Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, August 7, 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!
Jesus says, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It is God’s promise from the beginning—to Abraham, to the early church, and to the “little flock” of which we are a part in today’s assembly. Faith, God’s baptismal gift, trusts the promises of God. Have no fear.
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
Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your church. Open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may be ready to receive you wherever you appear, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Genesis 15:1-6
God promises childless and aging Abram that a child of his own will be his heir and that his descendants will number as many as the stars. Abram trusts God’s promise, and through this faith he is considered righteous.
1After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Psalm: Psalm 33:12-22
Let your loving kindness be upon us, as we place our hope in you. (Ps. 33:22)
12Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord!
Happy the people chosen to be God’s heritage!
13The Lord looks down from heaven,
and sees all humankind.
14God sits firmly enthroned and watches
all who dwell on the earth.
15God fashions all their hearts
and observes all their deeds.
16A king is not saved by the size of the army,
nor are warriors rescued by their great strength.
17The horse gives vain hope for victory;
despite its great strength it cannot save.
18Truly, your eye is upon those who fear you, O Lord,
upon those who wait for your steadfast love,
19to deliver their lives from death,
and to keep them alive in time of famine.
20Our innermost being waits for you, O Lord,
our helper and our shield.
21Surely, our heart rejoices in you,
for in your holy name we put our trust.
22Let your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we place our hope in you.
Second Reading: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Abraham and Sarah exemplify the vision of faith that people of God enact in every age. Their hope and trust in God’s promise allowed them to face an unknown future and to receive the promise of God.
1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.
8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”
13All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.
Alleluia. Keep awake and be ready, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Alleluia. (Matt. 24:42, 44)
Gospel: Luke 12:32-40
Jesus encourages disciples to invest their hearts and live fully into God’s reign. Instead of facing life with fear, those who know God’s generosity are always ready to receive from God and to give to others.
[Jesus said:] 32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
35“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
39“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
Have you ever gotten a gift and not known what it was or how to use it? That happened to me once at an office Christmas party. I got this odd-looking little device called a blue tooth speaker. Being about as technologically up to date as most guys my age, I had no idea how it worked or what I would do with it.
I wonder if the kingdom that Christ is telling us about in the Gospel is a bit like that. We often say the words, “Your kingdom come”, but do we really know what that means? Can we know? I suspect that some people think of the coming kingdom as some kind of reward for a life well lived. Something that they can have or possess. Christ talks about an “unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes and no moth destroys.” That can conjure up an image of a pile of gold or something sitting somewhere safe, waiting for us. Is that what Jesus is talking about? I don’t think that that’s the image that Christ intended for us to see. After all, he just got done telling us that we should sell our possessions and give alms. I think that Jesus is using this metaphor to give us a glimpse of the coming kingdom as a place where the things we value the most, our relationships, can never be destroyed. Think about the things that mean the most to you. Is it a car or a boat or something like that, or is it the relationship you have with your spouse and children, if you have any. Perhaps it’s your parents and or your siblings. For most of us, these relationships are more precious than gold. I think that in the coming kingdom, we will be in a much closer relationship with God, and that relationship will never fade or be tarnished.
The relational aspect of the coming kingdom is illustrated in the second part of this reading, where Christ encourages us to be ready for it, “like those waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks”. I think about this being similar to when our children were teenagers. They would go out for the evening, and I would ask when they’d be home. The typical response I would get was, “I don’t know, you don’t have to wait up”. I’m sure you know that I would wait up anyway and often be right at the door as they came in. I wanted to make sure that they got home safely, but I also wanted them to know that I was thinking about them and that I loved them. I also wanted them to know that they were welcome in this house. When they are coming home for a weekend, I will still look out for their arrival and greet them, most times in the driveway, with a hug and a smile.
Imagine what it’ll be like when God’s kingdom does come. We don’t know when that’ll be, but we should be ready for it when it happens, because God has promised that it will. Think about God’s promise to Abraham, that his offspring will inherit the land God promised to him and that they will become a mighty nation. It must have been difficult for Abraham to believe some days, and I’m sure he became inpatient about it sometimes. In today’s reading from Genesis, Abraham is having one of his weaker moments and complains to God that he has no offspring, and a slave will inherit all that is his. But the Lord reassured him, and he believed. Abraham didn’t live long enough to see that promised fulfilled, but he trusted in God’s word and taught his son about it so that he’d be ready should it happen in his lifetime. We know it took several more generations before the people of Israel became the nation that God had promised Abraham. We also know that there was a lot of suffering along the way. But God kept His promise in His own time.
It’s like that with the coming kingdom. We know it’s coming. We don’t know when or how. We don’t even know exactly what shape it will take. But we know it is coming, so we should be ready for it, living lives that will be pleasing to God so that when he knocks at our door, we can greet him with clean hands.
Prayers of Intercession
Trusting in God’s extraordinary love, let us come near to the Holy One in prayer.
A brief silence.
Let your loving kindness be upon your church. Fill Bishops Elizabeth & Daniel, and Pastor Brenda, and all who proclaim the gospel with your Spirit. Equip your flock to speak your word of promise and hope in the midst of fear and uncertainty. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Let your loving kindness be upon your creation. Dwell among us and sustain our earthly home. In places of famine, provide nourishment. In places of plenty, fashion us to be good stewards of your bounty. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Let your loving kindness be upon your world. Be our helper and our shield in places torn by strife and violence, especially Ukraine, Ethiopia, Yemen and other places that don’t get our attention in the US. Raise up courageous leaders to govern with compassion and justice. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Let your loving kindness be upon your children. Look upon all who wait for your steadfast love. Console those who grieve and embrace those who cry out to you, especially those we remember on our prayer list, and those we bring before you now. Help us to trust your promise and not be afraid. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Let your loving kindness be upon this community. Fashion our hearts to strive for the way of peace. Strengthen the outreach ministries of this congregation, especially the ministries of our youth who are in Tennessee, and all who care for those in need. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
With thanksgiving we remember all who have died in faith and now rest in you. As they placed their hope in you, so strengthen us to trust in your promise of new life. 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!