OT 19 – Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

August 7, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In Isaiah 1.1, 10-20 God says I don’t want your hypocritical religious words and actions. Do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed and advocate for those who are powerless.

In Psalm 50 God again says, “I don’t need your sacrifices. I want your faithfulness.”

Hebrews 11.1-3, 6-16 says faith is the assurance of unseen things. It gives Old Testament examples of people who trusted God though they saw no proof of God’s promise before hand.

In Luke 12. 32-40 Jesus tells us to let go of our possessions and trust God. Be ready to serve God.

Preaching Thoughts

Isaiah
     Again the prophet rails not against private sins but corporate ones: systemic injustice, particularly against the poor. (Note verse 10: this is the sin of Sodom: not sexual perversity but economic perversity.) Isaiah has nothing against worship and ritual. He’s simply asking that it reflect our desire for justice, not just trying to get good with God. In Mt. 9.13 and 12.7 Jesus quotes Hosea’s version of it: “I desire mercy, not sacrifices.” He says the same in Mk. 12.33 as well.

Hebrews
      “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” — For Christians hope isn’t about the future; it’s not just wishful thinking. It’s trust in what’s already here, but unseen. We trust God not because we think God will act but because we know God is acting. Hope is trusting in that unseen grace; faith is reaching out to connect with it even when we can’t see what’s next.

Luke
     “Do not worry…” — We often say “There’s nothing to eat,” or “I don’t have a thing to wear” when that’s not really true. Most of us are nowhere near the abject poverty we claim to be afraid of. No doubt you’ve heard people complain that tithing would make them so poor they’d be be a burden—when in fact they’d only be 10% closer to the way lots other people live quite comfortably. If we’re worried, it’s probably a sign we’re on the wrong track. If we’re seeking God’s love and justice, what we need will be provided.
     Most of us are addicted to money. We think we need it to be happy, and we can’t let go of it. We’re exactly like drunks who say “Oh, I could give up drinking any time, I just haven’t yet…” But until we quit, we’re hooked. The only way to sober up in our addiction to money is to quit: give it away. “Sell your possessions and give generously.” Until then we’re just whining about something we haven’t even lost. People resent preachers “asking for money,” but in fact the preacher is showing you how to get free.
     Jesus is not only talking about letting go of our materialism and our addiction to comfort. He’s also getting at how we place all sorts of other values ahead of love. Whatever we cling to—reputation, familiarity, entitlement—is our “drug of choice,” and we need to let go of it.
     Churches worry about what to eat and wear—that is, budgets and buildings—but not about their mission and ministry. “Seek the kingdom,” Jesus says. That’s why it’s not the change of subject is seems to be when Jesus talks about the coming of the householder and the unexpected thief. We need to be ready to serve, and put our possessions at God’s disposal, at a moment’s notice. Otherwise the thief of our selfishness will sneak in and commandeer our stuff. Whether a church or an individual, we need to ask always: Am I putting my treasure to God’s use, or clinging to it?
     “It is your Abba God’s good pleasure to give you the whole empire.”— We whine about the little things we want, but God has given us everything. Wow. Beyond all our talk about “seeking” the Realm of God, it’s actually right here in our laps. It’s given, in both senses of the word. If we seek to create a community of love, healing, reconciliation and justice, we will have what we need. External conditions will remain external.
     “The Kingdom.” The Realm of God has three dimensions: 1. The absolute sovereignty of God, the reliable mystery that Love, our Abba-Amma God, is the Creator, center, power and law of life and the universe. We may ignore it but we can’t escape it. To “receive the Realm of God” is to awaken to this blessed reality. 2. A field of love, like a magnetic or electrical field. When we live in harmony with it we “have life, and have it abundantly.” In disharmony, we find ourselves in a “outer darkness.” 3. God’s hope for the world. God is still creating a world of justice and wholeness, attested to by Jesus and the prophets, but not yet fulfilled. It is still “coming.” We don’t have the power to force or prevent it, only the choice to live in harmony with it or out of tune with God’s delight. For God to “give us the Realm” doesn’t mean we have ownership or control, but we have access and belonging.
     “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Notice it’s not the other way around. Don’t wait till you feel like being generous. You may never. Sometimes we have to move our treasure—to give it away—to awaken our hearts to what we really care about.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
You alone are holy, and we worship you.
Glory be to you, O God of all Creation.
Thanks be to you, O Christ, for our salvation.
God of grace and abundance,
you give us all things, even your whole Realm.
We eat from your hands; we rest in your lap.
Deepen our gratitude, trust and compassion.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

2.
Leader: Eternal God, provider of every good thing, we praise you.
All: We are in awe; this is our worship.
Loving Christ, your grace is overflowing.
We are grateful; this is our worship.
Holy Spirit, you empower us to do justice and join the work of love.
We are ready; this is our worship.
It is your good pleasure to give us the whole Realm.
How can we but serve you, in joy and love?

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of abundant grace, you spread out Creation like a feast before us. You pour out your love like rain upon us. You stir in our souls like the molten earth beneath our continents. Help us to receive. Help us to trust. Help us now to listen for your Word, and be renewed in your Spirit. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, it is your pleasure to give us your Spirit, to give us your grace, to give us your whole Realm. Open our hearts so that we may always be ready to receive and to share your blessings. We pray in the name of Jesus, fountain of your grace. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, we open ourselves in honesty to God.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love,
to see what is in us that is loving,
and what is not loving
God, we recall when we have been in harmony with you, or with life, and we give thanks. [Silent prayer…]
We recall when we have been out of harmony, and we seek your grace. [Silent prayer…]
God of mercy, in Christ you have shown us your grace.
Forgive us, heal us, and perfect your love in us.
[Silent prayer…]
Dearly Beloved, by the grace we know in Christ,
I proclaim that all your sins are entirely forgiven,
and you are set free to live by the grace of the Holy Spirit
now and to eternal life. Amen.

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.

Abba God, it is your good pleasure to give us your whole Empire.
All of Creation you give to us, and all of your grace that surrounds us.
You seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and care for the widow.
You ask us to do the same.
Consider the ravens: who neither sow nor reap;
they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet you feed them.
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
yet, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

You shower us with your grace and nourish us with your love.
Therefore with all Creation we sing your praise.
     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who gave us your riches and shared with us us your abundance.
He offered us unfailing treasure in heaven,
where no thief comes near and no moth destroys

He fed the hungry, healed the sick, and included the rejected.
He freed us from worry and taught us to trust your grace.
He stood against the powers of Empire,
promising instead your Empire of Grace.
For his resistance he was crucified, but you raised him from death.

     (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)

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,
dressed for action, with lamps that are lit.

By the strength of these gifs empower us to do your will,
to
seek justice, rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan, and care for the widow,
for the sake of the healing of the world,
to your glory, in the name of Christ.
(Amen.)

____________
* 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 our lives, symbolized in these gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. You have given us all we need to face our challenges, to live with courage and beauty, and to work for justice and healing for the sake of the wholeness of all Creation. Send us now to do your will, by the power of your Spirit, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

All of the Gifts I Have (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)

All of the gifts I have, all that is within me,
you give to me, O God, with care;
all of my prayers and skills, passions and energies
you grant to me to freely share.

Here are my hopes and dreams, attitudes and deepest loves,
all of the treasure to which I cling.
I will not hold them in, stilling my ardent song,
but serving you I’ll freely sing.

In all I keep or give, may I do my very best
in everything I say and do,
in harmony with you, only to love and bless,
with joy, to serve and honor you.


Communion Song (Tune: Amazing Grace)

Dear Jesus, when we break our bread with those who are in need,
we then by grace commune with God, and it is you we feed.

When we sit down and eat with those who hunger and who thirst,
we know that we are also poor, and you have fed us first.

So call us to your table, Love, your grateful children, call:
where we receive your grace, unearned, and turn to share with all.

Do Justice (Original song)

Do justice, love mercy,
walk humbly with your God.
O, help us humbly live your justice,
your love, your mercy.


Giving Heart (Tune: O WALY WALY, or The Water is Wide- Gift of Love)

O God of grace, you set us free
and feed us all abundantly,
so help me trust the gifts you give,
with giving heart and hands to live.

Come, Spirit, come, and set me free
from all I cling to fearfully.
Come heal my heart, my fears relieve,
so I may give as I receive.

Your Bread of Life transforms us, Lord,
so we become your living Word.
Our lives no more are ours to hold,
but yours to share with all the world.


Set Me Free (To Love) (Original song)

From all that binds me, Love, set me free.
From all that binds me, Love, set me free.
Set me free, Love, set me free.
Oh Love, set me free for love.

From what I fear, O Love set me free….
From what I cling to, Love, set me free…
To live in perfect love, set me free….