OT 18 – Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

August 3, 2025

Lectionary Texts

Hosea 11.1-11 — When Israel was a child I loved him, but my people are bent on turning away from me. …Yet.. how can I give you up? I will not execute my anger. I am God, and not human.

Psalm 107 — A series of vignettes of God’s saving grace. Some wandered hungering in deserts; God feeds the hungry (vv. 4-9). Some sat in darkness; God shatters the doors (10-16). Some were sick; God healed them (17-22). Some sailed in ships; God brought them to safety (23-30). God raises up the needy.

Colossians 3.1-11 — You have been raised with Christ. Seek the things that are above. You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Put to death selfish passions. You are clothed with a new self.

Luke 12.13-21 —Be on your guard against greed. The parable of a rich man would build bigger barns—but dies instead.

Preaching Thoughts

       This scene is a great rejoinder to the idea of hell. Sure, God is upset with us, but she will never reject her children. She loves us, and nothing is stronger than that. We readily anthropomorphize God, making God into a really big human being, with human emotions. But— “I am God and not human.” Even God’s wrath is loving, and not just “tough love,” but deeply kind and desiring of connection. God’s love is not self-serving, but actually love—concern for our sake. God always draws us us closer, and never pushes us away.
       It’s also one of those places where scripture offers us a feminine image of God. It doesn’t actually indicate a gender, but it sure sounds like what a mom does, doesn’t it? Go with it.
      If God is our parent we are all one family. We are all equally loved, equally belonging. Our nasty little sibling rivalries are pointless— all the ways we separate ourselves, create distinctions, privilege and exclusion, insiders and outsiders, saved and unsaved. God is loving, and angry, but still loving to all of us.

     You have been raised with Christ; seek the things that are above. — God rescues us from the fear-and-anxiety world we live in, a deadly world of having to be good enough and failing and pretending we’re good enough anyway. God raises us with Christ: lifts us out of that death-world and into a new reality, a world in which we are loved and free. Having been delivered into a new world we’re invited to exercise a new kind of consciousness. To “set your mind on things above” doesn’t just mean to daydream about heaven. It means to focus on the love of God and not the things of the world. It means to practice a God-oriented consciousness: accepting, free of dualistic judgment, open to paradox, mindful of grace in everything, avoiding illusions that reinforce our biases but seeking the truth, and rooted in love. We see things as Christ sees them. When we focus our mindfulness on God, and devote ourselves singularly to the work of being vessels of God’s grace, everything else falls into place; priorities align, and we are free from the burdensome distractions of our fears and desires.
     You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. — Meditate on that for half an hour. Or a lifetime. Once you thought of yourself as an isolated individual, but now you know you’re part of Christ. Your former self, your old way of life, taken. Your new life hidden. You don’t have to explain it or justify it. People won’t get it anyway. You can’t see it. It’s there, shining, but hidden. Don’t look for it; just be it. You are with Christ. In good company, in in safe hands. You are in God. You don’t have to look for God; you won’t see God anyway. You are inside God. Such a vision of God’s intimate love, enveloping us, transforming us, bearing us, birthing us…It’s like being in the womb of God with Jesus.
     When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. — Christ is not just a model for your life; Christ is your life. Christ is living in you, through you. As ordinary and imperfect as your life is, it shines with God’s glory, since God is in it. It’s not arrogant to see the glory of God in you. It’s in everybody. Part of what it means to “set your mind on things above,” to live with a Christ consciousness, is to see this.
     Put to death whatever in you is earthly. — Don’t get hung up on sex. “Passion and evil desire” and even “fornication” isn’t just about sex. It’s about wanting stuff for ourselves that isn’t ours, or that hurts other people. Sill, anger, slander, malice and abusive language mean what they say. Do not lie, because lying comes from fear, and we’ve been set free from fear. (Imagine if our politicians were all actually Christian!)
     You have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. — Faith is not just about being—being saved, being a Christian. It’s about becoming. God is continually transforming us. “Renewed” doesn’t mean restored to a former state. It means being made new.
      There is no longer Greek and Jew…—Certainly there are differences, but what Paul is pointing to is hierarchies and divisions of privilege and exclusion. God loves everybody exactly the same. All of us, with all our differences, are equally part of Christ. Being in Christ asks us to give up our notions of who’s more or less deserving.

       In the Gospel of Thomas this parable ends (like, often, death itself) more abruptly. After the rich man’s speech to himself, it says, “These were the things he was thinking in his heart—but that very night he died.” Boom.
       All that stuff you obsess about, all the Things you gather, hoard, protect, cherish— really, do they matter? What are you actually grasping at? Security? Power? Esteem? Protection from want? Everything with which you fill your barns or your hands or your mind or your time, every bit keeps you from filling your life with love, with generosity, with God.
       If you know you are about to die soon, what do you most care about? Well then that’s what you actually care about. Why not care about that right now? What are the worldly things—fears, desires and attachments— that keep us from loving perfectly?

Call to Worship

Leader: Creating God, you breathed life into us, and made us yours.
All: Our breath is yours.
Loving Christ, you heal us, guide us, and give yourself to us.
Our blood is yours.
Holy Spirit, you pulse through us with the energy of your love.
The fire in our eyes is yours.
We worship you with our silence and our voices, our presence and our lives.

Leader: Generous God, you give us abundant life.
All: We thank you. We praise you.
Gentle Christ, you heal us in mercy and grace.
We love you. We serve you.
Holy Spirit, you breathe your song of beauty in us.
We open ourselves to you. We worship you. We cry, Alleluia!

Leader: Loving God, you have raised us with Christ.
All:We have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in you.
Give us minds shaped by your grace.
Clothe us in the new life.
Renew your image in us.
Spirit of love, transform us by your grace. Amen.

4. [Hosea]
Leader: Mothering God, you birthed us in love.
All: You called us by name.
You lifted us to your cheek.
You bent down to us and fed us.
You taught us to walk.
You led us with love.
And yet we run from you.
Still, you reach out to us in love.
Your compassion grows warm and tender.
By your grace, we turn back to you.

You return us to our home.
We worship you in humility and gratitude.
Hold us in your loving arms.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God of love, in this complicated life we cling to many things. Release our grip on all that Stuff. Give us grace to let go, to be present here with you, to listen for your Word, and to receive your grace. We pray in the name and the company of Jesus. Amen.

Extravagant God, you have been rich toward us with many gifts. Of all the things you have abundantly provided for us, we become attached to many things. Help us to let go of them all and cling only to your love and grace. We seek you in your Word, and we seek our own souls in your love. Open our hearts and help us be present for you, who are infinitely present for us. Amen.

Gracious God, we thank you for this time with you. Help us to let go of our attachments to what we think we want, long enough to listen to you. Help us to set our minds on your grace. Prepare us to be changed, and to listen to you, so that we may trust and follow and serve. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

God of love,
we have died, and our life is hidden
with Christ in you.
We rest in that mystery,
and open ourselves to your loving presence.

God of grace,
all that we cling to
we now let go.
In poverty of spirit,
we open the hands of our hearts
to you and your Word of love.

Prayer of Confession

1. (Col. 3)
God of grace, you have raised us to new life.
We call to mind those times we have clothed ourselves in the new self,
and we give thanks.
[Silent reflection…]
We call to mind those times when we have fallen into the old life,
and we seek your grace.
Heal us, God, forgive us, and continue to renew us in the image of our Creator.
[Silent reflection…]
Dearly beloved, by the grace we know in Christ,
I proclaim to you that your sins are forgiven.
You have died, and your life is hidden in Christ.
When Christ, who is your life, is revealed,
then you also will be revealed with him in glory. Amen.

2. (Luke)
Pastor: God of grace, you have given us all good things.
We call to mind those times we have let go of the goods and values of this world
and clung to your love alone.
We remember and give thanks.
[Silent reflection…]
We call to mind those times we have clung to the goods and values of this world
as if they were ours, as if they were us.
We confess, and we ask your forgiveness.
[Silent reflection]
Dearly beloved, by the love we know in Christ,
I proclaim to you that your sins are forgiven;
by God’s grace you are free to live by the Spirit alone,
now and to eternal life. Amen.


Colossians 3.1-11, my paraphrase

Since you have been raised into new life with Christ, let your consciousness be shaped by that life, intimately close to Christ, close to God. Set your minds at a higher level, on essential things, not on meaningless distractions. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ— who is your life— is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Christ in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is self-centered: grasping for what is not yours, betraying your true nature, being controlled by selfish passions and desires and greed (after all, that is the true nature of idolatry). God’s fierce desire for our transformation burns in us when we live by these energies. These are ways we all once followed, when we were living that life.

But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and disrespect. Be truthful with one another, seeing that you have stripped off your old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with a new self, which has a whole new frame of mind, reflecting the image of its creator. In this renewal there is no longer insider and outsider, religious and non-religious, native and immigrant, superior and inferior; but Christ is all and in all!

Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

We thank you, God, for you create us in your image.
You claim us, and you are faithful to us.
You are abundantly generous to us.
You have raised us up to new life in Christ.

You walk with us toward a new world of mercy and justice.
You set us free from all that oppresses,
and call us to end all oppressing.

You offer us true abundance of life—
not possessions, but love that cannot be taken from us. We thank you and with all Creation we sing your praise.

            [Sanctus, spoken or sung:]
        Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.
        Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
        Hosanna in the highest.
               [or alternate version]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He taught and healed; he fed the hungry and restored the outcast.
He showed us the wonders of your grace,
so, forsaking all others, we might give ourselves to you.
He gave himself completely, dying for his stand for mercy and justice.
But you raised him from the dead, and still he calls us to life.

     (The Blessing and Covenant) *

As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

             [Memorial Acclamation, spoken or sung:]
        Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
        Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
        Christ will come again in glory.
             [or alternative]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us, that we may be for the world
the Body of Christ,
clothed in the new life, vessels of your love,
generous with our lives and rich toward you,
for the sake of the wholeness of the world,
in the name and the Spirit of Christ.

           [Spoken or sung]
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. You give us our lives as your gift to us. We give them to the world as our gift to you, in the name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Always New    (Tune: Gift of Love (“Water Is Wide”) or Tallis’ Canon)

O God, you make me always new.
Each breath I breathe is life from you,
a gift of love that sets me free.
Beloved, breathe new life in me.

O Christ, you call me to new birth
like God’s creation of the earth,
to leave the things I’m fastened on
and walk into the rising dawn.

O loving Spirit, live in me.
Forgive my sin and set me free.
Give me new birth, life from above,
that I may live in your deep love.

Children of the Heavenly Mother        (Tune: Children of the Heavenly Father)

Children of the Heavenly Mother,
gather gladly with each other,
for you call us to your table
bringing gifts as we are able.

You have held us and caressed us,
washed and taught us, healed and blessed us;
now you cherish and adore us
and you set our lives before us.*

You have birthed us, and have freed us;
with your body now you feed us.
In this grace, O loving mother,
we are one with one another.

So we praise you, heavenly Mother,
Holy Spirit, Christ our brother,
All Creation sings together
honor, thanks and praise for ever.

* With communion: “and you set this table for us.”

O Faithful God (Tune: Finlandia)

O faithful God, whose steadfast love is sure,
O Loving Father, Mother kind and strong:
your Covenant forever will endure;
you bind us to your heart our whole life long.
No matter how rebellious is your child,
in you we are brought home and reconciled

You hold us, God, in kinship with each other.
We have been loved and held when we would run.
We all are siblings, all born of one Mother;
though we would flee, you join us all as one.
Our deepest wounds come from our deepest love,
and so our highest hope for life above.

So teach us God, to bravely love each other,
for all belong within your house of grace,
to give our enemy, who is our brother,
our steadfast mercy, and a wide embrace;
for in our love, though we be right or wrong,
we know the grace to which we all belong.

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