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!
When Amos reports his vision of God judging Israel for its mistreatment of the poor, he becomes a threat to the power of the priests and the king. John the Baptist also speaks truth to power, and Herod has him killed. In Herod’s fear that Jesus is John returned from the dead, we may hear hope for the oppressed: all the prophets killed through the ages are alive in Jesus. We are called to witness to justice in company with them, and to proclaim God’s saving love.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity,☩ one God,
the God of manna,
the God of miracles,
the God of mercy.
Drawn to Christ and seeking God’s abundance,
let us confess our sin.
Silence is kept for reflection.
God, our provider,
It is hard to believe there is enough to share.
We question your ways when they differ from the ways
of the world in which we live.
We turn to our own understanding
rather than trusting in you.
We take offense at your teachings and your ways.
Turn us again to you.
Where else can we turn?
Share with us the words of eternal life
and feed us for life in the world.
Beloved people of God:
in Jesus, the manna from heaven,
you are fed and nourished.
By Jesus, the worker of miracles,
there is always more than enough.
Through Jesus, ☩ the bread of life,
you are shown God’s mercy:
you are forgiven and loved into abundant life.
Prayer of the Day
O God, from you come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works. Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments; and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Amos 7:7-15
Amos is not the kind of prophet attached to temples or royal courts. Rather, he is an ordinary farmer from Judah (the southern kingdom) called by God to speak to Israel (the northern kingdom). God’s word of judgment through Amos conflicts with the king’s court prophet Amaziah, whom Amos encounters at Bethel.
7This is what [the Lord God] showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,
“See, I am setting a plumb line
in the midst of my people Israel;
I will never again pass them by;
9the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”
10Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. 11For thus Amos has said,
‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
and Israel must go into exile
away from his land.’ ”
12And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; 13but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”
14Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ ”
Psalm: Psalm 85:8-13
I will listen to what the Lord God is saying. (Ps. 85:8)
8I will listen to what the Lord God is saying;
for you speak peace to your faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to you.
9Truly, your salvation is very near to those who fear you,
that your glory may dwell in our land.
10Steadfast love and faithfulness have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11Faithfulness shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12The Lord will indeed grant prosperity,
and our land will yield its increase.
13Righteousness shall go before the Lord
and shall prepare for God a pathway.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14
In Jesus, all of God’s plans and purposes have been made known as heaven and earth are united in Christ. Through Jesus, we have been chosen as God’s children and have been promised eternal salvation.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
Alleluia. May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts,* that we may know the hope to which God has called us. Alleluia. (Eph. 1:17-18)
Gospel: Mark 6:14-29
As Jesus and his disciples begin to attract attention, Mark recalls the story of John the Baptist’s martyrdom. Like John, Jesus and his disciples will also suffer at the hands of those opposed to the gospel of salvation.
14King Herod heard of [the disciples’ preaching,] for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
17For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
Meditation by David O’Brien
Lord, may the words that I write here be a reflection of the message You want Your people to hear and fill them with faith in You and give glory to Your Holy Name, Amen
Amos was told by the Lord to do something that I expect he would have rather not. He lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, where he was a simple farmer. He was told by the Lord to go to Israel, the Northern Kingdom, and deliver a message that was not going to be popular with the local leader, Jeroboam the Second. Amos was sent to prophesy about the downfall of Israel and the house of Jeroboam. What was Jeroboam’s offense against the Lord? For one thing, he had installed a golden calf in the sanctuary at Bethel. Bethel, you may recall, is where Jacob had his dream about the ladder going between heaven and earth. Additionally, Israel had begun to take its security for granted and forget about their reliance on the grace of God. The sanctuary at Bethel had also been perverted to political uses, with the high priest of the temple, Amaziah, being one of Jeroboam’s strongest defenders. The political power in Israel and the religious power had merged at Bethel. Into this place, God sends Amos. A man with no credentials and no authority of his own. He simply heard what the Lord had told him to do, and he did it.
The Gospel today is a difficult one for me to write about. John was doing what he felt he was compelled to do in condemning Herod for a host of sins which included marrying his half-brother’s wife, Herodias. Herod was usually surrounded by yes men, who would constantly flatter him over everything he did. That is a dangerous situation to go into with any criticism at all, let alone challenging the legitimacy of his marriage. John must have known that Herod would not be happy and would probably have him arrested at the least. In Mark’s telling of the story, Herod didn’t want to execute John. In fact, it almost seemed that he liked John despite his criticism. He only relents in having the man executed when he makes an open-ended promise to his step-daughter. Matthew tells it a little differently, saying the Herod wanted to kill John, but feared a popular uprising due to his reputation among the people Herod was supposed to rule. In Mark, Herod respects John as a “just and holy man” and enjoyed hearing him. My reading of Mark makes me think that Herod was tricked into having John beheaded. Whichever was the case, John’s fate was the same. This is hard for me to understand because John was doing God’s will and was executed for it. But perhaps this was a foretelling of how Jesus would die. After all, Jesus was also executed by a political leader who only did so begrudgingly. In Pilate’s case, however, he was trying to avoid an uprising among his subjects, not trying to satisfy his or his wife’s pride.
As a parole officer, I am often asked to do things that I’d rather not do. For example, I will often have to arrest someone who has a serious drug addiction and needs treatment. That addiction will sometimes lead them to do things that break other laws or rules of their supervision. I have had to arrest some individuals who have been following the law, working and being productive, but have committed a rule infraction such as leaving the state. This may seem like a minor thing to some people, but once an offender crosses the line from Ohio to say Bedford Township, Michigan, our jurisdiction over them ends. We, as agents of the State of Ohio, cannot effectively supervise someone in Michigan, even if it’s only by one foot. Since part of our job is to protect the public from any harm the offender might cause, having him outside of our jurisdiction becomes a big problem, especially for the folks in Michigan, where he is unsupervised entirely.
We at Grace are being asked to do something difficult that we would probably rather not do. Change. Change can be very painful. That is why we like to hold on to traditions so much. They remind us of how things used to be. But if we put too much emphasis on our traditions, we will find ourselves standing in one place and not moving forward. That’s not to say that we should abandon our traditions wholesale, but if we want to continue to grow, we need to be open to new ideas. As we look to calling a new pastor, we are realizing that the way we’ve always done things isn’t going to work anymore. We want our Church to be healthy and to grow, but that is not what has been happening lately. I don’t claim to have any of the answers as to what we should be doing, but I know that with a new pastor will come new ideas. I pray that we, as a congregation, will be open to these new ideas and trust in God that He will help us to grow in the way He wants us to so that we can continue to do His will.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us come before the triune God in prayer.
A brief silence.
Holy parent, you welcome your people into one family and gather all things to yourself. Bestow your grace upon your beloved church, especially Daniel & Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor. Lavish your wisdom upon us, and redeem us from our faults, that by our witness all might praise your glory. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Awesome Creator, you steadfastly tend to the smallest of seeds and the mightiest of sycamore trees. Spring up green growth from the earth, nourish the growth of fruit, grain, and other crops, and bless the work of farmers and laborers. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God of the oppressed, turn the ears of those who are in power to the voices of prophets in our own day. Protect those who speak difficult truths when it is risky to do so. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God of strength, you are near to those who endure difficulty. Comfort all who are survivors of violence, guard the refugee and the immigrant, and protect all those who are victims of prejudice and discrimination. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God of compassion, you became vulnerable in the person of Jesus Christ in solidarity with the unempowered. Strengthen those who feel faint, give courage to those who fear, and bring wholeness to those in need, especially those on our prayer list. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God of love, we pray for this holy house and all those who worship here. We pray especially for those whose efforts behind the scenes often go unnoticed; for the custodian and maintenance worker, for our office staff, and for all of our volunteers. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We thank you, God, for the saints, martyrs, and prophets who have died in the faith, especially Benedict of Nursia. We remember those in this community who have recently died, especially William Yesse. United with them as God’s children, assure us that we are yours forever. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We lift our prayers to you, O God, trusting in your abiding grace.
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 blessing of God,
who provides for us, feeds us, and journeys with us,
☩ be upon you now and forever.
Go in peace. You are the body of Christ.
Thanks be to God.