Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, February 13, 2022
Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Blessings and curses abound on the sixth Sunday after Epiphany. We would do well to listen closely to whom the “blessed ares” and the “woe tos” are directed and to find our place in the crowd among those who desire to touch Jesus. The risen Christ stands among us in the mystery of the holy supper with an invitation to live in him, and offers power to heal us all.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
who creates us,
and calls us by name.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
Silence is kept for reflection.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
and your beloved children.
We have turned our faces away from your glory
when it did not appear as we expected.
We have rejected your word
when it made us confront ourselves.
We have failed to show hospitality
to those you called us to welcome.
Accept our repentance for the things we have done
and the things we have left undone.
For the sake of Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.
Forgive us and lead us, that we may bathe
in the glory of your Son born among us,
and reflect your love for all creation.
Rejoice in this good news:
In ☩ Christ Jesus, your sins are forgiven.
You are descendants of the Most High,
adopted into the household of Christ,
and inheritors of eternal life.
Live as freed and forgiven children of God.
Prayer of the Day
Living God, in Christ you make all things new. Transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your glory, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
These verses compose a poem that is part of a larger collection of wisdom sayings that contrast two ways of life. Life with God brings blessing; the power and vitality of God is active in our life. Life without God brings a curse, the power of death.
5Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
and make mere flesh their strength,
whose hearts turn away from the Lord.
6They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
7Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
8They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.
9The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse—
who can understand it?
10I the Lord test the mind
and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
according to the fruit of their doings.
Psalm: Psalm 1
They are like trees planted by streams of water. (Ps. 1:3)
1Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful!
2Their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and they meditate on God’s teaching day and night.
3They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither; everything they do shall prosper.
4It is not so with the wicked;
they are like chaff which the wind blows away.
5Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,
nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.
6For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked shall be destroyed.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20
For Paul, the resurrection of Christ is the basis for Christian hope. Because Christ has been raised, those who are in Christ know that they too will be raised to a new life beyond death.
12Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.
Alleluia. Rejoice, and | leap for joy, for surely your reward is | great in heaven. Alleluia. (Luke 6:23)
Gospel: Luke 6:17-26
After choosing his twelve apostles, Jesus teaches a crowd of followers about the nature and demands of discipleship. He begins his great sermon with surprising statements about who is truly blessed in the eyes of God.
17[Jesus] came down with [the twelve] and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.18They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
20Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
25“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
What type of life do you want to live? If you listen to what our society is telling us, the good life is full of material wealth and shallow relationships. I know a song by Tony Bennett titled “The Good Life”. He sings about how the good life seems to be full of fun but requires you to hide your sorrows and face your troubles by yourself. I’ve known some folks that seem to think that way. They spend their free time drinking to excess and taking illicit substances, and they think this makes them feel good. They treat their relationships like conquests. When they’ve gotten what they want out of a person, they move on to the next. Or worse yet, they will continue to use one person as they are pursuing another. It seems to me that they are simply getting a rush from the substances they use or the pleasures they seek. But are they really happy or are they covering up some pain that they feel they can’t express? In the end, this way of life is dangerous, hurtful and unsatisfying. I’ve also known people who think that the more things they have, the better off they’ll be. Someone told me once that “the one who dies with the most toys, wins!”. He spent a lot of time accumulating fun things likes boats, a nice house and fancy cars. At some point, he realized that these “toys” weren’t enough to make him happy. He became depressed and tried to cover up that pain with alcohol. By the time he had died, he’d lost almost every one of his toys, but he couldn’t use them anymore because he’d lost his health as well. He also lost the respect of lots of the folks around him, some of whom he loved.
Jeremiah is reminding us of the dangers of this kind of mindset. “Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make flesh their strength.” I think he’s telling us that valuing the things of this world, which is fleeting itself, is a folly. But he’s also telling us that those who trust in the Lord are blessed, because, unlike the things of the mortal world, the Lord God is eternal. Jeremiah is telling us that the way of this world leads to ruin and despair, while those that put their trust in God will thrive like a tree planted by a stream. Where I live, we have a stream two doors down. I planted a Red Bud tree about ten years ago. At the time, roots included, it wasn’t even two feet tall. Because this sapling had access to sunshine and water, it now stands over thirty feet tall. I think our lives are like that. If we root ourselves in the Lord and trust in His ways, then He will provide for us all the things we need to grow and to thrive.
Although written at a different time, the Psalm today uses the same imagery to make the same point. The Psalmist is contrasting a life focused on God’s teachings with one that is not. Those whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” thrive, “like trees planted by streams of water”. But the wicked “are like chaff which the wind blows away”. The other thing that these readings have in common is that they close with an indication of how God knows us and our ways. Once again, the contrast is between our way and the Lord’s way. The world tells us to follow our hearts. If it feels good, do it was the credo for an entire generation. Through Jeremiah, God tells us not to trust our hearts, because they are deceitful and perverse. We are unable to know our own hearts. But the Lord knows what’s in our hearts and our minds. He will “give to all according to their ways”.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is also making a contrast between the ways of this world and the ways of His Father. The things we think of as being worthy of being sought after in this world, wealth, plenty to eat, happiness and being well thought of, are causes for woe. Being poor, or hungry or filled with sorrow, will all be turned around into blessings. Even being hated and reviled, for Jesus sake, is cause for rejoicing and will be rewarded in heaven. Next week, we’ll read more of this contrarian type of thinking as we are told to love our enemies.
So, what type of life do you want to live? A life based on the teachings of this world, on material things and earthly pleasures without meaning, or a life based on the teachings of God, which will lead you to blessings eternal?
Prayers of Intercession
The Spirit of the Lord is poured out upon us in abundance; so we are bold to pray for the church, the world, and all that God has made.
A brief silence.
Blessed are those whose trust is in you. Strengthen the faith of Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, and all who profess your name and bring reassurance to those who doubt or fear. Through your church speak continued blessing into the world. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Those who trust in you are like trees planted by streams of water. Bless fruit trees with an abundant harvest. Protect rain forests from destruction. Restore land that has eroded after deforestation. Resurrect woodlands after forest fires. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Search the hearts of those who govern, that they lead with humility. Inspire leaders to collaborate on policies that protect people and the planet. Sustain truth-tellers and social movements that challenge society to become more honest and just. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Send your blessings of mercy upon those who long for consolation. Tend to those struggling with poverty, unemployment, or uncertainty. Provide for all who are hungry. Console those who face persecution. Grant peace to all who suffer especially those we remember on our prayer list and prayer board. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Renew this congregation in our shared mission. As we plan and dream for the future you are preparing, inspire us by the examples of Martin Luther and all the reformers. Bless new projects and new ministry partnerships. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Christ is raised from the dead, and so we cling to the hope of the resurrection. We praise you for the lives of the saints who lived and died in the hope of eternal life with you. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Since we have such great hope in your promises, O God, we lift these and all of our prayers to you in confidence and faith; through Jesus Christ our Savior.
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, continues to teach us, we boldly pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
God, who leads you in pathways of righteousness,
who rejoices over you,
and who calls you by name,
☩ bless your going out and your coming in,
today and forever.
Go with Christ into a weary world.
Share the good news.
Bless the world by being God’s grace.
Thanks be to God.