Community of Christ

COVID-19  Ongoing Response

Worship Resources - 18 April 2021

Worship Suggestions

Third Sunday of Easter

LUKE 24:36b-48/24:35b-47 IV

Proclaim Repentance and Forgiveness

Additional Scriptures 

Psalm 4; Acts 3:12-19; 1 John 3:1-7; Doctrine and Covenants 151:9


Preparation

For the Sharing of Joys and Concerns and the Call to Worship, partition or drape off an area in the front of the worship space to create a silhouette figure of Jesus. For example, drape a sheet over a long pole or a coat rack or use your baptismal font covering. If you have a large cross, drape fabric over the cross bar. Set up a light behind this draped area and have someone portray Christ in a Biblical costume. The Christ figure stands behind the draping and is silhouetted from behind.

A chime will be used throughout the service.

Prelude

Sharing

Share Joys and Concerns

Prayer Over Our Sharing

Offered by the person portraying Jesus from behind the draping.

Father, I hold up these concerns for your divine blessing. Take these concerns and console those who need consoling, lift up those whose hearts are broken. Let them feel your divine love. Let the joys that have been shared be uplifted by this group that they might bloom and grow within this church family. Bless each of those mentioned as well as the unspoken joys and concerns each one has in their heart. Amen.

Presider rings the chime and says, “We proclaim love, hope, joy, and peace.”

Welcome

Jesus figure stretches his arms out in a welcoming motion from behind the draping as the presider speaks. Presider, be sure to welcome to all visitors. Include in the welcome that inviting people to Christ is integral to our faith tradition.

We are poised to share the peace of Jesus Christ with those who are waiting to hear the redeeming words of the gospel. [Mission Initiative - Invite People to Christ] We open our doors and our hearts to all.

Call to Worship

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:36b-48

Have the person portraying Jesus speak all the words that are within quotation marks, still silhouetted behind the draping, with the presider reading all other narrative text.

Gathering Hymn

As the song is introduced, the Christ figure comes from behind the draping. During the singing of the song, the Christ figure moves through the congregation with motions of blessing and exits the worship space.

“God Forgave My Sins in Jesus’ Name” CCS 627

OR “Come Away from Rush and Hurry” CCS 83

OR “Called to Gather as God’s People” CCS 79

Invocation

Response

Following the Invocation and Response, the presider rings the chime and states, “We proclaim love, hope, joy, and peace.”

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.

Statement

Each day in Community of Christ we offer a prayer for peace. We multiply the power of that prayer by offering the prayers in our congregations and on our knees individually.

Prayer

Beloved Savior,

We pray today for the children of the countries upheld this week. We pray for their mamas and their papas. We pray for their brothers and sisters. We pray for their aunts and uncles and grandmas and grandpas. These precious families struggle with poverty and war. They struggle with anger and fear. They do not know when the pain will end. God, we commit ourselves as messengers of your peace. We pray that those in need will feel the support and love we offer, even as we pray on their behalf. In your Son’s holy name. Amen.

Presider rings the chime and says, “We proclaim love, hope, joy, and peace.”

Hymn of Peace

“Peace Salaam Shalom” CCS 310

Consider singing along with the vocal recording on Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings or with the video recording at: www.CofChrist.org/resources?tags=English-Home-Resource#/930/peace-through-all-people.

OR “One Common Prayer”  Sing 3 times. CCS 313

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 at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

Spoken Word

Based on Luke 24:36b-48

At the end of the Spoken Word Presider sounds the chime and states, “We proclaim love, hope, joy and peace.”

OR

Testimonies

Invite two or three individuals to offer testimonies about their experiences of repentance and forgiveness. Suggest that the testimonies might include how it was that Jesus appeared to them and how the promises of the spirit were offered to them.

Presider rings the chime in between each speaker and states, “We proclaim love, hope, joy and peace.”

Disciples’ Generous Response

Hymn of Generosity

“Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” CCS 609

OR “Go with Us, Lord” Sing as a 2- or 4-part round. CCS 612

Statement

Today we are sharing thoughts of repentance, forgiveness, and the promise of the spirit. We share today in the sharing of the gift of God’s love to each of us. As we Invite People to Christ, we share with them the miracle of God’s love.

The Mission Initiatives identify the inward journey through disciple formation, pastoral care, worship, and other ministries within the congregation. The focus of the congregation’s budget, schedule, and ministries on the inward journey must be balanced with focus on the outward journey.

The outward journey is represented in the Mission Initiatives focused on reaching out to others—helping others catch a glimpse of God’s shalom and then inviting those seeking a faith community to journey with us. Many in our neighborhoods and villages are searching: God sends us outward to invite people to Christ, abolish poverty and end suffering, and pursue peace on Earth.

Mission Tithes financially support local and worldwide ministries of Community of Christ. Regular contributions of money or other commodities support annual budgets sustaining current, vital ministries.

Choose Generosity, Discovering Whole-Life Stewardship, page 70.

During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart 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.

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.

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 151:9

Prayer of Generosity

Heavenly Parent, Beloved Friend,

Today we offer the gifts that we have in our lives. We offer financial support. We offer our hands and our feet to move as you need. We offer the love in our hearts to you and to our brothers and sisters. We thank you God for the blessing of this earthly family that we share. Thank you, God. Amen.

Presider rings the chime and says, “ We proclaim love, hope, joy, and peace.”

Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

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

Hymn of Sending Forth

“Go Forth” CCS 654

OR “God Is a Wonder to My Soul” CCS 216

OR “Make Us, O God, a Church That Shares” CCS 657

Sending Forth

Presider rings the chime and invites the congregation to say: ”We proclaim, love, hope, joy, and peace.” Amen.

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Third Sunday of Easter

LUKE 24:36b–48 

Exploring the Scripture

In the scripture passages for today, there is the great theme that God’s faithful presence continues in Jesus’ resurrection. The author, Luke, clearly presents the resurrected Jesus as one who has a physical body and walks, talks, and eats. This idea alone asks us to open our minds to accept the idea that in and through Christ something is new and different. There are possibilities we have not considered or fathomed. We are invited to explore our faith journey.

In this passage, Jesus has been crucified and the rumors of people seeing him are moving fast through towns and cities. His followers are hearing rumors of his being alive and they don’t understand. How can Jesus be seen walking here and there? Is he a ghost or spirit? They want to believe he is alive, but it just doesn’t make sense to them.

When Jesus appears to his disciples, he recognizes their fears and says to them: “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36b). And then he addresses each source of their doubts and fears. He extends his hands and feet for them to see the scars, he invites them to touch him, and he asks for food and eats fish. With each of these actions the disciple’s fears are receding.

Now that fear and doubt are lessened, the disciples sit down with Jesus for scripture study. They have a new frame of reference to hear scripture—the resurrection. There is life after

death. And there is new life now, through Jesus. The scriptures are being heard through hearts that have experienced the risen Messiah. The words of the prophets are fulfilled!

Jesus then renewed the disciples’ call to discipleship when he told them they “are witnesses of these things” (v. 48). What they experienced is not for them alone, but the message is to be proclaimed to all nations.

This message of hope is ours today. God continues to be present in our lives, through our fears and doubts, as we open our minds and hearts to receive resurrection.

Central Ideas

  1. God continues to be present in our lives even when we have doubts and fears.
  2. When we can set aside our fears, we can hear and receive scripture in ways that bring new understanding.
  3. We are called to be the messengers of repentance, forgiveness, and resurrection.

Questions to Consider

  1. When have fears and doubts kept you from recognizing the Holy Spirit moving in your life?
  2. How have you experienced or witnessed resurrection?
  3. Where do you see others engaging in acts of resurrection (bringing hope to the hopeless)? 

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Third Sunday of Easter

Psalm 4 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

Today is the third Sunday of the Easter season. The Easter season continues for 50 days and concludes with the Day of Pentecost.

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.

Light the peace candle.

Easter God

Hallelujah! What hope for peace you provide in the resurrection of your Son!

Like the despairing and scattered disciples after the crucifixion, we sometimes feel that all hope of Christ’s peace is lost. There is so much division in our world—

Between religions and religious people;
Between countries,
Between political viewpoints;
And among neighbors, friends and even family members.

How can we hope for peace?

Then Easter dawns, a new day for hope! Like the early disciples we wonder, “Can it be true? Can the peace of Christ still live? Can the living Christ bring unity out of so much division?” 

In Easter we hear your resounding “Yes!” And we hear your call to be disciples of peace; the ones who recognize the risen Lord and live and enact his peace in the world. Challenge and lead us in the ways of peace, we pray in the name of the Risen One. 
Amen. 

—Steve Bolie

Spiritual Practice

Dwelling in the Word  

I will read a scripture aloud. As you hear the scripture, allow words, images, or phrases to come to mind. Try not to focus on them. Let them rest with you.

After a moment of silence, I will read the scripture a second time. As you hear the scripture again, listen for how God’s Spirit is nudging you or catching your attention.

Read the scripture passage: Luke 24:36b–43 NRSV.

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Pause.

Read scripture a second time.

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Invite group members to share responses to these questions:

  1. As you listened to this scripture passage, what words, phrases, or images came to mind?
  2. What is God’s Spirit revealing to you through the hearing of these words?

Sharing Around the Table

Psalm 4 NRSV

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
    You gave me room when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
    How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.
When you are disturbed, do not sin;
    ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.
There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
    Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
You have put gladness in my heart
    more than when their grain and wine abound.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

The Book of Psalms is a collection much like a hymn book. The texts come from different authors and times. This makes it difficult to know the unique history of each psalm. Together, the psalms express a range of trials, laments, and celebrations. These describe events that individuals and Israel faced as they were blessed, conquered, exiled, and returned home to the Promised Land.

Psalm 4 can be understood as the plea of one who is innocent. The psalm opens with a trial in which the accused one cries out to God in their innocence and vulnerability, “Be gracious. Hear me.” Verses 4 and 5 give challenging counsel to those who are innocent but have few alternatives to receive justice. Here, the term disturbed can be translated as angered. Anger is not a sin. However, angry reactions can cause us to miss the mark or do something we regret. By today’s standard, counseling the innocent or vulnerable to be silent seems the wrong advice. This conflict is worth exploring. Why would the innocent be silent? The psalm reminds us why the innocent and vulnerable turn to God in desperate times. It is because the “Lord has set apart the faithful. The Lord hears when I call to him.”

In other words, God keeps close those who are innocent, vulnerable, and have been treated unjustly. God’s favor is better than a good harvest and joyful celebrations. The gladness is more than when the wealthy’s “grain and wine abound.”

The psalm ends as the psalmist acknowledges the peace and rest that comes at night comes from trust in God. 

Questions

  1. When we desperately turn to God, does it matter if we are guilty or innocent?
  2. Who are the poor or vulnerable in your community? How might this Psalm speak to them?
  3. In troubled times, how do we embody Jesus Christ in ways that bring peace and rest to others?

Sending

Generosity Statement

Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.
—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9

The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response. 

The offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

God of Rejoicing, 

We share our gifts joyfully and with thanksgiving in response to the generous gifts you have given us. May the offerings we share bring joy, hope, love, and peace into the lives of others that they might experience your mercy and grace. 
Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 192, “O Lord, Hear My Prayer” 

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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