Category Archives: Uncategorized

Digital Worship September 25, 2022

Both the contemporary online service and the sermon from this service are embedded at the bottom of the post.

16th Sunday after Pentecost, September 25, 2022

We are gathered in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy   Spirit.

Amen

God of all mercy and consolation, come to the aid of your people, turning us from our sin to live for you alone. Give us the power of you Holy Spirit that, attentive to your Word, we may confess our sins, receive your forgiveness, and grow into the fullness of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us confess our sins in the presence of God and of one another.

Gracious God, have mercy on us. In your compassion forgive us our sins, known and unknown, things done and left undone. Uphold us by your Spirit so that we may live and serve you in newness of life, to the honor and glory of your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life

Amen

Greeting:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Prayer of the Day

God among us, we gather in the name of your Son to learn love for one another. Keep our feet from evil paths. Turn our minds to your wisdom and our hearts to the grace revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 First Reading: Amos 6: 1a, 4-7

1aAlas for those who are at ease in Zion,
  and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,

4Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
  and lounge on their couches,
 and eat lambs from the flock,
  and calves from the stall;
5who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
  and like David improvise on instruments of music;
6who drink wine from bowls,
  and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
  but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
7Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
  and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

Psalm: Psalm 146

 1Hallelujah!
  Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
  I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3Put not your trust in rulers,
  in mortals in whom there is no help.
4When they breathe their last, they return to earth,
  and in that day their thoughts perish. 
5Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help,
  whose hope is in the Lord their God;
6who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
  who keeps promises forever;
7who gives justice to those who are oppressed, and food to those who hunger.
  The Lord sets the captive free.
8The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
  the Lordloves the righteous.
9The Lord cares or the stranger;
  the Lord sustains the orphan and widow, but frustrates the way of the wicked.
10The Lord shall reign forever,
  your God, O Zion, throughout all generations. Hallelujah!

 Second Reading: 1 Timothy 6: 6-19

6Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. 11But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.17As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Gospel: Luke 16: 19-31

[Jesus said:] 19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

Sermon: Pastor Neil White

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Assisting Minister

Let us pray:

Creating God, source of all life, we rejoice in the incredible creation that you have given us to watch over. As you continue to renew your creation day by day we ask that you grant both your people and leaders, global and local, a heart to care for the earth. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord God, ruler of all the earth, where nations and communities yearn for peace and justice we ask for your steadfast love and righteousness to guide those working for peace. Watch over those who dedicate their lives to the protection and service of others including: Ben, Brycen, Christian, Clayton, Daniel, Dillan, Ethan, Evan, Luke, Michael, Spencer, Sydney, Tyler B. and Tyler G. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Healing God look on your children with compassion and ease the suffering of those dealing with emotional or physical pain. Have your healing hand upon:  Aubrey, Avery, Betsy, Billie, Bob, Brenda, Brandon, Cohen, Dan, Dennis, Denver, Donna, Eliza, Gary, Gloria, Jamie, Jan, Jerry,  Kay, Laurie, Linda, Makayla, Maureen, Mike, Nolan, Roger, Sandy C., Sandy P., Tom and Wayne 

Lord, we pray for the ministries of the ELCA and the Northern Texas – Northern Louisiana Synod, we also lift up in prayer today: First Sagrada Familia Lutheran Church, Garland, Abiding Grace Lutheran Church, Southlake and ELCA Conference of Bishops

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Leader: In trust and hope, we commend to you, O Lord, all for whom we pray. Amen.

Sharing of the Peace

Highlights

Offering Offering may be given in the offering plate or electronically through the Tithe.ly app. If you want to honor your electronic gift during the offering there are cards on the usher’s table for that purpose.

Words of Institution

Lord’s Prayer

 Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Post Communion Prayer

A: Let us pray. Lord Jesus, in this sacrament you strengthen us with the saving power of your death and resurrection. May these gifts of your body and blood create in us the fruits of your redemption and grace in our lives, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Blessing

DiscipleLife

L:    As God has claimed us as his own in Christ,

       we seek to follow Christ with these marks of DiscipleLife:

§Praying Daily

§Worshiping Weekly

§Studying the Bible

§Serving Others

§Building Spiritual Friendships

§Giving to God and our Neighbors in Need

§Engaging God’s Mission

Dismissal: “Go in peace, serve the Lord. Thanks be to God” Alleluia

Online Video Study of the Book of Philippians: Chapter 3

St. Paul Writing His Epistles probably by Valentin de Boulogne (1618-1620)

I created this for my congregation as a summer study on the book of Philippians. It is more of a devotional with a short reflection on a couple verses each day. This is the second chapter of Philippians, below is a link to the other chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Day 16: Philippians 3: 1b-4a

Day 17: Philippians 3: 4b-6

Day 18: Philippians 3: 7-11

Day 19: Philippians 3: 12-16

Day 20: Philippians 3: 17-4:1

Online Video Study on the Book of Philippians: Chapter 2

St. Paul Writing His Epistles probably by Valentin de Boulogne (1618-1620)

I created this for my congregation as a summer study on the book of Philippians. It is more of a devotional with a short reflection on a couple verses each day. This is the second chapter of Philippians, below is a link to the other chapters

Chapter 1

Day 9: Philippians 2: 1-4

Day 10: Philippians 2: 5-8

Day 11: Philippians 2: 9-11

Day 12: Philippians 2: 12-13

Day 13: Philippians 2: 14-18

Day 14: Philippians 2: 19-24

Day 15: Philippians 2: 25- 3:1a

Online Video Study on the Book of Philippians: Chapter 1

St. Paul Writing His Epistles probably by Valentin de Boulogne (1618-1620)

I created this for my congregation as a summer study on the book of Philippians. It is more of a devotional with a short reflection on a couple verses each day.

Day 1: Philippians 1: 1-2

Day 2: Philippians 1: 3-6

Day 3: Philippians 1: 7-11

Day 4: Philippians 1: 12-14

Day 5: Philippians 1: 15-18

Day 6: Philippians 1: 18b-20

Day 7: Philippians 1: 20-26

Psalm 67 A Blessing For The Earth

Psalm 67

<To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.>

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
 2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
       3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
                4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the       nations upon earth. Selah
       5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
 6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.
7 May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.

The Jewish[1] sense of being chosen by God involves a paradox between the universalism of God’s bounty over all the earth and the particularism of their specific role and responsibility within God’s greater action on behalf of the world and the nations. They are to be a ‘treasured possession, a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation,’ (Exodus 19: 5-6) but like their ancestor Abraham, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12: 3) Central to the theology of the psalms, and the entire scriptures, is the audacious claim that the particular God they worship is the God of all creation. This small nation, which are descendants of slaves in Egypt, and never emerges as major player on the world stage somehow trusts that the covenantal life they live will be a witness for all the nations to see and it will testify to the universal reign of the God they worship.

The psalm is structured as a chiasm[2] with verse four as the center. This central point focuses on the universal reign and worship of their God. This universal reign is to be demonstrated by the praise of all the peoples. This idea is echoed in several other places in scripture either in relation to the God of Israel (Exodus 9:16, Psalm 22: 27-28, Isaiah 2: 2-4; 19: 23-34; 49: 5-7) or Jesus. (Matthew 28:18, Philippians 2: 10-11) The petition at the beginning of the psalm that God may bless us (echoing the priestly blessing of Numbers 6: 24-26 but now placing it in the voice of the people rather than the priest) is paired with the hope that through this blessing God’s way make be known upon the earth and God’s saving power among the nations. The Psalm mirrors this request by announcing that God has blessed and the earth yields its harvest (increase) and in God’s continued action of blessing the people of Israel the ends of the earth will revere God.

This idea of election or calling of the people of God for the sake of the rest of the earth makes a more gracious view of those who believe and act differently available for the chosen people. God’s blessing on the earth and the nations does not depend upon the conversion or subjugation of those nations. Even if these Gentiles or unbelievers do not ‘know’ that it is God at work, the covenant people know and celebrate this. This is a part of the mystery of God’s strange and gracious way upon the earth. God can act through a foreigner like Cyrus in Isaiah 45: 1-5 to bring about a blessing for the covenant people. As Jesus can state in Matthew’s gospel, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5: 44-45) These followers of God are to live in gratitude for the blessings that God sends both to them and the unrighteous, to those who are a part of the covenant people and the ones beyond the boundaries of their faith or nation. They continue to pray for God’s blessings not only on themselves but also for the whole world. God’s special consideration of the covenant people somehow, in the mystery of God’s steadfast love, is a part of God’s establishing justice for all the people and a way in which God provides guidance for all the earth.

 

[1] This also applies to the Christian sense of being chosen or calling.

[2] A Chiasm is a poetic and literary structure where ideas and often vocabulary is mirrored around a central point. I have indented the psalm to show this structure where vs. 1-2 are mirrored by 6-7, vs. 3 and 5 are identical copies and verse four stands as the focal point.

Psalm 66 Formed by Steadfast Love

Grigory Mekheev, Exodus (2000) artist shared work under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Psalm 66

<To the leader. A Song. A Psalm.>

1 Make a joyful[1] noise to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.” Selah
5 Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
6 He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There we rejoiced in him,
7 who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations — let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah
8 Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;
12 you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.
13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,
14 those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.
17 I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

For the Hebrew people the Exodus is the defining narrative that informs their life as the people of God. Without God’s action to bring them out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the promised land they are not a people of their own, merely slaves of the great Egyptian empire. Central to their faith is the trust that God acted in mighty ways to deliver their ancestors in the past and that God continues to act in ways to protect, preserve, purify, and refine so that they might be a treasured possession, a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation. (Exodus 19: 5-6) The people of God participate with the rest of creation in bearing witness to not only the mighty deeds of God but the careful formation of this people into something precious.

The previous psalm ended with the valleys and meadows shouting for joy and singing and now Psalm 66 begins with the imperative for all the earth to shout to God. God’s name and God’s power are lifted up as reasons for that praise and both friend and foe recognize the power of God. The initial stanza of this psalm joins together the voices of humanity with the voices of the creation in an exultant praise of God’s glory and strength while the second stanza invites the hearer to learn the specific actions that the psalmist views as praiseworthy. The invitation to come and see God’s awesome deeds takes the listener to the exodus narrative where God turned the Red Sea into dry land for Israel to cross and, before their entry into the promised land, God does the same with the Jordan river. These actions to bring the people out of Egypt and into the promised land demonstrate for the speaker God’s rule over the nations and God’s ability to execute justice throughout the world. The rebellious ones find themselves overwhelmed by God’s judgment like Korah and the leaders he assembled to confront Moses. (Numbers 16)

The work of God is not completed with the rescue of the people but it continues with the formation of this people to become the holy nation they are set aside to be. The other nations are invited to observe the way that the God of Israel is at work testing and refining the people, training them as one would train an athlete or soldier by giving them additional burdens to bear, and passing them through fire and water that they might be who they were created to be. As Beth Tanner can observe, “The world is eavesdropping on Israel’s formation as God’s people.” (Nancy deClaisse-Walford 2014, 535) The speaker does not resent this formation but rather praises God because of it. God has shaped and formed them to be something special and they respond with an abundant thanksgiving offering of fatlings, rams, bulls, and goats are offered. Presumably this type of offering would take place within a great communal feast celebrating God’s provision and telling again the story of God’s mighty deeds through the Exodus.

The psalm concludes with a move from a highlighting of what God has done for the people to centering on God’s answering of the prayer of the speaker. God has formed the speaker to be pure of heart and God also hears the prayers of this treasured one. God’s promised steadfast love has been there when the psalmist needed it and God has demonstrated that God is trustworthy in God’s relation to the individual as well as the people. Living in the covenant with this God has brought the psalmist to the point where they shout out joyfully with all creation for the mighty work of their God.

This is a psalm that speaks to what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would many years later call ‘costly grace.’ The grace (or steadfast love) in this psalm chooses the people without any worthiness of their own, but it also tests and tries the recipient so that they may become something precious. This steadfast love is at work in the work of creation, redemption, and sanctification-forming from slaves and sinners a holy people, a treasured possession, and a priestly kingdom. It is a faith which allows the faithful one to understand the struggles they pass through as a part of their formation to be who they were intended by God to be. It is a faith that can point to God’s mighty deeds in the past but also acknowledges the way that God has given heed to the words of the faithful one’s prayer. Perhaps one of the gifts in this psalm is the way that the steadfast love of God is seen at the conclusion, after the mighty deeds and the passing through fire and water. As Bonhoeffer stated in Discipleship, “Grace as presupposition is grace at its cheapest; grace as a conclusion is costly grace.” (DBWE 4:51) Perhaps it is only looking back through the struggles that one can appreciate the manner in which both the struggles and the mighty works together have been a part of God’s patient formation of the people and the individual through the ever-present steadfast love of God.

[1] This is the Hebrew verb rua (shout) which appears at the end of the last verst of Psalm 65

Getting to know Creative Words

To introduce Creative Words I did several readings of selections from throughout the work. Click on any of the titles and it will take you to the reading with the text of the poem:

Introducing Creative Words

Reading of the title poem Creative Words

Reading of Anxiety

Reading of Obfuscation

Reading of Poet, End the War

If you would like to read a review of Creative Words by an independent reviewer for Clarion book reviews you can access that here.

Psalm 62 Truly Faith Surrounds My Troubles

Wartburg Castle, Eisenach, Germany. Photo by Robert Scarth shared under creative commons 2.0

Psalm 62 Truly Faith Surrounds My Troubles

<To the leader: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.>

1 For God alone my soul[1] waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.
3 How long will you assail a person, will you batter[2] your victim, all of you, as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4 Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence. They take pleasure in falsehood; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah
5 For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
9 Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,
12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.

In poetry structure can frequently be used to help those familiar with the medium understand the words at a deeper level. In this psalm there are a number of structural elements that are often missed in the English translations that help provide emphasis in the psalm of trust amidst trouble. The placement of this psalm between Psalm 61 and Psalm 63 (also psalms which declare the psalmist’s trust in God above all other things) also emphasizes this common theme. The “trilogy of trust” within the psalms, as J. Clinton McCann labels Psalm 61-63, (NIB IV:922) stand near the end of the petitions for help in this portion of the book of psalms. Even though the psalmist’s world is full of people who murder reputations with their duplicitous ways, the way of faith knows that God’s steadfast love will outlast the scheming of mortals.

Invisible to most English translations of this psalm is the repetition of the Hebrew ‘ak which begins verses 1,2,4,5,6 and 9. This word, translated ‘alone’ and ‘only’ in the NRSV, is used four times in relation to God and twice in relation to the working of humans. There is a strong emphasis on God ‘alone’ providing strength which thwarts the ‘only’ plans of those who are but a breath. In addition to this structural repetition is the nearly identical wording of verses 1-2 and 5-6. The complaints about the enemies who are assailing the psalmist and attempting to bring them down from prominence are structurally surrounded by God alone, who they wait for in silence. The psalmist may appear like a leaning wall or a tottering fence, but they are surrounded by their rock, salvation, and fortress. The faithful one can remain in silence while the wicked ones utter falsehoods for they know that this struggle takes place within the sheltering space of their God who will not allow them to be shaken. Even trouble is surrounded by faith and the deliverance from the ephemeral evils produced by the wicked rests in the hands of God who rescues not only life but also honor and reputation.

In verse eight the psalm transforms from personal trust to testimony. Now the psalmist takes on the role of the instructor to the people handing on the trust they have learned. What humans can do alone without God (in verse 9 this is the final time the Hebrew ‘ak occurs) is to be a breath or a puff of air. God alone can be salvation, rock, fortress, deliverance, and honor. Placing trust in human scheming, extortion, robbery, and even riches is foolishness. It is in God, not humans and their schemes, where power rests. It is God’s hesed (steadfast love) that is the guarantee of the future for the faithful. The actions of the faithful and the foolish are seen by God and the psalmist trusts that ultimately God’s steadfast love and power will lift up the righteous and bring down those who are working in falsehood to destroy the honor and perhaps even the life of the faithful ones.

 

[1] Although the Hebrew nephesh is often translated ‘soul,’ the Hebrew understanding of ‘soul’ is closer to ‘life’ than the Greek conception of soul most English speakers assume. The Hebrew idea is inseparable from the life of the individual.

[2] A more literal translation of the Hebrew rasah here would be ‘kill’ or ‘murder’ (NIB IV:923)

Three Metaphors at the Closing of a Book: Part 3 The Drink

As the sweetness and smoke of the story’s savor
Fades from your tongue and your thirst returns
Drink deeply my friend, for there is sure to be a story here
That will quench your thirst for a time, cool and sharp.
Perhaps you want something that burns as it goes down,
Or something to make you forget the troubles of your world
I’ve got just the thing for you, take a taste of this
Drink deeply my friend, it has been aging and waiting for you.
It needs to be shared, and tasted. Enjoy my friend.
And maybe one day the story we share will be the one
You are brewing in the dark corners of your imagination.