27 October 2024

WORSHIP RESOURCES

Ordinary Time (Proper 25)

Mark 10:46-52/10:46-54 IV

Heal Our Blindness

 

Additional Scriptures

Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22; Hebrews 7:23-28;

Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a

 

Preparation

For the Focus Moment you will need a few objects you don’t mind getting stepped on (toys, office supplies, rocks, sticks, etc.) spread throughout the “obstacle course.” You will also need fabric to use as a blindfold.

Prelude

Welcome

As we gather, let us pause a moment to breathe in this space.

Notice what is before you, behind you, around you. Feel the ground below you. Take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. We are so grateful for each soul present. God is here. Let us be aware of God’s movement in our worshipping together.

Gathering Hymn

“Gather Us In”   Stanzas 1, 2, 4                                                            
CCS 72

OR “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
CCS 87

Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own. 

 Call to Worship

Read Psalm 34:1-8 with four readers, two verses per reader. 

Song of Praise

“Laudate Dominum” Repeat several times.
CCS 91

If this song is unfamiliar to your group, sing along with the vocal recording found on Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings, available from Herald House.org.

Prayer for Peace

You might choose to sing the hymn that inspired today’s Prayer for Peace, or you might choose to read the excerpt from Stanza 1 below. Consider having the music played quietly as the prayer is offered.

Light the Peace Candle.

Today’s Prayer for Peace was inspired by the hymn, “When the Darkness Overwhelms Us,” CCS 314, words and music by Jim Strathdee.

“...Free our minds for dreaming of a time when war shall ever cease,

Free our eyes for vision that leads us to the ways of peace.”

Prayer

Freeing God,

Our shoulders are sore. Our eyes are strained. Our backs ache. Time feels heavy. Darkness overwhelms us. Grayness suffocates us. Light eludes us. Peace seems impossible and a foolish pursuit. And yet…

We come together and share our stories: stories of communities overcoming apathy; stories of friends sharing heavy loads; stories of the spirit breathing life into our bodies. These stories light a small flame in our hearts.

Today, we pray that you would feed those flames of peace, and that we would carry them carefully yet boldly to all corners of darkness. And in doing so, justice will prevail and peace with cover the Earth.

In the name of Jesus, who frees us and leads us. Amen.

Scripture Focus: Mark 10:46-52

            Tell today’s lectionary scripture as a story;

            OR read the story from a children’s Bible story book;

            OR ask for a group who can pantomime the story as it is read.

Focus Moment

Preparation: Create an obstacle course in a small space (10x6.5 feet is plenty) with a few objects you don’t mind getting stepped on spread throughout (toys, office supplies, rocks, sticks, etc.). You will also need fabric to use as a blindfold.  

Ask for a volunteer who is willing to be blindfolded. Take care that the volunteer does not fall or trip during their blindfolded journey. Safety first! Ask them to move slowly. Position them at one end of the obstacle course and say,

In this game, I am the referee. I am the only person who can touch the blindfold. Blindfold the volunteer.

Your goal is to get your blindfolded friend through the obstacle course without them touching any of the objects inside! The only rules are 1) you cannot step inside the course, 2) you cannot touch the blindfolded volunteer, and 3) I am the only one who can touch the blindfold.

Give the participants a chance to use words to guide the volunteer across the obstacle course. If it’s too easy, feel free to move objects in the volunteer’s way and tell them,

It wasn’t in the rules that I (the referee) can’t touch the objects!

This reminds them what is in the rules–and what isn’t in the rules, like asking you to remove the blindfold!

When the volunteer finishes, discuss:

What did you do well as guides for the volunteer? What could have made this easier?

Discuss their answers. If they don’t suggest it, say,

Would it have been easier to just ask me to take the blindfold off? Why didn’t you ask?

Acknowledge their answers.

In today’s story from the Bible, a man named Bartimaeus has the courage and the faith to ask Jesus to heal his blindness, and Jesus did! We know a lot of people who work hard to bring healing and wholeness to our communities. When we volunteer, donate to the food panty, or comfort people who are sad, we are helping heal. Let’s not forget that we can be like Bartimaeus and ask Jesus to bring healing and wholeness.

Option 1: Ask participants to share names of people and places in need of healing and wholeness. After they share, offer a prayer asking God to bring wholeness to the people and places shared.

Option 2: Ask participants to choose someone in the congregation in need of healing and wholeness and together, pray for them.

Preparing for the Word      

“Lay Your Hands"
CCS 545

OR “Amazing Grace"
CCS 19

Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own. 

Sermon

 Based on Mark 10:46-52

Hymn of Reflection

 “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say"
CCS 31

OR “Healer of Our Every Ill"
CCS 547 

Disciples’ Generous Response

Statement

During this time of Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. We can tangibly express our gratitude to God through our offerings, who is the giver of all.

We continue our reflection using the Generosity Cycle as we focus on the Discover phase. Let us consider, how is God blessing us at this moment? Our lives can become so familiar to us that we stop noticing the generosity of God. This is an opportunity to look and see the many ways we are blessed every day.

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

Sending Hymn

“Light Dawns on a Weary World"
CCS 240

OR “The Trees of the Field”              Sing twice.
CCS 645

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

Benediction

Postlude


 

SERMON AND CLASS HELPS

Year B—Letters

Ordinary Time (Proper 25) 

Hebrews 7:23–28

Exploring the Scripture

Last week’s lectionary text introduced Christ as the High Priest of God. Jews regarded the high priest as a person set apart, privileged among all humans, in close communion with God. This passage expands the traits and role of the Judaic high priest into a spiritual and divine description of Jesus’ role and ministry, highlighting his perfection and permanence.

A long succession of Judaic high priests were born, served, and died. Jesus, on the other hand, existed from the beginning and was resurrected to eternal life after his earthly death. Therefore, he serves as High Priest for eternity. He can never be replaced, removed, or succeeded. He saves all people for all time because he lives eternally. 

“For it is fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled…”
(v. 26). The word “fitting” does not mean we are worthy, but rather that Christ’s divine ministry fits our needs much better than an earthly minister. Human high priests offered sacrifices daily because people kept sinning day after day.

Sin is constant and unavoidable. The effects of just one trespass can echo through many lives. Sin creates violence, cycles of vengeance, physical and emotional abuse, self-destructive behavior, and guilt, which traps us in emotional and psychological dysfunction. According to Hebrew law, the only way to atone for one’s sins was to make a sacrifice to God. But daily rituals can become meaningless and ineffectual, mere habits.

Being human, the high priest himself was subject to sin and had to atone for his sins and the unending sins of the people. Jesus, being blameless, did not have to offer sacrifices; he was, is, and remains the sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross provides forgiveness for all people “for all time” (v. 25).

Hebrews presents the paradox of Jesus officiating over the sacrament in which he, himself, is the sacrifice. This startling image upholds a theology in which Jesus willingly chose to die on the cross. It didn’t just happen to him. It was not a political expedient in which he was caught as a victim. There was no surprise. Hebrews affirms Jesus Christ intentionally chose to offer and be the sacrifice.

The last two verses build on comparing Jewish Levitical and Melchisedec priesthoods (See vv. 1–22). Mosaic law specifies the sons of Levi inherit the priesthood and dictates their role and function. Melchisedec, on the other hand, was not even a Hebrew.

As Abraham returned from war, he met Melchisedec, King of Salem (“King of Peace”). Melchisedec had such a powerful spirit Abraham recognized him as a high priest of God, spontaneously gave Melchisedec a tithe of the spoils of war and asked for his blessing. According to Psalm 110:4, a Melchisedec high priest is appointed by God and must swear an oath to serve instead of inheriting the title by birth. 

Christ is the supreme Melchisedec High Priest, appointed by God, serving under oath as the Son of God, with the power to represent human and priestly perfection (completion). Christ also perfected (completed) each of us, so God views us through the lens of perfection provided by Christ.     

Central Ideas

  1. Jesus Christ, High Priest for eternity, can never be replaced, removed, or succeeded.
  2. Christ’s ministry fits our needs. His sacrifice on the cross occurred once, for all people of all time.
  3. The text presents Jesus as the officiant presiding over the sacrament in which he, himself, is the sacrifice.
  4. As the supreme High Priest after the order of Melchisedec, Christ perfects and completes us. 

Questions for the Speaker

  1. How does your life reflect Christ, present and forgiving “for all time”?
  2. When has someone outside the church recognized you as a minister without being told? How did they know?
  3. Which Community of Christ sacrament speaks to you most clearly about the role of Jesus Christ as One who saves?
  4. How does Christ perfect and complete us? Explain the atonement (salvation) using the image of God, looking at us through the lens of Christ’s life, teachings, and ministry.

 

SACRED SPACE: A RESOURCE FOR SMALL-GROUP MINISTRY

Year B Letters

Ordinary Time, Proper 25

Hebrews 7:23–28 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, “When the Darkness Overwhelms Us,” Community of Christ Sings 314, by Jim Strathdee.

...Free our minds for dreaming of a time when war shall ever cease,
Free our eyes for vision that leads us to the ways of peace.

Freeing God, our shoulders are sore. Our eyes are strained. Our backs ache. Time feels heavy. Darkness overwhelms us. Grayness suffocates us. Light eludes us. Peace seems impossible and a foolish pursuit. Yet…

We come together and share our stories: stories of communities overcoming apathy; stories of friends sharing heavy loads; stories of the Spirit breathing life into our bodies. These stories light a small flame in our hearts.

Today, we pray you would feed those flames of peace, and that we would carry them carefully, yet boldly, into all corners of darkness. In doing so, justice will prevail, and peace will cover Earth.

In the name of Jesus, who frees us and leads us. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Body Prayer

Today we are focusing on the Enduring Principle of Sacredness of Creation. Our bodies are amazing. Sometimes we don’t feel fully connected to our body. Our body often knows 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 silently will repeat the movements three times 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.

Read the following to the group:

Bow to one another and say, namaste (I bow to you).

Sharing Around the Table

Hebrews 7:23–28 NRSVUE

Furthermore, the former priests were many in number because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests humans, who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

The author of Hebrews introduces the theme of Christ being the permanent high priest. There is no end to Christ’s service as high priest. No retirement or vacation, not even earthly death, could end this role. Christ serves forever. Here, Jesus is understood as the sacrament, the one evidence of God’s sacred work of redemption and restoration for the world. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are the physical evidence of God’s redemptive grace.

Disciples, followers of Jesus, take upon themselves the same Christ-like position of servant to the community around us. As humans, we will make mistakes, enter conflicts, and err grievously against another. The redemptive gift of Christ as high priest allows us to be freed from the stain of human error and sin. In this way we participate in the gift of grace and mercy found in Christ-like service.

Questions

  1. When have you felt the need to ask forgiveness?
  2. How does the idea of Jesus as forever High Priest impact your understanding of servanthood?
  3. Tell of a time when someone brought profound ministry into your life.

Sending

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 335, “Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather”

Closing Prayer

 

Optional Additions Depending on Group

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

 

Thoughts for Children

You will need:

  • coloring supplies
  • paper

Ask: Have you ever imagined that your heart is like a castle for peace?

Say: Let’s begin by taking three, deep, peaceful breaths together. Your heart is the center of who you are.

Today we are going to pretend your heart is a castle, and we are going to explore it and see what is in there!

Sit tall and mindfully.

Close your eyes and imagine your heart is a castle, and you are exploring it. You have a light, and you are shining it into the long hallways and dark corners.

What do the rooms look like? Are there windows? What can you see? How big or small are the rooms? What is beyond the doorway in your castle? Open it and see.

Imagine that your castle is filled with peace. Who will you share it with?

Now open your eyes. Use your crayons or markers to draw your castle.

Ask the following questions to help participants know what to draw:

  • What did your castle look like? Was it tall or long?
  • Was it very light or dark?
  • Were there people in your heart castle? Animals?
  • What surprised you about your castle?
  • How did it feel to fill your castle with peace?

Invite the children to share their drawings.

Say: This week, take some time to explore your castle. Fill it with peace and count to five. Share the peace of your castle with others.

Adapted from Kids Book Club Resource


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