EIGHTH SUNDAY after PENTECOST
“Kingdom Treasures Revealed” Sunday
GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
660 Frances Lane
Ashland, Oregon 97520
The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor
THEME of The Day
As Solomon prays for wisdom, we seek to know the treasures of faith more deeply. In today’sgospel lesson Jesus offers everyday images that reveal to us the reign of God:
a tree that becomes a sheltering home, yeast that penetrates and expands, a treasured pearl, a net that gains a great catch of fish. Even as we seek the riches of God’s reign
in our lives, the great surprise is that God’s grace finds us first!
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.
From the Word which God has sown, a harvest will be gathered in.
How silently the growth occurs, how possible to go unseen.
“My Word shall not return to me empty,” says the Lord. “It shall accomplish the thing
for which I sent it.”
If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins,
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So let the seed be sown.
Lord of the living harvest: we confess that we have sinned. In our thinking, speaking, doing—proper fruit has not been borne. Your final harvest fills
our hearts with fear. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy
on us. Forgive us, renew us, and let your light shine upon us, so that we
may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy
“My Word shall accomplish the thing for which I sent it,” says the Lord. Like a
grain of wheat buried in the earth; Jesus Christ was given into death for you.
For his sake, your sins are forgiven in the Name of the Father and of the + Son
and of the Holy Spirit. By him we are redeemed and set at liberty.
Thanks be to God!
AN ACT of ADORATION
Let us adore our heavenly Father, who created us, who sustains us, who loves us
with an everlasting love, and gives us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the
face of Jesus Christ.
We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord
Let us glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for
our sakes became poor; who became obedient unto death, even death on a cross;
who died and is alive forevermore; who opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers who is seated at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father; who will come again,
as Judge and King.
You are the King of glory, O Christ.
Let us rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, by whom
we are born into the family of God, and made members of the body of Christ, whose witness confirms us, whose wisdom teaches us, whose power enables us to do far
more abundantly than all we ask or think.
All praise to you, O Holy Spirit.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Almighty and everlasting God, through the death and resurrection of your Son you bring us into your Kingdom of justice and mercy. By your Spirit, give us
your wisdom, that we may treasure the life that comes from Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON 1 Kings 3:5-12
[Because Solomon did not ask for long life, riches, or the defeat of his enemies, God gave him what he asked for: wisdom to govern the people well.]
At Gibeon, the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your
servant my father David because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness,
and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for his this great and steadfast
love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O LORD my God, you
have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child: I do
not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” It pleased the LORD that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind;
no one like you has been before you and no one shall arise after you.”
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Romans 8:26-39
[These words celebrate the depth of God’s actions for us. Through Christ’s death for us and the activity of the Spirit praying for us, we are fused to God’s love poured out in Jesus Christ. Nothing, not even death itself, is able to separate us from such incredible divine love.]
The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what the mind of the spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that all things work together for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those he predestined he also called; and those who he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
[Throughout Matthew’s gospel, Jesus and his disciples proclaim the good news that “the kingdom of heaven is near!” Here, Jesus offers several parables that explore the implications of his announcement for people’s lives.]
[Jesus said:] “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
He told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every king. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
The Gospel of our Lord. Praise to You, O Christ.
HOMILY More Than Conquerors
Text: The Second Lesson Pr. Jim
I Kings 3:5-12; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-39, 4
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
Today’s Second Lesson from the Epistle of Romans serves as the text for today’s homily. Back in my days at Concordia Seminary—St Louis, Romans was a required 1st year course. Introducing verses 31-39 of Romans 8, that form the concluding verses of today’s Second Lesson, The Rev. Dr. Paul Bretscher would say:
“Gentlemen, I must ask all of you to stand. We are in the presence of a text of
towering stature. Look at verses 31-39, please. Then step back several feet as
an expression of respect for the gospel proclaimed in this passage. Now …
please bow … not to the words on the page but to the God who makes us more
than conquerors through Christ who loves us.”
“A text of towering stature.” All of today’s gospel parables about a mustard seed … leaven … a treasure … a pearl of great price … all describe the gospel truth proclaimed in today’s text. And those of us who were in Dr. Bretscher’s class have, I’m sure, never forgotten that moment. It helped me, as it can help you as we consider those words in light of the kingdom parables of today’s gospel lesson.
Whether it’s at cards, board games, raffles, or baseball … all of us like winning. But being a winner is a matter of luck. And the high we get from it soon wears off. We win and life goes on with no major adjustments.
But think of conquering. Conquering is an altogether different matter. Conquering is not a matter of chance, but an all-consuming effort that can occupy a lifetime. It’s proper to speak of conquering grief, conquering some addictive behavior or pattern of living. In life, we use the word conquer with matters of substance. Conquering involves commitment … stick-to-it-tive-ness … struggle, and the recruiting of all of our energies in dedication of what we truly believe.
Contrasting winning with conquering can help us into today’s text:
“… in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” –Romans 8:37
The phrase more than conquerors comes at the conclusion of one of the most significant chapters to be found in Scripture. Here, the blessed Apostle Paul proclaims all that is important in our faith. God is for us—not against us. He did not spare His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, but gave Him up for us all. By faith, He will give us all things with Him. What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Tribulation … distress … persecution … famine … nakedness … peril … sword? NO WAY—in all these things we are more than conquerors! Nothing … absolutely, positively nothing in all creation including death itself … nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
And yet as we read the headlines, each of those words … persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, distress, and death confront us with Mt. Everest-size calamities in life that look absolutely, positively invincible. Who are we in the face of things we dread so much that happen to others? Who are we in the face of things we dread so much that can happen to us?
We are conquerors. Not particularly a word that you and I would choose for ourselves … is it? But notice … notice that these words of Paul do not teach us to look at ourselves or within ourselves but outside of ourselves. And therein lies the discovery of the treasure of God’s Kingdom … the pearl of great price.
Our call from this great Word of the Lord is to the God who is for us—not against us. In the midst of all that the world and life can dish out, God is our Emmanuel—our God with us and for us, too! Wrapped in flesh and blood … born in a manger in Bethlehem … God’s only Son entered our realm of time and space … for us. Nothing can come or happen to us that God’s Son has not met first—and conquered! God offered up His only Son up to death for us. No work of His is more wondrous than this. Jesus freely and faithfully went the way of the Cross. By His death and resurrection, our Lord conquered everything that would hold us captive—even death itself.
In all these things—tribulation, distress, peril, and death—God does not leave His people as helpless victims. The good news is that God is present with us in the midst of it all. And that Good News never means more to us than when we hold onto it for dear life in the worst of calamities. God’s strength comes to us in our weakness. For without Him as Lord of our lives, there is no reason to call ourselves conquerors. But with Him, there is every reason!
On this 8th Sunday after Pentecost, what could be more sad than to have nothing to strive for … to drift along through life with no strength or hope? What could be more sad than to aimlessly drift along in life because there is no vision of the high calling to which God calls us? What could be more foolish than to think there is nothing more to conqueror … that we would live with the illusion of Alexander the Great who wept because there were no more realms for him to conquer? No need to be a victim … either of sadness of foolishness. Instead, let God have His way with us in giving us the title He ordains for each and every one of us … conquerors … more than conquerors … through Christ who loves us and gave his life for us.
God is for us … not against us. He spared nothing, not even His Son, for us. Who can condemn us? It is Christ who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at God’s right hand of power, who intercedes for us. No calamity can claim us ultimately. As God’s children … in the midst of life’s uncertainties … in the face dying and in the hour of death … we can live in the certainty that:
Neither life nor death, angels, or principalities, not things present nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation—nothing, absolutely positively nothing—will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our
More than conquerors! It’s got a nice ring to it … doesn’t it?
+ 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
Called into unity with one another, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all of God’s creation.
Merciful God, your reign is revealed in common things: a mustard shrub, a woman baking bread, a fishing net. Help your Church witness to the surprising yet common ways you encounter us in daily life. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of all, when your word is opened, it gives light and understanding to our lives. Increase
our understanding and awe of your creation; guide the work of scientists and researchers in their pursuit of a vaccine to combat COVID-19. Treasuring the earth, may we live as grateful and healing caretakers of your creation. Inspire us to toward sustainable living so that future generations may enjoy the goodness and blessings of your creation. Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
God of the nations, as the birds of the air nest in branches of trees, gather the nations of the world into the welcoming shade of your merciful reign. Direct leaders of nations to build trust with each other and walk the way of peace. Increase their desire for justice and equality. Bridge the chasms that divide us as a nation during these days of protests and civil unrest;
bring calm to our anxiousness and bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of care and hope, your Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for the saints according to your will. Help us when we do not know how to pray. Open our eyes to see and attend all who are in need. For those who are doubting, renew their faith. For those who are worrying, provide release. For those under doctor’s care especially Sarah, and Shari, together with those we name in the secrecy of our hearts … brief pause … bring your healing and strength as we lift them up in prayer before you. With your love, surround those of our parish who are homebound especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of renewal, you show steadfast love and direct us to ask of you what we need. Help your Church in this place to ask boldly for what is most needed. Refresh us with new dreams of being your people in this time and place. Sustain and deepen our relationships with the wider communities in which we live through our parish ministries and witness. As we move forward in the call process, help us to discern your will for Patrick and for us so that in all things your good and gracious will may be done. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of life, in you our lives are never lost. Strengthen us by the witness of your faithful people in all times and places who have gone before us with the sign of faith. Embolden our witness now and one day gather us with all your saints in light. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Receive our prayers, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught 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.
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.
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