For Sunday, September 25, 2016
Year C, Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost
RECONCILIATION SPECIAL OFFERING (US)
Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost :: Green ::
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 91
L: Come, you who live in the shelter of the LORD Almighty;
P: We say to the LORD, “my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
L: For God will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and deadly pestilence.
P: We will find refuge under God’s wing of protection.
L: You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow which flies by day.
P: We are God’s people, and love the LORD.
L: God will protect those who know God’s name.
P: And will bless us with long life and salvation!
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. We have come together to praise your name. We have come together to offer our prayers. We have come together to join around your holy table as brothers and sisters in Christ. We know we do not share history or family connections, we know we have different backgrounds and pigment and stories. In you, O God, we share one story: the story of hope and salvation. Bless our time of worship, O God, and guide us in your truth. Help us to be your people of the table and the Word, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Stewardship Moment: ( US Reconciliation Sunday)
Reconciliation is one of those special offerings that I sometimes fear we do not fully understand. Yes, at its surface, the reconciliation mission is to help us become an “Anti-racist, pro-reconciling” church body; but I fear we don’t know what that means or how our giving helps us get there. At our best, our systems are not only designed to be racially inclusive, but we reach a point where we do so out of instinct, no longer thinking about including others of different racial backgrounds at the table because it is our policy, but we do it because it is just who we are. Sure the systems are still there, but it becomes a pleasant surprise when we look at them and realize they are all just “common sense” to how we do things. Sadly, in our society and even for many churches, we have a long way to go. Your special gifts for the Reconciliation Ministry create programs and ministries which will pave the way on the journey. As you consider the special envelope in front of you, I hope you will give generously so that we may truly become the kind of church Christ called us to be.
Stewardship Moment: (Regular Sunday)
“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” might possibly be the most frequently misquoted verse in all of scripture. Frequently “kinds of” is omitted. But I think what Paul is saying in First Timothy is better couched in the full context of the passage. Paul is saying to those who are rich that they should do good, be rich in good works, be generous, and be ready to share; thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future. What I think Paul is really saying is that if we love our money more than we love the opportunity to generously share our blessings, we open ourselves to evil. Let us now receive the tithes and offerings which allow us to show where our love and devotion truly lie.
We bring our gifts confessing, O God, that we have not always done your will. We have not always been generous, or aware, or careful in our charge to be stewards of all you have blessed us with. Help us today to be your people, sharing generously of all you have provided; not only financially, but in influence, power, and place. We offer ourselves and these gifts before you, O God.
When I hear the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, and think of the crumbs falling from the rich man’s table, I confess I sometimes think of this table. I know that is not what the story is about and would probably get picked on by seminary professors for even thinking about it, but the imagery is too convenient. Bread crumbs falling from the most High God’s table down to me seems about right . . . but the reality is we do NOT scramble for the crumbs or scraps from God’s table. Christ has made us worthy to have a seat at the table through his sacrifice. What a blessing! Come to the table which Christ has set for you.
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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