacity

Additional Scriptures

1 Kings 17:8–16, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:24–28, Alma 5:44


Preparation

For one or two weeks prior to this service, inform the congregants there will be an opportunity to give their loose change on this Sunday to the Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Mission Initiative. Bring small glass jars or brightly colored plastic cups for the children and youth to use as they collect the loose change.

Print on both sets of the small cards (2"x 2" [5.08 x 5.08 cm]) used in this service. Card 1: “In what new way are you being called to give of your true capacity?” Card 2: “This week, let the value of your giving be from your heart. Offer all that you are in a spirit of giving out of gratitude. This will propel you forward as a generous disciple to bring Christ’s joy to the lives of others.” Provide writing utensils.

Prayerfully consider those who will share by way of testimony or pastoral prayer.

We Gather in Praise as a Generous Community

Prelude

Welcome

Ask children or youth to greet people as they arrive and hand each one a penny. A second child or youth will hand out Card 1 (small cards printed with this message: “In what new way are you being called to give of your true capacity?”) These cards will be collected during the Disciples’ Generous Response.

Call to Worship

Ask five people of various ages to read the psalm as a spiritual practice of centering on God’s faithfulness.

Reader 1: Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.

Reader 2: The Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them—the Lord, who remains faithful forever.

Reader 3: The Lord upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.

Reader 4: The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.

Reader 5: The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!

—based on Psalm 146

Praise Song

“God of the Sparrow” CCS 138

OR “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” CCS 86

OR “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” CCS 101

Invocation

Response

Honoring God

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” CCS 11

OR “Bring Many Names” CCS 5

OR “Herr, du mein Gott/You Are My God” CCS 12

Prayer for Peace

Statement

The harmonies of love resound through all the earth. Wherever Christ is given place in human hearts of every race, the song of peace is heard across a world in need.

­—Barbara Howard, “God’s Melody of Peace,” CCS 319

Light the peace candle.

Sung Prayer for Peace

“God’s Melody of Peace” (refrain only) CCS 319

Scripture Reading

Mark 12:38–44/12:45–50 IV

Reflection

It wasn’t about HER. Picture the scene…the marketplace, the hub of interaction. Everyone was there, from the poor widow who had nothing, to those with plenty who flaunted their wealth—making a show of their riches by dressing in their finest to be sure they were noticed. But as we listen to Jesus’ words, we find he is not impressed with their silky garments. He sees past their status and his focus is on the widow. She places two mites in the offering basket; less than a penny by today’s standards. While others were tossing in their plenty, the widow was giving out of her scarcity.

It was not about her. Like the widow, let our focus be on giving from our desire to serve as the Spirit leads us.

Sung Response

“From You I Receive” CCS 611

Repeat several times. Encourage people to sing in languages other than their own.

Focus Moment

Briefly talk about a penny and its small value. Relate it to the widow’s mite. Christian bookstores sell widow’s mites if you’d like one to display.

Describe the Mission Initiative, Abolish Poverty, End Suffering, motivated by this week’s theme, “Give of Your True Capacity.” Out of little comes much. Ask the youth to take their containers and collect the coins offered by the congregation—including the pennies they were given when they arrived. When the children and youth bring the containers back, empty them into one larger container and discuss what the funds might be used for by the church, both locally and around the globe. Will the congregation commit to offering coins (and even more) each week to help abolish poverty and end suffering?

Sung Response

“From You I Receive”     CCS 611

Repeat several times. Encourage people to sing in languages other than their own.

We Respond Generously

The Message

Based on Mark 12:38–44/12:45–50 IV

OR Two Testimonies

Suggested themes for the two testimonies:

  1. The Consecration of Our Gifts
  2. Sharing Talents, Time, Testimony, Treasure

Meditation Hymn

“Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” (stanza 1)  CCS 609

Testimony 1

Meditation Hymn

“Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” (stanza 2)  CCS 609

Testimony 2

Meditation Hymn

“Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” (stanza 3)  CCS 609

Disciples’ Generous Response

Mission Tithes Cards

Generosity—instead of thinking of money and amounts of currency, let our focus bring Christ’s mission into view. We are called to respond to our bounty by presenting ourselves as an offering. On the card you received when you entered our worship space, write a response to the question as you impart all of what you are: In what new way are you being called to give of your true capacity? (Print or project the question.) Focus on generosity to our community, neighbors, and God. As you give out of your abundance, it will become a blessing to you. These cards will be placed in the offering baskets along with your Mission Tithes, and we will share some of the answers with the congregation.

Gift of Music

Ask a young adult, youth, or child to provide a ministry of music as the people write their commitments on the cards.

OR Play the vocal recording of “From You I Receive,” CCS 611, from Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings.

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 and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes and Commitment Cards

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

We Go to the World for the Sake of Others

Pastoral Prayer

Ask an evangelist or member of the pastorate to share. Read a few of the cards placed in the basket anonymously. Center a prayer of blessing around being content with the limitless grace of God and how that supplies all our needs; this becomes the impetus for giving of our true capacity.

Closing Hymn

“Go Now Forth into the World” CCS 646

OR “Can We Calculate Our Giving” CCS 617

Sending Forth

And now, may the peace of God rest upon you, and upon your houses and lands, and upon your flocks and herds, and all that you possess; according to your faith and good works, from this time forth and for ever. Amen.

—Alma 5:44, adapted

From the abundance you’ve received, go forth to a world in need.

Postlude

Ask children and youth to pass among the people as they leave handing them another small card with this statement printed on it: “This week, let the value of your giving be from your heart. Offer all that you are in a spirit of giving out of gratitude. This will propel you forward as a generous disciple to bring Christ’s joy to the lives of others.”

Sermon Helps

Ordinary Time (Proper 27)

Mark 12:38–44

Exploring the Scripture

Jesus had entered the temple for the first time after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem the day before. Until this time, he had ministered in the countryside. He was not considered a threat by the ruling Romans or the religious leaders who yielded to the Romans to save their positions in society. Now that he was in Jerusalem, the religious leaders—who feared the crowds—followed him and began to test Jesus so they could discredit him.

Mark’s chapter 12 shows examples where Jesus confronts religious leaders in the place where they claimed authority, the temple. First Jesus confronted the chief priests, scribes, and elders; then the Pharisees; and then the Sadducees. In this particular scripture, he challenged their generosity. He described not only their lack of true generosity but the manner in which they displayed generosity. He seemed to mock their appearance as they displayed their so-called generosity. He challenged their actions toward the lowest in society, in this case widows.

The actions of the widow in this story provide an example of what it looks like to “give… to your true capacity” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:9). Here the widow gave out of her poverty, meaning she gave the way God gives, from her heart. The scribes gave from what was left over, or out of their abundance. The scribes withheld their generosity. Jesus preached inclusion of all, including widows.

Jesus also used this incident to teach us about God’s generosity. God’s generosity is grace freely given with no holding back (Ephesians 1:6). The scribes withheld grace to the widow and her class. Then they gave only enough to be seen by others as they gave. The widow gave all she could give and she gave it humbly. She was the one who received God’s gift of grace that day. In Malachi 3:10, we see an example of God’s generosity. Here we see it again. The widow brought “the full tithe” and gave according to her true capacity. That caused God to provide grace in abundance to her. By withholding their tithes, the gifts of the scribes did not generate the type of blessing afforded the lowest in the society.

As Jesus sat opposite the treasury, he was able to observe as God’s creation responded to God’s generosity. He witnessed someone, who understood her relationship to her loving God, go to a place where she was not welcomed and to which the religious leaders of the day used her offering as a source of their livelihood. Still, she gave because she knew God would expect nothing more of her. Jesus also witnessed how some withheld from their God and used God’s name to put down others. In a showing of God’s true grace and generosity, Jesus courageously stood by the one who humbled herself even at the risk of giving his life for her welfare.

As you reflect on today’s scripture, you may want to think about examples of true generosity in your life or within the congregation or community. It could be financial generosity, time or talents, or extending grace to others. While this may be a very familiar story, the challenge for us to give to our true capacity remains. Review the principles of A Disciple’s Generous Response and imagine the church and the world if all would give to their true capacities! Imagine what can happen to a person’s relationship with God when he or she gives out of a genuine desire to give back to God.

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus invited and received everyone.
  2. The widow did not hold back but gave to her true capacity.
  3. The scribes withheld their generosity and gave only enough to be seen.
  4. God’s grace is received and given in abundance when the “full tithe” is brought before God.
  5. God’s grace is available to everyone.

Questions to Consider

  1. If Jesus was to observe the offering at your congregation, what would he see?
  2. How are the lowest in your society welcomed into your congregation?
  3. What excuses do some people have for withholding their generosity?
  4. As we receive God’s generosity what should be our response?
  5. As you review the principles of A Disciple’s Generous Response (www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response), how does this story clarify your understanding of these principles?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time

Mark 12:38–44 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.

The harmonies of love resound through all the earth. Wherever Christ is given place in human hearts of every race, the song of peace is heard across a world in need.

—Barbara Howard, “God’s Melody of Peace,” CCS 319

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 12:38–44 NRSV

As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

In this scripture Jesus confronts religious leaders where they claimed authority, the temple. First the chief priests, scribes, and elders; then the Pharisees; and then the Sadducees. In this scripture he challenged their generosity. He described not only their lack of true generosity, but how they displayed generosity. He seemed to mock their appearance as they displayed their so-called generosity. He challenged their actions toward the lowest in society, in this case widows.

The actions of the widow in this story provide an example of what it looks like to “give…to your true capacity” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:9). Here the widow gave out of her poverty, meaning she gave the way God gives, from her heart. The scribes gave from what was left over, or out of their abundance. The scribes withheld their generosity. Jesus preached inclusion of all, including widows.

As Jesus sat opposite the treasury, he was able to see God’s creation responding to God’s generosity. He saw a widow, who understood her relationship with her loving God, go to a place where she was not welcomed and where religious leaders used her offering for their own livelihood. Still, she gave from the desires of her heart. Jesus also witnessed how some withheld and used God’s name to put down others. Showing God’s true grace and generosity, Jesus courageously stood by the one who humbled herself, even at the risk of giving his life for her welfare.

Generosity can be gifts of time, talents, finances, or grace to others. While this may be a very familiar story, the challenge to give according to our true capacity remains. Imagine what our world would be like if all people, including the church, shared to their true capacities! Imagine what could happen in a person’s relationship with God if the person chose to share from a genuine desire to give from what he or she receives, regardless the size of the gift.

Questions

  1. If Jesus were to observe the generosity in your neighborhood, what would he see?
  2. How are the lowest in your society welcomed in your town, schools, churches, groups?
  3. What excuses do some people have for withholding generosity?
  4. As you receive God’s generosity how does it impact your desire to share with others?

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:

God, May we be a generous people in response to your boundless grace and unending love. Bless and magnify our gifts and our service to others. Let generosity become part of our nature, we pray. Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

CCS 4, “Source and Sovereign, Rock and Cloud”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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