Ordinary Time (Proper 20)
MARK 9:30-37/9:27-35 IV
like a child
Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13—4:3, 7-8a; Doctrine and Covenants 61:6c
This worship follows the lesson outline used in all Community of Christ teaching materials (i.e. Gather, Engage, Respond, Send, Bless). This format might be a way to encourage participation in Sunday school and other educational opportunities.
Activates background knowledge, prepares and motivates for learning
Welcome, Announcements, Joys and Concerns
Scripture Meditation: Psalm 1
Print or project the scripture text. Read the Psalm.
This psalm portrays a dualism of righteousness and wickedness, blessing of the former and punishment of the latter that is not always true in life. The line between the poles is not as distinct and rigid as the psalmist portrays. Both receive blessings and suffer from bad occurrences.
Print or project these questions along with the scripture. Allow worshipers time to consider the following questions.
Consider having quiet music playing that leads directly to the next hymn when the meditation time ends.
• When has your experience matched the psalmist’s description?
• When has it been different?
• When have you felt blessed because you “do not follow the advice of the wicked”?
• How are you like the tree described?
• When have you strayed from righteousness?
• What is God’s message for you today in this Psalm?
Hymn of Praise
“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” CCS 87
OR “God of Wonder, God of Thunder” CCS 18
OR “Now Thank We All Our God” CCS 131
Invites exploration and interaction
Allow time for responses from the large group or divide into small groups to discuss and report to the large group.
Heritage flows inward and outward, into who we are and will become, and out toward others. Consider your heritage. Think of your parents, grandparents, and other meaningful relationships. What characteristics of your heritage do you value? What characteristics would you like to share with others?
What spiritual characteristics have developed from your heritage (for example, faith, fairness, trust)? What is your heritage as a disciple of Jesus?
Scripture Reading: Mark 9:30-37
Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn
“like a child” CCS 403
OR “Spirit, Open My Heart” CCS 564
OR “Holy Presence, Holy Teacher” CCS 601
Based on Mark 9:30-37 and Heritage Day
Takes the learners from hearing to doing
Prayer for Peace
Light the Peace Candle.
How you encourage us as we learn your ways! You give us the example of Jesus and inspire us with your Holy Spirit. Help us learn and live your ways of peace. Teach us ways of nonviolence. Help us respond to the needs of our world, both close by and those far away. Make us sensitive and impatient when our leaders make decisions that don’t make for peace. Amen.
Song of Peace
“Peace Child” CCS 402
OR “We Are Children of Creation” CCS 340
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.
Disciples’ Generous Response
Our generous response is when we tend and care for the Earth. Our generous response is when we practice and develop our gifts and talents. Our generous response is when we intentionally seek to fulfill God’s vision with everything we have and everything we are. That does not mean we give it all away.Our generous response is in authentic and honest gratitude we show toward God, not with the 10 percent we give away, but to show gratitude with the 90 percent we keep. That is stewardship as a whole-life response and not a 10-percent response. What I discovered was that stewardship wasn’t simply just another word for tithing or money, but it’s actually another word for mission, ministry, and discipleship.
—Richard Betts, Choose Generosity: Discovering Whole-Life Stewardship, Herald House, page 20
During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our hearts 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.
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous- response-tools.
Explores how learning could be lived
Heritage of Generosity
Generosity is a way of life. It is how we use our time and talent. It is how we respond when there is a need. In the video “Overflowing Generosity,” we will hear Diane Maupin remember her heritage of generosity. Video YouTube video Community of Christ: Overflowing Abundance, available at youtu.be/A_gHanWck1k
Time of prayer, praise, blessing and hope
“My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” CCS 247
OR “Would You Bless Our Homes” CCS 629
OR “Bwana Awabariki/May God Grant You a Blessing” sing three times CCS 660
Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.
Prayer of Blessing
Discuss with the pastorate and local evangelists the possibility of a prayer of blessing. There could be several voices included in offering the prayer.
Be of good cheer, little children, for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you, and when you humble yourselves before me, the blessings of the kingdom are yours.
—Doctrine and Covenants 61:6c, adapted
Sung Congregational Response
“Spirit of the Living God” Sing twice. CCS 567
Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.
OR “Blest Be the Tie that Binds” CCS 325
Ordinary Time (Proper 20)
Exploring the Scripture
The first three verses (Mark 9:30–32) of today’s text describe Jesus foretelling his crucifixion and resurrection for the second time. The reason Jesus needed to tell his closest followers again what he had already told them was because they didn’t get it the first time. In fact, when Jesus first told them of his destiny (Mark 8:31–33), Peter rebuked him. Such was the disciples’ lack of understanding. The second time was no different. The writer was specific: “They did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him” (v. 32). This lack of understanding on the disciples’ part is a common theme in Mark. In fact, Jesus repeats this a third time in the next chapter (Mark 10:32–35), providing even more details about what will happen to him.
The second part of today’s text (vv. 33–37) describes Jesus teaching his disciples an important lesson. As they journeyed, the disciples argued among themselves about who was the greatest. This was clear indication they had not taken to heart Jesus’ model of humility and his teaching that to serve, one must put oneself last. Jesus, perceiving what was going on, asked the disciples what they were talking about. They declined to reply, presumably out of embarrassment. So Jesus sat down—a sign he was about to teach—called the 12 to him and repeated what he told them earlier: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (v. 35).
To make his point stronger, Jesus then took a child and told his disciples that welcoming a child is the same as welcoming him. Today, we might think such an action to be cute or interesting. However, in Jesus’ time, this was most unusual.
Children were seldom seen or heard. They spent their time with women and not men. There would have been no place for a child in important conversations between a rabbi (Jesus) and his followers. However, Jesus made a place for a child—not just as someone present as he talked with his disciples, but as an example of what was basic to discipleship. The child, least important among the people, was made the greatest by Jesus as he talked about humility and what is required of a true servant minister.
When Jesus told the disciples that to accept him was to accept the one who sent him (God) would not have been unusual or startling to them. They would have had at least some understanding that Jesus represented God.
We are here to follow the One who showed God’s grace and mercy to all people, even those considered the least important. A child should serve as a symbol of everyone people might consider today as having little worth. We continue to honor our heritage and traditions as we respond to God’s call to humbly serve all we meet on our life journeys. Community of Christ began as a movement that sought to make the reign of God a reality here and now. This continues to be our call and reason for being.
- Jesus came to affirm the worth of each person. His death and resurrection marked his commitment to God’s reign.
- Arguing about one’s importance contradicts Jesus’ life and teaching.
- A child, or anyone else considered unimportant, is equally valuable in God’s sight to all others.
- We continue to affirm our tradition and heritage as we faithfully respond to God’s call and make Christ’s mission ours.
Questions to Consider
- When have you failed to understand the true meaning of Jesus’ ministry and mission?
- Whom do you tend to dismiss as less important?
- When have you been blessed by the presence or action of a child?
- Where do you sense God calling you to reach out in loving action or presence to another?
- What aspects of Community of Christ heritage are most meaningful for your discipleship?
Small-group Worship Suggestions
Ordinary Time Proper 20
Mark 9:30-37 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.
Eternal God, present in all of life that is significant and holy, hear us now as we lift our voices in thanksgiving and praise, in confession, and in supplication.
We give thanks for your word of encouragement that enables us to face each new day. We also thank you for your word of faithfulness that gives us hope for the future. And we give thanks for your word of guidance that directs us as we seek to better understand your ways.
Gracious God, deliver us from the shallowness of our commitments, from the thousand ways our strivings separate us from each other. And most of all, deliver us from our fears that alienate us from you.
O God of faith, hear our prayer as we light our flame of peace and love at this hour and in this sacred place. May the flame here kindled grow within each heart, that all may sense more fully your Spirit in the warmth of our concern for one another. Refresh us when we grow weary of opposing injustice and oppression, terrorism and war, and send us forth from this experience of dialogue and worship strengthened to bind up the wounds that afflict our world.
Grant us peace, O God—not the peace of slumber, but of quiet confidence in the triumph of your word. For the sake of all your creation, we pray. Amen.
—Wallace B. Smith, adapted
The traditional form of the Jesus Prayer comes from the petition of the beggar on the road to Jericho, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” However, a shorter phrase that focuses on the name of Jesus and the desire for God’s mercy can be used as a meditative prayer. Today we will use “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”
Sit in a comfortable position. Let your breathing become relaxed and easy.
Let the words “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” form in your mind.
Gradually fit the words to the natural rhythm of your breath. For example, internally say “Lord Jesus Christ” as you inhale and “have mercy on me” as you exhale.
Remember, the prayer is not intended for rational analysis of content and words. Allow your mind simply to rest in the words as you breathe.
We silently will continue praying the Jesus Prayer together for three to five minutes.
Draw the prayer time to a close by saying “Amen.”
Invite the group to briefly share about the experience with this silent-prayer practice.
Sharing Around the Table
Mark 9:30–37 NRSV
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Often Jesus needed to tell his closest followers something he already had told them because they didn’t get it the first time. Such was the disciples’ lack of understanding. Jesus tells the disciples again that he will be killed, and after three days he will rise again. But they still do not understand. The disciples’ lack of understanding is a common theme in Mark.
Jesus then teaches his disciples an important lesson. As they journey, the disciples argue among themselves about who is greatest. Clearly they do not understand what Jesus taught about humility and serving others. Jesus asks the disciples what they are talking about. They decline to reply, presumably from embarrassment. So Jesus sits down—a sign he is about to teach—calls the disciples to him, and repeats what he told them earlier: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
Jesus tells his disciples that welcoming a child is the same as welcoming him. Today, we might think such an action is cute or interesting. However, in Jesus’ time, this was most unusual. Children seldom were seen or heard. They spent their time with women and not men. There would have been no place for a child in important conversations between a rabbi and his followers. But Jesus made a place for the child as an example of basic discipleship.
The child, least important among the people, was given a place of honor as Jesus talked about humility and what is required of a true servant minister.
We follow the One who showed God’s grace and mercy to all people, especially to those considered the least important or of little worth. We follow the teachings of Jesus as we respond to God’s call by acting with humility, treating others with kindness, and serving all people.
- When have you not fully understood a part of Jesus’ message, ministry, or mission?
- Have you ever been treated as unworthy or unimportant? Whom do you tend to dismiss as less important?
- Where do you sense God calling you to reach in kindness to another?
“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.
Invitation to Next Meeting
CCS 597, “Make Me a Servant”