Community of Christ

Worship Resources - 16 September 2018

Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time (Proper 19), Heritage Day

Mark 8:27–38/8:28–41 IV

Take Up Your Cross

Additional Scriptures

Isaiah 50:4–9a; Psalm 116:1–9; James 3:1–12; Doctrine and Covenants 162:3a–b, 163:2b


Preparation

Ask several people prior to the service to briefly speak during the Focus Moment about what a specific Christian symbol means to them. See the worship setting instructions for symbol suggestions. Have small crosses to distribute to each person following the service.

To incorporate Heritage Day, the last hymn suggestion each time also includes a short description of the hymn’s connection to our history from “Celebrating the Bicentennial of the Birth of Joseph Smith Jr. and Central Tenets of His Message” created by Richard Clothier, www.CofChrist.org/heritage-ideas and from www.historicsitesfoundation.org/page .do?act=lo&page=Heritage_Day_Service. Read the descriptions prior to singing the hymn.

Worship Setting

Place a cross on a table at the front of the sanctuary along with a Communion tray, an offering basket, a small fountain or pitcher of water, a symbol of peace (lion and lamb, semaphore symbol, olive branch, dove, etc.), and other Christian symbols for discussion during the Focus Moment.


Prelude

Welcome to Worship

How do you listen for God in your surroundings, in your everyday life? What words do you listen for to find the path Jesus followed? Listen to the words that are shared today to discern a deeper understanding of who you are called to be.

Scripture to Prepare

Doctrine and Covenants 162:3a–b and 163:2b

Sharing and Caring

Were You There?

Call to Worship

See before you, O God, disciples gathered to worship you—

disciples who are broken too:

the repentant

the vulnerable

the waiting

the forgiven.

See before you, O God, your cross accepted.

—Lu Mountenay

Gathering Hymn

“God Is Here!” CCS 70

OR “O Christ Who by a Cross” CCS 315

OR “O God in Heaven, We Believe” CCS 493

Early missionaries often used music to Invite People to Christ. This hymn was written by Parley P. Pratt, one of the first missionaries in the church, who was among four missionaries sent from western New York to the Missouri frontier—an 800-mile journey—in 1830.

Invocation

Response

Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

Prayer of Peace

O God, Creator of the Universe and Giver of Life,

Often in the hustle and bustle of activities we overlook your gracious concern for each of us. In your love, continue to forgive our negligence, we pray.

Help us all to realize the greatness of our heritage and the task before us to carry on the message of your mission of peace. With that whispered voice of counsel and direction from you, we will have the strength, courage, and knowledge necessary for this time and place as did those who came before us. In our more thoughtful and responsive moments it is our desire to help make possible a more peaceful society and loving environment.

The wonderful world you have created and permitted us to enjoy does not always provide the peace and safety which you envisioned. This, we know, is a result of our not fully accepting your counsel and fulfilling your desires for your creation. However, Lord, in all of this we continue to see, to sense and recognize your love for us individually and collectively. For this we are grateful.

May we have your presence helping us purge our hearts of apathy and replace it with an active desire for peace and unity in this, your world. We offer our thanks and ask your guidance in the name of the Great Peacemaker…Jesus Christ. Amen.

—Donald Lents, adapted

Hymn of Peace

“Come, Join in Mary’s Prophet Song” CCS 308

OR “God’s Melody of Peace” CCS 319

OR “God, Whose Grace Redeems Our Story” CCS 570

Generations of our faith community all over the world have worked tirelessly in building signal communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. This hymn written by Barbara Howard captures the inspiration of our shared past, acknowledges our present calling, and inspires us onward to continue writing our sacred story, weaving peace and justice through the vision.

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.

Scripture Reading: Mark 8:27–38/8:28–41 IV

Hymn

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”               CCS 499

OR “Send Forth Your Light, O Zion”           CCS 622

This hymn, written by Roy Cheville, a strong and enthusiastic minister known for his emphasis on “doing,” echoes the message from the Gospel of Mark: “What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?” The hymn reflects the passionate mission of our early faith community to share the gospel of Christ and to intentionally create zionic communities wherever they were called to go.

Are You Still There?

Focus Moment

Symbols of Discipleship (see Preparation and Worship Setting above)

Have each person hold their designated Christian symbol or move it to the worship center for everyone to see while explaining to the congregation its personal meaning to them.

Hymn

“Community of Christ” CCS 354

OR “Redeemer of Israel” CCS 388

This hymn was written by W.W. Phelps and was printed in the church’s first printing office located in Independence, Missouri, in 1832. The hymn reflects our faith community’s early attempts at building community and linking its struggles to those of the children of Israel in the Old Testament.

Disciples’ Generous Response

Statement

Throughout Community of Christ history, we discover empowering examples of generosity. As we lift up the Mission Initiative to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering, we are called to help those who hurt—feed the hungry, support compassionate ministries, and respond in times of crisis.

An early example of such generosity happened on the streets of Nauvoo, Illinois, over 170 years ago. Andrew Workman remembered standing with Joseph Smith and several other men alongside a fence next to the Smith house. While the men conversed with one another, they were interrupted by an approaching man who appeared very concerned. The man shared that a poor brother of the church had just lost his home and belongings in a house fire the night before. Immediately, the men gathered around and shared their sympathies and concern for their fellow friend. What a tragedy! Then, Brother Joseph reached into his pocket, pulled out five dollars and said, “I feel sorry for this brother to the amount of five dollars; how much do you all feel sorry?”

This story exemplifies Community of Christ’s timeless calling to help those in need. Today, we have the opportunity, like those in Nauvoo 170 years ago, to model compassion and generosity for future generations.

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

Hymn

“Sometimes We Wait, Expecting God” CCS 304

OR “We Are the Ones the World Awaits” CCS 305

OR “Let Us Give Praise to the God of Creation” CCS 607

Geoffrey Spencer, a native of Australia, served the church in many roles during his lifetime, among them president of the Council of Twelve Apostles. Several foundational principles are incorporated into the five verses of this hymn he created: Restoration; Worth of All Persons, the living presence of divine power; stewardship of the earth; the sacredness of all things; the unity of spirit and element; the ongoing search for truth; men and women together in ministry; the role of the church as sin-bearer; the power of our heritage; and the experience of the God who calls us into the future.

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

Follow Love

Morning Message

Based on Mark 8:27–38/8:28–41 IV

Cross as a Symbol

Display a large cross or draw one large enough for everyone to see. Refer to the parts of the cross as you make these statements:

One way to think about the symbolic meaning of the cross is first to consider the vertical piece. It could represent our individual relationship with God. In this example of symbolic meaning, the horizontal piece would represent the outstretching arms of love, encompassing everyone into community.

Have small crosses to distribute as people leave the service.

Sending Forth Hymn

“Now Let Our Hearts within Us Burn” CCS 658

OR “The Spirit of God like a Fire Is Burning” CCS 384

This historic hymn is near and dear to the heart of the church, and it is fitting to have it send us forth today. It was written by W.W. Phelps in preparation for the dedication of the Kirtland Temple and captures the spiritual excitement and enthusiasm experienced by early church members in 1830s Kirtland. Emma Smith included the hymn as the last selection in her first hymnal, which came off the presses only a few weeks before the Kirtland Temple dedication in March 1836.

Benediction

Response

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Ordinary Time (Proper 19)

Mark 8:27–38

Exploring the Scripture

Most scholars agree that Mark is the earliest of the four Gospels, probably written sometime around 60 CE. The author focuses throughout the book on three primary themes: (1) Jesus’ suffering servanthood, (2) the person and authority of Jesus, and (3) total commitment involved in life as a disciple. The main intent, however, is showing who Jesus was. As is so often the case with scripture, today’s text has multiple layers and each layer is multifaceted. However, the three focuses are seen clearly in these 11 verses.

The exchange between Jesus and his disciples, especially Peter, addresses the question of who Jesus was. His stern order for them to not tell anyone about him was a signal that Jesus didn’t want to be identified with what people of that day understood about the nature of “the Messiah.” Jesus signals a radical shift in understanding who and what the Messiah was. In Jesus’ day, that person was expected to be a powerful political or military leader. We have the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. But for his disciples, this represented a major shift in understanding and required a significant leap of faith.

What happens next in the text clearly highlights the point about the suffering Jesus. Jesus continues his discussion with the disciples explaining the Son of Man must “undergo great suffering” (v. 31), eventually be killed, but rise again after three days. The extent of the disciples’ reaction is seen in Peter’s rebuke of Jesus who then, himself, rebukes Peter, calling him Satan. Jesus’ next words again express the divine nature of the Messiah as he tells Peter that he (and by extension, the other disciples) was focusing on “human things” rather than on divine things (v. 33). Jesus was saying the disciples simply didn’t understand what was really involved in his messiahship and, therefore, he didn’t want the disciples proclaiming him as the Messiah based on their errant understanding.

The third point above comes through loud and clear in the later passages of the text. Jesus makes clear that to follow him requires denying oneself, taking up one’s individual “cross,” and following him. As the late German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes it in his book by the same name, there is a “Cost of Discipleship.” Scholars have proposed the idea of denying oneself goes far beyond simply not indulging in one thing or another as we might during the Lenten season. They suggest what Jesus meant was that to follow him involves putting others before oneself—an especially difficult idea in cultures where individualism and the “self” reign supreme.

This theme also cuts across all arenas of life and calls to mind again Jesus’ words that “you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (v. 33). The Apostle Paul put it differently in his letter to the church in Rome, “do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). Paul was seemingly suggesting disciples of Jesus should not follow worldly ways or be concerned about human or earthly comfort or pleasure of self, but instead should focus on “divine things” and live out the gospel in the world.

Jesus’ expectations of disciples are not just about sacrificial giving. His admonition includes the promise that “those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (v. 33).

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus presents a radically new understanding of who and what the Messiah was to be; one who must suffer instead of the popular understanding that this person would be a conquering political or military hero.
  2. To be a true disciple of Jesus, one must give up the self and be willing to bear heavy burdens, possibly to the extent of giving up one’s own life.

Questions to Consider

  1. After reading these verses, why would anyone want to be a follower of Jesus?
  2. Do we fully understand the meaning of messiah?
  3. When have you experienced denying yourself and bearing a “cross” as a disciple of Jesus? How did that feel?
  4. What does this text mean within the culture in which your congregation and its participants live?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time

Scripture: Mark 8:27–38 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.

O God, Creator of the universe and Giver of life,

Often in the hustle and bustle of activities we overlook your gracious concern for each of us. In your love, continue to forgive our negligence, we pray.

Help us all to realize the greatness of our heritage and the task before us to carry on the message of your mission of peace. With that whispered voice of counsel and direction from you, we will have the strength, courage, and knowledge necessary for this time and place as did those who came before us. In our more thoughtful and responsive moments it is our desire to help make possible a more peaceful society and loving environment.

The wonderful world you have created and permitted us to enjoy does not always provide the peace and safety that you envisioned. This, we know, is a result of our not fully accepting your counsel and fulfilling your desires for your creation. However, Lord, in all of this we continue to see, sense, and recognize your love for us individually and collectively. For this we are grateful.

May we have your presence, helping us purge our hearts of apathy and replacing it with a desire for peace and unity in this, your world. We offer our thanks and ask your guidance in the name of the great Peacemaker, Jesus Christ. Amen.

—Donald Lents, adapted

Spiritual Practice

Unity

Unity in Diversity is an Enduring Principle that expresses the diverse nature of the church and the commitment to live our common Christian discipleship as one community. We develop relationships that cross borders, cultures, traditions, and language. As we read in Roman 12:15, we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

Think about the past year.

  • When have you rejoiced? Who rejoiced with you?
  • When did you weep? Who wept with you?
  • Spend a moment in silent prayer thanking God for those who rejoiced and wept with you. Again, think about the past year.
  • Who shared their joy with you, and you rejoiced with them?
  • Who shared their burden with you, and you wept with them?

Spend a moment in silent prayer, thanking God for the opportunity to experience joy and sorrow in unity with others.

Invite any who wish to share reflections on the spiritual practice of unity.

Sharing Around the Table

Mark 8:27–38 NRSV

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

The exchange between Jesus and his disciples, especially Peter, addresses the question of who Jesus was. His stern order for them to not tell anyone about him was a signal that Jesus didn’t want to be identified with what people of that day understood about the nature of “the Messiah.” Jesus was radically different than what many expected the Messiah to be. In Jesus’ day, that person was expected to be a powerful political or military leader. For the disciples to hear Jesus talk about his own rejection, suffering, and death was disturbing and confusing.

Peter’s reaction shows the extent of the disciples’ discomfort. He rebukes, or chastises Jesus. But unexpectedly, Jesus then rebukes Peter, even calling him Satan. Jesus explains that by focusing on human rather than divine understandings, the disciples could not understand what was going to take place and its deeper meaning and impact. Jesus doesn’t want the disciples proclaiming him as the Messiah when they do not fully understand what that means.

Jesus then makes clear that to follow him requires putting the welfare of others before one’s personal welfare (denying oneself), facing the real challenges of discipleship such as being persecuted for standing up to power or speaking against injustice (taking up the cross), and living the ministry and message of Jesus (following him).

Questions

  1. After reading these verses, why would anyone want to follow Jesus?
  2. When have you experienced denying yourself and bearing a “cross” as a disciple of Jesus? How did that feel?
  3. What does this text mean within the context of your culture?

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 335, “Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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