August 1, 2021
*Call to Worship
Leader: Come to a deserted place and rest awhile.
People: We rest in divine guidance.
Leader: Come to a deserted place and rest awhile.
People: We rest in sustaining renewal.
Leader: Come to a deserted place and rest awhile.
People: We rest in redeeming hope.
Loving God, we pray for those who need rest from the insecurities of the world. Help us as we worship and find spaces for guidance, renewal, and hope. We pray that our deserted places become less about feeling alone and isolated, but instead awaken the connection of an all-encompassing divine love and assurance. We pray all of this in your awesome name. Amen.
*Hymn UMH # 57 O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing (verses 1,2,5,7)
Scripture Mark 2:23-28
Pronouncement about the Sabbath
23 One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26 He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.
This is the word of God for the people of God
Thanks be to God
Meditation “A New Way of Understanding Who God Is” Kenneth Sauer
Contributed by Kenneth Sauer on Jun 21, 2012 A UMC Pastor
Summary: A sermon about the God of grace and compassion.
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In June 2011, it is reported that the city of Alemeda, California immediately changed its policies after its first responders stood by and watched a man drown in the San Francisco Bay.
The first responders didn’t venture out into the muddy waters of the bay, even as the man started treading water and then eventually went under.
According to the Fire Chief, two things prevented the authorities from taking action:
First, because it was a crime scene (the man was trying to commit suicide), the police “felt that going into the water initially might not be the best idea because they were unsure if this individual was armed.”
Second, the chief said, “There was a policy in place that pretty much stopped our people from entering the water.”
Local officials also noted that due to a lack of funding, firefighters had no one properly trained to go into the water.
The Alemeda Police Chief was also quoted to say, “It’s muddy out there. We don’t want [the police officers] sinking. We don’t want them in distress.”
In our Scripture Passage for this morning, Jesus has just returned to Capernaum after a very dramatic beginning to His ministry.
There’s been a whole bunch of healing miracles.
And the Pharisees, those strict adherents to policy and protocol are looking at Him closely, trying to catch Him breaking the law.
They aren’t keen on Jesus.
They are angered by His intimacy and friendship with tax collectors, prostitutes and other “sinners.”
They are enraged by Jesus’ seeming indifference to fasting.
And now comes the question of the Sabbath.
In Jesus’ day, it was against the Law to do any kind of work on the Sabbath.
And they based this on one of the Ten Commandments.
But they had added a whole bunch of rules and regulations to “what” constituted “work.”
For instance, it was against the law to use a rope to pull a bucket of water out of a well on the Sabbath.
Therefore, the folks would use pieces of clothing, tied together, to pull the bucket up instead…and that didn’t break any law.
It was against the law to “work” on the Sabbath.
So when the disciples are caught walking through the wheat fields, and plucking some grains to eat, the Pharisees claim that they are “reaping” or doing “farm work” on the Sabbath.
A bit ridiculous we might think, and apparently Jesus thought the same.
It seems that the Pharisees were so caught up in the ritual or legalistic aspects of the law that these things took precedence over love, compassion and basic common sense.
And, it seems, as we read the Gospels, Jesus broke just about every one of their laws!!!
Jesus did things that deemed Him “unclean” and unworthy to participate in Temple ceremonies.
According to the law, Jesus touched all the wrong people, He loved the castaways and forgave the wayward.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus healed a man who had been an invalid and had been laying on a mat for 38 years.
And when Jesus said, “Pick up your mat and walk,” and the man was able to do so, this poor guy was scolded by the Pharisees because it was the Sabbath.
They said to the former invalid, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
Can you imagine?
They could care less that the guy had been miraculously healed.
All they cared about were rules, regulations, protocol.
The same thing happened in our Scripture Lesson for this morning when Jesus entered the synagogue.
A man with a “withered hand” was there.
A “withered hand” means that the guy’s hand was paralyzed.
Perhaps he had had a stroke or something.
In any case, we are told that the religious rulers were “watching Jesus closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.”
And sure enough, Jesus said to the man, “Step up where people can see you.”
Then Jesus looked out at the crowd, He asked, “Is it legal on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”
And we are told that the people said nothing.
And at this point, we are told that Jesus got “angry.”
There are not a whole lot of times in the Gospels when Jesus gets “angry.”
But there are a few.
Jesus gets angry when human beings do not show compassion.
Jesus gets angry when people are more in love with rigid rules and regulations than they are with other human beings.
Jesus gets angry when folks don’t care about those who are lost, hurting, lonely, sick, hungry, outcast, marginalized.
Jesus gets angry when people judge one another.
Jesus gets angry when people use, abuse, and take advantage of other people.
We are told, in our Scripture Lesson for this morning that Jesus, “Looking around at [the people in the synagogue]” became angry, and “deeply grieved at their unyielding hearts.”
As we look at the Bible stories about Jesus, we find that Jesus is moved by “compassion” for human beings.
Jesus heals people out of “compassion.”
Jesus weeps at the grave of Lazarus out of deep “compassion.”
Jesus calls us to go out into the world and spread the good news out of “compassion” for those who do not know God.
Jesus feeds the crowds out of “compassion.”
Jesus goes to the Cross for you, for me, for all of humanity out of “compassion” because He knows we cannot save ourselves!!!
And Jesus is angered and deeply grieved when we don’t show compassion on our fellow human beings!!!
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 25 as it pertains to how we will be judged?
It is whether or not we have had compassion…
Did we feed the hungry?
Did we give a drink to the thirsty?
Did we welcome the stranger?
Did we clothe the naked?
Did we care for the sick?
Did we visit the prisoner?
He doesn’t mention a thing about whether or not we worked on the Sabbath!!!
He doesn’t mention a thing as to whether or not we followed a bunch of rigid rules.
So Jesus, looking out at what probably would be similar to looking out at a group from the Klu Klux Klan, said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand.”
The man did this and he was healed.
And the Bible tells us, “At that, the Pharisees got together with the supporters of Herod to plan how to destroy Jesus.”
We are basically at a lynching, my friends.
The Son of God faces such hatred in the world that was created through and for Him.
And it’s all done in the name of religion, rules, regulations, and laws.
And in every generation since Jesus walked this earth there have been human attempts to invoke the name of God on programs and policies that end up subverting the love and grace and compassion that we see in Christ.
History is littered with these voices, from the Inquisition to the Third Reich, to…to…
…well, you name them!!!
…what things are being done now, in the name of Christ, that throw compassion out the window and replace it with legalism, judgementalism—things that serve the Father of hate and lies rather than the Father of love and grace?
And what people are being hurt due to our lack of compassion?
It has been written that “The difficult truth of the cross is that we would rather kill Jesus than be transformed by his love…
…when God gets too close to us, challenging us as Jesus challenged the religious order of his day, we begin to construct our own crosses and prepare a place for God there too.”
Is there a field that Jesus is walking through in our lives, plucking ears of corn from our ideas of what is sacred?
Is Jesus healing anyone that we believe should remain sick?
What is Jesus doing today that might tempt us to believe that Jesus is foolish at best and dangerous at worst?
What categories of our lives does Jesus’ love and compassion threaten?
What have we made divine in our lives that should remain mortal and finite?
In this passage Jesus tries to change the idea of the Sabbath from being an oppressive ogre, which denies food to the hungry and healing to the sick, to what it was originally meant to be; a reminder that we belong to a God of love and grace!!!
The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees contrasts religion that hardens human hearts with the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is meant to open our hearts to the presence of God and thus give birth to compassion and joy in our lives and the lives of others.
Last June, in the city of Alemeda, California first responders watched a man who had decided to commit suicide in the San Francisco Bay.
Apparently, he changed his mind for as they watched, he began to tread water.
Their interpretation of the law would not allow them to save the man.
Eventually his body became so tired that he went under.
By the grace of God, their policies were changed only a few days after this horrifying incident.
What policies do we need to change in our hearts and minds in order to better follow Christ and do His will?
I know that for me, this is a continuous process.
But that is one of the things which makes following and learning from Jesus so exciting.
Hymn UMH # 393 Spirit of the Living God
Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
Holy and Gracious God we give you thanks for the gift of life, for the gift of your Son, for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Lead us through the trials, the suffering and sorrow, the challenges and struggles, the tired times and dark places.
Be with those who weep or cannot sleep, who have no peace, who seek release.
Lead us with grace with love with peace.
Fill us with hope with patience with stamina.
Transform us in your image in your Son in your Name.
Transform us to grow to understand to see.
Transform us that we can be made whole.
And in wholeness may we be the hands and heart of Christ.
— written by Terri (2009) and posted on the RevGalBlogPals website.
We ask all this in your son’s name, who taught us to pray together
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. Amen
*Hymn UMH #348 Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling (verses1,2,4)
Communion and Prayer of Thanksgiving
On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.
By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.
Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory are yours, almighty Father,
now and forever. Amen.
The body of Christ, given for you. Amen.
The blood of Christ, given for you. Amen.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us.
Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
As we reflect on the amazing love of God, we have many chances to return that love; through volunteering, through devoted prayer and meditation, through serving others, and with our finances.
So, let us return that love today and everyday as we try to give back a portion of what God has given to us.
*Doxology UMH # 95 Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow
*Prayer of Dedication
God, as you so graciously allow us to find refuge in you, we thank you for your consistent and unconditional love for us.
And now in gratitude, we return that love to you in one of many ways.
We bring to you today our gifts of love and thanksgiving.
May these be the first of many seeds we sow into your church and our community. In Christ, amen.
*Hymn UMH #399 Take My Life, and Let It Be
May the love of God surround you. May the love of God uplift you.
May the love of God stand with you through the changes ahead.
May the love of God convince you, in every situation, to love.
Go now to love others, even as Christ loves you.
Kwasi I. Kena Discipleship Resources 2008
- Write a little note on your prayer stick and bring it back next week.
Remember to drop off your prayer stick and take a new one. Pray for the name(s) all week, make a note on the stick that you prayed for those named and return to next week.