For Sunday, October 23, 2016
Year C, Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 65
L: Praise is due to you, O God.
P: You answer prayer and forgive our transgressions.
L: With strength you established the mountains.
P: You silence the roaring seas.
L: You visit the earth and water it,
P: You provide the people with grain.
L: Praise is due to you, O God,
P: Praise the LORD!
We come together to worship you, O God. We come recognizing that it is you who brings the rain and the sun. It is you who fills the threshing floor with grain. It is you who saves us, calling us ever closer to yourself. Guide this time of worship, and bless our awareness of your holy presence. Accept our praise and hears our prayers and petitions, for we offer them in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is easy for us to discount the acts of the Pharisee praying in public as showy Christianity. In the process of not becoming like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable, I wonder if we are tempted to throw out too much of his behavior. Jesus tells the story with a Pharisee, who fasts and tithes as a way to remind us how good the man’s spiritual disciplines are. The point of the story is to not be like the Pharisee in looking down on other believers. The rest is good. Fasting, praying and tithing are good. Self exultation is the thing that is bad. As we receive our tithes and offerings, let us bring them humbly, recognizing and confessing what a small portion of all God has given us we are returning.
We bring our gifts, O God, while offering our thanks and praise for all that you have done, and all that you are going to do. We ask your blessing on these gifts, and these acts of giving that through them others may come to know the joy of life in the light of your Son, Jesus Christ.
When Paul declares that he “fought the good fight . . . finished the race . . . kept the faith” it was for one main purpose: “the message might be fully proclaimed and all the gentiles might hear it.” Well, fellow gentiles, we have heard the good news that Jesus came and gave himself as a sacrifice for sin. We remember that good news around Christ’s table, and are thankful for all who have sacrificed to be sure we can.
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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