PENTECOST 18

September 23, 2018
PENTECOST 18—LECTIONARY 25

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Think a minute.

In your adult life, you have been welcomed well and welcomed poorly.  Reflect on some of those times.  What made some welcomes wonderful and lovely?  Why did other less-wonderful welcomes lead you to feel distanced, less connected, perhaps even angry or alienated?

One of my less-than-wonderful non-welcomes occurred as I was leaving a church in which I had worshipped during a vacation Sunday.  Except for the sharing of the Peace, no one had spoken to me -- even as I stood in line to greet the pastor.  The pastor was a supply pastor that day and had no idea I was a visitor.  As I walked out the door toward the parking lot, a voice called from the doorway behind me, “you’re a visitor, aren’t you?”.  I turned around and said, “Yes”.  Then that person went back into the church without another word.  One kind of an unwelcome welcome.

Several weeks ago I worshipped in another church on a Sunday morning during my mother’s dying.  During that service, my cell phone went off.  I quickly answered it while walking outside.  It was not related to Mom.  It was our younger daughter whose 2 ½ year old wanted to FaceTime with his Pap.  We talked for a while, then I went back into the worship service.  At the passing of the peace, someone who was aware I had taken a call in the middle of worship asked very sincerely, “Is everything all right?”.

 I started to say “yes”, but said “well, my mother is dying and that is why I did not silence my phone during worship just in case . . .”  Word spread.  Other people during the peace exchange asked about Mom.  At the end of the service, a woman came to me, took me by the hand to a corner of the church, and prayed with me.  I was very touched and felt very welcomed.

Jesus teaches his disciples in the Gospel lesson today that his way calls us to focus on others.  Bonhoeffer referred to Jesus as the ‘one for others’.   Jesus’ disciples had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest.  He says among his followers the greatest are those who serve their fellow human beings, even and especially those who cannot pay back, give back, or reward.  To illustrate Jesus brings a child into the circle.  How we treat children is a mark of our discipleship.

Do we see children?  Do we welcome children gently, warmly, as they need to be welcomed?

Each of us still has that child in us. 

“The test of the morality of society is what it does for its children.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

PRAYER OF THE DAY
O God, our teacher and guide, you draw us to yourself and welcome us as beloved children. Help us to lay aside all envy and selfish ambition, that we may walk in your ways of wisdom and understanding as servants of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

 

LESSONS AND PSALM
            Jeremiah 11:18–20
                        Psalm 54
            James 3:13—4:3, 7–8a
            Mark 9:30–37
 
CHILDREN’S SERMON: “Selfish”

SERMON: “An Unwelcome Welcome”

WORD OF THE WEEK – from Mark 9
33Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."
 
FIRST LESSON from Jeremiah 11:18–20
It was the LORD who made it known to me, and I knew;
             then you showed me their evil deeds.
 19But I was like a gentle lamb
            led to the slaughter.
 And I did not know it was against me
             that they devised schemes, saying,
 "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
             let us cut him off from the land of the living,
             so that his name will no longer be remembered!"
 20But you, O LORD of hosts, who judge righteously,
             who try the heart and the mind,
 let me see your retribution upon them,
             for to you I have committed my cause.
 
SECOND LESSON from James 3:13—4:3, 7–8a
Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.  15Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
            4:1Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

            7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Mark 9:30–37
[Jesus and the disciples went on] and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
            33Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 30, 2018
PENTECOST 19—LECTIONARY 26
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Social scientists and their research indicate that we are forming ourselves into increasingly more-narrow camps or silos.  This apparently is part of our make-up, instincts, DNA, brain wiring, etc.

The desire to belong leads us to want to show we belong.  In a group we may tend to push the identity into more and more ‘refined’ or ‘pure’ forms.  In addition to just belonging, we need to display the bumper sticker and demonstrate our belonging.

Those social scientists find that the ‘middle’ is not a place sought by people.  People in conservative groups move increasingly to more conservative positions; people in progressive groups move to more progressive positions as if to prove their identity and belonging.

But belonging is a longing to be . . . a part of something.

Jesus scrambles the way people belong.  Disciples are threatened by someone – not a part of their group – who is doing wonderful things in Jesus’ name.   They want to stop the ‘outsider’ who does not belong to their group.  Or so they perceive.

Jesus counsels them not to stop that one who is casting out demons in Jesus’ name.  If that person is not against us, then he is with us.  

How different such a view is from the divisions we see and feel in our communities.  Too often if you are not exactly what ‘we’ are, then you do not belong. 

How different is the mindset that sees others who are doing similar work as kin in the Kingdom.

PRAYER OF THE DAY
Generous God, your Son gave his life that we might come to peace with you. Give us a share of your Spirit, and in all we do empower us to bear the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

 

LESSONS AND PSALM
            Numbers 11:4–6, 10–16, 24–29
            Psalm 19:7–14
            James 5:13–20
            Mark 9:38–50
 
CHILDREN’S SERMON:  “Salt”
SERMON:  “The Provisions of God”
 
WORD OF THE WEEK – from Mark 9

John said to [Jesus,] "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." 39But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

FIRST LESSON from Numbers 11:4–6, 10–16, 24–29
The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, "If only we had meat to eat! 5We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at."
           10Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the LORD became very angry, and Moses was displeased. 11So Moses said to the LORD, "Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? 12Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child,' to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, 'Give us meat to eat!' 14I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. 15If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once—if I have found favor in your sight—and do not let me see my misery."
            16So the LORD said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you."
            24So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. 25Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.

            26Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." 28And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!" 29But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!"

SECOND LESSON from James 5:13–20
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
            17Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
            19My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner's soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
 
THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Mark 9:38–50
John said to [Jesus,] "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." 39But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
            42"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
            49"For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."