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Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Homily: "Be Opened" by Pr. Jim


Ephphatha! Be Opened! Sunday

5 September 2021


Welcome to Grace Lutheran Church. We are happy that you have joined us for worship this morning. Through Word and Sacrament, Christ our Lord promises to lead and guide us by the power of his Spirit. May today’s worship be a blessing to you as he reveals his love for you and assures you of his presence in your life. If you are a guest or visitor and have not done so already, please honor us by signing our Guest Book in the entrance hall of the church as you leave. If you have no church home of your own in the area, we invite you to make Grace Lutheran Church the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. Pastor Jim or this morning’s lay assistant will be happy to answer any questions you may have concerning our parish. A Fellowship Hour follows this morning’s worship. Please join us for a cup of coffee and let us become better acquainted with you as you get to know us better. Come to worship with us again and often!

AS WE GATHER   Even the Dogs

James tells us to stop showing favoritism in the assembly, treating the rich visitor with more honor than the poor one. Jesus himself seems to show partiality in his first response to the Syrophoenician woman in today’s gospel. Was he testing her faith in saying Gentiles don’t deserve the goods meant for God’s children? Or was he speaking out of his human worldview, but transcended those limits when she took him by surprise with her reply? Either way, the story tells us that God shows no partiality. Every-one who brings a need to Jesus is received with equal honor as a child and heir.


O God, you see how busy we are with many things. Turn us to listen to your teachings and lead us to choose the one right thing which will not be taken away from us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


LSB Setting Four adapted




In today’s Gospel Lesson Jesus heals a deaf and mute man using the word Ephphatha, which means “be opened.” The author of James exhorts the community of faith to guard against favoritism among its members. In the waters of baptism we have died to any distinctions that would separate us from each other. Likewise, in The Lord’s Supper each one receives the free of Christ equally and without distinction. Through Word and Sacrament God opens our minds and hearts to the healing and liberating gospel of Christ for all people.

PRELUDE - Praise Ye The Father—Sam Elllison

Tatsiana Ascheichyk, Organ


In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear.”

     “Here is your God. He will come to save.”

With ears that have been opened and tongues that speak the truth, let us confess our sins to the Lord.

Most merciful God, we confess that we are sinful. Our minds are filled with

evil thoughts; our tongues are uncontrolled; our deeds do not bear witness

to our faith. As sinners we stand condemned. For the sake of your Son have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

The will of God is your redemption. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. In his Name and by his authority, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Forgiven and reconciled by God, let us be reconciled with one another and share

the peace of the Lord as we greet each other.



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

                 And also with you.

GLORY to GOD       (Join in singing)

To God on high be glory and peace to all the earth;

Goodwill from God in heaven proclaimed at Jesus’ birth!

We praise and bless You Father; Your holy Name we sing—

Our thanks for Your great glory, Lord God, our heav’nly King.

To You, O sole-begotten, the Father’s Son, we pray;

O Lamb of God, our Savior, You take our sins away.

Have mercy on us, Jesus; Receive our heart-felt cry,

Where You in pow’r are seated at God’s right hand on high—

For You alone are holy; You only are the Lord.

Forever and forever, be worshiped and adored;

You with the Holy Spirit alone are Lord Most High,

In God the Father’s glory. “Amen!” our glad reply.


Gracious God, throughout the ages you transform sickness into health

and death into life. Open us to the power of your presence, and make us

a people ready to proclaim your promises to the whole world; through

Jesus Christ, our healer and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the

Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON - Isaiah 35:4-7a

[These verses are a word of hope to the exiles in Babylon. Isaiah 34 portrays God’s vengeance on Edom, Israel’s age-old enemy, which makes the path from Babylon to Zion safe for the exiles’ return. The desert itself will flow with water to give drink to the returning exiles.]

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,

‘Be strong, do not fear!

Here is your God.

He will come with vengeance,

with terrible recompense.

He will come and save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

then the lame shall leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,

and the thirsty ground springs of water;

the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,

the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

The word of the Lord.

        Thanks be to God!

PSALM 146 - (Read responsively)

Refrain: I will praise your name forever, my King and my God.

Praise the LORD, O my soul. I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

            Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

Blessed is he whose hope is in the LORD his God, the maker of heaven and earth.

I will praise your name forever, my King and my God.

The LORD gives food to the hungry, the LORD sets prisoners free.

            The LORD give sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are

bowed down.

The LORD watches over the outcast and sustains the fatherless and the widow.

The LORD remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the

oppressed. I will praise your name forever, my King and my God.

SECOND LESSON - James 2:1-10 [11-13] 14-17

[ Faithful Christians do not show partiality to the rich and powerful of the world, especially at the expense of the poor and weak. Likewise, faith does not pay mere lip service to God’s will. Instead, a living Christian faith expresses itself in acts of compassion and mercy for those in need.]

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

For the one who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

The word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God!

SPECIAL MUSIC - O Worship the KingSam Ellison

GOSPEL - Mark 7:24-37

The Holy Gospel according to Mark, the 7th chapter. Glory to you, O Lord.

[In Mark’s gospel, encounters with women usually signify turning points in Jesus’ ministry. Here, a conversation with a Syrophoenician woman marks the beginning of his mission to the Gentiles.]

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice,

but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ So she went home, found the child lying

on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

     Praise to you, O Christ.

HYMN of THE DAY - LSB 551 vs. 1-3 When to Our World the Savior Came

HOMILY - Be OpenedPr. Jim - Text: The Gospel

Be Opened

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

I have a feeling most everyone in the neighborhood knew the man mentioned in the Gospel for today. They watched him grow up and probably become one of the problem people … the kind you accept and know will always be around.

However, a few took some action to help this mute-hearing-impaired man. They sensed the isolation and loneliness of this man who was pushed aside … sensed how it must be to have thoughts to share and anger and love to express … but yet be unable to communicate them. They must have known what it meant not to be included and only experience silence and isolation.

Today’s text tells us that they brought the man to Jesus, begging Him to lay His hand on the man.

So, Jesus took him off alone, away from the crowd, put his fingers in the man’s ears, spat, and touched the man’s tongue. Then looking up to heaven, sighed, and said to the man, “Ephphatha”, that is “Be opened.”

Notice how our Lord used a form of sign language for this man. Taking the man aside … so as not to embarrass him or make a spectacle of him … Jesus placed His fingers in the man’s ears to let him know that God was touching him … spat and touched the man’s tongue to communicate that healing was taking place because spittle was considered to have healing power. He looked to heaven and sighed … that is Jesus breathed upon the man. All of which it seems to me is a pretty good echo of the way God created people in the first place … forming mankind from the dust of the earth and breathing into him the breath of life. It’s all so very intimate. Jesus links himself to the man and heals him.

Immediately, the text tells us, the man’s ears were opened … his tongue released … and he spoke plainly. It was all done in a thoughtful and gentle way. That’s the way God treats us and wants us to treat each other as well.

On this Labor Day weekend, we especially need to hear this Gospel text. For you and I need to be freed from the narrowing restrictions the world places upon us. If our country and society is to survive, you and I need to take … indeed you and I must take initiative to stop the uncaring … selfish ways of the world in which we live.

As God’s servant people gathered here today, we need to take note of this gentle and kind story and be moved to look around us. Strengthened through God’s presence in Word and Sacrament, you and I are made bold to tell everyone what He has done … willingly bearing the scorn and ridicule of those around us for what we believe … teach … and confess with our lips and with our lives as we care for those around us who hurt in any way—the blind … the deaf … the ill … the lonely and shut-in … the naked and hungry … the imprisoned and the forgotten.

Ask any senior member of our parish and they will tell you that they remember a time when people were much more easily moved by the conditions and plights of others. They remember when. But now? … most of us suffer from compassion fatigue. We have become worn-out physically and emotionally as the needs of others are continually held before us in the news … television … and one telephone or mailing campaign after another asking for donations. But as fatigued and jaded as we have perhaps become, the hurts and needs are still there.

If we are to be alive as a church … if we are to be the living presence of Christ in our community now … then you and I have no other choice than to be bleeding hearts and do-gooders … fatigued as we may be.

In today’s First Lesson, Isaiah brings a world of hope to the exiles in Babylon as he describes the holy way of God’s people …blossoming with God’s glory …

The blind will be able to see, and the deaf hear. The lame will leap and dance, and those who cannot speak will shout for joy.

The world may say, “Get all you can.” “Don’t be a sucker.” The world may push us aside … shout us down and embarrass us. But we … we for whom the Word became flesh and dwelt among us … we for whom The Christ came and died and rose again … we, whom the Spirit empowers with baptismal grace and life … we, whom God calls as His servant people … we see the world and our community differently. With the eyes and compassion of Christ … we see the needs of others as opportunities to bring into being the gracious rule of God’s kingdom in the lives of others.

In my years of ministry, I’ve witnessed the words Ephphatha … Be Opened! … as God worked miracles in the lives of others by the power of His Spirit. I’ve seen emotionally distressed and broken people find peace and contentment … messed up lives turned around and made whole. I’ve seen the ill find comfort from God’s word (spoken and read) … coupled with the inner strength that comes from prayer. I’ve seen the dying find hope and peace in our Risen Lord. And I’ve seen even more … much more.

What each and every one of us needs is to experience Ephphatha! We need to think and pray Ephphatha to ears that don’t particularly want to be listen because of what they might hear and learn … Ephphatha to the ears that don’t want to hear of The Cross and servanthood … Ephphatha to the ears afraid to hear what they have to lose, and are, therefore, deaf to what they have to gain.

Now just in care you’ve closed your ears and somewhere along the line became deaf to the homily for the day, here it is in shorthand …

Today’s Gospel is the story of Jesus healing a hearing and speech impaired person. The story affirms that it is God-like to hurt for and help any person in need. The Gospel gives us an example of God’s compassion and love for all. He takes our broken lives and recreates us as children of God, loved and forgiven. And it illustrates how we, as God’s people, ought to treat each other with Christ-like love and service … by making those Sunday/Monday links in our lives and service

of those in our families, church, and communities.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

APOSTOLIC CREED                                     

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He will come 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.


As children and heirs of God’s promise, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all in need.

Holy God, you bring your people together in worship. Enliven your Church. Guide all bishops, pastors, teachers and missionaries who seek to share your love through word and deed. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You provide water for thirsty ground and sunshine to feed hungry plants. Bless all who advocate for healthy forests, unpolluted air, and clean waterways. Inspire all people to show care for the world you have entrusted to us. Protect all firefighters and first responders who are working in dangerous wildfire environments as they seek to control and manage further devastation. Sustain the families of those who are deployed to fight the forest fires. Bless the efforts of relief agencies and those working with displaced families who have lost their homes due to floods and forest fires. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You show no partiality. Increase justice in all nations. Raise up wise and discerning leaders and encourage them to work with one another for the good of our common world. Watch over all who are fleeing violence, persecution, or death and sustain them through uncertain and unstable times. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You accompany those who are in need and cry out for help. Feed those who are hungry, reassure those who are despairing, and accompany those who need your touch this day, especially those who are suffering COVID-19 and its variants. Be close to the hearts of all who are lonely or homebound, especially Sharon, Richard & Doris, Bonnie, Vernia, Elma, Marguerite, and those we name on our hearts that they may be assured of your presence through our prayers and care for them. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You support the work of your disciples. Continue to nurture the leadership and ministries of this congregation. Guide the members of our call committee by the power of your Spirit as they continue to interview a new list of potential candidates for the pastoral office of our parish this week. Keep us mindful that you hear our prayers and will at length provide us with a tenured pastor to join us in serving our community and seeking the lost. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give thanks for all those who have gone before us who showed us how to honor you with our hearts and lives. Inspire us by their example and renew our faith, trusting that we will be united with them in your eternal presence at the feast which knows no end. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Receive the prayers, O God, and those in our hearts known only to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


O Lord our God, Maker of all things. Through your goodness you have

blessed us with these gifts. Receive what we have to offer, that others

might know that life through the gifts you give to us to use and to share

in the Name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.


The Lord be with you.

   And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

   We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

   It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Holy God, our Bread of life, our Table, and our Food,

you created a world in which all might be satisfied

with your abundance.

You dined with Abraham and Sarah, promising them life,

and fed your people Israel with manna from heaven.

You sent your Son to eat with sinners and to become

food for the world.

In the night in which he was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;

broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying:

Take and eat; this is my + body which is given

for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,

and gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my + blood

shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness

of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.

Remembering, therefore, the sacrifice of his life and death and the

victory of his Resurrection, we await with all the saints his loving

redemption of our suffering world. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Send your Spirit on these gifts of bread and wine and on all who

share in the body and blood of your Son; teach us your mercy and

justice and make all things new in Christ. Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.

Through Him all honor and glory are Yours, Almighty Father, with

the Holy Spirit, in Your Holy Church both now and forever. Amen. 

The peace of the Lord be with you always.

    And also with you.

Lord, remember us in your Kingdom and teach us to pray:

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.


Distribution Music - Healer of Our Every Ill



O God of love, we thank you for the living bread that rains down from

heaven. From this feast of love may we carry your eternal life as daily

food for the well-being of the world; through Jesus Christ the Lord of life.



SONG LSB 632 - O Jesus, Blessed Lord to Thee   (Join in singing)




Go in peace. Serve the Lord.

               Thanks be to God!

+ With Great Boldness … Tell Everyone What He Has Done! +



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to either host or assist with serving. For further details, please speak with either Pearl, Nan, or


STUDY OPPORTUNITIES - NewMen’s Coffee Study will take place this coming Saturday morning, September 11, beginning at 8:30 am. Set the time aside now for a good discussion and fellowship.


MONDAY: Call Committee Zoom Interview 7:00 pm

TUESDAY: Lay Ministry Zoom Meeting 4:00 pm

WEDNESDAY: Call Committee Zoom Interview 7:00 pm

SATURDAY: NewMen’s Coffee Study 8:30 am

NEXT SUNDAY: Worship 10:00 am

Coffee Hour 11:00 am

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