For Sunday, September 4, 2016
Year C, Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost :: Green ::
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 139
L: O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
P: You know when we sit down and when we rise up; you discern our thoughts from far away.
L: You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
P: Even before a word is on our tongues, O LORD, you know it completely.
L: You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
P: Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is so high that we cannot attain it.
L: For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
P: We praise you, O God, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Almighty, eternal, and everlasting God, we come together as your people once again, seeking your guidance and help. Shape and mold us through this time of worship and reflection to be the people you have called us forth to be. Help us to follow in your will and let us hear your voice. We come together out of love and devotion to your Son, Jesus the Christ.
Today’s reading in the Gospel of Luke quotes Jesus saying “None of you can be my disciples if you do not give up all of your possessions.” But that verse is not the one I want to talk about with you today. Instead, I want to talk with you about Paul’s letter to Philemon, where Paul expresses his willingness to take on any debt Onesimus might owe, that Onesimus can be free. I wonder what love and devotion Onesimus would show Paul for such a gift? Christ has acted in the same way on your behalf: taking on the debt of our sin. One of the ways we show our devotion is through the bringing of our tithes and offerings so that others will hear the good news we have each experienced. Let us now receive the tithes and offerings.
Wonderful and Amazing God, whose grace sets us free to follow you in love and devotion, we come bringing our gifts. We pray that these tithes and offerings, which represent many blessings we have received, will in turn be a blessing to others. We pray that these gifts will fuel the growth and reach of your church, spreading good news from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth.
Now we are going to talk about what Jesus has to say in Luke’s Gospel. In modern terminology, Jesus is telling those who would follow him to seriously consider their decision, because he expects them to be “all in”. Jesus knew what he was going to give to make the covenant we remember it at this table. My challenge for today is whether I can live in to Jesus’ expectation.
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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