25 August 2025

WORSHIP RESOURCES

Ordinary Time (Proper 16)

Ephesians 6:10-20

Be Ready to Proclaim the Gospel of Peace

 

Additional Scriptures

I Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43;
Psalm 84; John 6:56-69

Preparation

See the Focus Moment for the materials needed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Prelude

Welcome, Joys, and Concerns

Provide a vision for today’s service. The scripture for today calls worship participants to equip themselves so that they may confront evil and powerful authorities in such a way that they use the tools God has made available. These tools assist in being better able to accept others, tolerate differences, and provide a way ahead for the building of the peaceable kin-dom.

Call to Worship        

The psalm phrases can be read by one or more readers or even the whole congregation.

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints, for the courts of the Lord, my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

—Psalm 84:1-2

Sing Praise

“Praise to the Living God”                 Stanza 1                                             
CCS
8

OR “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”         Stanza 1                                             
CCS
11

Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.

—Psalm 84:3-4

Sing Praise

“Praise to the Living God”                 Stanza 2                                             
CCS
8

OR “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”         Stanza 2                                             
CCS
11

…a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.

—Psalm 84:10

 

Sing Praise

“Praise to the Living God”                 Stanza 3                                             
CCS
8

OR “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”         Stanza 3                                             
CCS
11

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; my God bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.                     

                                                —Psalm 84:11-12, adapted

Invocation

Response

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20

Focus Moment What Do You Need to Proclaim the Gospel of Peace?

Materials

  • two oranges
  • a glass bowl large enough for two oranges to be completely submerged
  • water

We just heard about pieces of armor that give us protection so we can be ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

Place both oranges in the bowl with their “armor” on (keep the skin on both oranges.) Talk about how the oranges are floating, or “standing firm” in the water. Little by little, begin peeling away some of the “armor” (skin) of one of the oranges. You might peel off a chunk and say something like:

Uh oh, this orange forgot to put on a belt of truth. When someone says something ugly about you today, you might believe it. If you believe that lie, instead of the truth that your wonderfully made, you might not be able to stand as firm in the water.

Place the orange back in the water and notice that, although it doesn’t sink completely, it begins dipping further down in the water than the orange still wearing all its armor. Continue peeling back a little at a time, talking about a new piece of armor the orange forgot to put on, talking about how that might affect our readiness to proclaim the gospel of peace, and then placing the orange in the water to see it sink more and more each time.

By the time you remove the armor, the orange will completely sink. Contrast the two oranges. The one with the protection can stand firm. The protection according to Paul’s letter includes truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, and the Holy Spirit.

Sung Reflection  Sing several times.

“Bless the Lord”                                                                                                        
CCS
575

OR “Sizohamba Naye/We Will Walk with God”                                                     
CCS 377

Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.

Sharing in the Spoken Word

Based on Ephesians 6:10-20

Prayer for Peace

Hymn of Peace

There Is a Balm in Gilead”                                                                          
CCS 234

Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer for Peace

Healing God,

In the moments of fear and angst and destruction that we see in the news around the world, we feel discouraged. How can we as individuals and small communities respond? How can our prayers and actions reach communities that we may never meet? Our prayers for peace feel inadequate in the face of it all, and yet, we are reminded that in you all things are possible. In you, the balm of Gilead flows to soothe and heal the fears and pains of the world. In you, the spirit flows and reminds us that simple acts can have lasting impact.

Reminding our neighbors that we love them can create ripples through our community as people find their worth again. As communities recognize the actions that they can take to make the wounded whole, other communities can join in. 

Healing God, is that how the balm of Gilead spreads? Through simple actions that lift the spirit of others? Through community actions that call out for justice in a war-torn world? God, in this unique moment in time, we ask that you help us spread the balm of Gilead, the soothing healing power of your spirit across our neighborhoods and workplaces and communities we don’t yet know, so that the wounded may be healed, the hungry may be fed, and the tyranny of injustice overturned. Bless these acts. Amen.

—Tiffany and Caleb Brian

Disciples’ Generous Response

Statement

The Hymn of Peace is a spiritual. Some congregations worldwide make it a matter of giving to African American ministries and agencies that affirm and uphold the worth of all in the community. Their contributions are a way to acknowledge past injustices. Please consider this additional offering as part of the worship experience.

During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings we join in making God’s work visible in the world.

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 through eTithing.org (consider showing these URLs on screen).

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

Closing Hymn

“God of Grace and God of Glory”                                                                     CCS 624

OR “Lift Every Voice and Sing”                                                                        CCS 555

Benediction

Postlude


 

SERMON AND CLASS HELPS

Year B—Letters
Ordinary Time (Proper 16)

Ephesians 6:10–20

Exploring the Scripture

            Today’s lectionary text urges disciples to “put on the whole armor of God” (v. 11). Sunday school classes delight in creating cardboard armor labeled “truth,” “righteousness,” “peace,” “faith,” and “salvation” while they wave the “sword of the Spirit” (v. 17). Some congregations have used this passage to justify a militaristic view of discipleship. Some denominations extend the metaphor to promote “The Warrior Jesus,” complete with hand grenades and automatic weaponry. Unfortunately, Christians have used this passage to persecute those they call heretics, non-Christians, and fellow Christians.

            Early disciples were familiar with Isaiah 11:4–5, which clothed the ideal Messianic King with the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, and fear of the Lord. He would judge the poor with righteousness, the meek with equity. He would strike the Earth with his words and kill the wicked with his breath. His belt was righteousness, and faithfulness would gird his loins. Isaiah 59:17 describes God donning a breastplate of righteousness, a helmet of salvation, vengeance for clothing, and a mantle of fury to wipe out injustice.

            How can we interpret this mix of peaceful and warlike images on which Ephesians is based? Ancient Israel anticipated a Messiah of peace and justice, shepherding his flock and providing bounty for his people. But such blessings would come with a cost.

            For Isaiah, vengeance was directed against the enemies and oppressors of Israel. In Ephesians, the warlike armor defends the convert against relapsing into old ways. Turning from pagan lives to Christianity required preparation through prayer and focused effort (v. 18) to deal with the inner warfare between old habits and new transformation.

            God’s armor also strengthens Christians persecuted for espousing peace. Early Christians who refused to serve in the Roman militia were imprisoned for sedition. This text reminds Christ’s followers that even in the face of persecution, they must not take up arms against “enemies of blood and flesh” but against “spiritual forces of evil” (v. 12).

            The reference to powers and authorities pointed toward Roman rulers and systemic injustice as the enemies and the “cosmic powers” of sin, evil, and death (v. 12). Against such pervasive spiritual darkness, Christians stood “strong in the Lord” (v. 10), sharing a gospel of peace, protected only by the “whole armor of God” (v. 11).

            The armor pieces represent spiritual resources of truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and God’s Word. The sword of the Spirit is the offensive weapon of choice, proclaiming the word. Sharing the word of God is seldom popular, but the Spirit strengthens and equips followers to be strong in witness.

            These spiritual resources continue to aid us with our inner struggles. Besides, external powers and principalities exist in our world today. Widespread sex, violence, segregation, and addiction of various kinds influence every facet of our culture. Genocide, wars, nuclear threats, and political sanctions terrorize ordinary people in nations worldwide. Governments wield weapons of fear and want.

            Our resources of truth, peace, justice, and faith offer a counter-message of hope and transformation. As an ambassador in chains, the author ends by pleading for prayers to strengthen his own witness and proclamation. We are challenged to take up his cry: “Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak” (v. 20).                       

Central Ideas

  1. Ancient metaphors portraying Israel’s righteousness in opposing conquerors have been borrowed to represent Christian defense against persecution.
  2. The armor pieces represent spiritual resources to combat sin, evil, and death.
  1. Sharing the word of God is seldom popular, but the Spirit strengthens and equips followers to be strong in witness.
  1. Like the author of Ephesians, we “must speak” against the powers and principalities that rule in our broken world today.

Questions for the Speaker

  1. Where have you faced the militarization of the gospel of Christ’s peace?
  2. What spiritual resources do you rely on when you face the difficulties of life, the evils of the world, and the dysfunction of societal systems of injustice?
  3. When have you become unpopular for sharing the word of God? How has it influenced your behavior? What is God calling you to do today?
  4. When have you witnessed the power of the spoken word to create change and transformation in individual lives? In community and governments?

 

SACRED SPACE: A RESOURCE FOR SMALL-GROUP MINISTRY

Year B Letters
Ordinary Time, Proper 16

Ephesians 6:10–20 NRSVUE

 

Gathering

Welcome

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, “There Is a Balm in Gilead,” a Negro spiritual, Community of Christ Sings 234.

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
and think my work’s in vain,
but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again

Healing God, in the moments of fear, angst, and destruction that we see in the news around the world, we feel discouraged. How can we as individuals and small communities respond? How can our prayers and actions reach communities that we may never meet? Our prayers for peace feel inadequate in the face of it all, yet we are reminded that in you all things are possible.

In you, the balm of Gilead flows to soothe and heal the fears and pains of the world. In you, the Spirit flows and reminds us that simple acts can have lasting impact. That reminding our local neighbors that we love them can create ripples through our community as people find their worth again. That as communities rise and recognize the actions they can take to make the wounded whole, other communities can join in.

Healing God, is that how the balm of Gilead spreads? Is it through simple actions that lift up others? Is it through community actions that call out for justice in a war-torn world? God, in this unique moment in time, we ask that you help us spread the balm of Gilead, the soothing healing power of your Spirit, across our neighborhoods, workplaces, and communities we don’t yet know, so that the wounded may be healed, the hungry may be fed, and the tyranny of injustice overturned. Bless these acts. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Body Prayer

Today we are focusing on the Enduring Principle of Sacredness of Creation. As a gift, our bodies are amazing! Sometimes we don’t feel fully connected to them. They often know things before we allow our mind to think them. When we pray with the movement of our whole body, rather than just our normal prayer stance, we can receive different insight.

Read the following to the group:

I will show you the movements with some explanations. Then we will repeat the movements three times silently together.

We start with our hands in prayer pose (hands pressed together in front of you). This centers us.

We raise our arms high. This opens us to the all-encompassing love of God.

We put our hands on our hearts. This reminds us to listen to our voice within.

We open our hands in front of our bodies. This offers our love to others.

We lift our hands to the sky. This reminds us to be open to all.

We bring our hands down. This helps us gather and bring all to our heart.

We bring our hands back to prayer pose. This brings us back to stillness and peace.

Repeat the movements three times. Then read the following to the group:

Bow to one another and say, “Namaste” (I bow to you).

Sharing Around the Table

Ephesians 6:10–20 NRSVUE

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power; put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on the evil day, and having prevailed against everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and belt your waist with truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness and lace up your sandals in preparation for the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Today’s text is meant to inspire the original recipients of the letter. They are urged to be strong and take up God’s weaponry against the hostile spiritual powers. The writer associates virtues and gifts of salvation with divine armor.

These passages hold a mix of peaceful and warlike images. In Ephesians, the warlike armor defends the convert against relapsing into old ways. Turning from pagan lives to Christianity required preparation through prayer and focused effort to deal with the inner warfare between old habits and new transformation.

God’s armor also strengthens Christians persecuted for espousing peace. Early Christians who refused to serve in the Roman militia were imprisoned for sedition. In this letter, spiritual, quasi-demonic powers also must be resisted by using the superior armor of God. As converts with a new life, their most constant enemies were sin, evil, and death. Against spiritual darkness, Christians were to be “strong in the Lord,” sharing a gospel of peace, protected only by the “whole armor of God.”

The armor pieces represent spiritual resources of truth; righteousness; the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and God’s Word. The sword of the Spirit is the weapon of choice in proclaiming the Word. The “sword” symbolizes how believers should be in the forefront as strong witnesses of Christ.

These spiritual resources continue to aid us with our inner struggles. Our resources of truth, peace, justice, and faith offer a counter-message of hope and transformation. As an ambassador in chains, the author ends by pleading for prayers to strengthen his own witness and proclamation. We are challenged to take up his cry: “Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.”

Questions

  1. The author tells the reader to “stand” multiple times in our text. He is not suggesting passivity. How does one prepare to stand?
  2. When have you become unpopular for sharing the way of God’s peace? How has it influenced your behavior? What is God calling you to do today?
  3. What images would you use in place of armor and weaponry to describe faith, trust, and action in sharing God’s purposes?

Sending

Generosity Statement

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 603, “A Prophet-Woman Broke a Jar”

Closing Prayer

 

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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

 

Thoughts for Children

You will need:

  • paper
  • coloring supplies

Say: Today’s scripture reminds us of the importance of prayer. Did you know there are many ways to pray? Today, I want us to try a type of prayer without words. Instead, we each will create a picture of our prayer in our minds.

To start, close your eyes and think of something happening in the world that makes you sad. This could be something at home, in your school, in your country, or in another country.

After you’ve visualized what the situation looks like, imagine the Spirit of God moving in that situation. Perhaps you imagine the Spirit of God as a bright light or a moving rainbow. Perhaps to you the Spirit of God is sprinkling glitter. Whatever you imagine the Spirit of God to look like, visualize it moving through the situation you chose.

As the Spirit moves through that situation, begin to notice changes happening. Imagine that the things making you sad are changing before your eyes. Focus on what is different when the Spirit of God is present there. Imagine that everything is how God wants it to be in that situation.

Using the image in your mind, visualize the ways you are invited to help make those changes a reality.

When you are ready, open your eyes and return to your seat.


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