Sunday September 20, 2015
Year B, Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost :: Green ::
Jeremiah 11:18-20 :: Psalm 54 :: James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a :: Mark 9:30-37
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 54
L: Hear Our Prayers, O God;
P: Give ear to the words of our mouths.
L: Save us, O God, by your name;
P: For surely, God is our helper.
L: We come to give thanks to your name, O LORD,
P: For your name is good.
L: For you have delivered us from every kind of trouble,.
P: And lifted us in triumph.
God of all of our moments, of our coming in and going out, we have come together again in your holy Sanctuary. As we come together, make us aware of your presence, give ear to our petitions, and blessing to our prayers. As we seek to be faithful to the call to be your people, remind us again, O God of your constant willingness to be our God. Guide us in this time of worship, that it might be worthy of your honor and glory.
When I was a teenager, I had a friend down the street which was a Christmas/Easter member of my church. I remember one spring he made a big deal to me about the fact that his dad put a ONE HUNDRED dollar bill in the plate. I confess, I was a bit jealous, and feeling less than generous. This was, after all the mid seventies, when $100 was worth WAY more than a tank or two of gas. I remember telling my dad about the event and how I was feeling. It was tax time, so dad simply smiled and pulled out his tax receipt from the previous year. He showed me how our family had given twenty dollars a week, faithfully, every week. He showed me that we had a statement which said we had given over ten times what my friend’s dad had given. It would have been easy for my dad to discount my experience, but instead, in his wisdom, he used it as a chance to teach the importance of planned and systematic giving. James reminds us that “wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits.” I learned a lot from my dad’s wisdom and willingness to yield. We will now receive the tithes and offerings which together reflect our wisdom.
Gracious, loving, and generous God, we bring before you our tithes and offerings, once again asking you to bless and multiply them. When we pause to realize that by teaching us to give some each week instead of more occasionally, you have already blessed and multiplied our gifts, we stand again in awe of your wisdom. Thank you for giving us a spirit of wisdom and guidance, which out gives all of our most generous gifts. Amen.
FOR THOSE WHO PASS TRAYS
It is no mistake as we come to Christ’s table that we serve one another the elements. We tend to miss the importance of the service of one another in the passing of our trays though. Much like Jesus’ teaching about who among them will be great in heaven, we serve each other communion to remember that we are all servants of each other in God’s sight. This week, don’t just blindly pass the tray. Hold it. Serve the person next to you, only giving them the tray after they have received from you. What you are bringing is not a self serve fast food service counter meal. It is the body and blood of Christ, to be served with all the dignity it deserves. When you take the tray, take in humility, recognizing you have been honored to serve another. Let us now serve one another as Christ called us to serve.
FOR THOSE WHO SERVE BY INTINCTION
It is no accident that when we come to Christ’s table, there are those among us who serve the bread and the cup. The Lord’s Supper was meant to be served, not taken. This is no self serve fast food counter meal. It is the body and blood of Christ, served with dignity and humility. I also ask you to recognize as you come today, that it is not me, or those standing around me which serve you, but Christ. And we are humbled by that representative ministry, and long to welcome ALL who would come. Let us now celebrate the gift of Christ as we serve one another.
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