For Sunday February 19, 2017
Year A, Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany
Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany :: Green ::
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 119
L: Teach us, O LORD, the way of your statutes;
P: And we will observe them to the end.
L: Give us understanding;
P: That we may keep your law and observe it with our whole hearts.
L: Lead us in the paths of your commandments;
P: For we delight in them.
L: We have longed for your precepts;
P: In your righteousness give us life.
Gracious, loving, giving God; we are gathered in your sanctuary prepared to praise your name. We come not out of habit or obligation, but out of love. Teach us to live the kind of lives you would wish for us. Guide us as we walk your light. Help us to represent the true meaning of what it is to be your disciples. We come offering ourselves in worship of You and your everlasting love. Accept our offering and make of us a blessed sacrament. We come in the name, by the grace, and for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Stewardship Moment: (from Week of Compassion Materials)
Every week, dozens of children gather in a sparse room in Kampong Thom Province. They gather with their parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends to share a meal, to feed and be fed. This is not just any meal. In their bowls, children receive one of the most common foods of southeast Asia–rice porridge, but this version is nutrient-rich. In an effort
to address malnutrition and prevent stunting among the children of the province, Week of Compassion helps sponsor these meals.
In rural areas of Cambodia like this village, 41% of children do not receive adequate nutrition. This leads to chronic health problems, delayed development, and educational challenges.
By supplementing the diets of children, while also partnering with the community to develop sustainable agriculture, clean water, and relational resilience, Week of Compassion accompanies communities as they create a better future.
In this room filled with the aroma of rice and vegetables, you are here. As a grandmother spoons life-giving food into the eager mouth of her grandchild, you are here. Where people feed and are fed, you are here.
We will now receive our tithes and offerings, as well as special gifts to support Week of Compassion.
O God of majesty and grace, when we become aware of need, we wish we could be there. We wish we could physically be there to help, to hold, to care for others. We confess our life circumstances prevents that. So we give thanks to you for ministries like Week of Compassion, and offer these gifts before you. Use them to provide for those who can go, we pray in Christ’s Holy name. Amen
In Matthew 5 Jesus gives a hard teaching: turn your cheek; give your coat and shirt; walk the second mile. On the surface these are hard things to accept in the name of Christ. . . .perhaps. When you put Jesus’ teachings in the shadow of the cross, everything changes. When the one who gave his life tells you to turn the other cheek, you turn the other cheek. When the one who with whip marks on his back tells you to give up your shirt, you give your shirt. When the one who carried his own cross asks you to walk a mile, you walk. We come to the table to remember the one who gave all . . . for you.
Year A, Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany :: Green ::
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 119
L: Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.
P: Happy are those who keep the decrees of the LORD, and seek the LORD with their whole heart,
L: Who also do no wrong, but walk in the ways of the LORD.
P: You have commanded, O LORD, that your precepts be kept diligently
L: O that our ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes.
P: Then we shall not be put to shame.
L: We will praise you with upright hearts.
P: And we will observe your statutes.
Here we are again, O God, gathered as your people, offering our praise to you. We have come knowing we are far from perfect, yet we bask in your perfection. We have come knowing we are far from sinless, yet we marvel that Christ walked as one without sin. We have come seeking wholeness, knowing you are the source of grace and soul repair. Move within and among us, O God, and guide us in our worship, for we come in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I Corinthians 3: 1-3a, says “And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh.”
When we talk about stewardship, and tithing and offerings with mature Christians, we tend to talk about the spiritual benefits of giving and generosity. And it is great and right that we do so. But today, I am going to talk to you about giving as I would to an infant in the faith. Are you ready?
You need to give something in some way on a regular and consistent basis. It will be hard, but it will prove to you that God provides. Don’t question me. Just do it. Not a few bucks when you are here, but a consistent amount each week or month. If you miss, keep up the giving. When you do this, God sees your effort for a relationship and returns those gifts over and over and over again in your awareness of God’s blessings.
As a bonus, you will start seeing the gifts you return to God are making a difference to people around the world. And you will really start to like how you feel about that. So make a decision and start giving. You will be glad you did.
Generous God, bless these gifts that we return to you, and bless the hearts that give. Unite our hearts with those hearts that will be strengthened, helped, and healed through these gifts. May this money be used faithfully to your purposes, furthering your reign of compassion and justice around the world. Amen.
Matthew 5:23 and 24 tell the story of Jesus teaching that if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift, go and reconcile, then come back and bring your gift. I have encountered folks who use these verses as a reason why sometimes they choose not to take communion. They have told me it is because they are not worthy or reconciled. I think they miss the point.
Communion is not a gift we bring to God; Communion is a gift God brings to us. It seems to me that to refuse it is equal to saying to God: “You don’t get to decide whether or not I am worthy, I do.” Forgive me, but I think God is the better and ultimate judge of worthiness. Today we invite you, at the insistence of God through Jesus Christ, to come and receive the gifts of God.
All material copyright 2017 The Jubilee Fund, Inc. Permission granted to reproduce and use any of the above for Churches and Congregations to the glory of God without requirement of compensation or notification.
Scripture Quotations from the New Revised Standard Version. Online Scripture links a service of the Jean and Alexander Heard Divinity Library, of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Check out all of the awesome resources there at http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu