The Season of Ordinary Time
SEPTEMBER 6, 2020
Ephesians 1:3-11, 22
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan…
22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
As we focus on the Ephesians over the next few weeks to better understand the soul shift from me to we, go further in your study by watching the Bible Project’s overview of Ephesians. This video breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought. In Ephesians, Paul shows how the good news should create ethnically diverse communities that are unified by devotion to Jesus and to each other.
- Consider how you might prepare the table in a way that sets this meal apart from other meals—perhaps a centerpiece of some sort, a candle, a table-cloth, fine dinnerware, etc.
- Be intentional in considering how to inform everyone that this meal will be a bit more intentional than usual; more is happening than just the consumption of food. You are seeking the nourishment of God through fellowship with others, and fellowship requires both speaking and listening. So, look out for each other, don’t let any one person dominate the conversation or let anyone go unnoticed.
- Even though this time can be rather organic, it might be helpful to elect someone to take the lead. This person will pray the opening blessing and guide everyone through the dialogue and discussion.
1. PRAYER OF BLESSING
Before partaking in the meal, the leader can either read the following prayer of blessing or offer their own.
God, our Father, giver of life,
by your Spirit, may this meal
be a taste of your kingdom—
not only in food but fellowship too.
Nourish us in the way of your Son,
so we may share what grace we receive
with all those we encounter in need.
In the name of the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes it’s difficult to gather everyone’s attention before a meal. Using a call to worship that requires a group response is a great way to quiet a room before you pray. Consider using CWC’s current call to worship for this season of the Christian Year (Ps 118:24 ):
ONE: Your love, O LORD,
reaches to the
ALL: Your faithfulness
stretches to the
Physical signs are excellent ways to include kids during prayer (adults often appreciate them more than they let on too). If your children aren’t old enough to fully understand the words prayed (or if you just want to offer those gathered another way to engage), consider using the sign of the cross when the Trinity is invoked as a way for them to participate in the prayer.
If this practice seems foreign to you or you haven’t ever done this and want to know how it’s done, watch the short video below.
As the food is passed around and people begin to eat, invite each person—one by one—to finish this sentence:
“I’m thankful that God has…”
Though we’ve titled this portion “Thanksgiving,” it might be appropriate depending on your gathered group to include—in addition to things you’re thankful for—things that are also weighing on you. Some call this practice, “Happys & Crappys.” With this approach, you are invited to rejoice with those rejoicing and mourn with those mourning (Rom 12:15).
If you choose to include the sharing of difficulties in addition to thanksgivings, don’t be afraid to pray short prayers of intercession mid-meal and practice discernment together.
3. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
As you continue to eat or as people start to finish up, continue by asking these questions to facilitate open discussion in response to today’s worship service. If anyone was absent or needs a reminder, see the sermon synopsis below.
- What evidence of individualism do you see in your own life?
- What do you think of when you think of “belonging?” How is that like and unlike what Paul describes?
- If you were to move from Me to We, what would you first have to unlearn?
Most of us have a deep longing to belong to another person or community but it’s often for our own sake. Paul describes a different kind of community and another way of belonging. In the Church, our community begins and continues in what Christ has done to both of us, whether we know it or not.
From Numbers 6:24-27 NLT—often referred to as the "Aaronic blessing."
At the conclusion of the meal and the discussion offer this blessing to those gathered around the table:
May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.
And everyone can respond with:
The Benediction might be a great opportunity to involve someone else at the table. The leader could simply ask someone, or perhaps you could use a fun selection process, such as: the youngest person, the oldest person, the person who’s been to the most states or the most countries, or someone wearing green (since green is the color of Ordinary Time).
Either in addition to, or in place of, consider using the Lord’s Prayer at the close of your meal. This allows all those gathered to join in one final unison prayer before leaving.
In this prayer we are reminded of God’s desire for heaven to come to earth and encouraged that he will make us instruments of that kingdom-coming through his sustaining, cleansing, and sanctifying grace.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Want more to do?
Paul writes that, “We are carefully joined together in [Christ], becoming a holy temple for the Lord” (Eph. 2:21). This is why the logo for the Me to We series includes the Temple.
In this video, the Bible Project explore how Israel’s temple in the Bible is described as the place where God’s space and humanity’s space are one. In fact, the whole biblical drama can be told as a story about God’s temple. In the opening pages of Genesis, God creates a cosmic temple, and in the person of Jesus, God takes up personal residence in his temple-world. By the end of the biblical story, all of creation has become God’s sacred temple
Take the following portion of this week’s text and “transpose” it into a prayer for someone the Spirit brings to mind. Challenge yourself to come back to this prayer throughout this week considering how you might even participate with Christ in answering it.
Even before he made the world,
God loved us
and chose us in Christ
to be holy and without fault
in his eyes.
God decided in advance
to adopt us into his own family
by bringing us to himself
through Jesus Christ.
This is what he wanted to do,
and it gave him great pleasure.
So we praise God
for the glorious grace
he has poured out on us
who belong to his dear Son.
OTHER WAYS TO RESPOND
The Sunday Worship Service is the start to a week of continued worship service. God’s kingdom-values are revealed to us each Lord’s Day so we can respond by more faithfully living out those values in our home, work-place, market-place, and all our relationships.
If you would like some practical ways to love others well, specifically during this season of special circumstances, click below to find opportunities.