+ NINETEENTH SUNDAY after PENTECOST +
GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH—Ashland OR
THEME of The Day
In Isaiah we are given a vision of the great feast to come when God will wipe away death forever. In Jesus’ parable about a great banquet, those invited do not come,
so the invitation is extended to others. In our liturgy God spreads a table before us. Even amid anxiety and hardship we rejoice in the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. With great joy we feast at the table of the Lord, and go forth to share
the wonderful invitation with others hungering and thirsting for the abundant life of God.
May God bless your worship this morning.
ORDER of CONFESSION
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Just as parents have compassion on their children, so the Lord has compassion on
all who fear him.
If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and
cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God’s banquet is prepared. Are we prepared to participate?
But we are reluctant to obey, to do the Father’s will.
+ A Brief Silence for Reflection +
Most gracious God, we are not worthy of all the kindness and all the love which
you have shown to your children. We have responded with disobedience and indifference, turning our backs on your table, turning away from your grace.
We deserve your wrath and punishment. For the sake of Jesus Christ we turn
to you for forgiveness. Amen.
Our heavenly Father does not forsake his dear children. Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, was given to die for us, that we might have a place at the table. For his sake, your sins are forgiven in the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God!
In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the peace from above and for our salvation
let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of
The Church of God, and for the unity of all let us pray
to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For this holy house and for all who offer here their
worship and praise let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Help, save and defend us, O God. Amen.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Lord of the feast, you have prepared a table before all peoples and poured out your life with abundance. Call us again to your banquet. Strengthen us by what
is honorable, just, and pure, and transform us into a people of righteousness and peace. through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Isaiah 25:1-9
[After a hymn of praise acknowledging God as a shelter for the poor, the prophet portrays a wonderful victory banquet at which death will be swallowed up forever. The prophet urges celebration of this victory of salvation,]
O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful, and sure. For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat. When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, the noise of aliens like a heat in a dry place, you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled.
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the LORD GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for who we have waited; let
us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Philippians 4:1-9
[Though writing from prison and facing an uncertain future and possible martyrdom, Paul calls on the Philippians to rejoice and give thanks to God no matter what the circumstance. God’s peace is with us and binds together our hearts and mind in Jesus Christ, especially when things around us do not seem peaceful.]
My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 22:1-14
[Jesus tells a parable to the religious leaders of his day, indicating that even though God’s kingdom is a great feast open to all, its coming will prove disastrous for some.]
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen, and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it, and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone
you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came to see the guests, he noticed a man who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
HOMILY In Everything by Prayer
Text: The Second Lesson Pr. Jim
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
I never tire of reading my favorite comic strip … Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. I still get my daily dose via the internet. In one of them, Charlie Brown is lying in bed at the end of a long day. “It’s very strange,” he observes. “Sometimes you lie in bed at night and don’t have a single thing to worry about.” Then staring at the ceiling, he says: “That worries me.”
Worries and troubles, we’ve got them … worries about COVID-19 … protests, civil unrest, and the current political scene. Worries about friends who lost their homes in the Almeda fire … worries about failure … making ends meet … health issues … being alone … the list goes on and on. Against this built-in capacity to worry … no matter what … comes the word of the Lord in today’s Second Lesson.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything … let your requests be made to
God [Philippians 4:5].
Paul wrote those words to the Philippians toward the end of his life. This call to replace worry with prayer didn’t come all at once or over-night. It came … and still comes … as a fruit of the Spirit … received in … with … and under many tests of faith and trials of life. It comes from steady and repeated tending to the word of Jesus that turns up again and again in our Lord’s ministry: “Fear not.”
Well … how are you doing with that … fear not … don’t worry … kind of approach to life?
While 65% of all Americans say they pray regularly … I rather doubt that any of us are anxiety free. Have we missed something? Are we doing it all wrong?
Probably not. But we aren’t … some of us will have to confess … as good in prayer as perhaps we think we are or need to be. Throughout our lives, all of us are learners in the school of prayer regardless of our age.
And so, the first thing we need to recognize is that prayer is a real discipline … a discipline that many of us haven’t taken seriously … a discipline most of us struggle with.
Yet we take the reality of discipline for granted in most other realms of life. Most of us have learned that there’s no easy way to weight loss and physical fitness. The pounds come off --- the blood pressure comes down … the muscles tone up only with consistent effort, exercise, and self-discipline.
And when it comes to mental alertness and competency, we know that stimulation and discipline are required to maintain both. Very few of us buy into the advertisements that we can enrich our vocabulary … become proficient in conversational Spanish, French, or Japanese in thirty days by purchasing a CD and listening to it while we sleep. Experience has taught each of us that there’s no substitute for the mental equivalent of elbow grease.
If we know that our minds and bodies atrophy without disciplined exercise, why then do so many of us assume otherwise about our spiritual life or prayer life? As a fugitive during World War ll, historian John Lukacs tells of his experience during the bombing of Budapest:
“During that deadly summer I learned not only that death and life are close, but
so are happiness and unhappiness, that one can find happiness amidst the most
wretched circumstances, but one must look for it. It was many years later that I
learned that unhappiness almost always involves an amount of self-indulgence.
To wallow in the sin of one’s unhappiness … is easy, while happiness requires a
certain amount of organization and even planning. Happiness, like love, is a
self-imposed task. It takes forethought and cultivation and self-discipline.
Moreover, the absence of discipline is rooted in the cheapening of grace.”
At the center of your life and mine stands The Cross and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Quoting the great hymn of the first Christians at the beginning of his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote:
Christ humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross
… God has highly exalted him and given him the name that is above every name … [Philippians 2:8-9].
From that empowering source of life … The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ … comes the renewing of heart and mind. Freed from the grip of sin, you and I are the handiwork of the Spirit … shaped and molded by grace—year in and year out. That shaping force of the Spirit means discipline.
The graceful discipline of prayer requires silence and a place set apart. Jesus knew that. In the midst of teaching and healing, he often got up before dawn and went off alone into the hills to pray. Setting a time aside and finding a quiet place for prayer isn’t easy. We crawl out of bed and we’re off to the races. The day seems to get fuller by the hour. Then before you know it’s evening. You fall asleep in your favorite chair or collapse into bed. So little time amid the worries and anxieties of the day to be silent … quiet … receptive … still.
Making the time and a place for attending to the Lord and his Word is important. Whether it’s a walk in the morning … a quiet corner someplace in the house or yard … or sitting in the quiet dark at evening … make it happen deliberately. Take the time to discipline yourself in the art of meditation and prayer.
In her book An Interrupted Life, Etty Hilesum illustrates how it worked for her in a concentration camp during World War ll:
I thought at first I would give up writing today because I am so terribly tired,
and also, because I thought I had nothing to say just now. You have made me
rich, O God … my life has become an interrupted dialog with you … sometimes
when I stand in some corner of the camp, my feet planted your earth, tears of
deep emotion come to my eyes and my heart is full. That is my prayer … the
beat of my heart has grown deeper … more peaceful, and it is as if I were all
the time storing up inner riches.
Turning your worries and anxiety over to our blessed Lord means surrendering. Letting go and letting God doesn’t mean denying our worries and desires. What it does mean is that we name them and leave them rest in God’s hands.
The great Olympic runner, Eric Liddell, deliberately walked away from fame and fortune to teach at the Anglo-Chinese College at Tientsin. As things got worse in China in the weeks before Pearl Harbor, he sent his wife and family back to England, planning to join them shortly. But before he could escape, he was imprisoned by the Japanese. One prisoner who knew him wrote:
Eric Liddell stood out among the 1800 people packed into our camp which measured 150 yards by 200. His gentle face and warm smile, even as he taught us games with limited equipment, showed us how much he loved children and missed his own. He taught us his favorite hymn, Be Still My Soul. He was a selfless and humble man, who gave special care to the elderly, the weak, and the ill. I remember seeing him the day before he died, walking slowly under the trees, with a smile for everyone. We knew nothing of the pain he felt nor of the brain tumor that took his life. But none of us … none of us will forget this man who was totally committed to putting God first … a man whose humble life combined muscular Christianity with radiant godliness.
What was his secret? A close friend made the comment that next to God’s grace it was Eric’s spiritual discipline and prayer life. By the flickering light of a peanut oil lamp, he read his Bible and talked with God early each morning.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything … let your requests be made to
God [Philippians 4:5].
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
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.
PRAYERS of THE CHURCH
With confidence in God’s grace and mercy, let us pray for
The Church, the world, and all those in need.
A Brief Pause
Gracious God, fill your Church with a spirit of joyous hospitality. We pray for bishops, pastors, teachers, church leaders, and all children of God as they invite others to your table of boundless
grace. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Gracious God, as creation waits with longing for redemption, protect your creatures that are mistreated. Restore valleys, mountains, forests, pastures, and still and running waters. Provide needed rains and weather conditions to bring all wildfires under control. Protect all firefighters and first responders as they seek to gain control and manage further devastation caused by all of the current wildfires. Bring strength, comfort, and relief to those affected and displaced by Hurricane Delta and the Almeda Fire, especially: Pat & Penny, Lyle & Sandra, Richard & Doris, Norm & Marilyn, Pam, Sharon, and Linda (Vernia’s caregiver), together with those we name in our hearts. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Gracious God, as you set a table in the presence of enemies, so bless the efforts of diplomats, international peace workers, and world leaders who navigate conflict. Fill all leaders with mercy and understanding, that they advocate and genuinely care for those who are poor, marginalized, and most vulnerable. Lead us along the paths of justice and give us delight in living with honor and love toward our neighbor during these days of protests, rioting, and civil unrest. Calm our anxiousness and bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Bring peace, justice, and calm to the citizens of Belarus as they continue to seek a more democratic representation and government. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Gracious God, let your gentleness be known among those who are weary or ill, especially your servants: Kristel (who is under doctor’s care for an aneurysm), Marguerite (MaryAnn’s mother) and Shari, together with those we name in our hearts … brief pause … strengthen doctors, medical care workers, and caretakers who see to their needs. Raise the spirits of those who are homebound in our parish, especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma that they may be assured of your presence through our prayers and acts of service and love. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Gracious God, when we are quick to judge outward appearance, remind us how you clothe all in your mercy. We pray for ministries and services that provide needed clothing, personal care assistance in this community … Ashland Food Bank, Almeda Fire relief centers, Red Cross, together with community and church sponsored financial grants and assistance to those affected by the Almeda Fire. Continue to make us signs of your mercy and compassion for our neighbors and the communities in which we live. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Gracious God, as we remember those who have gone before us with the sign of faith and are gathered at the heavenly banquet, comfort us with your presence. Assure us of your peace at all times and teach us to confess Jesus Christ until we join them at your feast that knows no end. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Receive our prayers, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
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.
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.
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.
PRAYER of THANKSGIVING
Blessed are you, God of heaven and earth. You satisfy us with good things as an eagle feeds her young. Renew our strength, that we may go with eagerness and joy into the places where you send us to work in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace. Amen.
+ Go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see. Matthew 22:9 +