Community of Christ

COVID-19  Ongoing Response

Worship Resources - 24 January 2021

Worship Suggestions

Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Ordinary Time

MARK 1:14-20/1:12-18 IV

The Kingdom Has Come Near

Additional Scriptures

Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 2 Nephi 13:12-15


Preparation

This Sunday begins the first of 13 times in the Year B Lectionary cycle that scriptures from the Gospel of Mark provide the basis for our theme. For your worship center over the next three weeks, consider making or using large three-dimensional letters that spell M-A-R-K. As an alternative, place 13 Bibles of various shapes, sizes and colors on display in the worship center, each open to one of the passages from Mark that will be read in this year’s focus scriptures for the lectionary cycle.

This week include fish nets in the worship center to represent the mending of fish nets from Mark 1:14-20. Comment on the worship center symbolism during the Welcome.

Pass out the Kingdom Scramble activity sheets for use anytime during the worship service or use for a Focus Moment.

Prelude

Season of Praise

Sing two or all three hymns. Consider using the vocal recordings of these songs found on Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings to teach and learn those new to the congregation. Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.

“Fanana” CCS 596

OR “Amen, Siakudumisa!/Amen, Sing Praises to the Lord!” CCS 109

OR “Louez le Seigneur !/Praise, Praise, Praise the Lord!” CCS 106

Welcome and Caring and Sharing

Call to Worship

Leader: For God alone my soul waits in silence,

People: I wait in silence with hope.

Leader: God alone is my rock.

People: God is the rock of my salvation. I shall not be shaken.

Leader: Trust in God.

People: God is my refuge

Leader: For God alone my soul waits in silence,

People: I wait in silence with hope.

—Psalm 62:5-12, adapted

Prayer of Gratitude and Blessing

Sung Response

“Wait for the Lord” Sing twice CCS 399

Focus Moment: Reading the Good News of Repentance

Ask people to form small groups (no more than five in a group) to complete one Kingdom Scramble handout. Ask the groups to involve all ages to solve the challenge. Read the completed scripture aloud (Mark 1:14-15) and discuss the questions.

Responsible Choices Guided Meditation

Pause or ring a chime between each statement. Pause between reading each line.

Assume a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and an upright posture. Focus on deep, relaxed breaths. Rest your hands on your lap or other comfortable position. Pay attention to your breathing and listen to the words of guided meditation…

Forgive Me…

Forgive me O God…

at times I am distant…

For poor choices, your mercy I seek…

at times I am distant…

forgive me O God…

forgive me…

The Good News of Calling

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:16-18

Hymn of Calling

“Jesus Is Calling” CCS 578

OR “Hark! The Voice of Jesus Calling” CCS 592

OR “While Moses Tended Jethro’s Sheep” CCS 595

The Good News of Calling

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:19-20

Mending Your Nets

You and your brother have brought your father’s fishing boat to the shore. Tending to your business, you, your brother, father and the hired workers are mending your nets: hands busily tying knots and repairing the nets for the next catch. Then you see him. Jesus is approaching in the distance from where your friend Peter had been casting his nets in shallow water. Jesus called out to them, “Fishers of people?” What was he saying?

You recognize him from the baptisms at the Jordan with John. He walks closer. This is the one John spoke of. He is near. His eyes are piercing. There is something, something holy about him. Your friends Peter and Andrew were following him as if they sensed something, too. Something holy.

Your hands stop their motion of mending. You look right into his eyes. Immediately, Jesus speaks to you, calling you by name. You grasp your brother’s hand. You stand up. And you follow. This is your song:

Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn

“You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore/Tú has venido a la orilla” CCS 582/583

OR “You Walk along Our Shoreline” CCS 598

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer for Peace

O God, you call. We hear your invitation to the gospel of peace. We come repentant, ready to respond. Help us to find every moment in every day where we can live in peace. Bless us with the gift of calm, allowing us to bring your love, joy, hope and peace to others through holy attention toward the way of peace, serenity and just living. We sense your kingdom truly has come near.

May your kingdom of peace forever reign in our hearts and in our world. Amen.

For more ideas, the Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

Jesus Proclaims the Kingdom

Leader: Jonah went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.

People: The Kingdom has come near!

Leader: Peter became a fisher for people, in response to the call of Jesus.

People: The Kingdom has come near!

Leader: Paul taught that the present form of the world was passing away, to give way to the Kingdom of God.

People: The Kingdom has come near!

Leader: It is for divine purpose that you have been given the struggles as well as the joys of diversity. So must it always be in the peaceable kingdom.

People: The Kingdom has come near!

— Based on Jonah 3:3, Mark 1:18, 1 Corinthians 7:31, Doctrine and Covenants 162:4b

Message

Based on Mark 1:14-20

OR Scripture Challenge

Place enough scripture readings printed on strips of paper in a basket so that each person can take one. Distribute them to the participants. Explain to the congregation that they are to silently read their scripture and then consider how they are being called in their life today.

Scriptures to use: Mark 1:14–20, Mark 2:14, Matthew 4:18–22, Luke 5:1–11, Luke 9:23, Luke 9:57-60, Luke 14:25-27, John 1:35–51, John 8:12, John 12:26, John 15:16, John 21:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, Romans 8:28, 2 Thessalonians 2:14, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Peter 1:15-16, 2 Timothy 1:9, Ephesians 4:4, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Peter 3:9, Amos 7:14-15, Isaiah 6:8, Jonah 3:1-4.

After a time for consideration and meditation, invite several to briefly share their scripture and how they perceive God is calling them today.

Hymn of Response

“The Summons” CCS 586

OR “Beloved Community of God” CCS 588

OR “For Jesus Loved Me/To Ietu Here” CCS 594

Consider using the vocal recording from Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings to teach and learn this song.

Disciples’ Generous Response

Statements of Gratitude

Are we thankful? Are we thankful to God? What are some of the things you are grateful for today? Speak out in one word or a short phrase about what you are thankful for today.

Allow time for responses.

Scripture Reading: John 3:16

The words are right there: For God so loved the world! Do you feel it? Gratitude? The deep and abiding love of God is ours, for God has created the world and gifted us with Jesus Christ, our companion, teacher and friend.

During this time of a Disciple’s Generous Response we focus on aligning our purposes with God’s purposes, aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we 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.

Even as we affirm that the Kingdom Has Come Near, we recognize that our response to God’s great gift in our lives makes it possible for the cause of building the kingdom to go forward.

When we understand God’s love and grace are freely given to us, we respond out of gratitude and are liberated to share freely in return.

For God so loved the world…

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.

Hymn of Commitment

“God Is Calling” CCS 172

OR “I Have Called You by Your Name” CCS 636

OR “Send Me Forth” CCS 651

Benediction

Response

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Ordinary Time

MARK 1:14–20

Exploring the Scripture

This scripture passage explores Jesus’ proclamation of “good news.” The author of Mark asserts Jesus as the Son of God who embodies love and calls people to believe. This passage highlights the following key ideas.

Through life and ministry, Jesus is about to show God’s radical interest in humanity. He helped reshape thinking about a loving and creative God. This mission will be dangerous and will need extraordinary commitment. His followers are willing to leave their families and possessions to follow Jesus. This passage asks readers to evaluate their life and ministry through the lens of the ministry and life of Jesus and to examine what is important to God.

Verse 14 shares the understanding that this critical mission is indeed dangerous, noting John’s recent arrest. John was proclaiming Jesus as the Savior, preaching repentance and forgiveness in a radical way not heard before. For his commitment to God and Jesus, he was arrested and finally executed. For Jesus, this was a sign of supreme sacrifice. Disciples today are asked to examine their lives and discern what is important.

Verses 15–20 model the witness of invitation by Jesus. Disciples were asked to drop their nets and follow him. The account in Mark shows the first disciples as doing just that. They left everything they owned, their families, and friends to follow Jesus into the unknown. They showed faith and commitment. Common thought today is that they were just simple fishers who had little to give up to follow Jesus. These fishers from the shores of Galilee had businesses, employees, and family who depended on them. These fishers risked everything to follow Jesus.

These early disciples would be called to proclaim the good news after Jesus’ death and transform from followers to leaders. It is not hard to imagine these fishers spent much time in prayer to discern how they were called to commit themselves more fully to God. It is equally safe to assume they didn’t know the extent of how those simple prayers would change their lives and, maybe more important, history.

How many lives became hope-filled because of their risk-taking and testimony? How are we called to make such astounding changes in our lives so we can follow Jesus today? How can our risk-taking magnify our call to create communities of joy, hope, love, and peace?

We are called to wrestle with the tough challenges of being God’s creation. We are called to co-create with God a better world. At times, the mission will be difficult and maybe dangerous. But the mission demands sacrificial love. We may never see the changes in others’ lives, but the simple act of “dropping our nets” and following Jesus will be life changing.

Central Ideas

  1. Life as a disciple calls for commitment and risk for the good of others.
  2. The journey is difficult and requires sacrificial love.
  3. We are called to invite others to join in the cause of Jesus Christ and proclaim the good news.

Questions to Consider

  1. How have you seen risk-taking, by you or others, improve the lives of others?
  2. Have you ever resented suffering and risk-taking? How did you overcome those feelings, and how did it help you understand more clearly the Mission Initiative of Invite People to Christ?
  3. How does your congregation become “fishers of people”?
  4. What does it mean to sacrificially love in today’s world?

Small-group Worship Suggestions

Third Sunday after Epiphany

Scripture: Jonah 3:1–5 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

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.

Light the peace candle.

Loving God, one of the early Christian disciples spoke reassuringly to a younger follower when he said, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Such assurance causes us to reflect seriously on the deep meaning of such a promise. Is it for our personal private comfort, to be held close to our hearts as our special gift? Or do those words come to us as a challenge to see through an open door of possibilities for participation in the great enterprise of making peace in the places where we live and serve?

This counsel also spoke of the heritage of faith of the young friend provided through the faithful lives of his mother and grandmother. This legacy of faith made it possible for one young disciple to move out in strength and with an affirmative spirit in witness of the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
God, we too desire to be witnesses of your goodness and your compassion. We need to grow in understanding of your promises to be with us in all of life’s circumstances, to draw on the strength that comes in overcoming obstacles and disappointments. The sharing of each other’s burdens enriches both giver and receiver. Each experiences joy and finds peace of mind in learning to see each other as brother or sister and to experience life as a child of God.

Lord, clarify our vision and strengthen us as we, in this our day, stir up the gifts of God in us that our journeys as companions with you in peacemaking may truly be blessings among us. This is our prayer in the name of the one who grants us peace. Amen.

—Helen Lents

Spiritual Practice

Blessing of Loving Kindness

Today we will experience a blessing of loving kindness. I will say a phrase aloud. I invite you to silently repeat the words after each spoken phrase.
As we begin, take a few moments of quiet to center yourself. If you are comfortable doing so, close your eyes.

Allow the words of blessing to resonate in your heart and mind. I will pause at the end of each phrase so you can silently repeat the words. 

May I be blessed with loving kindness.  Pause.
May I be blessed with health.  Pause.
May I be blessed with true happiness.  Pause.
May I be blessed with peace.  Pause.

Think of someone who is beloved to you. Visualize the person as you pray. You may insert the person’s name into the prayer in your mind.

May my beloved be blessed with loving kindness.  Pause.
May my beloved be blessed with health.  Pause.
May my beloved be blessed with true happiness.  Pause.
May my beloved be blessed with peace.  Pause.

Now think of a close friend. Visualize the person as you pray silently.

May my friend be blessed with loving kindness.  Pause.
May my friend be blessed with health.  Pause.
May my friend be blessed with true happiness.  Pause
May my friend be blessed with peace.  Pause.

Think of someone with whom you are in conflict or who has harmed you. Visualize this person. Breathe deeply and lovingly pray this blessing.

May the one who harmed me be blessed with loving kindness.  Pause.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with health.  Pause.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with true happiness.  Pause.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with peace.  Pause.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

Sharing Around the Table

Jonah 3:1–5 NRSV

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across.  Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

This book is different. Instead of God asking a prophet to call God’s people back to obedience to God’s ways, God asks Jonah to preach repentance to Nineveh, the capital city of the enemy Assyrian empire. Original listeners might have found this start to the story to be funny. From their perspective, the Ninevites were outside God’s covenant. Not only were they a hated enemy, but it made no sense to call them back to obedience to God’s ways because they had never been followers of God. They were not part of the covenant. No wonder Jonah refused to go to Nineveh, heading instead in the opposite direction. He hated the Ninevites, wanted them to be destroyed, and was afraid God would use any excuse to show mercy.

Unlike other prophetic books that have survived to relay to us the powerful words of the prophets, Jonah’s prophetic utterances are captured in one, uninspiring sentence. “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” The story shows Jonah marching across town delivering this warning over and over. 

But Nineveh is not destroyed. The text says a fast was declared. In additional verses we read that even the animals join the fast. Jonah has preached the worst sermon ever, and the result is a total turnaround by the people.

The story ends with Jonah sitting on the hill outside the city, stubbornly angry with God, hoping God will decide to destroy Nineveh after all. Jonah hates the idea of mercy for the foreigner and the enemy. 

The power of the Jonah story is not in the prophetic words of Jonah. The power is in the shocking breadth of God’s love and mercy, extending beyond Israel to all people, even foreigners and enemies, and Jonah’s upsetting resistance to God’s compassionate nature.

Questions

  • How have you felt challenged to see God’s compassion for people who differ from you, are from another country, or are historical enemies of your people?
  • How have you resisted God’s inclusive and merciful vision for the world? 
  • How has God led you to extend compassion beyond traditional limits?

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 for Epiphany is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:

Revealing God, 

May we always be generous. You have gifted each of us with boundless grace and unending love. May our response to that love and grace be humble service to others, and may generosity be part of our nature. 
Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 564, “Spirit, Open My Heart”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

PrintFriendly