For Sunday, April 19, 2015
Year B, Third Sunday of Easter
Third Sunday of Easter :: White
This is also Earth Day Sunday
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 4
L: O God of blessing, answer when we call.
P: Be gracious to us and hear our prayers.
L: Know that the LORD has set apart the faithful,
P: and the LORD hears when we call.
L: The peace of the LORD is with you,
P: and I shall lie down with peace and in the safety of the LORD.
Almighty God, who created the heavens and the earth and called them good; You who created the land and the water and filled them with inhabitants, and called it good; You who created humankind and called it very good; we come before you this day to sing your praises. You protect us in our waking and our sleeping. You provide us with food and water. You shelter us in your love. Now O God, as we offer our prayers and praise, our gifts and ourselves before you, we ask that you use this time of worship to glorify your name, and fill us with your Spirit. We ask it in the name, by the grace and for the sake of Jesus the Christ.
I think it is time to talk about a very serious matter – toilet paper. It’s okay, giggle a little. But we all use it, and many use it here at the church. I think toilet paper is a symbol of hospitality. Sure, we could buy the cheapest stuff available and it would probably do the job. But we don’t. Why? Because we want to send the message that when you are in the house of God, you are special. You are pampered. You are loved. We don’t just do it with toilet paper, we strive to make God’s love visible in lots of ways, always striving to glorify God. That doesn’t mean we are extravagant, but it means we think about these things. Now, it is also Earth Day Sunday, so we try to balance the hospitality of quality toilet paper with the encouragement to use it sparingly. A delicate balance to be sure. God has given us so much in creation, and we are called to be good stewards of all of it. As we think as a society about ways to be good stewards of the planet God has created and given to our care, let us also think in ways which show God’s loving hospitality to those around us. Let us receive the tithes and offerings, which used responsibly, allow us to share God’s hospitality.
Loving God, you have given us so much in all of creation, and have shown us your love. We bring these offerings as signs of our remembrance of your gifts. Take them, and use them to glorify your Name. Bless each one who has brought them to become the kind of hosts to others you would have us to be.
One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is Luke 24:45. Jesus is back from the dead, and has appeared to the Disciples. It is after the touch and see moments that scripture tells us “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” I like it because I can imagine the intensity with which the Disciples were paying attention. And in the midst of that high intensity attention getting mind opening lesson, Luke goes on to report that Jesus said to them “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations.” That is exactly what we do as we gather around this table. We remember that Jesus DID suffer, Jesus DID rise, and when we confess and repent of our sins, Jesus DID promise us forgiveness, and DOES. Jesus closes this teaching by reminding the Disciples “You are witnesses of these things, and see I am sending upon you what God promised.” As we gather at the table today, remember: you are God’s witness, empowered by God and nourished by this feast. Come and receive the Gifts of God.
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