August 10, 2014
Ordinary Time (Proper 14)

Have Faith!

Scriptures

Genesis 37:1–4, 12–28; Psalm 105:1–6, 16–22, 45b; Romans 10:5–15;
Matthew 14:22–33/14:19–28 IV;
Ether 5:6–12; Doctrine and Covenants 161:1, 162:7a–b

Service Suggestions

For additional ideas and worship service samples see www.CofChrist.org/worship.


Prelude

Welcome

Prayer for Peace

Use the following, or see www.CofChrist.org/prayerpeace for additional resources.

Readers A and B: O God of new beginnings, we pray to you:

Reader A: For an end to violence and abuse…

Reader B: …and a new beginning of harmony and healing;

Reader A: For an end to war and conflict…

Reader B:  …and a new beginning of God’s shalom;

Reader A: For an end to prejudice and division…

Reader B:  …and a new beginning of unity in diversity;

Reader A: For an end to poverty and suffering…

Reader B: …and a new beginning of health and wholeness;

Reader A: For an end to injustice and oppression…

Reader B: …and a new beginning of equality and respect for all persons.

Readers A and B: O God of new beginnings, as faithful disciples we pledge to you:

Reader A: That we will do our part to bring this prayer to life,

Reader B: …by working passionately for peace and justice in the world.

Readers A and B: On this day of new beginnings, this is our prayer and our pledge. Amen.

Solo or Congregational Hymn

“Center of Peace” (stanza 1 only)—SP 1
OR “O Christ Who by a Cross” (stanza 1 only)—CCS*
OR “Lord, Make Us Instruments” (refrain only)—CCS
OR “Pour Down Thy Spirit from Above” (stanzas 1 and 4 only)—HS 165

Call to Worship

Doctrine and Covenants 161:1

We are a people with many unique voices. Select three readers with diverse voices—for example, male and female, old and young, loud and soft, high and low. Consider how hearing the same scripture in different voices affects your understanding and response.

Reader 1, then Reader 2, then Reader 3 (each person reads the same scripture, one at a time):

Lift up your eyes and fix them on the place beyond the horizon to which you are sent. Journey in trust, assured that the great and marvelous work is for this time and for all time.

Claim your unique and sacred place within the circle of those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ. Be faithful to the spirit of the Restoration, mindful that it is a spirit of adventure, openness, and searching. Walk proudly and with a quickened step. Be a joyful people. Laugh and play and sing, embodying the hope and freedom of the gospel.

All Readers in Unison:

Lift up your eyes and fix them on the place beyond the horizon to which you are sent. Journey in trust, assured that the great and marvelous work is for this time and for all time.

Hymn

“Great and Marvelous Are Thy Works”—CCS
OR “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”—CCS
OR “This Is God’s Wondrous World”—CCS
OR “Gather Your Children”—CCS

Prayer of Invocation

Response

Scripture Reading

Matthew 14:22–33 (select a strong, expressive reader to read from a children’s Bible or another accessible modern language translation)

Focus Moment

“Floating on Faith: An Object Lesson” (see instructions following this worship outline)

OR Use a scripture-based focus moment from the Disciple Formation Guide at www.CofChrist.org/dfg.

Ministry of Music (quartet, small group, or choir)

“How Firm a Foundation”—CCS
OR “Standing on the Promises”—CCS
OR “Firm Foundation”—NS 10

Ministry of the Spoken Word

Based on Matthew 14:22–33

OR Show Scott Murphy’s video sermon “Take the Hand of Jesus” from the June 2012 Witness the Word DVD, or download from www.CofChrist.org/broadcast/2012archive.asp.

Moment of Confession and Affirmation

Leader: We see the example of Jesus standing before us, calling us to come to him.

People: Lord, we want to follow you.

Leader: But sometimes the way is dark; the path is difficult; the water is deep.

People: We want to follow, but sometimes we are afraid.

Leader: Sometimes our fear is stronger than our faith.

People: We are afraid, and sometimes we stumble and start to sink.

Leader: But even when we falter in our faith, God is always faithful and steadfast.

People: Forgive us, Lord, for our moments of doubt and fear.

Leader: We know that even when the journey is difficult, God is with us always.

People: Strengthen our faith, so that we may follow you with our whole hearts. Amen.

Hymn of Renewal

“Holy Wisdom, Lamp of Learning”—CCS
OR “Lord, Lead Me by Your Spirit”—CCS

Scripture Reading

Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a–b

Disciples’ Generous Response

Challenge: Like Peter, we are sometimes fearful to respond when we are called to follow Jesus, and we can also be fearful when we are called to put our hard-earned money in the offering plate. But in this as in all things, we can trust God’s promises. As faithful disciples, we have the assurance that whatever we do and whatever we give, God will be with us. Faith gives us the freedom to give generously, so that all might know the joys of God’s kingdom.

As part of the Disciples’ Generous Response, we ask you to integrate the message of “giving to your true capacity” and “sharing equally” to fund the World Church Mission Initiatives and your local and mission center ministries. You can find additional material to assist with the congregation’s understanding of A Disciple’s Generous Response at www.CofChrist.org/generosity.

Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes

Hymn

“Come Now, Sound the Call of Zion”—CCS
OR “With a Steadfast Faith”—CCS
OR “God of Grace and God of Glory”—CCS

Sending Forth

Doctrine and Covenants 161:1a (read by one of the Call to Worship readers)

Response

*See the full list of CCS hymn titles and numbers at www.CofChrist.org/hymnal/hymn-list.asp


Floating on Faith: An Object Lesson

(to follow the reading of Matthew 14:22–33)

You will need:

  • Several oranges (make sure they float; easy-to-peel is also helpful)
  • A large clear glass or plastic container filled with water (this activity is most effective if you can see through the sides of the container)
  • Ask the children in the congregation to come forward and observe or assist with the demonstration as appropriate. (Place an unpeeled orange in the water.)

Leader: Is it sinking or floating? (It should be floating.) This is similar to what happened to Jesus in the scripture story we just heard—he went out on the water and walked on top of it. When Peter saw Jesus, he also stepped onto the water and started to walk to Jesus on top of the water. (Float another unpeeled orange on top of the water.)

Leader: But then, Peter got frightened by the storm, and he started to lose his faith in Jesus. (Take the “Peter” orange out of the water and peel it as you talk about the loss of faith. It’s effective to peel the orange as part of the demonstration, but it is a good idea to have a pre-peeled orange in reserve in case your “Peter” orange is difficult to peel—you don’t want it to take too long.)

Leader: So what happened to Peter when he didn’t have faith? (Place the peeled orange back in the water; it should sink.) That’s right, he started to sink. But fortunately, Jesus was there to save him. (“Rescue” the unpeeled orange from the bottom of the bowl.)

Leader: (Hold up another unpeeled orange.) When we have faith in Jesus, and believe that he loves us and will take care of us, our faith surrounds and protects us like the peel of the orange, so we can do things that might seem hard or scary. Like starting in a new class at school, or saying no when your friends want you to do something that isn’t right, or… (Use examples that will be meaningful to your congregation’s children; they can also help supply the examples.) But when things are tough and the water is deep, when we flounder and fear we will sink, our faith can lift us up and help us stay afloat. (Float the orange in the bowl.)

Optional

At the end of the demonstration, if appropriate, you could give each child a section of a seedless orange or tangerine (prepared in advance).

An alternate demonstration can be done with an egg, water, and salt. An unpeeled raw egg will sink in regular water but float in salt water. The demonstration can show that the egg—Peter—will sink in the water unless salt—representing faith—has been added, enabling it to float.


Exploring the Scripture

Matthew 14:22–33

What does it mean to be a disciple and to have faith in Christ? This text from Matthew helps us understand this question. The basic story appears in three Gospels: Mark 6:45–52, John 6:16–21, and here in Matthew. There is also an inserted story about Peter with a different ending.

In the first few verses we see Jesus sending away the crowd he had just fed (v. 15–21), and also sending his disciples away in a boat, (v. 22), so he could be alone. Jesus needed time to be intimate with God in prayer. To the early hearers of this text they probably would have made the connection with Jesus going up to the mountain as Moses did, when he went to Mount Sinai. It was a place to be close to God. Remember this text was written predominately for a Jewish audience, people the writer wanted to show that Jesus is God’s anointed, the Messiah.

The scripture then describes a scene with the disciples in a boat, where they had been tossed about by strong waves for many hours. Jesus walks to them on the water. In Matthew the disciples are not afraid of the rough sea, but afraid because they think they have seen a ghost. Jesus’ response is to “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” The Greek word used here for “It is I” is the word for “I am,” which would bring profound imagery to the hearers recalling the experience of Moses and the burning bush. Jesus was declaring his divinity, and showed his great power over the sea, which many thought was like a demon. Jesus had power over the chaos; there was no need to fear.

Then Peter calls out to Jesus, so he too can walk on the water. He steps out in faith and when he notices the strong wind, he is afraid again, and starts to sink. He calls out “Lord, save me” and Jesus rescues Peter by reaching out his hand. Interestingly Jesus does not congratulate Peter for trying, but says “You of little faith.” Earlier in Matthew 8:23–27 we see the disciples afraid, and Jesus at that time too asks them “why are you afraid, you of little faith?” The disciples’ lack of faith is a frequent failing in this Gospel. According to Matthew the link between believing and having confidence in Christ to help us in times of need is important. Is a little faith better than no faith, if we do not exercise that faith?

When Jesus and Peter get back in the boat the disciples worship Jesus. Note the progression from being fearful disciples, to confessing that “Truly you are the Son of God,” to worshiping him. They move from fear to doubt, to confession and worship.

So in our hour of need, at times of “dark nights of fear and helplessness” Jesus comes to us and says “Do not be afraid.” As disciples we do not doubt. Our faith is strong and we can be confident.

To “have faith” means that as we engage in Christ’s mission and implement the Mission Initiatives, we have faith and confidence that Christ is with us. As we step out in faith we can do great things, and when we falter, Christ is there to pick us up.

For some scholars this is a story for the church that like us (as disciples) exists in a world of storms and struggles. But Jesus is always available and helps the church and us, in our times of need.

Central Ideas
  1. For disciples to have faith in Christ means having strong confidence in God.
  2. We may have storms and struggles in life but our faith remains strong. At these times we trust God more.
  3. When our faith is little, we move from fear, to doubt, to confession, to worship.
  4. We can step out in mission, and when we falter, God is there to help us.
Questions for the Speaker
  1. Have there been storms in your life, in the life of the congregation, or in your community in which you have seen faith at work?
  2. When did you exercise strong faith in God?
  3. Is a little faith better than no faith, if we do not exercise that faith? How will your faith and confidence enable you to witness of Jesus Christ?