Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, August 21, 2022
Introduction & Welcome
Thank you for accepting God’s invitation to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!
Remember the sabbath day. Call the sabbath a delight. This is the Lord’s Day, and the Lord will do for us what the Lord does: feed us, forgive us, help and heal us. Rejoice at all the wonderful things God is doing.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity,☩ one God,
whose steadfast love endures forever.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
Silence is kept for reflection.
we confess that we have not followed your path
but have chosen our own way.
Instead of putting others before ourselves,
we long to take the best seats at the table.
When met by those in need,
we have too often passed by on the other side.
Set us again on the path of life.
Save us from ourselves
and free us to love our neighbors.
Hear the good news!
God does not deal with us according to our sins
but delights in granting pardon and mercy.
In the name of ☩ Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven.
You are free to love as God loves.
Prayer of the Day
O God, mighty and immortal, you know that as fragile creatures surrounded by great dangers, we cannot by ourselves stand upright. Give us strength of mind and body, so that even when we suffer because of human sin, we may rise victorious through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Isaiah 58:9b-14
God promises those who have returned from exile that where justice and mercy prevail, the ruins will be rebuilt, and light will rise in the darkness. It is a day for new beginnings.
9bIf you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
11The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
12Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
13If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;
14then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Psalm: Psalm 103:1-8
The Lord crowns you with mercy and steadfast love. (Ps. 103:4)
1Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name.
2Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all God’s benefits—
3who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases;
4who redeems your life from the grave
and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy;
5who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.
6O Lord, you provide vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7You made known your ways to Moses
and your works to the children of Israel.
8Lord, you are full of compassion and mercy,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Second Reading: Hebrews 12:18-29
Using images of Moses, the writer presents a striking vision of the new covenant of God made possible in Christ. There is no longer fear; only awe in the new promise in Christ into which we are invited.
18You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, 19and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. 20(For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.” 21Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”) 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! 26At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.” 27This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; 29for indeed our God is a consuming fire.
Alleluia. The crowd was rejoicing* at the wonderful things that Jesus was doing. Alleluia. (Luke 13:17)
Gospel: Luke 13:10-17
Jesus heals a woman on the sabbath, offering her a new beginning for her life. When challenged by a narrow reading of the sabbath command, Jesus responds by expanding “sabbath work” to include setting people free from bondage.
10Now [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
Meditation by Vicar Dave
The portion of Isaiah that we read today was written during the post exile period and addressed to a community that was struggling to make a new life in Jerusalem. The returning Judeans had plenty of obstacles in their way, including both physical and social issues. There were plenty of arguments and divisions regarding what the restoration should look like and who should be included. Additionally, there were droughts and food shortages that increased the social strife and made rebuilding more difficult. This portion of Isaiah is dealing with some of the things that the Israelites should and should not do in order to rebuild their community. The Prophet talks about things like feeding the hungry and taking care of those whose needs are greater than yours. He also talks about the need of the people to work together, rather than accusing others of failing to do their part. He also talks about the need of a proper attitude toward the Sabbath, making worship of the Lord a delight rather than a burden. That’s some advice that the Church of today should listen to very carefully.
I remember back when I was a child, going to church on Sunday was just something that was expected of everybody. That’s just not the case anymore, particularly in this post pandemic world. How can we as Christians rebuild our community so that it continues to thrive? This reading offers some very good ideas. One of them being feeding the poor. I think we do a fairly good job of that with our food pantry here at Grace. However, I think there is more that we could possibly do. I’ve been reading a lot lately about something called “dinner church”. The idea being that a dinner or a meal is offered somewhere, could be at the church or it could be somewhere else. This dinner is supposed to be open to anyone that would like to come. And there is usually a casual worship service associated with it. I’ve seen it implemented with a small band during the meal portion who also plays praise music. Once the meal is done and the worship portion begins, they would play the music for the service also. I’ve often thought it would be nice to have a community meal at the park across the street. Whether we do it at the park or at the church, we could print up some flyers and distribute them through the neighborhood, inviting everyone to come.
Isaiah also warns us about some things that we should not do. For example, pointing fingers around and speaking evil of each other. When things aren’t going as they should, this can be a very easy temptation to fall prey to. In some ways it reminds me of some people that would laugh at others who go to the gym despite the fact that they are large and don’t know how to use the equipment. I personally think that anyone who is starting a workout regimen, whether they know what to do or not, should be encouraged rather than made fun of. If they’re a bit rounder than we might be, so what? They’ve recognized that they have a problem and they’re trying to work on it. If they don’t know how to use the equipment properly, again, so what? They’re trying to get something going. Everyone has to start somewhere. We should remember that as we try to keep our church community thriving. If someone is trying something new, we shouldn’t criticize them by saying things like “you don’t do it that way”. If we see something that’s not working, perhaps it would be better for us to sit down and try to help them figure out another way to make it work.
The final part of this reading talks about keeping the Sabbath day as God’s holy day. We are cautioned to refrain from pursuing our own interests on God’s holy day and we are encouraged to look at it as not being a burden, but rather a delight. Honoring the Sabbath day was something the Israelites took very seriously. In fact, at one point, gathering sticks for a fire on the Sabbath was considered worthy of stoning. Working on the Sabbath was something that Jesus was criticized for in today’s gospel reading. While teaching in the synagogue, He had the audacity to heal a woman who was crippled. For this, he was criticized by the leader of the synagogue who suggested that this woman should have come on a day other than the Sabbath to be cured. (I wonder if he would have been as critical of Jesus healing her if she happened to be a wealthy, frequent donor to the synagogue.) Jesus pointed out this man’s hypocrisy, by discussing how they would take care of the needs of any of their animals on the Sabbath day, such as getting them food or water. He argued that this woman “whom Satan bound for 18 long years”, being a daughter of Abraham should also be set free from her burdens on the Sabbath day. The point here is that we honor the Sabbath when we take care of God’s other children. There are lots of ways that we can care for God’s children, such as the dinner Church concept. Or perhaps we could have an employment fair for people burdened by unemployment. Perhaps a clothing drive for our brothers and sisters that don’t have clothing that’s suitable for work. With winter approaching, a coat drive might be a great thing. This would not just help those less fortunate that ourselves, but would also serve to build a sense of community here at Grace.
If we all work together, caring for each other as brothers and sisters, including people outside our congregation, working to grow God’s Church, then we will be honoring the Sabbath and it will be something that we will delight in. This is another way that we could be doing God’s work with our hands.
Prayers of Intercession
Trusting in God’s extraordinary love, let us come near to the Holy One in prayer.
A brief silence.
You crown your church with steadfast love and mercy. Guide Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Brenda, our pastor, and all of us continually in our baptismal covenant to strive for justice and peace in all the earth. Use our diverse gifts in service to the whole people of God. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You satisfy the needs of all creatures. Protect the habitats of fish and birds, such as the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge here in Northwest Ohio. Repair ecosystems damaged by misuse, neglect, or natural disaster, that all creation may thrive. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You make your ways known to all people. Inspire the rulers and leaders of nations with your compassion and mercy. Raise up activists and community organizers to restore places affected by violence, poverty, famine and inequality. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You provide justice for all who are oppressed and relief to all who are afflicted. Heal those who are bent over by addiction, depression, and anxiety. Set free all who cry out under the weight of mental, emotional, or physical distress. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You call us to delight in the sabbath. Renew our bodies, minds, and spirits in this worshiping assembly. Give rest to all who lead our congregation in worship, study, and service. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Generations bless your holy name. We give you thanks for the communion of saints who have gathered in prayer and praise in this place. Support us in your love until we rest forever in you. Bless those concerns and people mentioned on our prayer list as well as those we bring before you now. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Receive the prayers of your children, merciful God, and hold us forever in your steadfast love; through Jesus Christ, our holy Wisdom.
God of abundance:
you have set before us a plentiful harvest.
As we feast on your goodness,
strengthen us to labor in your field,
and equip us to bear fruit for the good of all,
in the name of Jesus.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s 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 to the dead.* On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and 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.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly 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, for ever and ever.
The God of peace,
Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit,
bless you, comfort you,
and show you the path of life
this day and always.
Go in peace. Love your neighbor.
Bless the world and be God’s grace!
Thanks be to God!