Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, August 28, 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!
Invited and inviting—that is the nature of the church. By God’s grace in holy baptism, we have a place at Christ’s banquet table. When, by the power of that same Spirit, humility and mutual love continue among us, the church can be more inviting still.
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, you resist those who are proud and give grace to those who are humble. Give us the humility of your Son, that we may embody the generosity of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Proverbs 25:6-7
The book of Proverbs is part of a collection of writings known as wisdom literature. Wisdom literature gave directions to Israel’s leaders and people for the conduct of daily life. Today’s reading is about humility.
6Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great;
7for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
Psalm: Psalm 112
The righteous are merciful and full of compassion. (Ps. 112:4)
1Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord
and have great delight in God’s commandments!
2Their descendants will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3Wealth and riches will be in their house,
and their righteousness will last forever.
4Light shines in the darkness for the upright;
the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.
5It is good for them to be generous in lending
and to manage their affairs with justice.
6For they will never be shaken;
the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance.
7They will not be afraid of any evil rumors;
their heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8Their heart is established and will not shrink,
until they see their desire upon their enemies.
9They have given freely to the poor, and their righteousness stands fast forever;
they will hold up their head with honor.
10The wicked will see it and be angry; they will gnash their teeth and pine away;
the desires of the wicked will perish.
Second Reading: Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
The conclusion of the letter to the Hebrews contains suggestions for the conduct of a holy life, all of which are shaped by God’s love toward us in Jesus Christ.
1Let mutual love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. 4Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. 5Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” 6So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?”
7Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 15Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Alleluia. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart. Alleluia. (Matt. 11:29)
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14
Jesus observes guests jockeying for position at the table. He uses the opportunity to teach his hearers to choose humility rather than self-exaltation. Jesus also makes an appeal for hosts to imitate God’s gracious hospitality to those in need.
1On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
7When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
My dad has this saying which he has often used. It goes, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and to remove all doubt”. What he was trying to tell us kids was that it’s better for us to not presume that we know the answer already and just spurt it out. I think it was especially true when we were around our elders. So often when we’re young, we’re learning about new things, and we want to share them with everyone else. We forget, however, that a lot of the people we want to share them with have already learned these lessons, and a few others besides. It kind of reminds me of something Mark Twain said. “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” Twain, of course, was a master of sarcasm. In this case, instead of his father learning a lot in seven years, it is he who learned a lot and then recognized how wise his father actually was. I can relate to this now because there were plenty of times when I thought that my dad just didn’t get it. Especially though, when it came to raising kids, I really started to understand the things he was trying to tell me. There must have been many times when my kids were little that he had to fight the urge to say, “I told you so”.
Today’s readings are about humility. Our first reading from proverbs is a short one, but it has a lot in there. It is from the sayings of King Solomon. Here the author is attempting to give advice to potential courtiers in the King’s court. He advises them against assuming too much. Think about this in the context of a business meeting. Let’s say you come into the meeting, and you immediately choose the chair that’s to the right of the boss. Now let’s say that he has somebody else coming in that he needs to hear from more than he needs to hear from you. If he tells you to get up so that the other person can sit where you were, that might be a cause for embarrassment. On the other hand, if you’re in the middle of a meeting and you have a good idea, or you have an important contribution to the conversation, the boss might call to you and say, “Come up here so I can hear you better”.
In today’s gospel, Jesus is also talking about humility, but in more of a social setting. He’s cautioning the guests not to assume too high of a status and be humbled when they have to move further down. Jesus lived in the Roman Empire. Once life in the Roman Empire was governed by the class structure that existed there. It’s sort of like the caste system in India which I have read about. I don’t know if this is still the case in India, but the caste that one was born into in India determined everything in their life. It determined what type of job they could have, who they could marry and who they could associate with. In prison life here in the United States, there is also a very strict social structure. I know of a case where a man transferred from another prison and tried to pretend that he was a high-ranking official in one of the prison gangs there. When word got back to our prison gangs that this guy was nothing special in theirs, he was in a lot of trouble. I imagine that the Roman system was very similar. So, at a social function where everybody was seated around a table, there was probably a seating chart, ensuring that the most important guests sat in the best places.
Jesus also talks about how the host should play a humble part in the banquet. He talks about not inviting those who he’s expected to or those who might be able to do something for him in the future, but rather he should invite those who would be considered outsiders or “the others”. This reminds me of what Jesus said about doing for others without expectation of repayment. Giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, these are some of the things that Jesus says that we should be doing to all the time without expectation of recompense. He tells us that when we do these things, our reward in heaven will be great.
There are several examples where Jesus is trying to tell us to be humble. The last shall be first and the first shall be last comes to mind. More profoundly, however, I think about the time that Jesus humbled himself to be take on human form and to take our sins unto himself, and take them to the cross, where they would be crucified with him. As flawed as we are, may we all come to God with humble hearts and gratitude for the things that he has done and will continue to do for us into the future.
Prayers of Intercession
Trusting in God’s extraordinary love, let us come near to the Holy One in prayer.
A brief silence.
For the church and its leaders, we pray. Uphold all deacons, pastors, and bishops who serve and teach your people especially Brenda, our pastor, and Daniel and Elizabeth, our bishops. Awaken in your church a spirit of invitation that reaches ever outward. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
For the well-being of creation and its inhabitants, we pray. Stir in us reverent awe for the beauty of the natural world, for oceans and lakes, rivers and streams, forests and deserts. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
For the nations and peoples of the world, we pray. Sustain the efforts of those who pursue justice and equity for all. Defend and accompany all immigrants and refugees and all who are persecuted for their ethnic origin or religious beliefs. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
For all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, we pray. Be present with those who live in isolation or fear, especially those who are incarcerated or detained. Comfort all who are sick or grieving, especially those we remember on our prayer list and those we bring before you now. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
For this congregation and its ministries, we pray. Prepare children, teachers, and youth ministry directors for a new year of learning. Embolden our witness to invite others to the table. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
For all the saints who confessed God’s name, especially Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, and Moses the Black, we give thanks. May we cling to the promise of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. 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!