Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, July 10, 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!
To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind is to reflect God’s mercy in responding to one’s neighbor. That mercy found its most profound expression in the “gospel that has come to you”—namely the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That gospel mercy comes to us again today: at the font, at the table, and from the pulpit. It is very near to you.
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 Lord God, your mercy delights us, and the world longs for your loving care. Hear the cries of everyone in need and turn our hearts to love our neighbors with the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Moses calls the people who are about to enter the promised land to renew the covenant God made with their ancestors. Through this covenant God gives life and asks for obedience. God’s commandment is neither burdensome nor too far off, but dwells in the people’s hearts.
9The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, 10when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
11Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. 12It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” 14No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
Psalm: Psalm 25:1-10
Show me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths. (Ps. 25:4)
1To you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
2My God, I put my trust in you; let me not be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3Let none who look to you be put to shame;
rather let those be put to shame who are treacherous.
4Show me your ways, O Lord,
and teach me your paths.
5Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
6Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love,
for they are from everlasting.
7Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;
remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
8You are gracious and upright, O Lord;
therefore you teach sinners in your way.
9You lead the lowly in justice
and teach the lowly your way.
10All your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness
to those who keep your covenant and your testimonies.
Second Reading: Colossians 1:1-14
The letter to the Colossians was written to warn its readers of various false teachings. The first part of the letter is an expression of thanks for the faith, hope, and love that mark this community, including a prayer for strength and courage.
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
3In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. 7This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
9For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Alleluia. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself. Alleluia. (Luke 10:27)
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
Jesus is challenged to explain what is involved in obeying the greatest commandment. He tells a parable rich in surprises: those expected to show pity display hard hearts while the lowly give and receive unexpected and lavish mercy.
25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
I remember going on summer vacations with my family when I was a child and seeing campers and RVs with a sticker on the back proclaiming the owner to be a member of the “Good Sam” club. I didn’t figure out what this meant until I was a young man reading the story of the Good Samaritan. Then it hit me. They were comparing themselves to the good Samaritan in today’s Gospel reading, saying that they would stand ready and willing to help another traveler in need. Jesus intended this story to have more meaning than that, however.
Let’s talk first about the lawyer in the reading. He’s a type I have some familiarity with. When I was in law school, we used to have discussion where we would talk about a particular point and try to narrow down the meaning with follow up questions, similar to what this lawyer was doing. When he asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus put the ball right back in the lawyer’s court. He asked him what do your law books say. Jesus knew that the lawyer already had an answer from the law, but he wanted the lawyer to say it. The lawyer answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (This came from Deuteronomy 6:5; and Leviticus 19:18). Wanting to narrow it down to a finer point, as lawyers often want to do, he asks Jesus who his neighbor is. In Jewish culture, only a fellow Jew was considered to be a neighbor. Gentiles weren’t considered neighbors and Samaritans were particularly hated. The lawyer was implying he has fulfilled the Law by treating his fellow Jew with respect in keeping with the Law. Therefore, he has earned eternal life by complying with the Law. Jesus answers the lawyer’s question with a curve ball, telling him the parable of the Good Samaritan and then asking the lawyer which one of the characters was a neighbor to the unlucky traveler. Both the Priest and the Levite passed by the dying man, presumably a fellow Jew, but we’re not told that for sure. Then along comes a Samaritan, someone who was a descendant of Jews, who had intermarried with Gentiles, who were moved into the area during the exile. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews, looked upon as traitors to their own kind. But this guy has more compassion for the wounded man than the Priest and the Levite combined! “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The Lawyer knows the answer, but he cannot even bring himself to mention the man’s race. He is picky about his neighbors. He answered, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus wanted the lawyer to understand that God’s love is not limited to only the Jews, and neither should the lawyer’s love be limited to only the Jews. He was trying to illustrate how we ALL are God’s children. Failing to love someone outside our social group, is failing to love God’s children. Our love for one another truly reveals our love for God. To show mercy and be a neighbor to the needy is the act of that love. Be a neighbor to anyone in need. Don’t divide people as neighbors and non-neighbors based on their race or behavior because God created everyone in his own image.
We would do well to remember this story today. We have divided ourselves into groups and have limited our friendship circles to those in our group. This may be in politics, where one’s party affiliation has become more important than the good of the nation. The Republicans and the Democrats seem more intent on winning for their team than on doing what’s right and helping the people. Rather than helping each other, I’ve seen members of one party rejoice at the misfortunes of the other. I’ve even read that some family members won’t speak to each other anymore because of their political points of view. This has also happened with race or sexual identity being the label that causes division. I remember hearing about a church that, during the height of the AIDS epidemic, refused to even pray for its victims because in their minds, the AIDS victims had brought this on themselves. Were they good neighbors to the victims of AIDS?
Jesus commanded us to love one another as he has loved us. He didn’t say only if you agree with them or only if they look like you, or only if they choose to love someone the way you would. He simply said to love one another.
I would like to see a return of the Good Sam club, but not just for travelers. Let’s all be Good Sams and look for ways to assist others who are in need, no matter their race, or sexual identity, or political affiliation.
Prayers of Intercession
United in Christ and guided by the Spirit, we pray for the church, the creation, and all in need.
Good and gracious God, you have placed your word of love in the heart of your church. Fill your servants, Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Brenda, our pastor, and all of Your church with compassion, that we bear the fruit of your healing mercy to a broken world. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You created the earth with seeds sprouting up to new life. We pray for the flourishing of fruit trees and orchards, vines and bushes. Prosper the work of those who plant, tend, harvest, and gather. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Show us your ways and teach us your paths of justice and love. Raise up community and national leaders to challenge and dismantle societal structures that perpetuate ethnic, racial, and religious profiling and discrimination. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Come near to all in need. Orchestrate kindness in the face of cruelty, hope where there is despair, love in the face of neglect, comfort where there is death, and healing in illness, especially for those we remember on our prayer list and prayer board and all those we bring before you now, either out loud or in the quiet stillness of our hearts. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Turn this community toward neighbors in need. Bring aid and support to those who are poor, beaten down, abused, forgotten, silenced, or avoided. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
We give thanks for the saints who revealed your love and mercy in this life. Inspired by their witness, strengthen us to live in hope. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
God of every time and place, in Jesus’ name and filled with your Holy Spirit, we entrust these spoken prayers and those in our hearts into your holy keeping.
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!