Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 12 August 2018

Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time (Proper 14)

John 6:35, 41–51

The Bread of Life

Additional Scriptures

1 Kings 19:4–8, Psalm 34:1–8, Ephesians 4:25—5:2, Doctrine and Covenants 163:9


Worship Center

Include in the worship center various types of bread from around world. Focus especially on countries where the church has a presence and discover what type of bread is used in those places. Alternatively, place pictures of different types of bread on the worship center or project pictures of bread. The bread or pictures will also be used in the Focus Moment.

Prelude

Welcome

Sharing of Joys and Concerns

Call to Worship

Psalm 34:1–3

Hymn of Rejoicing

“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” CCS 101
OR “I Will Sing, I Will Sing” CCS 112

Invocation

Response

Scripture Reading

John 6:35, 41–51

Focus Moment

Draw the congregants’ attention to the assortment of bread on the worship center. Ask them to identify the different types of bread and guess where the bread may have come from. Discuss the value of the feast of bread that is before them. Is what Jesus offers such a fantastic feast that we go away feeling like we never need to eat again?

One of our Enduring Principles is the Worth of All Persons: “We seek to uphold and restore the equal worth of all people individually and in community.” Discuss how our mission is to share the message that God views all people as having inestimable and equal worth and wants all people to experience wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and relationships. All are invited and worthy to receive the abundance of God’s love and grace. We all are worthy.

Ask children and youth to distribute the bread to the congregation, encouraging them to try a new type of bread.

Hymn of the Bread of Life

“You Satisfy the Hungry Heart” CCS 531
OR “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ” CCS 522

Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

Prayer

During the Prayer for Peace, include in your prayers the countries represented by the different types of bread on the worship center.

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.

Message

Based on John 6:35, 41–51

Responsive Hymn

“Nada te turbe” (sing through several times) CCS 241
OR “God Forgave My Sin in Jesus’ Name” CCS 627

Disciples’ Generous Response

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 163:9

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

Lord, we give thanks for the abundant blessings we receive from you. As we receive these blessings, we are called to give out of our abundance, to help our creation and our human family. We confess there are times when we fall short in our giving, when we ignore the cries and groans of your world, and fail to see where your Spirit is leading us. We ask now for your forgiveness as we pray together:

God, where will your Spirit lead today?
Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.
Grant me courage to risk something new and
become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.

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

Closing Hymn

“With a Steadfast Faith” CCS 649
OR “God’s Melody of Peace” CCS 319

Benediction

Sending Forth

Leader: We are part of the same body

People: and strive to be truthful and productive.

Leader: We will be honest and work hard

People: and help others by what we say.

Leader: We will be kind and merciful, and forgive others,

People: just as God forgave us through Christ.

All: Let love be our guide as Christ loved us.

—Ephesians 4:25—5:2, adapted

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Ordinary Time (Proper 14)

John 6:35, 41–51

Exploring the Scripture

The Gospel of John often is described as a spiritual witness to Jesus as the Word of God made flesh. The author is unknown, although it traditionally is understood to be written under the authority of John, the disciple who Jesus loved. John’s Gospel reflects on the nature of God made real in Jesus Christ and on what that means for those who believe. It is helpful to note that this Gospel was written close to 100 years after Jesus’ ministry (CE 95–100).

By this time, followers of Jesus in and around Galilee had developed a religious identity separate from their historical Jewish roots. They did hold a common understanding of Jewish scripture and cultural identity. As John bears witness to Jesus as God incarnate (in the flesh), he often points to parts of Jewish scripture and story to show the divine nature of Jesus. In John, we find Jesus explaining his identity with “I am” sayings. Using the phrase “I am” is a way to point to his divine nature. “I am” is how God self-identified in Hebrew Scriptures. Believers with a Jewish background would hear “I am” and immediately understand that Jesus is identifying himself as part of God. In this passage, Jesus says “I am the bread of life.” Unlike the bread (manna) God sent previously to the people wandering in the wilderness, this gift from God provides the eternal blessing.

It is interesting that when they heard Jesus describe himself as the bread that came down from heaven, some people reacted negatively. In Hebrew Scriptures, the people in the wilderness had complained about the manna from heaven. By connecting these two events, the Gospel writer can contrast the gift of physical bread (manna in the wilderness) to the gift of spiritual bread (eternal life).

In John’s Gospel, the early Christians heard Jesus identify himself as God’s gift of eternal salvation. It was important for early believers to understand themselves as recipients of this gift. Believing that Jesus came from divine origins and that he is the word of God in the flesh
was essential to them for understanding God’s nature and God’s wish to be in loving relationship with humankind. This relationship was not limited to a select few. John writes that whoever eats this bread, whoever believes, has eternal life.

This passage closes with a brief reflection on the sacrificial nature of this gift. Bread was given as a sacrificial offering regularly. In temple life, the 12 loaves offered were referred to as holy bread or “showbread.” The bread on the altar was replaced with fresh bread; the stale bread was given to the temple priests. The sacrifice of the bread of life is Jesus, given not as payment for the debt of sin but as a gift for the world to know eternal life.

God offers the gift of Jesus Christ as an act of hospitality. To understand Jesus as the bread of life is more than believing Jesus’ divine origins. It is to live in ways that bring God’s divine presence into everyday actions. The bread of life is an invitation to anyone who hears to come and follow Jesus. Community of Christ stresses this invitation through the Mission Initiative of Invite People to Christ. When we share the invitation to Christ, we share in God’s act of hospitality.

Central Ideas

  1. By using the name of God, “I am,” Jesus identifies himself as one who is from God.
  2. Manna in the wilderness was given through Moses for the earthly nourishment of God’s people. Through Jesus, the bread from heaven, God offers the divine gift of spiritual and eternal life.
  3. The gift of eternal life is received through believing in and following Jesus Christ.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does God invite people into relationship through Jesus?
  2. Some people fussed and complained because they didn’t understand what Jesus meant by saying he was the bread from heaven. Have you ever fussed or complained because you didn’t understand what God was revealing to you?
  3. The scripture implies that believing is to hear and to learn. How does this guide your understanding of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ?
  4. In this scripture passage, we find the gift of life through Jesus Christ is for everyone. How might God work through other faiths to bring blessing to the world?
  5. To invite people to Christ is to share your witness. How have you experienced the life-giving gift of Jesus?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time

John 6:35, 41–51 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.

God of grace and peace,
Bless us with courage to speak peace in the midst of anger and spitefulness.
Bless us with wisdom to seek ways of peace in a complicated world.
Bless us with compassion for those who do not experience peace in their daily lives.
Bless us with forgiveness for those who are peace-breakers.
Bless us with willingness to examine our own lives and confess our own inability to live peace.
Bless us with your Spirit that even in our human frailty and folly we may continue to seek peace for all of your creation.
Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Prayer of Repetition and Reduction

Invite the group members to take a relaxed posture that will allow them to focus on the words that will be spoken.

As you read each phrase, pause and allow the group to rest in the words for two to three breaths before reading the next phrase.

Psalm 130:5 NRSV

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits.
I wait for the Lord.
I wait.
I wait for the Lord.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.
Amen.

Give the group an opportunity to share about this experience of prayer.

Sharing Around the Table

John 6:35, 41–51 NRSV

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Gospel of John was written close to 100 years after Jesus’ life and ministry.

By this time, followers of Jesus had developed a religious identity separate from their Jewish roots, but they still had an understanding of Jewish scripture and cultural identity. John uses references from Jewish scripture and culture to demonstrate the divine nature of Jesus.

In today’s scripture we find Jesus explaining his own identity with “I am” sayings. Using the phrase “I am” is how God self-identified in the Hebrew Scriptures. Believers with a Jewish background would hear “I am” and immediately understand that Jesus is identifying himself as part of God. In this passage, Jesus says “I am the bread of life.” Unlike the bread (manna) God sent to the people wandering in the wilderness, Jesus provides eternal blessing.

This passage closes with a brief reflection on the sacrificial nature of this gift. In the temple bread was given as a sacrificial offering. The sacrifice of the bread of life is Jesus, given not as payment for the debt of sin, but as a gift for the world to know eternal life.

To understand Jesus as the bread of life is more than believing Jesus’ divine origins. It is to live in ways that bring God’s divine presence into everyday actions.

Questions

  1. Some people fussed and complained because they didn’t understand what Jesus meant by saying he was the bread from heaven. Have you ever fussed or complained because you didn’t understand what God was revealing to you?
  2. The scripture implies that believing is to hear and to learn. How does this guide your understanding of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ?
  3. In this passage, we find the gift of life through Jesus Christ is for everyone. How might God work through other faiths to bring blessing to the world?

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 to 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 26, “Look at This Man, Born of God”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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