Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, February 20, 2022
Seventh 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!
Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Joseph lives it in Egypt. Jesus preaches it in the gospel. The Spirit guides us into merciful lives with the power of forgiveness to reconcile what is fractured and divided. Such merciful living is the baptismal blessing of having put on Christ. It is the gift of the life-giving Spirit. It is a reflection of God’s glory revealed in Christ.
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
O Lord Jesus, make us instruments of your peace, that where there is hatred, we may sow love, where there is injury, pardon, and where there is despair, hope. Grant, O divine master, that we may seek to console, to understand, and to love in your name, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Genesis 45:3-11, 15
Many years after being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph reveals himself to them. Now the second-in-command in Egypt, Joseph reassures his brothers that God has used their evil intentions for good to preserve life during a devastating famine, and Joseph forgives them.
3Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.
4Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ ” 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
Psalm: Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40
The lowly shall possess the land; they will delight in abundance of peace. (Ps. 37:11)
1Do not be provoked by evildoers;
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
2For they shall soon wither like the grass,
and like the green grass fade away.
3Put your trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and find safe pasture.
4Take delight in the Lord,
who shall give you your heart’s desire.
5Commit your way to the Lord; put your trust in the Lord,
and see what God will do.
6The Lord will make your vindication as clear as the light
and the justice of your case like the noonday sun.
7Be still before the Lord and wait patiently.
Do not be provoked by the one who prospers, the one who succeeds in evil schemes.
8Refrain from anger, leave rage alone;
do not be provoked; it leads only to evil.
9For evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord shall possess the land.
10In a little while the wicked shall be no more;
even if you search out their place, they will | not be there.
11But the lowly shall possess the land;
they will delight in abundance of peace.
39But the deliverance of the righteous comes from you, O Lord;
you are their stronghold in time of trouble.
40You, O Lord, will help them and rescue them;
you will rescue them from the wicked and deliver them, because in you they seek refuge.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
In the Apostles’ Creed, we speak of the “resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” Using the metaphor of a planted seed and the story of Adam, Paul preaches passionately about the mystery of following Christ’s perfect life into eternity.
35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
42So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
50What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Alleluia. Love your enemies, and you will be children of the Most High;* forgive, and you will be forgiven. Alleluia. (Luke 6:35, 37)
Gospel: Luke 6:27-38
Jesus continues to address a crowd of his disciples. He invites his followers to shower radical love, blessing, forgiveness, generosity, and trust even on enemies and outsiders. Living in harmony with God’s intent brings the reward of overflowing blessing.
[Jesus said:] 27“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
Today we are reading about more of God’s contrary thinking. In our first reading, God took something evil that Joseph’s brothers had done to him and turned it for good. In an earlier part of Joseph’s story, the brothers had become jealous of him because their father, Jacob, A.K.A. Israel, favored Joseph over them. Jacob had gotten a beautiful coat for Joseph, to show Joseph how much he meant to him. Joseph delighted in wearing this coat around his brothers, kind of sticking their faces in the fact that Jacob liked him better. To make matters worse, Joseph had these dreams which indicated that the brothers would become subservient to Joseph. Joseph felt it necessary to tell them about these dreams which was apparently more than the brothers could take. They attacked Joseph and, after throwing him into a well, sold him into slavery. Joseph ended up in Egypt where, after some other troubles, he eventually became an adviser to Pharaoh, because of his ability to interpret dreams. Joseph used this ability to forecast a famine and Pharaoh put him in charge of setting aside food so that the people wouldn’t starve. The famine was so widespread that it reached Joseph’s family in Canaan. Joseph’s brothers, having heard that there was plenty of food in Egypt, went there hoping to purchase some food for their family, not knowing about Joseph’s good fortune. That’s where our reading comes in today, Joseph is revealing himself to his brothers, forgiving them and explaining to them that their bad deeds were used for good by God, because Joseph was in a position to make sure the people, and his family, had enough food to survive the famine.
When someone does something bad to us, sometimes that’s all we can see. Joseph probably was pretty angry at his brothers for a good part of his life for the evil things they had done to him. But he tried to make the best of his situation and eventually he did pretty well. The Psalmist is also reminding us today that we shouldn’t react to those who would do us evil. He’s telling us that God will deal with them in his own time. Just because some folks seem to prosper by doing evil, we should not become angry, because that will lead us to do evil. If we but let them be, God will deal with them. If we are patient and humble, God will bless us with an abundance of peace. The point being that getting angry and doing things out of anger won’t help you in the long run. Being at peace in your heart, and trusting in the Lord, will bring you blessings.
I’ve fallen into the trap of anger before. When I worked at the prison, I had some people say some pretty evil things to me. I’ve had my honor questioned and my life threatened more times than I can count. I’ve been assaulted and insulted, sometimes on a daily basis. Part of the goal of these folks in doing this was to get under my skin and to get me to react. Sometimes it worked and I would get angry, but I was unable to do anything about it. This would drive my blood pressure up and get me doubting myself. I learned that keeping my cool, not being provoked, was always the better course of action. It allowed me to think with a clear head and find ways to resolve the situation.
In last week’s Gospel, Jesus was telling us something that probably didn’t make a lot of sense to those listening to him. Today, he’s doing it again. He’s telling us to love our enemies and do good for those who hate us. He’s also giving us the familiar Golden Rule, do onto others as you would have them do unto you. The world sometimes tells us to do unto others before they can do unto us, sort of an “I’m going to get you before you have a chance to get me” attitude. But Christ tells us to do otherwise. He tells us to be the bigger man or woman about things. Love your enemies because anyone can love their friends, but we have a higher calling. Give without expecting anything in return, because if you expect something in return, what have you given? Nothing really. Do not judge nor condemn because aren’t we all really worthy of condemnation? But if we forgive those who do wrong to us and we give to those who cannot repay, then our Father in heaven will see the good we’ve done for His children, and we will be storing up treasures in heaven!
I sat in on an Old Testament class once which was about King David. We discussed the fact that although David sinned against God repeatedly, God still loved him. We came to the decision that this wasn’t because of who David was. God loved David because of who God is! As Christians, we aspire to be more like Christ, who loves the entire world, not because of what the world is, but because of who He & the Father & the Holy Spirit are. Therefore, we are called to treat others with loving kindness and respect, whether they treat us the same way or not. As you go out into the world today, don’t let those who do evil things drag you down into their muck with them. Instead, try to lift them up out of their troubles. Do good to them for goodness’ sake. God will see it, even if no one else does.
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.
You teach us to love our neighbors and enemies alike. Encourage Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, and all your church to follow the leading of your love, especially when it is risky or difficult. Help us to show mercy just as we have first received mercy. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Nurture fields that lie dormant, resting until it is time to bloom again. Help us all to appreciate this time of rest which you give to the Earth. Bless farmers and all who cultivate fields and urban gardens. In its time, give favorable weather for planting. Bring forth from buried seed an abundant harvest, and guard against famine and disease. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Look upon our world with mercy, that we delight in an abundance of peace. Protect all whose lives are marred by war and civil unrest, especially those in Ukraine and Taiwan and other areas that don’t make it into our daily headlines. Release political prisoners and amplify the voices that challenge us to seek forgiveness and pursue nonviolence. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Your people cry out for mercy. Console hearts that long for forgiveness. Mend broken relationships. Heal bodies that suffer chronic pain or illness. Strengthen and deliver all whose spirits are troubled, especially those whom we remember on our prayer list and prayer board. God of grace, hear our prayer.
You bind us together into one family. Teach us to forgive one another and to resolve conflicts with humility and patience. Bless families of all shapes and sizes, and show love to those who are lonely or grieving. God of grace, hear our prayer.
We praise you for the saints who have inherited the fullness of your kingdom, especially those whom we bring before you now, either aloud or in the peaceful silence of our hearts. As you have raised them to imperishable and eternal life, sustain us in faith by the promise of resurrection. 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. Amen.
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, and let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Thanks be to God.