Worship Planning Tools - June 2023

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4 June 2023

11 June 2023

18 June 2023

25 June 2023

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Use the poetic version of Psalm 8, for example in a children’s story Bible; for example: https://www.woodlakebooks.com/search/results/inventory/Whole-People-of-God/RelatedBooks/Lectionary-Story-Bible-Year-A, page 123.

– Trinity, A Loving, Eternal Community

Worship Resources
4 June 2023 First Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Sunday
God, An Eternal Community Additional Scriptures Genesis 1:1 2:4a, Psalm 8, Matthew 28:16-20 Prelude Welcome Announcements, Joys, and Prayer Needs Call to Worship
OR Scripture Reading: Psalm 8:1, 3-9 Hymn of Praise Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own. “Earth and All Stars” CCS 102 OR “Great and Marvelous Are Thy Works” CCS 118 OR “Amen, Siakudumisa!/Amen, Sing Praises to the Lord“ CCS 109 Invocation Response Focus
Moment

Trinity (three-in-one) is a word used to help us understand the different facets of God: God-Jesus Christ-Holy Spirit. There are three different facets of God, or ways we understand and experience God.

To go deeper into this idea of Trinity, think of a word – a thought. Now hold your hands in front of your mouth and speak the word aloud. The “thought” you have is like God –where the idea begins. The “spoken word” is like Jesus Christ, who was described as the Word (John 1). The breath you feel on your hands when you speak is like the Holy Spirit, the breath that carries the spoken word out, the action that puts the idea into practice.

Let’s try this one more time using the word “shalom.” Spend a moment considering what the word shalom means to you. Place your hands in front of your mouth and say, “Shalom” aloud. Feel your breath carrying the word shalom out into the world.

God, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit are part of the same one God we believe in, they are different ways we understand God. This Living God is a loving, eternal community. -from Of Water and Spirit, Facilitator Guide, Herald Publishing House, 2013, pp. 13-14, adapted

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 This could be read by a person in costume writing at a table. Consider having the same person provide the message while continuing to sit. Message

twice.

Light the Peace Candle. Prayer

Triune God,

Each person of the Eternal Community has ministry to offer to us in this moment. God, we ask you to change the hearts of leaders from fear and reprisal to cooperation and love.

Jesus, You show us the ways of shalom. Holy Spirit, empower us and energize us to work for peace. Amen.

For additional ideas: Find this day’s Prayer for Peace service on the church’s website at www.CofChrist.org

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper Invitation to Communion

Prayer for Peace Peace Hymn “When the Darkness Overwhelms Us “ CCS 314 OR “One Common Prayer “ CCS 313 Sing
“Eternal God, Transcending
“ CCS 50
Based on 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
at least
OR
Time

All are welcome at Christ’s table. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is a sacrament in which we remember the life, death, resurrection, and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. In Community of Christ, we also experience Communion as an opportunity to renew our baptismal covenant and to be formed as disciples who live Christ’s mission. Others may have different or added understandings within their faith traditions. We invite all who participate in the Lord’s Supper to do so in the love and peace of Jesus Christ.

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23–26

Communion Message

Ministry of Music or Hymn of Preparation

“God of Still Waiting“ CCS 58 OR “Creator God, Creating Still” CCS 60 OR “As We Gather at Your Table” CCS 523

Blessing and Serving of the Bread

Blessing and Serving of the Wine

For guidelines on the Lord’s Supper, including online participation, see www.CofChrist.org/ourministry-tools

Pastoral Prayer

Disciples’ Generous Response

Share information or a testimony about a recent disaster or loss in which Oblation funds were used to help those affected, either locally or worldwide.

Statement

During this time of a Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. The first Sunday of the month focuses the Disciples’ Generous Response on Abolish Poverty, End Suffering, which includes Oblation ministry. 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.

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.

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 Celebrating the Trinity

“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow“ CCS 53/54 Start with CCS 53, encouraging participants to sing in languages other than their own, singing it twice; then, in the same key, sing CCS 54 a cappella. OR “The Play of the Godhead” CCS 56 OR “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!“ CCS 52 Encourage participants to sing in a language other than their own.

Sending Forth Responsive Reading

Leader:

As we have seen, at the end of his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul gives an eloquent farewell. But even in saying goodbye he is looking forward. His final instructions sound not like reminiscing about past teachings but like counsel for the future. We hear them this morning as inspired and motivated as we are sent forth by Paul’s words:

Reader: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Congregation: And also with you. Amen.

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Sermon Helps Year A – Letters

First Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday (Ordinary Time)

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Exploring the Scripture

This passage appears in the lectionary isolated from any other 2Corinthian passages. The speaker may want to say something about context. Paul has a strong relationship with the church in Corinth. He may have lived there with them for a time. Since then, he has written letters to address their many problems. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians remind us that conflicts in congregations are not a modern invention. Between what we have as 1 Corinthians and this letter, at least one other letter referred to in 2 Corinthians 2:4 caused Paul much anguish. In 2 Corinthians, Paul again addresses the division in the church. He was concerned about the powerful speakers influencing the church in Paul’s absence. Paul insists that while they may be good speakers, they present a different Christ.

Paul pleads with the people to get back in order. The church should pull together around Paul’s teachings about Christ. Paul encourages agreement, not just for the sake of agreement, but to find unity around core teachings. He urges the Corinthians to live together in peace. If they live in peace, they will have the God of love and peace with them. It could also mean the God of love and peace will be with them to help them live in peace.

Scholar Michael Penn has researched kissing in the early church.1 The holy kiss they exchanged was a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation. Kissing on the lips was done in families, so kissing in the church symbolized the church as a family. Breath was exchanged in this intimate act. Breath was also a symbol of the Holy Spirit, so kissing was a way of sharing the Holy Spirit in the church family.

Finally, rather than referencing just the grace of Jesus Christ, as Paul does at the end of many of his letters, he invokes the Trinity. This was one more way to reinforce Paul’s warnings to the Corinthians. In the Trinity, we see that God’s very nature is an orderly, peaceful, loving relationship, where all parties agree. Paul encourages with his words not just from Paul, but from God, and not just from some words of God, but from the very nature of God’s being.

Central Ideas

1. Order, mutual agreement, and peace should characterize congregations of the church.

2. Internal conflict has occurred in the church since the beginning.

3. Symbols and sacraments can help remind the church that it is family connected by the Holy Spirit.

4. The church seeks order, mutual agreement, and peace as it mirrors the very nature of God understood through the Trinity.

Questions for the Speaker

1. Does your congregation have a mentor or a coach who helps the congregation make it through conflicts and who calls the congregation back to what matters most? How might such a minister be helpful?

2. How has your congregation gotten through conflict and division in the past?

3. What are some of the appealing teachings or some influential teachers that distract us from what matters most in the church?

4. What practices, like the “holy kiss,” are part of your congregational life that remind everyone that they are family in Christ, united by the Holy Spirit?

Sacred Space – Small Group Resources

Year A, Letters

Trinity Sunday

2 Corinthians 13:11–13 NRSV

Gathering

Welcome

Trinity Sunday is observed the Sunday following Pentecost. Christian tradition celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity, God who is experienced in three persons. God is Creator (traditionally identified as the Father), Jesus Christ is the Redeemer (the Son), and the Holy Spirit is the Comforter or Sustainer. In other words, God is one and three. From Community of Christ Basic Beliefs:

We believe in one living God who meets us in the testimony of Israel, is revealed in Jesus Christ, and moves through all creation as the Holy Spirit. We affirm the Trinity God who is a community of three persons.

CofChrist.org/basic-beliefs

Prayer for Peace

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

Triune God, how majestic are all of your names, used around the world, as people call upon you! Just as grasping at your greatness leads us beyond simple comprehension, so too, does grasping at peace. What are the ways that people are struggling in the world today? What are the actions that we can offer that would facilitate peace within those struggles? How can we tangibly move toward peace? Over and over in scripture you call us to be faithful to your many forms, to dig deeply into a sense of understanding you. At the same time, you send us to all nations to act and be peace among the people who need it most. Call us today to three acts of peace, Lord, just as you are the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Call us to walk with you as creators of peace in the broken places. Call us to point others toward you as Redeemer of a world in search of peace. Call us to generate and sustain real change to broken systems that suppress peace.

We pray for blessing in all its many forms. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Darshan

Read the following to the group: Today’s practice comes for the Hindu tradition. Darshan means to behold the Divine in all things with reverence. In the Christian tradition, this is known as Visio Divina. Both practices are rooted in the same concept of approaching images with openness to God’s presence.

Invite the group to go outside with you. Then read the following: Choose a nearby image that is calling to you. It can be anything: a tree, clouds, the sky, grass.

Pause to allow people to choose their image. Then read the following: You will spend several minutes looking at the image we have chosen. Take in every detail without critique or judgment. Observe the colors, shapes, shadows, lines, etc. Allow your feelings, memories, and thoughts about the image to arise. Notice and welcome all reactions.

Give everyone two to three minutes to meditate on their image. Then read the following questions and allow a discussion to follow:

How do these feelings, evoked by the image, connect with your life?

How is the Spirit calling you through the image?

What is your response?

After the discussion, say: May you rest in God’s presence. Amen.

Sharing Around the Table

2 Corinthians 13:11–13 NRSV

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Paul is very concerned about divisions and conflicts in the church in Corinth. He is concerned about the powerful speakers influencing the church in Paul’s absence. Paul insists that while they may be good speakers, they present an image or understanding of Christ that is not compatible with Paul’s teaching. Paul pleads with the people to get back in order. The church should pull together around Paul’s teachings about Christ. Paul encourages agreement, not just for the sake of agreement, but to find unity around core teachings. He urges the Corinthians to live together in peace. If they live in peace, they will have the God of love and peace with them. It also could mean the God of love and peace will be with them to help them live in peace.

At the end of his letter, rather than referencing just the grace of Jesus Christ, as Paul usually does, he invokes the Trinity. In the Trinity, we see that God’s very nature is an orderly, peaceful, loving relationship.

Questions

1. Have you experienced a healing of a division or conflict in a group setting? Share your experience.

2. What are some appealing ideas or influential persons who distract us from what matters most in the church?

3. What practices, words, or symbols in your faith community remind everyone they are family in Christ, united by the Holy Spirit?

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. Pray with me:

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, three who are one, may we offer our resources to you that they may be used to share loving community with those seeking respite, connection, purpose, and love. May our generosity bring blessing and further the mission of Christ. Amen.

Invitation to Next Meeting

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 53 or 54, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper Thoughts for Children

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:23–26 NRSV

Communion Statement

All are welcome at Christ’s table. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is a sacrament in which we remember the life, death, resurrection, and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. In Community of Christ, we also experience. Communion as an opportunity to renew our baptismal covenant and to be formed as disciples who live Christ’s mission. Others may have different or added understandings within their faith traditions. We invite all who participate in the Lord’s Supper to do so in the love and peace of Jesus Christ.

We share in Communion as an expression of blessing, healing, peace, and community. In preparation let’s sing from Community of Christ Sings (select one):

515 “In these Moments We Remember”

516 “Coming Together for Wine and for Bread

521 “Let Us Break Bread Together”

525 “Small is the Table”

528 “Eat This Bread”

Thoughts for Children

God wants us to be one with each other in community, just as God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are one we call this community of three the Trinity.

Let’s try an experiment to better understand what it means to be three in one.

Think of a word or image. Hold your hands in front of your mouth and speak the word into your hands. Could you feel your breath in your hands as you spoke the word aloud?

Your “thought” is like God, where the idea begins.

The “spoken word” is Jesus Christ.

The breath you felt in your hands is like the Holy Spirit that breathes as God’s presence in the world.

Let’s try again. Think of another word or image something God would share with the world such as “peace, hope,” or “love.” Think the word. Say the word aloud. Feel the breath that carries your word into the world.

God, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit are different ways we can understand God as our Creator, Jesus as our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as our Comforter.

Offer a brief prayer of thanks for God as Trinity a community of three. Thank the children for participating.

Worship Resources

11 June 2023

Ordinary Time (Proper 5) Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26/ 9:10-14, 23-32 IV

Reach Out with Faith

Additional Scriptures

Genesis 12:1-9, Psalm 33:1-12, Romans 4:13-25, Doctrine and Covenants 151:9

Preparation

Have a worship center with a long flowing piece of fabric with fringe (like a Jewish prayer shawl), symbolic of the cloak of Jesus and the healing the woman received. Hand out pieces of paper and something to write with as people enter the sanctuary. These will be used during the Focus Moment.

Prelude

The Community Welcomes and Shares Joys and Concerns

Call to Worship

Doctrine and Covenants 151:9

Hymn of Invitation/Reaching Out

“Put Peace into Each Other’s Hands”

CCS 309 OR “We Need Each Other’s Voice to Sing”

CCS 333

CCS 324 OR “Help Us Accept Each Other”

Invocation Response

Focus Moment

Tell the story of the woman that was healed of a hemorrhage (Matthew 9:18-26). Ask the participants to use the piece of paper they have received and respond to the following questions. Print or project the questions.

1) When you think of the word healing, what comes to mind?

2) How can you reach out and help others, maybe even helping to heal?

3) Have you ever been hurt?

4) What helped you to heal?

Point out to the participants the cloak displayed that is symbolic of the cloak of Jesus that the woman healed of a hemorrhage touched. Ask participants to come forward and place their responses in the cloak as an expression of them reaching out to others. Be prepared to assist those unable to come forward.

Prayer for Peace

Light the Peace Candle.

Hymn of Peace

“Let There be Peace on Earth” CCS 307 Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own. OR "The Peace of Jesus Christ" CCS 317

Prayer

We are all bombarded with the noises of the day, of anger, sadness, suffering, and apathy. Ever present, they threaten to drown us in despair and hopelessness. So many voices, so many of your children reaching out trying to find hope, connection, and freedom from their pain and sorrow. I am reaching out for I suffer too.

And yet, if I am paying attention, I can see the work of a loving God among us.

And when I allow myself to be aware of the innate beauty of this world, the mystery becomes comforting, the silence a beautiful song and others become sisters and brothers to be loved and held in prayer. Lord, help us find peace in the noise that we may pray with eyes open to the divine love that whispers in our ears and nudges us.

Help us find the courage to reach out and touch the cloak of our teacher and be cleansed.

Amen -Mark Barentine, used with permission

For additional ideas: Find this day’s Prayer for Peace service on the church’s website at www.CofChrist.org

Sharing in the Spoken Word

Based on Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn

“I Sought the Lord” CCS 175 OR “Nada te turbe” CCS 241

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

OR “I Know Not What the Future Hath” CCS 246

Disciples’ Generous Response Statement

The story of the woman healed from a hemorrhage is a story that encompasses faith, restoration, and the act of transformation. Our offerings are an opportunity

that can be an act of reaching to the other. They are tangible expressions of our giving of responding and making Christ’s ministry manifest in the world. Today's spiritual practice of giving is a way for the Enduring Principle Worth of All Persons to be lived. The lectionary scripture focused on healing, and our offerings are an opportunity to contribute to the spiritual and physical needs of people that might be addressed.

During this time of a 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.

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.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at CofChrist.org/spiritualpractices-generosity/.

Closing Hymn

“I Have Called You by Your Name”

CCS 636 Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.

OR “Brothers and Sisters of Mine”

Benediction

Postlude

CCS 621

CCS 616 OR “Help Us Express Your Love”

Sermon Helps

Sermon Helps Year A Ordinary Time (Proper 5)

Matthew 9:9–13, 18–26

Exploring the Scripture

Today’s reading includes four stories, each showing the inclusive nature of God’s reign. The passage begins with the calling of Matthew, the tax collector. Matthew (Greek) and Levi (Hebrew) refer to the same person, just as Peter (Greek) and Simon (Hebrew) refer to one man. Jews despised Matthew for two reasons. First, tax collectors were ritually unclean because they collaborated and associated with the Romans; and second, corrupt tax collectors overcharged their country dwellers to increase their profits. With Matthew’s call, Jesus crossed a strict social barrier and showed the inclusiveness of God’s kingdom.

That lesson continues when Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners at Matthew’s home (v. 10). Such companionship made him ritually unclean. Houses in Jesus’ day usually were open on the sides. When the Pharisees witnessed Jesus’ inclusive community, they questioned the disciples.

Jesus answered with a medical metaphor and a reference to Hebrew Scripture. “Those who are well have no need of a physician…” (v. 12) would have increased the Pharisees’ anger. Jesus claimed he was the antidote for sin a claim traditionally reserved for God alone. He told the Pharisees to learn the meaning of Hosea 6:6: “For I require steadfast love and not sacrifice” which comforted the people during the Babylonian Exile when temple sacrifices were not possible. The Hebrew word hesed in Hosea is translated in NRSV as “steadfast love” but also meant God’s unconditional mercy. The Pharisees wanted to keep separate from sinners to preserve their own virtue. Jesus had companionship with sinners and outcasts and included them in God’s reign.

In Matthew 9:18–26 Jesus heals two women. The first is a girl who had just died. Her father affirmed that if Jesus would simply lay his hand on the girl, she would return to life. Jesus started on the way to this wealthy leader’s home but was interrupted along the way by a second person in need.

A woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched his cloak. She believed such contact would make her well. Matthew tells us that Jesus turned and saw her a departure from Mark’s story where Jesus felt the power go out of him and sought her out. Women who were bleeding were considered ritually unclean. Contact with them made the person also unclean. Note that Matthew is careful in his version to avoid saying that Jesus voluntarily touched her. A woman who intentionally touched a man when she was bleeding could be punished. Yet Jesus spoke kindly to her and affirmed the healing.

Jesus then continued to the home of the leader. Jesus told the professional mourners to go away “for the girl is not dead but sleeping” (v. 24). In God’s reign death does not destroy the person. It is temporary, like sleeping. To show this truth, Jesus went inside, took the girl by her hand, and she got up.

Both of the women were alienated from society: one by sickness and death, the other by uncontrollable bleeding. Both were ritually unclean. Jesus restored them to full relationship and to life and health. He took precious time on the way to the wealthy home to pause and provide ministry to the poor woman. Prestige and wealth had no greater claim on his ministry than poverty and despair. His actions proclaim God’s inclusive reign affirming the worth of poor and rich alike.

Central Ideas

1. Jesus called a tax collector to become his disciple, an act of radical inclusion in a society that rejected tax collectors.

2. Jesus enjoyed table community with tax collectors and sinners and was judged unrighteous because of his inclusive behavior.

3. Jesus paused on the way to a wealthy girl’s deathbed to provide ministry and healing to a poor woman in need.

4. God’s kingdom is characterized by inclusiveness and affirmation of the worth and value of each person, regardless of station.

Questions for the Speaker

1. Who are the “sinners” that our society rejects? How would Jesus treat those people today?

2. When have you been tempted to give preferential treatment to someone who is rich, famous, or prestigious? Did your actions ignore the needs of someone else? If so, what was the result?

3. When did you receive preferential treatment at the cost of someone else’s needs? How did you respond?

4. What spiritual disciplines would help us deepen our awareness of the worth of persons and the inclusive nature of God’s reign?

Sacred Space – Small Group Resources

Year A, Letters

Ordinary Time Proper 5

Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26 NRSV

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 bell or chime three times slowly. Light Peace Candle

Today’s Prayer for Peace is inspired by the hymn: “God Weeps,” Community of Christ Sings 212

Shirley Erena Murray, writer, Mark Miller, composer

“...until we change the way we love, God weeps.”

God of Weeping,

We ask forgiveness for our failure as a humanity to care for all. Our hearts break for the abused and the hungry and the betrayed and the bleeding and the crying.

We are grateful that you weep, bleed, and cry with the oppressed. We pray that we would have the courage to do the same. May we open our hearts to the pain of the world, that in doing so, we might help heal the world.

Help us listen, that our nervous, certainty-craving minds would be open to new understandings of Christ.

In the name of Jesus, the Way of Peace, Amen

Spiritual Practice

Body Prayer

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

Read the following to the group:

We will learn the movements of the prayer together. Follow the movements of the prayer as each sentence is read. Now we will silently repeat the body prayer 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 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 out in front of our bodies. This offers our love to others

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

We bring our hands down. This motion 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

Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26 NRSV

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax-collection station, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinnerin the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting[b] with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he

heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from a flow of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak,for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.”Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that moment.When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion,he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread through all of that district.

Today’s reading illustrates the inclusive nature of God’s reign. We begin with the calling of Matthew, the tax collector (called Levi in Hebrew). Jews despised Matthew for two reasons. First, tax collectors were ritually unclean because they collaborated and associated with the Romans; and second, corrupt tax collectors overcharged people to increase their profits. With Matthew’s call, Jesus crossed a strict social barrier that demonstrates the worth of all persons and the inclusiveness of God’s kingdom. As we continue in the scripture, Jesus heals two women. The first is a girl who had just died. Her father, a wealthy man, is certain that if Jesus would simply lay his hand on the girl, she would return to life. As Jesus begins to make his way to their home, he is interrupted by a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. This made her ritually unclean. She came up behind Jesus and touched his cloak believing this would make her well. A woman who intentionally touched a man when she was bleeding could be punished. Yet Jesus turned to her, spoke kindly to her, and affirmed the healing.

Jesus then continued to the home of the leader. Jesus told the professional mourners to go away. Jesus went inside, took the girl by her hand, and she was raised. Both women, one from a wealthy family and one quite poor were considered unclean. Yet Jesus restored them both to full relationship and to life and health. His actions demonstrate the worth of persons regardless of status, wealth, or prestige.

In the last part of this passage Jesus dines with tax collectors and sinners at Matthew’s home. Socializing with these people was culturally improper and would taint Jesus, making him too, ritually unclean. When the Pharisees questioned this behavior, they were angered by his response.

Questions:

1. When have you been tempted to give preferential treatment to someone who is wealthy, famous, or prestigious?

2. When have you receive preferential treatment as someone else was kept waiting? How did you respond?

3. In what ways does this scripture reading call you to reevaluate your actions and behaviors?

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.

This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response: Discipling God, 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 172 “God is Calling”

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

Our stories are important. Today, we are going to use a Spiritual Practice to help us connect with our own story.

Let’s take three, deep, peaceful breaths together.

Think about your own story, who you are and how you are wonderfully created. Think about an event, a day, or a time that was important or special to you and helped you be who YOU are.

Draw a picture about that time. Use your colors or markers to write some words about that time in your life.

Sharing:

Now let’s share our stories and our pictures. This week let’s celebrate our stories and be confident that God loves us for who we are.

Sharing My Story Spiritual Practice from All Things Are Spiritual: https://www.allthingsarespiritual.org/sharing-my-story.html

Worship Resources

18 June 2023

Ordinary Time (Proper 6) Matthew 9:35—10:23/ 9:41—10:20 IV

Go Proclaim the Good News

Additional Scriptures

Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7; Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; Romans 5:1-8; Doctrine and Covenants 165:2

Preparation

Prepare a worship setting with items that could be used to communicate or call someone; items could include a cell phone, tablet, laptop, paper and pencil, note pads, and a bullhorn. These objects are symbols used to “call” someone.

Prelude

The Community Welcomes and Shares Joys and Concerns Call to Worship Reading

Reader 1: I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

Reader 2: What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,

Reader 3: I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, Reader 1: in the courts of the house of the Lord,

Reader 2: in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Reader 3: Praise the Lord!

-Psalm 116:1-2, 12-13, 18-19, adapted

Hymn of Invitation/Calling

“Now in This Moment”

Invocation

Response

CCS 625

CCS 96 OR “God Is Calling” CCS 172 OR “You Are Called to Tell the Story”

Focus Moment

Point out the objects on the worship center and discuss their function, focusing on “calling.” Tell the Matthew story of Jesus sending the twelve in mission - proclaiming “good news” (Matthew 9:35 10:23). This good news was an invitation for those who would listen to learn of the coming kingdom and Jesus’s ability to restore people to wholeness. Facilitate a discussion. Print or project the following questions to assist in the discussion.

1) Does anyone in your family or a friend ever call you?

2) How do they call you?

3) In this story, how do you think Jesus called his disciples together?

4) What do you think Jesus was calling them to do?

5) How does Jesus call you to proclaim the good news?

Prayer for Peace

Hymn of Peace

“As the Deer” sing twice CCS 148 OR “In the Quiet of This Day” CCS 161

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer

God of Grace, We desire to come to you in reverence with a calmness and quietude to focus solely on you and yet, in this time of meditation, we sense those ever-present noisesthe whispering, coughing, and arguing of our neighbors, the drone of our social, news and entertainment devices, the piercing shots and wailing sirens still echoing past the darkness of the night.

It can be really hard to be with you, to feel the touch of your Spirit’s breath, to taste the fulness of your promises, but perhaps, instead of extinguishing the noise, we step towards an eventual embracea pursuit of listening and understanding, a living within instead of beside.

Perhaps by accepting the present realities we join the conversation; we permit you to shepherd us, all of us; and we learn to understand that nothing is separated from you. May we be fully present and may your peace rest upon the quiet and the noise. Amen.

For additional ideas: Find this day’s Prayer for Peace service on the church’s website at www.CofChrist.org.

Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn

“We Are the Ones the World Awaits”

CCS 305 OR “Christ, You Call Us All to Service”

CCS 578

CCS 357 OR “Jesus Is Calling”

Sharing in the Spoken Word

Based on Matthew 9:35 10:23

Disciples’ Generous Response

Hymn of Generosity

“Take My Life and Let It Be”

CCS 608 OR “Brothers and Sisters of Mine” CCS 616

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 165:2

Statement

The calling of the twelve was an important moment in the life of the church. This challenge was for the disciples to follow him, relinquishing much of their family life and vocations to proclaim the good news. The Disciples’ Generous Response is our opportunity to give tangible expressions and gifts to proclaim the good news. It is also an opportunity to examine our whole-life stewardship and explore and develop other ways to proclaim the good news. It is an opportunity to embrace the mission initiative of inviting people to Christ. We are an offering.

During this time of a 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.

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.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at CofChrist.org/spiritualpractices-generosity/.

Closing Hymn

“Send Me Forth

CCS 651 OR “Make Us, O God, a Church That Shares” CCS 657

Commissioning

God calls! Go! Proclaim the good news – the kingdom of heaven has come near!

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Matthew 9:35—10:23

Exploring the Scripture

The mission of Jesus Christ is what matters most (Doctrine and Covenants 164:9f). Today we overhear Jesus sending his twelve apostles out on mission for the first time to proclaim God’s reign.

Matthew 9:35 repeats Matthew 4:23, which reports the miracles, healings, and teaching in Galilee. By repeating the verse, Matthew helps unify the whole as a complete section of illustrations of Jesus’ ministry. This is the mission model for those whom Jesus sends in chapter 10. Matthew tells us that compassion is the motivation, using the image of sheep without a shepherd. Jesus could not meet the overwhelming need so he sends out his apostles to extend his ministry and recruit others.

Each Gospel provides a list of apostles which begins with Simon Peter and ends with Judas Iscariot, with variations between. The lists vary for several reasons. Many people had both a Greek name and a Hebrew name. Perhaps individuals flowed in and out of key leadership during Jesus’ three years of ministry. Perhaps the Gospel writers later added the tradition of “twelve” apostles (symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel). Memories of who served in key roles varied.

The individual identity of Jesus’ core group is less important than the instructions he gave them for their mission. Jesus ministered to Jews, Gentiles, and Samaritans, but he told the apostles to begin their work among the Jews, their own people. Matthew was writing for his community of Jewish Christians. This instruction may have helped guide his group of missionaries. The heart of the mission is proclaiming the good news of God’s reign, and inviting people to be a part of that effort. As signs of this new reign, disciples heal, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and exorcize demons (v. 8).

Verses 10:9–15 provide advice on how to travel. They were not to take copper coins, a food bag, extra clothes, or extra shoes. They were dependent on the blessings of God and the hospitality of strangers. Mission is as worthy an occupation as planting or harvesting. Those who valued their ministry would provide for them.

Jesus told them to remain in a welcoming home, however humble. They should not seek richer houses or prestige. Building relationships with a household was more important than comfort. As they entered, they must bless the house with peace. If welcomed, God would honor the blessing. If rejected, God would turn the blessing back on the apostle.

Sermon Helps Year A Ordinary Time (Proper 6)

It was a custom for a Jew returning from Gentile territory to shake the Gentile dust from their sandals to avoid polluting sacred Jewish land. If rejected, the disciples were to follow the same custom and then move on. Jesus implied that God would judge and punish inhospitality, just as he punished Sodom and Gomorrah for abusing strangers and not welcoming them. It was not the role of the apostles to force acceptance of them or of the kingdom.

Central Ideas

1. Jesus could not complete his work alone. The needs were too great. He sent his disciples as laborers who were to recruit others to help.

2. The primary task was to spread the good news of God’s reign and demonstrate kingdom living.

3. The disciples would meet both hospitable and inhospitable people. The result of their labor was in God’s hands. When rejected, they simply moved on.

4. In the face of persecution, God would be with them and bless their efforts.

Questions for the Speaker

1. Who are the people you can recruit to help carry out Christ’s mission? How can you reach out and invite them?

2. How can you simplify your own life and be free of material concerns to demonstrate and promote kingdom living?

3. When have you been tempted to judge and punish those who were inhospitable to you? How did you manage the circumstance?

4. Have you ever faced persecution because of your faith? How did you respond?

Sacred Space – Small Group Resources

Year A, Letters

Ordinary Time Proper 6

Matthew 9: 35-10:23 NRSV

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 bell or chime three times slowly. Light Peace Candle

Today’s Prayer for Peace is inspired by the hymn:

“Ate, Wakantanka, hoyewayelo,” Community of Christ Sings 189 Lakota Prayer

Father Wakantanka says come. Father Wakantanka, pity me. The people want good health. Saying that, I send a voice.”

Father God,

We pray for the peace that good health brings. Peace and good health for the earth, for its plants and animals, for its ecosystems, for its people. We ask forgiveness for the scars we have inflicted on Mother Earth. None of us is innocent of this. Each of us is responsible for caring for the scars. In caring for the earth, we care, too, for one another. May we be a voice of peace.

Spiritual Practice Dwelling on the Word

Today’s enduring principle we are focusing on is Continuing Revelation. We will practice this with Dwelling on the Word.

I will read the following scripture passage aloud. As you hear it, allow words, images, or phrases to come to your mind. Try not to focus on them. Let them rest in you. After a moment of silence, I will read the excerpt again a second time. As you hear the words again, listen for how God’s spirit is nudging you or catching your attention.

Read D&C 163:4a

God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are not God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.

Pause

Read the scripture a second time:

Pause

Invite group member to share responses to these questions:

1. What words, phrases or images came to mind?

2. How is Gods spirit nudging you?

3. How does dwelling in the word create continued revelation within you?

Sharing Around the Table

Matthew 9: 35-10:23 NRSV

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not take a road leading to gentiles, and do not enter a Samaritan town, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick; raise the dead; cleanse those with a skin disease; cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff, for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

“I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Sibling will betray sibling to death and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this town, flee to the next, for truly I tell you, you will not have finished going through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Jesus is sending his twelve apostles out on mission for the first time to proclaim God’s reign. Even though Jesus ministered to Jews, Gentiles, and Samaritans, he told the apostles to begin their work among the Jews, their own people. This instruction may have been offered as guidance or it may have been Matthew’s way of acknowledging the Jewish Christian communities who would receive his Gospel.

Most importantly, we hear in this passage the heart of mission is proclaiming the good news of God’s reign and inviting people to be a part of that effort. Jesus describes what they are to do and provides advice on how to travel. They were not to take copper coins, a food bag, extra clothes, or extra shoes. They were dependent on the blessings of God and the hospitality of strangers. Those who valued their ministry would provide for them. Jesus told them to remain in a welcoming home, however humble. They should not seek richer houses or prestige. Building relationships with a household was more important than comfort. As they entered, they must bless the house with peace. If welcomed, God would honor the blessing.

It was a custom for a Jew returning from Gentile territory to shake the dust from their sandals to avoid polluting sacred Jewish land. If rejected, the disciples were to follow the same custom and then move on. Jesus implied that God would judge and punish inhospitality. It was not the role of the apostles to force acceptance of them or of the coming Reign of God.

Questions:

1. When have you been moved by compassion to invite someone into sacred community?

2. When have you been tempted to judge and punish those who were inhospitable to you? When have you been inhospitable to someone else?

3. How can you simplify your own life and be free of material concerns to demonstrate and promote kingdom living?

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

Discipling God,

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 22 “You, Lord, Are Both Lamb and Shepherd”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

• Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

• Thoughts for Children

Thoughts for Children

Have the participants do a few sets of some simple exercise like jumping jacks, push-ups, or planks. After they finish, ask:

How does your body feel? (Affirm all answers, if kids have trouble answering, ask them specifically about their hearts, lungs, and muscles)

How do you think your body would feel if you had to do 100 jumping jacks or push-ups or hold a plank for 10 minutes!?

The longer we do an exercise, the more tired our body gets. Physical endurance helps us keep going as our bodies get more tired until it is time to rest.

In today’s scripture passage, the author talks about having endurance. The endurance they are talking about is spiritual endurance. Sometimes are souls become tired or sad and spiritual endurance helps us keep going until we have a chance to rest.

Just like exercise can help us build physical endurance, there are practices we can do to help us build spiritual endurance.

What are some things you do that help your soul feel strong and happy and help you have spiritual endurance (Affirm all answers, but be prepared to offer suggestions if the participants don’t have any)

Worship Resources

25 June 2023

Ordinary Time (Proper 7)

Romans 6:1b-11

Walk in the Newness of Life

Additional Scriptures

Genesis 21:8-21; Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17; Matthew 10:24-39; Doctrine and Covenants 161:3

Preparation

The service lends itself to baptism as the lectionary scripture speaks to the reality of the newness of being baptized and having new life in Christ. Adjust the service to focus on the sacrament of baptism if this is applicable to your group.

Prepare a worship center with cups of dirt, enough for all participants, displayed as well as some flowering plants. Have flower seeds for everyone prominently displayed.

The cups of soil and seeds will be used during the Focus Moment. Also provide water. Consider locating this planting exercise at stations around the room.

Prelude

The Community Welcomes and Shares Joys and Concerns

Call to Worship

Psalm 86:1-3

Hymn of Invitation

“O Holy Dove of God Descending”

CCS 44 OR “Teach Me, God, to Wonder”

CCS 566

CCS 176 OR “Christ Has Called Us to New Visions”

Invocation Response

Focus Moment

Provide cups of dirt for all participants. They will be given a seed in a few moments to place in the soil. Also provide a way to water the newly planted seeds.

Discuss the concepts of baptism and how it is symbolic of new life with Christ and growing into more understanding of Christ.

What do you think the cups of dirt are for? (seeds in order to grow a flower.)

What else will the seeds need in order to grow? (water, sun)

Provide seeds to be planted in their cup of dirt and water for the new planting. Suggest just like a flower needs the sun, we also need the Son (Jesus).

How many days will it take before we see sprouts?

When we are baptized, it’s like a new planting. You rise from the water ready to walk in the newness of life.

Encourage sharing of people’s baptismal experiences. Invite them to take their planting home and watch for the newness of life.

Prayer for Peace

Hymn of Peace

“For Beauty of Meadows” CCS 142 OR “Touch the Earth Lightly” CCS 137

Light the Peace Candle.

Prayer

God of mountains, meadows, moments, and mystery, We set aside this time to focus on the pursuit of peace, a peace that at times seems close but at other times seems so far away. During this time, we are challenged to find newness in life. This newness seems unfathomable in a world where issues separate us; issues of race, borders, politics, climate abuse, and economic disparity. And still other matters of religion, doctrine, and differences in rural and urban communities. Please help us to be mindful of and celebrate our differences.

Just as we have been provided an illustration of new life and growth, help us to provide rich soil in which our communities can grow. Help us to provide water for the thirsty ones. Help us provide examples of your Son for a world which seems so dark. Help us to be pursuers of peaceas we plant seeds of peace; as we listen among the dissonance; as we cultivate your vineyard. Loving God, help us to be aware of the other.

It is in knowing the other that we listen and build peace together. Amen. -Poul Wilson, used with permission

For additional ideas: Find this day’s Prayer for Peace service on the church’s website at www.CofChrist.org

Scripture Reading

Romans 6:1b-11

Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn

“I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” CCS 553

OR “We Are Pilgrims on a Journey”

Sharing in the Spoken Word

Based on Romans 6:1b-11

Disciples’ Generous Response

Scripture and Song

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 161:3a

Hymn of Generosity:

CCS 559

CCS 550 OR “Bless Now, O God, the Journey”

CCS 564 OR “Into My Heart”

“Spirit, Open My Heart” stanza 1

CCS 573 sing once in the language of your choice

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 161:3b

Hymn of Generosity:

CCS 564 OR “Into My Heart”

“Spirit, Open My Heart” stanza 2

CCS 573 sing once in the language of your choice

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 161:3c

Hymn of Generosity:

CCS 564 OR “Into My Heart”

“Spirit, Open My Heart” stanza 3

CCS 573 sing once in the language of your choice

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 161:3d

Hymn of Generosity:

Statement

CCS 564 OR “Into My Heart”

“Spirit, Open My Heart” stanza 4

CCS 573 sing once in the language of your choice

The focus lectionary scripture from Romans describes baptism and the newness of life that occurs with following Jesus. While the scripture appears to be an individual focus, it is also a call to community. In our offering, we give as individuals, but our giving provides for ministry that builds the community. The Amish community often comes together in times of planting, harvesting, blessings, and tragedy. This expression of giving is often manifest when one family has a particular need and comes together to provide an opportunity for new life in the midst of what would otherwise be chaos.

During this time of a 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.

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.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at CofChrist.org/spiritualpractices-generosity/.

Closing Hymn

“The Summons” CCS 586 OR “Make Me a Servant” CCS 597

Benediction

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Sermon Helps Year A - Letters Ordinary Time (Proper 7)

Romans 6:1b-11

Exploring the Scripture

Today we continue exploring justification by faith: a sinner becomes right with God not through works but by faith in Christ. Paul affirmed not only that Jesus died and lived again, but that all baptized Christians take part in Jesus’ death and resurrection! Participation is more transforming than merely watching dramas of a deity dying and rising, as Greco-Roman religions practiced.

Romans 5:20 affirms that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Can Christians continue to sin, so God can keep showering us with more grace and forgiveness? No! Such reasoning leads to moral bankruptcy, and Paul immediately rejects it. If we have died to sin, which happens in baptism, then we cannot continue to live in sin.

Ancient writers used various metaphors to explain baptism. The Gospel of John presents baptism as a new birth and resulting growth (John 3:1-15). Colossians explained baptism using the symbol of Jewish circumcision to cut away unwanted acts and desires to begin a new covenant with God (Col. 2:11-15). Some churches focused on the cleansing power of water, like the historic flood in Noah’s time (1 Peter 3:18-22).

In Romans, Paul may have used the Exodus as a pattern. People are slaves to sin like the Hebrews were slaves to Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s power died in the waters of the Red Sea. Sin’s power dies in baptism. But we do not go through the water of baptism alone. We are buried with Christ. “With” makes all the difference. Death itself dies. When we rise from the water, we live again. We have a new identity as part of the living Body of Christ.

Paul repeats the reasoning in more detail in verses 6-11. His statement that Christ died to sin (v. 10) refers not to the physical death on the cross but rather the end of sin’s control over Jesus. The temptation of sin no longer controlled Jesus, nor affected by society’s sin of rejecting and condemning Jesus. In the same way, Christ’s followers are crucified with Christ and die to sin.

Paul alternates between what “we know” and what we can infer as a result. Here is what the followers know and accept without question:

1. We are crucified with Christ. Our sinful self (“the body of sin”) dies in the process.

2. We are no longer slaves to sin but free from sin’s power to control us.

3. The risen Christ will never die again. Death has no power over him.

4. He died to sin, but he lives to God in unbroken fellowship. Based on those known beliefs, Paul affirms the following:

1. If we have died with Christ, we will also live with Christ.

2. We are dead to sin’s control over us but alive to God because of our union in Jesus Christ.

Being “alive to God” (v 11) means being open and responsive to the promptings of the Spirit in everyday life. Faith is united to action. We notice where God is acting in the world and take part in those efforts. It means living fully and joyfully here and now in relationship with the

Divine. It also implies the promise of being “united with [Christ] in a resurrection life like his” (v. 5).

Central Ideas

1. Baptized Christians take part in Jesus’ death and resurrection. They do not just mimic and play-act a dying and rising myth.

2. Paul stressed that immersion is like being buried with Christ in death. When we arise from the water, we live again,

3. In baptism, we become dead to sin’s control over us, but alive to God, open and responsive to God’s Spirit, in a joyful relationship with the Divine.

Questions for the Speaker

1. What metaphor would you use to explain baptism’s significance? Do you feel you took part in Jesus’ death and resurrection in this sacrament?

2. What does it mean in your world to be “dead to sin?” What kinds of actions, attitudes, and relationships show that sin no longer has control?

3. What characterizes a person who is “alive to God?” Whom have you known that shows this life? When have you displayed it most fully?

4. Paul uses the phrase, “We know…” several times in this passage. Which of the statements that he affirms “we know” can you claim to know and believe? Which ones do you question? What conclusions would you draw from what you do know?

Sacred Space – Small Group Resources

Year A, Letters

Ordinary Time, Proper 7

Romans 6:1–11 NRSV

Gathering

Welcome

Ordinary Time is the Christian calendar period 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.

Today’s Prayer for Peace is inspired by hymn 290 in Community of Christ Sings, “When the Poor Ones.” The words and music are by Jose Olivar and Miguel Manzano.

When we know that love for simple things is better, then we know that God still goes the road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.

God of the road, our world is filled with poor ones. The poor in spirit, the poor in health, the poor in love, the poor in food. At times, it feels so lonely and hopeless. How can we help all the poor ones? How can we help when we, ourselves, feel like the poor ones?

Then we remember that you bless the poor in spirit! The poor in health show us how to care for one another. It is the poor in love who show us how to love others. The poor in food share generously, leading the way for us all. This is the work of peace. This is the work of your church. This is the work of your people.

May we cultivate love for the simple things. May we be willing to be comforted and led by the poor ones. And may we keep watch for you on the road with us.

In the name of Jesus, who walks with us on the road to peace. Amen.

Spiritual Practice

Holy Listening

Today we’re focusing on the Enduring Principle of All are Called. We believe all people have unique giftedness, and we are given opportunities in community to share our giftedness. By practicing Holy Listening, we can learn more about the gifts people share in community, how they feel called to serve, and how we can support one another in discipleship and ministry.

Ask the person next to you to join you in conversation. Find a spot in the room to get comfortable and face one another. You will take turns sharing what you see as your giftedness and how you feel called to share that giftedness with others. It can be anything, friendship, music, compassion, reading aloud, laughter, or tidying up.

You each will have three minutes to share. During this time the listener will just listen and nod, but not comment. At the end of this time, the listener may respond with this one sentence. “I noticed that…” Then switch places and repeat.

Before you start this exercise, please repeat this prayer with me: “Help me be wholly present to this human being.”

You may begin your conversation.

Start the timer. After three minutes let the listener say the one-sentence response and then ask the people to switch places.

Start the timer again.

When each person has shared. Ask the group to respond to their experience with this spiritual practice.

Sharing Around the Table

Romans 6:1–11 NRSV

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

In this passage, Paul discusses sin and grace. For some, sin can be a list of specific don’ts; for others, it can be corporate problems that don’t have a specific instigator but are an issue to be amended as they affect groups or creation. For some, it simply can be an unharmonious relationship with God.

In writing about sin, Paul brings us back to the symbolism of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The key word in this passage is with. As our relationship is reconciled with God, it is done with grace. As we think of the hope found in the resurrection, the hope that gives us courage to forge through another day and to approach life’s challenges with confidence, we are doing that with Christ. In his death and resurrection, the sins of rejection, oppression, and condemnation no longer had control over Christ.

As we focus on the message of God’s love for all, radical hospitality, and inclusion, we follow the actions and teachings of Jesus. We accept rather than reject, we reconcile rather than oppress. As we push away those voices that tell us to marginalize, judge, or condemn, we more fully embrace the voice of the One who calls us into deepening relationship.

Questions

1. What do you see as sin, and how do you work to avoid it or help eradicate it?

2. What voices distract you from your relationship with God?

3. This scripture speaks to being “alive to God in Christ Jesus.” When have you felt most alive in your spiritual journey?

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

Discipling God, 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

Community of Christ Sings 494, “Sing Praise for Rain That Washes Earth”

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper Thoughts for Children

Thoughts for Children

You will need: triple-A bookmarks coloring supplies

Ask: Have you ever done something your parents asked you not to do? Or have you ever not done something your parents asked you to do?

Did your parents stay mad at you, or did they forgive you? If we will always be forgiven, why do we still want to make Responsible Choices?

Affirm all answers.

In today’s scripture, we are reminded that though we will be forgiven no matter what we do, it still is important to make Responsible Choices because it is a way we can show our love for God and others. It also is important that we know what to do when we make irresponsible choices.

What are some things you do when you’ve made a choice that has not been very responsible? How do you make the situation better? (Affirm all answers. Make sure things like apologize, fix the problem, etc. are included.)

Thank you all for sharing your wonderful ideas. In the future if I make an irresponsible choice, I will use some of your suggestions to make the situation better. One way I’ll remember what to do when I’ve made an irresponsible choice is to think of the three A’s” Admit what you did. Apologize.

Accept the consequences.

Color your triple-A bookmark and take it with you so for a reminder that even when we make irresponsible choices, there are always Responsible Choices we can make to improve the situation.

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