22 September 2024


Ordinary Time (Proper 20)

James 3:13—4:3, 7-8a

Sow Peace


Additional Scriptures

Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; Mark 9:30-37; Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a


If engaging in the Sowing Seeds of Peace Time of Community Practice, provide seed packets, small pots, and potting soil. Consider setting up workstations around the worship space. Other tools needed include small shovels, a tarp or other material for indoor potting, and water.



Scripture Reading: James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Invitation to Worship          

Our theme today is “Sow Peace,” drawn from our lectionary scripture. An emphasis of this scripture, and our gathering, is discerning a way to peace by being more present to holy wisdom. In other words, we are seeking a better understanding of the patterns God calls us to that embody a method of peace.

We begin by awakening to peace. I’d like to share the final line of today’s scripture passage from James again. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8a). This sentiment presents a concept that could be a guiding pillar for all our gatherings. As we come together in community, how might we draw near to God? How might we attain the holy wisdom we are invited to discover in our journey of becoming a people who follow Jesus, the peaceful One?

We encounter and create peace in our world by becoming awake to God’s presence. As we enter a time of worship, reflection, and presence, may the words of the Mission Prayer be a grounding invitation for the work we are called to today.

God, where will your Spirit lead today?

Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.

Grant me courage to risking something new,

And become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.

Hymns of Welcome and Praise

 “When We Are Living/Pues si vivimos"
CCS 242/243

Encourage participants to sing in a language other than their own.

OR “Lord, Lead Me by Your Spirit"
CCS 209

OR “God Within God Around’                      Sing several times.
CCS 20                                               


God, where will your Spirit lead today?

In our sanctuaries, homes, schools, places of work, and neighborhoods?

Help us to be fully awake and ready to respond.

As we seek holy invitations today may we take deep breaths,

discovering a grounded and attentive presence to your Spirit.

Grant us courage to risk new things in community.

As we consider the work of peace

may we be willing to confront the difficult questions.

May we have courage to become new in our discipleship,

and may we explore tangible steps that call us beyond our comfort zones.

May we become blessings of love and peace—

in the deeper breaths we offer ourselves,

in the grace we offer one another,

in the curiosity we offer the stranger,

and in the ambitious work of the holy we are summoned to today. Amen.

—Based on The Mission Prayer

Sung Response

“Lead Me, Lord”                                Sing twice.
CCS 450 

Prayer for Peace


Each day in Community of Christ we are called to participate in a Prayer for Peace. This practice has life across the church as a personal daily practice, a form of communal worship and commitment, and an invitation to awakening to God’s way and vison of peace with each day.

Our theme today, “Sow Peace,” invites us to a way of peace that is intentional and integrated. Praying for peace as a practice is meaningful enough, but like the Mission Prayer, how might peace be stitched into the daily fabric of our lives? How might this practice, instead of being a momentary time of pause, be a rhythm that guides our waking hours?

Light the Peace Candle.

As we consider the ways we are called to sow peace in our world, I invite you to pray with me.


God of wisdom and peace,

We recognize that the values of our world sometimes conflict with the sacred values you offer us. Our culture is often grounded in competition, individualism, a mentality of scarcity, and a skeptical view of others around us. These worldviews incite violence, judgment, suffering, and dismissive attitudes about neighbors near and far.

Teach us ways of peace that guide us toward your preferred future. Instill values of belonging, community, abundance, and trust into our hearts and minds. Abide with us in the forming of communities that become ensigns to the broader world, beaming with light, showing that your vision of peace is not only possible, but moving actively in our present world.

Open our worlds, God. We often see peace as needed in the circumstances of others in distant places. Help us see where peace is absent in the fabric of our own lives. Lead us to unravel habits and practices that do harm. Push us beyond platitudes and rituals that leave us in neutral space. Transform our lives to be patterned in your way of peace.

May we recognize that Christ’s wisdom is available to us in each moment. May we no longer wait for peace to become apparent. Instead, may we recognize peace as the persistent summons that is manifested in the living spirit of Christ.

In the peace of Christ. Amen.

Hymn of Peace

“My Peace”                 Sing twice.                                                                  
CCS 149

OR “Restless Weaver”                                                                                  
CCS 145

OR “Lord, Make Us Instruments”                                                                 
CCS 364

Time of Community Practice: Sowing Seeds of Peace

If youth and children are present, you might want them to be at the center of this practice.

Take the seed packets and write words on them drawn from the lectionary scripture in James that represent Godly wisdom: “pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy, without partiality.” Also add your own words that represent holy wisdom, or even invite others in the community to add words as part of the community practice. Alternatively, the words could be written on the pots that the seed packets are being planted in.

Invite participants to reflect on how they can embody these values in personal and communal life. Based on the makeup of your community, this might be open time of sharing, or deeper sharing in small groups. Plant the seeds in the soil to represent the community’s commitment to sow peace.

We are invited to plant and scatter seeds of peace each day. We can never fully anticipate what will grow from those seeds, but we are invited to tend to the soil daily to create an environment where peace may grow. These seeds represent the holy potential that is always beneath what we see on the surface. Amid conflict, division, greed, environmental degradation, and selfish tendencies, peace is always seeking a way—emerging even in the least expected places.

The pots can be taken home with participants as a reminder and continued invitation to practice peace or left in the gathering space as an ongoing practice of care and symbol of community presence to the work of peace.     

Preparing for the Word  Sing several times.

“O God We Call"
CCS 195

OR “Bless the Lord"
CCS 575


Based on James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a          

Disciples’ Generous Response

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a


The image of bounty is one that stirs different feelings for each of us. For some there is recognition of the gifts present in our lives. Others might think of those who have more than they do. In a competitive world that encourages a mentality of scarcity, the counter-cultural invitation of this prophetic text is to be grounded in an ethic of gratitude and abundance, recognizing that when we use our resources as God intended, there is enough for all life to flourish.

Through the Disciples Generous Response, we can lean into a holy image of the Earth that is grounded in beauty, abundance, belonging, and generosity. By sharing each part of ourselves, we commit to the belief that what we have doesn’t belong to us, but to the whole of creation. We take a tangible step toward God’s vision of an interdependent, loving, and peaceful humanity.

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.

If your congregation is meeting online, remind participants they can give through CofChrist.org/give or eTithing.org (consider showing these URLs on screen).

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

Hymn of Sending Forth                                                       

“The Peace of the Earth/La paz de la tierra”  Sing twice.
CCS 647

Encourage participants to sing in a language other than their own.

OR “God the Sculptor of the Mountains"
CCS 21 

Sending Forth

Go forth and plant seeds of peace,

Scattered with inclusive welcome,

Nurtured with holy wisdom,

Tended with shared communal values,

And grown with a vision of divine hope.

Go in peace.




Year B—Letters

Ordinary Time (Proper 20)

James 3:13—4:3, 7–8a

Exploring the Scripture

Today’s scripture passage explores two kinds of wisdom. “[E]arthly, unspiritual, devilish” wisdom leads to “bitter envy, selfish ambition…disorder, and wickedness of every kind” (vv. 15–16). Gentle understanding “wisdom from above” leads to selflessness, peace, and righteousness (v.17).

James’ God is deeply anchored in the Hebrew Bible, but much of James’ writing parallels Jesus’ teachings in Matthew. Thus, James bridges Old Testament Wisdom writings and the gospels. True wisdom is not merely common sense but a gift from God that produces good fruits: purity, peace, and gentleness, rather than bitterness. Good fruits yield mercy, inclusion, and integrity in place of pride and favoritism; and God’s righteous truth instead of falsehood. 

Reiterating earlier themes, teachers must present God’s wisdom, not earthly, prideful wisdom (3:13–14). By implication, such wisdom helps a teacher curb the tongue, avoid arrogance, and share God’s truth. Wisdom leads to works of righteousness and condemns partiality and hypocrisy (v. 17). Together, these verses reinforce the message of integrity between faith and works, discipleship and belief.

Chapter 4 identifies wisdom as discerning and obeying God’s will through our human mind, heart, spirit, and deed. Opposing God’s will by seeking one’s pleasure results in inner turmoil and relationships full of conflict. The solution to such strife is letting go of one’s cravings to allow the gift of wisdom to unite you with God’s will. 

The ancient Greek and Aramaic languages contained a verb tense no longer used in modern languages, called “the middle voice.” The middle voice was halfway between active and passive voices in which the subject and object taking part cooperatively in the verb’s action. An example in English might go like this:

            Active voice:               Ruben counsels Andrew.

            Passive voice:              Andrew is counseled by Ruben.

            Middle voice:              Ruben and Andrew take counsel together.

Humans resist submission to God’s will in our struggle for individualism and control. We think only about “I will it” (I take the active role), or “God wills me” (I take the passive role). In the middle voice, God’s will and humans’ will cooperate to bring about good. Neither cancels the other. Human petitions made in the middle voice are aligned with God’s best desires.

This passage closes with a beautiful promise: “Draw near to God, and [God] will draw near to you” (v. 8). Does God wait for us to make the first approach? Or does God move first, prompting us to turn to God? It can be argued either way, but perhaps it is a cooperative effort between God and us. 

God is approachable, a distinguishing mark of Christianity. No longer was God confined to the Holy of Holies, unapproachable except by the High Priest on the annual Day of Atonement. In Jesus, the barriers between God and humans dissolved. Jesus was Emmanuel, “God-with-Us,” and faith in Jesus coupled with humility of spirit allowed followers the unsurpassed privilege of approaching God directly, without an intermediary. More importantly, James affirmed that God is constantly moving toward humanity, yearning to meet us more than halfway. 


Central Ideas

  1. Those who seek God’s wisdom instead of worldly wisdom display selflessness, peace, and righteousness.
  2. God’s wisdom curbs the tongue, condemns favoritism, and reinforces the integrity of faith and works.
  1. Conflict and strife are the fruits of seeking one’s pleasure instead of God’s will.
  2. God is approachable, constantly moving toward humanity as we seek God.


Questions for the Speaker

  1. Where have you witnessed good and gentle works born of wisdom?
  2. How might our yearning for pleasure be the source of conflict? How might nationalistic cravings lead to international conflicts?
  3. How does the idea of a “middle voice” change the way you understand prayer? Spiritual gifts? Priesthood calls?
  4. When did you actively seek God and experience the resulting closeness God promised? When has God actively initiated closeness with you?




Year B Letters

Ordinary Time, Proper 20

James 3:13—4:3, 7-8a NRSVUE




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

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.

Light the peace candle.

Today’s Prayer for Peace is inspired by the hymn, “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me,” Community of Christ Sings 581, an African American spiritual.

Anytime and anywhere.

Stirring Spirit, the yearning for peace comes to us at many times and in many places. It is like the changing of seasons: a sprout of green spotted in the morning frost; the first snowflake in the dark of midnight; the cool breeze kissing the face of a sleeping child. We learn to watch for and treasure these ephemeral moments. We watch with our eyes and our ears; we watch with our hands and our souls.

May we also learn to watch for the moments when we can act for the good of humanity. Anytime and anywhere—these moments may be as brief as a breeze, but our actions can impact a lifetime.

We pray you would bring peace to our lands. We pray peace would flood our valleys and stir the branches of our trees. That peace would warm our toes and compel our inert hearts to move. We pray that we would live in your peace, from your peace, and for your peace. Anytime. Everywhere. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Discernment through Contemplative Prayer

Enduring Principles form a foundation of Community of Christ. Today we are focusing on Responsible Choices. We find stories in our scriptures of people reflecting on their history and seeing God’s hand in all of it. When we pause to discern God’s presence in our lives, we can see the divine hand throughout. We can discern Responsible Choices in our lives. One way to help us discern is through contemplative prayer.

Contemplative prayer is a meditation used by Christians to sit in silence with God. This prayer helps us experience God’s presence within us. When we get quiet and listen to our heart, we can discern where God is calling us.

Choose a word or phrase of your intent to make Responsible Choices.

Sit comfortably, with your eyes closed. Repeat your word slowly and silently.

When you become aware of thoughts, physical sensations, or emotions, allow them to pass. Gently return to your word or phrase.

We will continue this practice for three minutes.

Ring a chime to start the meditation.

After three minutes ring a chime to end the meditation.

Now we will sit in silence for three minutes to see what comes to us in the silence.

Ring a chime to end the silence.

Invite the group to share its experience with this spiritual practice.

Sharing Around the Table

James 3:13—4:3, 7–8a NRSVUE

Who is wise and knowledgeable among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be arrogant and lie about the truth. This is not wisdom that comes down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it, so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it, so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

…Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Today’s scripture explores two kinds of wisdom: “Earthly, unspiritual, devilish” wisdom, which leads to “bitter envy, selfish ambition… disorder, and wickedness of every kind,” and gentle, understanding “wisdom from above,” which is “first pure...peaceable...full of mercy and good fruits.”

James writes to a community overrun with conflict and bitterness. Much infighting appears to stem from whose faith and knowledge about God is seen as most accurate or righteous. For James, however, true wisdom is not common sense or even head knowledge; rather it’s a gift from God that produces good fruits “without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.” It is not a way of thinking. It is a way of living.

We often resist submission to God’s will in our struggle for individualism and control, but seeking one’s own pleasure results in inner turmoil and relationships full of conflict. James suggests that the solution to such strife is letting go of one’s cravings to allow the gift of wisdom to unite them with God’s will. Wisdom from below focuses on self-aggrandizement and pride of accomplishment, while wisdom from above focuses on the needs of others and the creation of peaceful, loving, and mutually uplifting communities.

James 4:8 NRSVUE contains a beautiful promise: “Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.” God is approachable. James affirms that God constantly is moving toward humanity, yearning to meet us more than halfway.


  1. Where have you witnessed good and gentle wisdom?
  2. How might our yearning for pleasure be the source of conflict?
  3. When did you seek God and experience the resulting closeness God promised? When has God initiated closeness with you?


Statement of Generosity

Beloved Community of Christ, do not just speak and sing of Zion. Live, love, and share as Zion: those who strive to be visibly one in Christ, among whom there are no poor or oppressed.

—Doctrine and Covenants 165:6a

The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing, small-group ministries as part of your generous response.

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

Discipling God, as we navigate our world of debt and consumerism, help us 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

Community of Christ Sings 162, “Meet Me in a Holy Place”

Closing Prayer


Optional Additions Depending on Group

  • Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
  • Thoughts for Children


Thoughts for Children

You will need:

  • paper with a seed picture for each person
  • coloring supplies

Say: Today’s scripture reminds us that our actions are like seeds we plant. The way we act determines what will happen or grow around us.

Specifically, the passage talks about planting seeds of peace.

            Ask: What are some actions you can take that plant seeds of peace? What will those seeds of peace grow into? (Affirm answers while helping participants understand that this is a metaphor. We aren’t growing actual flowers. Our actions lead to more peace in the world.)

Say: Those are wonderful suggestions! I am going to give you each a piece of paper with a seed on it. I want you to write or draw a peaceful action you can take to plant peace in the world inside the seed. In the rest of the space on the page, I want you to draw what will grow from you planting that seed. What will it look like when peace grows?

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