For Sunday August 14, 2016
Year C, Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 82
L: Rise up! O God! Judge the earth;
P: For all the nations belong to you.
L: Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
P: Maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
L: Rescue the weak and the needy;
P: Deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
L: Take your place in the divine council;
P: And Rise up! O God! Judge the earth.
O God, our God, you truly are one who remains nearby, not distant or removed. We feel and honor your presence in our daily lives and walk. As we come together to worship you, O God, make us ever more aware of your presence. Let the one who has your word speak faithfully within our assembly this day. Guide us in spirit and in truth, as we seek to be your people, following in the name, grace, and example of the one you sent, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The Author of Hebrews recounts for us the many saints and witnesses to the power of faith in the Hebrew Scriptures. The author points to Moses, Joshua, and Rahab; Gideon, Barak, and Sampson; David, Samuel, and the prophets. The author points to this “great cloud of witnesses” who did not see the ultimate fulfillment of the promises of God. Even so, these witnesses gave all they had to the glory of God. We come to the altar bringing our tithes and offerings, not knowing what great and final work God will do with them. We bring them though, like the great cloud of witnesses, in faith that God will complete a great and wonderful thing. Let us now receive the tithes and offerings which show our faith that God is doing great and wonderful things.
Eternal, wonderful, and gracious God of all times and places. God of Sarah and Abraham, God of Moses and Rahab, God of Deborah and Barak; we come today with our gifts. We come today remembering all that you have done, and praying for all that you are going to do. Use these gifts, O God; as only you can, and help each of us become a part of the great cloud of witnesses to your power and majesty. We bring them in faith, in hope, and in love. Amen.
Today’s passage from Luke is a hard passage to hear. Jesus talks about division among family members over the Gospel he has brought. We Disciples know that too well in the past few years. We have become a divided people. News of congregations and members leaving the church over differences of how we understand the Gospel has poured across the continent. And yet, we come together at a common table. In Disciples churches everywhere the bread is being broken and the cup is being poured in remembrance of Christ. Jesus knew the Gospel journey would be hard. Jesus knew that we would not always agree. He also knew it was a sign of the coming reign of God. As we gather at the table today, let us do so in earnest loving prayer for those brothers and sisters with whom we disagree. Let us do so knowing that all are doing their best to follow Christ’s call. Let us do so knowing that in our division, we can still be one at the table.
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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