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Worship Resources - 23 June 2019

Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time (Proper 7)

LUKE 8:26–39/8:26–40 IV

Declare What Jesus Has Done

Additional Scriptures

Isaiah 65:1–9, Psalm 22:19–28, Galatians 3:23–29, Doctrine and Covenants 162:7c


 

Prelude

Gathering Hymn

“In Christ There Is No East or West”          CCS  339

OR “Who Is This Jesus”        CCS 38

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

Welcome, Sharing, and Prayer

I welcome you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we gather to worship let us take some time to reflect on our past week, sharing together first blessings and then prayer concerns.

Presider leads a season of sharing blessings from the congregation.

Pastoral Prayer of Gratitude for Blessings

Presider leads a season of sharing concerns and prayer requests from the congregation.

Pastoral Prayer for Strength and Healing for the Concerns Expressed

Call to Worship

Leader:  There is no longer Jew or Greek,

All:      there is no longer slave or free,

Leader: there is no longer male and female;

All:      for all of us are one in Christ Jesus. We are all children of God.

—Galatians 3:26–28, adapted

Hymn of Unity

“In Christ There Is No East or West”          CCS  339

OR “O for a World”   CCS 379

OR “We Are People of God’s Peace”         CCS 306

Invocation

Musical Response

Gospel Reading

Luke 8:26–39/8:26–40 IV

Focus Moment

Our gospel scripture today talks about a man Jesus meets who is having a very bad day…in fact he has bad days almost every day. He was so angry, upset, and even scary all the time that the people in his town didn’t want to have anything to do with him. They made him live outside of town by himself. Can you imagine?

Have you ever been so mad or so sad that you lost control of your feelings until all you could do was cry, scream, and yell? Yes? Well, me too!

Some people might say that you are “throwing a fit” or “having a tantrum.” I know that I have heard moms and dads say things like: “You need to stop crying” or “I need you to use your words and tell me what’s wrong.” If you do this, maybe a trusted adult or friend can help you.

The man in our scripture story goes up to Jesus, maybe he thinks Jesus can help him. The man says, “What have you to do with me?” and “Do not torment me!” Jesus, instead of asking him what is wrong, asks him his name. Isn’t that odd?

Instead of telling Jesus his real name he “uses his words” to tell him what is wrong and then Jesus can help him. The man is so thankful that he wants to follow Jesus and his friends but Jesus says “Go back to your hometown and share what God has done for you” and so he did as Jesus said, and people were amazed that he was healed and had changed. No more tantrums!

If we “use our words” it is easier to feel better. Another way to “use our words” is to pray. Prayer helps us feel better. When we tell God our problems, God can then help us know what we can do! To think through what is hurting us and share it with God can help us heal and when we heal, we can be more at peace.

Let’s pray together. Repeat the words after me.

Dear God,

Thank you for words...

that we can use when we talk to you…

especially when we are having a hard time.

Help us share your words…

so everyone can be healed.

Amen.

Hymn of Unity and Peace

“Help Us Accept Each Other”          CCS 333

OR “Praise with Joy the World’s Creator” CCS 57

OR “When the Darkness Overwhelms Us”           CCS  314

Morning Message

Based on Luke 8:26–39/8:26–40 IV

Reflection

Ask two people to read “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother?” CCS 336. Reader 1 reads the first two lines of each stanza. Reader 2 reads the last two lines of each stanza. Tell the congregation to follow along and join with the readers on the words, “round [through] Jesus Christ,” as they occur in lines 2 and 4 of every stanza. Consider having the hymn played quietly in the background.

Prayer for Peace

Light the peace candle.

Prayer

God of Peace, bless this gathering of your people. Help us listen to each other—our blessings, our joys and our wounds—that we might make peace between us. Help us remember to pray to you for help and peace.

Bless this earth that sustains us. Help us know our place in the world as ministers of your peace. Help us stand against injustice and bigotry. Help us stand with those who are misunderstood because of their inability to tell their stories, for whatever reason. Help us to declare often and loudly our love for you and the blessings you have so richly bestowed on us.

As we light this peace candle, let your love burn so brightly within us that we cannot help but reflect your peace. Amen.

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.

Disciples’ Generous Response

Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 162:7c

Statement

“All of giving begins and ends with God. If we will notice that and imitate it in our  own lives, we’ll experience freedom from the kind of culture that drives us to always be afraid of whether we’ll have enough. It will free us to be generous disciples who  give enthusiastically—and give joyfully for the sake of giving. That joy is multiplied when we see it transformed into ministries that bless people with the gospel. It’s a never-ending cycle of grace and generosity that we are invited to participate in. It’s an invitation. If we could get that in our hearts and our minds and let it grow with our understanding of what our true capacity for giving is, we would be blessed, and the kingdom of God would certainly draw closer” (President Steve Veazey, “Presidential Q&A, Part II,” July 2015, Herald).

—Stassi Cramm, ed., Choose Generosity, (Herald Publishing House, forthcoming).

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

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

Closing Hymn

“Lord, Whose Love” CCS 346

“We Serve the Prince of Peace”     CCS 348

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

OR “All Are Called”   CCS 606

Benediction

Response

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Ordinary Time (Proper 7)

LUKE 8:26–39

Exploring the Scripture

This story is common to the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), but with nuances on certain details: Matthew 8:28–34 speaks of two demoniacs, while Mark and Luke speak of a single demoniac. Beyond the differences, this episode raises poignant questions: Who should control whom? Why did Jesus grant the request of the demons when he surely knew what effect the results of such a move would have on the economy of the region?

Written by a doctor, some of the texts (Luke 8:26–39, 13:10–17), clearly explain the destructive effects of demonic possession. Luke shows how the life of this person, under demoniac impulse, was destroyed: he had abandoned the village to live in caves in the mountains; he was in contact with human remains that made him ritually unclean. Indeed, the possessed man was a stranger in the non-Jewish land, having been cast out from his own community. The author highlights that all human efforts to heal this man were fruitless because of the power of demons. However, one fact is certain: at the right moment, within God’s grace and generosity, everything changes. God never abandons us.

Verse 28 shows the demons were aware of the divinity of Jesus, the God/man, Son of God. Between here and verse 32, there is a conversation between the demons and Jesus. This therapeutic conversation enables Jesus to know the number and the intent of the demons, which were legion and did not want to go into the abyss and hasten the judgment that awaited them. In verse 33, the demons ask Jesus to send them into a herd of swine. Jesus grants their request. Mark 5:13 specifies that nearly 2,000 animals were destroyed, resulting in a general catastrophe: financial loss, loss of jobs, and food insecurity. This raises an interesting side question: How can Jesus, who came to end poverty and stop suffering, justify destroying a regional economy?

The answer to this question, which is the key to this message, can be understood only within the power and mission of Jesus as revealed in Luke 4:18–19. Jesus’ mission becomes clear in the events that follow his proclamation in the synagogue. Indeed, in verse 35, the crowd is as surprised by the loss of the herd as by the man’s deliverance. The man regains calmness and the good and common sense of life. The healing of such a possessed man brings hope for the afflicted; Jesus restores broken lives. How did the crowd understand Jesus has authority over legions of demons and that losing the herd was a small price to pay to save one soul? Jesus sacrificed his life—not just on the cross, but with his full devotion to setting in motion the fulfillment of his mission: bringing to pass the vision of God’s shalom and peaceful reign on Earth.

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus restores broken lives.
  2. As followers of Jesus, disciples recognize the worth of all persons.
  3. When we have experienced the grace, love, and transforming power of God, we are to share our story and witness to others.

Questions to Consider

  1. In what ways do you need healing?
  2. What situations in today’s world might be comparable to the man’s possession by the demons? How do we address these situations?
  3. What are we doing to promote the worth of all persons?
  4. When have you felt the transforming power of God in your life, family, or community?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Ordinary Time (Proper 7)

Luke 8:26–39 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

Ordinary Time is the period in the Christian calendar from Pentecost to Advent. This part of the Christian calendar is without major festivals or holy days. During Ordinary Time we focus on our discipleship as individuals and as a faith community.

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.

God of peace, 
Bless this gathering of your people.
Help us listen to each other—our blessings, our joys, and our wounds—that we might make peace between us.
Help us remember to pray to you for help and peace.

Bless this Earth that sustains us.
Help us know our place in the world as people of your peace.
Help us stand against injustice and bigotry.
Help us stand with those who are misunderstood because of their inability to tell their stories, for whatever reason.

Help us to declare often and loudly our love for you and the blessings you so richly have bestowed on us.
As we light this peace candle, let your love burn so brightly within us that we cannot help but reflect your peace. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Inner-healing Prayer

Read the following aloud:

In today’s scripture reading, Jesus heals a man who is possessed by demons. These demons are called Legion, which in the time of Jesus was another name for the Roman army. A Legion was the very thing causing oppression among people in the region.

We all have insecurities and “demons” within us that keep us from being our whole selves. Today’s spiritual practice connects with our need to seek healing for the wounds within, as well as those things that oppress and divide us.

Inner-healing prayer helps us focus on emotional wounds, deep needs, and issues such as self-hatred, fear, inability to forgive, and the need for approval. These wounds can be painful and difficult to face alone. We seek the presence of Christ, and encouragement from the community of faith to help us in this healing process.

I will read a prayer from Psalm 46 two times. The first time, simply allow it to sink into your heart and rest there.

The second time I will invite you to consider three questions. I will share the questions with you before I read the psalm a second time.

Relax and prepare to listen and receive this prayer into your heart. Read Psalm 46:1–5 NRSV:

God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help when the morning dawns.

Pause. As I read our scripture a second time, consider these questions:

  1. What are my insecurities?
  2. How am I finding it difficult to forgive others?
  3. How am I finding it difficult to forgive myself?

Read Psalm 46:1–5 a second time.

Invite the group members to choose a partner and share responses as they feel comfortable. An alternative activity is to spend time in silent reflection and/or personal journaling. Allow five to six minutes for this discussion or silent time.

Sharing Around the Table

Luke 8:26–39 NRSV

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demon begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

It seems ironic that as we move through “Ordinary Time” in the Christian calendar, we are reminded that “ordinary” life is anything but mundane. Rather, it is filled with much that demands our attention, isolates us from others, and ultimately separates us from that for which God created us (objects, events, people, hobbies, distractions).

Today’s passage takes us down an uncomfortable road—the road of demon possession.  We find a man whose life is undeniably altered by that which he seems unable to control. Even chains and shackles cannot save him from himself and torment. He is left desperate, naked, unclean, and alone. It appears he has lost his identity. When asked his name, he is defined only by those things that “possess” him. One might wonder if the discomfort with the text has more to do with demon possession or the fact that we are all in danger of falling prey to that which can possess us.

The character in the story adamantly resists the healing Jesus would offer, crying out, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God: I beg you, do not torment me.” It’s interesting how we sometimes can allow things to become so much a part of our life that the thought of losing them (what we know) holds more sway over us than the abundant life promised by God (what we can only imagine).

It would be easy to get caught up in the sacrifice of the herd of swine (an obvious devastation to the local economy) or the fear-filled reaction of the gathered crowd. But, we cannot lose sight of the healing at the heart of the story. Jesus’ stated purpose of bringing good news to the poor…proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind…“to let the oppressed go free…to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19 NRSV) reminds us what matters most.

Just as Ordinary Time is anything but ordinary, so are the children of God…no matter the cost.

Questions

  1. What “things” in your life “possess” you, hold you captive, or isolate you from the love of God?
  2. What “herd of swine” would you need to sacrifice so that another might find healing, a place in loving community, and the ability to claim identity as a child of God?

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.

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

God of our discipleship, As we navigate our world of debt and consumerism, help us to save wisely, spend responsibly, and give generously. In this way may we prepare for the future and create a better tomorrow for our families, friends, the mission of Christ, and the world. Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

CCS 238, “Blessed Is the Body and the Soul”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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