For Sunday, August 16, 2015
Editor’s Note: We are in the midst of about 25 weeks of texts which are less connected by one theme than to each other week to week. The lectionary follows somewhat sequential readings in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Psalms which supplement them. The New Testament Readings are also sequential week to week, but do not necessarily fit a theme. Given this, I will be attempting to tie Call to Worship and Invocation to Hebrew Scriptures; Stewardship and Communion to Gospel and Epistle with little concern for overarching theme.
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 111
L: Praise the LORD!
P: I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart.
L: The works of the LORD are faithful and just;
P: The precepts of the LORD are trustworthy.
L: The LORD has sent redemption to the people;
P: And commanded the Covenant forever.
L: Holy and Awesome is the name of the LORD;
P: Our praise endures forever!
We come before your altar, gracious and mighty God, seeking to know your presence. We ask so many things of you God. Grant us the wisdom to ask only for those things which are true to your heart and to follow your will. Grant us ability to discern your ways and find our paths within them. Grant us the awareness to know your presence, and to grow according to your plans. Meet us during this time of worship O God, and change us. For you are the one and only God, and we are your people.
Paul tells the Ephesians to “Be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time . . .” (Eph. 5:15-16). I think Paul is writing about living a legacy: being willing to think of how you are thought of now and how you will be remembered. I once lived in a college dormitory named after someone. While I remember the name, it likely would mean nothing to you, and honestly means little more than the name to me. That person or their family thought the financial gift to build that building was a fitting legacy of their life. My problem is I keep giving away the chance for that kind of legacy each week. When I come to church and hear the stories of what kind of difference I can make now, I cannot help but to place my legacy in the hands of the church to help people today. It works for me. As you consider your gifts before God, I urge you then to ask if the gift you make reflects well on the way you wish to be thought of now and how you will be remembered. We will now receive the tithes and offerings which make life giving legacies and ministries possible.
Giving and forgiving God, we come before you with our gifts. We pray that you will bless them and use them to help those in need. Grant us the givers the ability to live in your light and share in your loving and graceful way. Amen.
I know folks who find John’s report of Jesus talking about the bread of life troubling. Because Jesus says “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them”, they find it troubling. After all, if “you are what you eat” then this message from John smacks of cannibalism. We know that the meal we celebrate is symbolic and spiritual, yet those a bit newer to the faith could be confused. What then shall we do? Avoid the celebration because it concerns people? No. I think it is important to instead talk about what we believe. We need to talk about these symbols: bread and cup, and what they mean to us. In my case, these symbols are not traditional nutrients, but spiritual ones, fed not by physical needs but by my spiritual needs: to remember what Christ did for us. So come, eat of the bread and drink of the cup which is here not to feed our bodies, but to nourish our souls.
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