Ordinary Time (Proper 15)
Abide in Me
Proverbs 9:1–6, Psalm 34:9–14, Ephesians 5:15–20, Moroni 7:50–52, Doctrine and Covenants 162:8c
Consider collecting food for those in your community who may be struggling to feed themselves and their families. Include this as part of the Disciples’ Generous Response. After the worship, donate the food collected to a local family or food bank.
Sharing of Joys and Concerns
Confessional Call to Worship
Lord, we come to you now to confess the times when we have made unwise choices. So often we place our praise and worship in earthly pleasures and neglect to praise and worship you. We ask for forgiveness for the times when we haven’t been fully awake; when we have missed the prompting of your Spirit. We come now to praise you—to lift our voices and proclaim your name. You are the one that brings a song of joy to our hearts. You are the one that brings us peace. Let us join with our sisters and brothers around the world as we worship with you.
“Now Sing to Our God” CCS 108
OR “Redeemer of Israel” CCS 388
Prayer for Peace
While the congregation sings the hymn, have someone light the peace candle.
Hymn of Peace
“One Common Prayer” (sing three or four times) CCS 313
OR “Let There Be Peace on Earth” CCS 307
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.
Based John 6:51–58
Disciples’ Generous Response
Jesus gives us the bread of life that we may be nourished in his Spirit. As we receive, we should also give. Often before we can share our spiritual food with others, we need to feed them physically.
Consider collecting food for those in your community who may be struggling to feed themselves and their families as part of the offering. After the worship, donate the food collected to a local family or food bank.
If you are meek and lowly in heart, and confess by the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus is the Christ, then you must have charity; for if you do not have charity, you are nothing; therefore, you must have charity.
Charity suffers long, and is kind, and does not envy, and is not puffed up, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, and does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Have charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail; but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endures forever.
—Moroni 7:50–52, adapted
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
Scriptural Challenge: Ephesians 5:15–20
Consider using two or three translations of this scripture. Before reading each translation, ask the congregants to listen for a word or phrase which stands out to them in the scripture. At the end of the readings, discuss which translation speaks to people the most and helps them understand Paul’s challenge.
Sending Forth Hymn
“Come, Know My Joy, the Maker Says” CCS 518
OR “In Christ We Live” CCS 326
Leader: Continue your journey.
People: We are people of the Restoration.
Leader: You have been blessed thus far,
People: but we have much yet to see, much yet to do.
Leader: Go forth with confidence and live prophetically.
People: We are a people who have been loved,
Leader: and who now courageously choose to love others,
All: in the name of the One we serve. Amen.
—Doctrine and Covenants 162:8c, adapted
Ordinary Time (Proper 15)
Exploring the Scripture
John’s Gospel is written for insiders, disciples steeped in the rites and beliefs of the Christian faith even though they are Jews who are being put on the outside by the Orthodox Jewish community. They are suffering a crisis of separation from their neighbors and even families. John’s Gospel is meant to deepen faith and tighten the community of disciples as they face this crisis.
For the reader or preacher in the 21st century, John’s Gospel can serve a similar purpose. John’s message of oneness in Christ is poignant for us today. The Gospel focuses on the rites of the church, especially the Eucharist. Though there is no description of the Last Supper in this Gospel, the entire text touches on the centrality of the table and the meal of the Lord’s Supper. From the first miracle of Jesus to the last moments on the cross, the Gospel is about the community being one at the table, eating a meal. The meal represents the physical ministry of Jesus in his body and the life of Jesus in his blood.
Today’s text can be repulsive to our sensibilities, just as it was to the first hearers of these words. Cannibalism is taboo for Jews of the first century, just as it is for us today. However, the strong language and the images the meal conjures cause one to dig deeply into the text to
understand what John is trying to suggest. In a world of complexity and separation, the temptation to separate from the world and even one another is strong. Jesus tells the people present that those who eat his flesh and drink his blood remain in him and him in them (linked directly to John 17). His words can be interpreted physically, but this is a spiritual indwelling that is recognized and allowed to flourish when the community comes together for the common meal we call Communion. In a time of doubt and difficulty, there is comfort in knowing the life of Christ is in us. We live in him in community through the sacraments.
The commitment to eat “the bread that came down from heaven” in the sacramental form of Communion involves total engagement of chewing, drinking, digestion, and integrating the meal into our lives. When we partake of the emblems, we cannot help but take Christ into the world as we move into the community. The divine meal fuels our very living and breathing.
This life that Jesus promises is not something that happens in the sweet by and by. It is a life that becomes fuller and more expressive of the Divine in the here-and-now. This life in Christ incarnates those ministries Jesus offered and is proof of the resurrection. Eating the bread and drinking the wine incarnates Jesus in us as individuals and as a community joined and bound by the Holy Spirit to serve the world. The promise is that by being a part of this community we will live forever. In that Spirit, we already are living eternally as part of the great cloud of witnesses that proclaims, “He lives in us, and we live in him!”
- As a community of sacraments, we are one in Christ, and through those rites, we strengthen our bonds with one another and with God.
- Christ is “the living bread come down from heaven.” By eating this bread as a recognition and internalization of God’s covenant of salvation in Christ, we incarnate the ministry of Jesus in our lives and our communities. This is eternal life.
- Partaking of the bread and wine requires the total engagement of the disciple and the community.
Questions to Consider
- How does the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper tighten the bonds of your congregation?
- What does it mean to eat the bread that came down from heaven?
- How are you incarnating the life of Christ through your life?
- How is your congregation incarnating the life of Christ?
- Has the Lord’s Supper become a rote tradition in your congregation, or is it the life-giving meal offered by Christ for the life of the world?
Small-group Worship Suggestions
John 6:51–58 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.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
Creator of all,
We give thanks for your presence in our lives and in the world.
May we recognize that we are called to carry your peace into all the corners of the world.
May we light the candles of peace and venture forth as peace-bearers.
May the darkness of violence be overcome with your light.
May the storms of anger and hatred be quelled by your light.
May the shadows of greed be dispelled by your light.
May our lives be given in service to the light of your peace.
The practice of confession is to examine one’s heart and to bring into the light those things that hide in the dark recesses of our being. In this way we can give them to God, ask forgiveness, and be made new in God’s mercy and grace.
Place your hands in your lap, palms facing up in a posture of openness.
I will read the adapted psalm and prayer in three sections, pausing after each reading. In the moments of silence reflect on those things you wish to bring into the light and give to God in an act of confession and repentance. I will close the last period of silence with an
Today’s scripture and prayer of confession is adapted from Psalm 111:
Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is the Lord’s work,
and righteousness endures forever.
The Lord has gained renown by wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
Lord, have mercy on us when we do not extend grace to others.
Moment of silence
The Lord provides food for those in awe;
and is ever mindful of the holy covenant.
The people have seen the power of the Lord.
The Lord has given them the heritage of the nations.
The works of the Lord’s hands are faithful and just;
all the Lord’s precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
Lord, forgive us in our complacency, when we ignore injustice and overlook the suffering of others.
Moment of silence
The Lord sent redemption to the people;
and has commanded the Lord’s covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is the Lord’s name.
Awe of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever.
Lord, we thank you for restoring us to wholeness through your compassion, wisdom, and grace.
Moment of silence
Sharing Around the Table
John 6:51–58 NRSV
“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 Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
John’s Gospel is written for insiders, Jewish disciples steeped in the rites and beliefs of the early Christian community. Because of their belief in Jesus Christ they were marginalized by the main Jewish community, their neighbors, and even families. John’s Gospel is meant to deepen faith and tighten the community of disciples facing this crisis.
This Gospel focuses on the rites of the church, especially the centrality of the Lord’s Supper. From the first miracle of Jesus to the last moments on the cross, the Gospel is about the community being one at the table, eating a meal. The meal represents the physical ministry of Jesus in his body and the life of Jesus in his blood.
Today’s text can be repulsive to our sensibilities, just as it was to the first hearers of these words. However, the strong language and images the meal conjures cause one to dig deeply into the text to understand what John is trying to suggest.
The commitment to eat “the bread that came down from heaven” in the sacramental form of Communion involves total engagement of chewing, drinking, digestion, and integrating the meal into our lives. The divine meal fuels our very living and breathing.
Eating the bread and drinking the wine incarnates Jesus in us as individuals and as a community joined and bound by the Holy Spirit to serve the world. In that Spirit, we already are living eternally as part of the great cloud of witnesses that proclaims, “He lives in us, and we live in him!”
- How does the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper strengthen the bonds of Christian community?
- What can you do in your own preparation for Communion to uphold the Lord’s Supper as the life-giving meal offered by Christ for the world?
- How are you ingesting, living, and breathing the life of Christ?
“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
CCS 579, “Christ Be in Your Senses”