February 7th Worship

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Order of Service

Part I
Preludeby BerensChris Johansen, piano
Opening Prayer
Welcome
Confession & Forgiveness
Liz Dodge
Gathering SongThe Church of Christ in Every Age
#729
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Liz Dodge
Psalm 92Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Part II
ScriptureLuke 6: 1-16Liz Dodge
ReflectionLiz Dodge
Creed
Prayers of Intercession
Lord’s Prayer
Benediction
Liz Dodge
Closing HymnThe Church of Christ in Every AgeHarry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
DismissalLiz Dodge
Postludeby SchumannChris Johansen

Part I

Part II


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Opening Prayer

Here we are Lord!
We come from the busy-ness of our daily lives
from the hubbub of our work and play
from the hue and cry of the world around us,
we come to worship you.
In this hour, we long to meet you,
to feel your presence surrounding us,
enveloping us, loving us.
We long to settle into silence,
laying aside our worries and our cares,
aware of your presence around us,
before us, behind us, within us.
Come, Lord Jesus.

written by Carole Penner, and posted on her Leading in Worship blog:
 http://carolpenner.typepad.com/leadinginworship/ 


Welcome

Confession & Forgiveness

P:  In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit.                          

C: Amen

P: We confess our entanglements with justice, hurts, and greed – and God’s difficult, blessed vision of a very different way. We seek the face of God, confessing our sin.

       Silence for reflection and self-examination.

Holy God,

we have sinned against you and each other. We pray for your forgiveness and healing. The good we want to do, we often fail to do. The harmful actions and thoughts we do not want, we turn to again and again. Deliver us, Gracious God. Save us, save our neighbors, save all your creatures from our lack of imagination and courage. Gird us for the challenges of change needed, called for, overdue. Guide our way in your way.     Amen

P:  We who were once far off have been brought near to God through the cross of Christ.

     May we forgive one another as God in Christ has first forgiven us.    Amen


Gathering Song – The Church of Christ in Every Age

1.
The church of Christ in ev’ry age
beset by change, but Spirit-led,
must claim and test its heritage
and keep on rising from the dead.

2.
Across the world, across the street,
the victims of injustice cry
for shelter and for bread to eat,
and never live before they die.

3.
Then let the servant church arise,
a caring church that longs to be
a partner in Christ’s sacrifice,
and clothed in Christ’s humanity.

4.
For he alone, whose blood was shed,
can cure the fever in our blood,
and teach us how to share our bread
and feed the starving multitude.

5.
We have no mission but to serve
in full obedience to our Lord;
to care for all, without reserve,
and spread his liberating word.



Greeting

We gather in the triune name of sacred Love. May God’s peace be ever with you, Christ’s mercy near at hand, and may the Holy Spirit guide and encourage you in all circumstances and in every need.   Amen

Prayer of the Day

Lord of the Sabbath,
Your followers were told not to work on the Sabbath, and yet they boldly plucked grain to show that you are Lord of all. The world tells us not to rest on the Sabbath. Show us how to rest boldly, rejecting conventions that go against your will, and instead praying and resting as you did up on the mountain, for the glory of your word and work, Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

                           

      


Psalm 92

1 It is a good thing to give thanks | to the Lord,
to sing praise to your name, | O Most High;

2 to herald your love | in the morning
and your faithful-|ness at night;

3 on the psaltery, and | on the lyre,
and to the melody | of the harp.

4 For you have made me glad by your | acts, O Lord;
and I shout for joy because of the works | of your hands.

5 Lord, how great | are your works!
Your thoughts are | very deep.

6 The dullard | does not know,
nor does the fool | understand,

7 that though the wicked grow like weeds, and all the workers of iniq-|uity flourish,
they flourish only to be de-|stroyed forever;

8 but | you, O Lord,
are exalted for-|evermore.

9 For lo, your enemies, O Lord, lo, your ene-|mies shall perish,
and all the workers of iniquity | shall be scattered.

10 But you have raised up my horns like those of | a wild ox;
I am anointed | with fresh oil.

11 My eyes spy out | those who watch me;
my ears hear when enemies rise | up against me.

12 The righteous shall flourish | like a palm tree,
and shall spread abroad like a ce-|dar of Lebanon.

13 Those who are planted in the house | of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts | of our God;

14 they shall still bear fruit | in old age;
they shall be | green and succulent;

15 that they may show how up-|right the Lord is,
my rock, in whom there is | no injustice.


Scripture Reading – Luke 6: 1-16

The Question about the Sabbath

One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

The Man with a Withered Hand

On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Jesus Chooses the Twelve Apostles

12 Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Thanks be to God


Reflection

This reading uses Jesus’s redirection or “rule breaking” by the Pharisee’s standards of what can be done on the Sabbath to prod us to consider our own lives restrictiveness, our own trust in Jesus.   What is God’s will for the Sabbath?  More broadly, what are we doing today in the name of the church that might in fact be getting in the way of deepening our relationship with God?   

From Luther’s Small Catechism:

The Third Commandment:  
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

What is this?  We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise God’s Word or preaching, but instead keep that Word holy and gladly hear and learn it. 

Old Testament Sabbath keeping was intended to serve God’s chosen people, the people of Israel, as a day of rest.  On the seventh day of the week God rested after the six days of creation.  It served several purposes for the children of Israel.  It provided physical rest from the daily toil, all of which came from the fall of Adam and Eve into sin in the Garden of Eden. It helped rejuvenate workers and beasts of burden.  It served as a means of setting God’s people apart from the heathen Gentiles around them.  It reminded them that their God had set them apart, made them holy.  The most important purpose of the Sabbath rest for the Old Testament believers was that it served as a reminder of what was to come.  It was a time to remember the journey out of the wilderness, the goodness of God in supplying them with a new home in the promised land. 

Jewish church leaders of Jesus’ day lost the focus of the true purposes of the Third Commandment.   Their efforts to apply rules and regulations to the Sabbath remind me of the process of developing policies and procedures when I was a manager.  We’d start with a broad statement of good intent, but the details would weigh us down as we tried to think of every possible question, of every possible way someone might try to work their way around the policy.  Rules and regulations get a bad rap because they attempt to address the minutia of execution.  What if we left from home to attend a conference?  Could we count the hours it took to get there as work time?  When did the clock start for claiming mileage?  What if it was shorter to go to the conference, could we start our workday later?  These details would exhaust me.  I often wished my staff would just know that I was a wise and just leader who would dole out answers with their best interest at heart.  Kind of like Jesus.  So, while we might think these Pharisees were polluting the commandment with man-made rules, I get why there was a desire to make sure the rules were applied evenly.  I have been on both sides of this issue. 

But let’s face it.  When management makes all kinds of rules, it’s not just about fairness.  It’s really about trust.  Trust that workers will do the right thing.  Trust that management will be equitable in applying the rules.  It seems that this is a similar issue that is being addressed in this passage.  Jesus tells the scribes and Pharisees that life giving actions, like feeding the hungry, or tending the sick, are ok to do on the Sabbath.  He says – trust me.  I’m the one who invented the Sabbath after all.    I know what I am talking about.  “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

Marjorie Thompson has a chapter on Sabbath keeping in her book, Soul Feast.  Here are some of her words…

Valuing and guarding the sacred rhythm of sabbath is a radical choice, particularly in a culture as devoted as ours to production and achievement.  Sadly, it is even radical in most churches, which inevitably absorb and reflect cultural norms because they are made up of ordinary people like us!  Most churches in the United States are so caught up with worship, classes, programs, service projects, and the demands of internal maintenance that they rarely encourage or promote real sabbath time, for either pastors or laity.  …. True sabbath has an uncomfortably subversive character for those of us formed in the Protestant work ethic…Yet, keeping the sabbath is a call to trust.  To put our faith and hope in God above all else.  Trust is the heartbeat of sabbath, the bedrock of soul rest.  Perhaps because God knows how much we need this rest and how hard it is for us to take, sabbath is a commandment.  It is probably the commandment most frequently broken by church leaders, caught up in the ceaseless demands of ministry and haunted by the conviction that we can never do enough to truly satisfy others or God.  Do we imagine that God is somehow pleased by our exhaustion or that the fewer days off we take and the busier we are, the more faithful servants we must be?”

(2014, p.73 – 74)

This challenge of rest and renewal, of making the time or creating the margin we need to focus on rest and rejuvenation is so relevant today.  It seems fitting that this is the message we are pondering on this first Sunday of our Pastors’ extended rest and renewal leave.  It seems fitting as we contemplate this extended period of isolation and caution in what has dragged out into almost a year of this pandemic.  What was first almost celebrated as an opportunity to renew our love of home and solitude, has become more like an ever-tightening belt.  We liked that we were able to tighten the notches a bit, but now the squeeze is taking our breath away. 

When Luke writes about Jesus, he emphasizes his compassion and justice, especially to the poor.  Luke portrays the Pharisees as those who in their attempt to protect the Sabbath, burdened it with restrictions.  The more important question for contemporary readers and hearers is this: are we more like the Pharisees in Luke’s story than we care to admit?  How have we managed to turn God’s gift of the Sabbath into a burden? 

The pull to reward work in our society was briefly reset during the initial months of the pandemic.  We see more and more the social and emotional costs of a prolonged isolation, prolonged disruption of community connections.  Jesus told us in this reading that a focus on the life-giving needs of others is an appropriate activity during the Sabbath.   The Sabbath needs to be seen in light of basic human needs.  God’s will for Life and wholeness does not stop for the Sabbath.  The Sabbath is for our well being. 

Finally, from Martin Luther’s Large Catechism:   “Whenever God’s Word is taught, preached, heard, read, or meditated upon, then the person, day, and work are sanctified. This is not because of the outward work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. Therefore, I constantly say that all our life and work must be guided by God’s Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled” (Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments, para. 92).

Time for silence and reflection


Creed

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother, and Savior. 
In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace.
         You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
         You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.     Amen

~Julian of Norwich

Prayers of Intercession

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen

Benediction

Go with the strength you have.
    Go simply
    lightly
    gently
Go in search of Love.
And know the Spirit of God goes with you. Amen


Hymn – The Church of Christ in Every Age

arr. by Paul Coleman
Original on Youtube here

1.
The church of Christ in ev’ry age
beset by change, but Spirit-led,
must claim and test its heritage
and keep on rising from the dead.

2.
Across the world, across the street,
the victims of injustice cry
for shelter and for bread to eat,
and never live before they die.

3.
Then let the servant church arise,
a caring church that longs to be
a partner in Christ’s sacrifice,
and clothed in Christ’s humanity.

4.
For he alone, whose blood was shed,
can cure the fever in our blood,
and teach us how to share our bread
and feed the starving multitude.

Then let the servant church arise,
a caring church that longs to be
a partner in Christ’s sacrifice,
and clothed in Christ’s humanity.

5.
We have no mission but to serve
in full obedience to our Lord;
to care for all, without reserve,
and spread his liberating word.

Then let the servant church arise,
a caring church that longs to be
a partner in Christ’s sacrifice,
and clothed in Christ’s humanity.

Then let the servant church arise,
a caring church that longs to be
a partner in Christ’s sacrifice,
and clothed in Christ’s humanity.
a partner in Christ’s sacrifice,
and clothed in Christ’s humanity.


Dismissal

Go in peace.  May the Sabbath spirit of renewal be with you always.

Thanks be to God.


Postlude

Chris Johansen