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?