Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, July 17, 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!
Perhaps the church, at its best, is “all ears.” God urges the faithful, again and again, to “listen up!”—to heed the word that gives life. So it was with Abraham and Sarah, Mary and Martha, and the early church at Colossae. So it is today as we join the assembly to hear the word of God, the word of life.
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
Eternal God, you draw near to us in Christ, and you make yourself our guest. Amid the cares of our lives, make us attentive to your presence, that we may treasure your word above all else, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Genesis 18:1-10a
The Lord visits Abraham and Sarah to tell them that the long-awaited promise of the birth of a child will be fulfilled for them in their old age.
1The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. 2He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. 3He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” 7Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. 8Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
9They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10aThen one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.”
Psalm: Psalm 15
1Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle?
Who may abide upon your holy hill?
2Those who lead a blameless life and do what is right,
who speak the truth from their heart;
3they do not slander with the tongue, they do no evil to their friends;
they do not cast discredit upon a neighbor.
4In their sight the wicked are rejected, but they honor those who fear the Lord.
They have sworn upon their health and do not take back their word.
5They do not give their money in hope of gain, nor do they take bribes against the innocent.
Those who do these things shall never be overthrown.
Second Reading: Colossians 1:15-28
This letter offers a mystical teaching, that the great mystery of God is “Christ in you.” Because Christ is present in the church, Christians share in his life, suffering, and glory.
15[Christ Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
21And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him—23provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.
24I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. 25I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. 27To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Alleluia. Blessed are those who hold the word fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. Alleluia. (Luke 8:15)
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
During his visit to the home of Mary and Martha, Jesus reminds Martha that her concern for her many tasks distracts from the one thing that precedes all else: abiding in the presence of God.
38Now as [Jesus and his disciples] went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
Every summer, we have a cookout in my backyard where we have my father, my siblings, our children (who are all adults now and don’t live with us anymore), our grandchildren and as many of our nieces and nephews as can come. Last month we did this for just the children and the grandchildren. Three out of four of the kids and one of the grandchildren were born in June, so this was a way to celebrate all of their birthdays at once. Earlier that morning, one of my sons and I went out to pick up the ribs and such for the cookout. I spent the better part of the morning and into the afternoon preparing the ribs. When the grand kids got to the house, I was still working on them and had to let our adult sons watch them and play with them while I cooked. The point of this story is that I spent a good portion of the day cooking and preparing things and missed spending time with the kids and the grand kids. I didn’t mind and I got to spend lots of time with them later, but I can kind of relate to how Martha may have felt.
On the other hand, by time the grand kids got here, I was cooking in the backyard, their favorite place to be when they’re here. I was able to watch them running around with their uncles and playing on the swing set while I continued to cook the ribs over the fire. Not a bad gig for an old guy like me. I wouldn’t trade the world for watching them having fun. So, in a way, I understand how Mary must have felt also. She knew there were things to do, but listening to her friend and teacher, Jesus, was more important.
So often, we let the concerns of this world distract us so that we miss what’s really important. We are so busy trying to get a report for work done that we forget to listen to the bird singing right outside of our window. We try to make sure that the house is clean, which is important, but our vacuum cleaner is so loud that it drowns out the sound of the wind chimes blowing in the breeze. We want to keep our yard neat, but the sound of the lawn mower overpowers the church bells from across the way and the children playing in the neighborhood. That’s not to say that those things aren’t necessary and don’t need to be done. But it does speak to me about balance. We should make time for the little things like a bird’s song or a child’s squeal of delight as they play.
I think that we tend to think poorly of Martha, and that’s not fair. Put yourself in her shoes for a moment. She lived in a society where hospitality was very important. Think about Abraham’s reaction when the Lord came to his tent. He convinced the three travelers to stay while he ran off and prepared a meal for them with his wife. He also brought water to them so that they could wash their feet. I know that after walking a great distance, particularly in sandals, my feet would be sore and tired and probably pretty dirty. These were the things that a host did for a traveler when they came to their home. She also lived in a society that expected the women to do the necessary work to make sure their guests felt comfortable. Not only is Jesus their guest, He is a good friend to her and Mary as well as their father. How Jesus became friends with this family, we aren’t sure, but friends they are. On top of that, Jesus has made quite the name for Himself as a teacher and more among the people in their community. Perhaps she was worried about what people might say if she didn’t have things just right for this very important guest. Martha was probably more than a little overwhelmed. And there was Mary, her sister, who was just as responsible for providing hospitality for their guest as she was, sitting there, listening to Jesus. When she asks Jesus to tell Mary to get up off her lazy duff and help, Jesus reminds Martha that, “Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her”.
During His time on Earth, Jesus upset plenty of the social norms, but in this case, I think He was just being aware of the limited amount of time He had here and thinking about teaching as many people as He could about the good news of salvation and the coming kingdom of God. As we go about our busy days, may we all make time for the important things, like listening to God.
Prayers of Intercession
United in Christ and guided by the Spirit, we pray for the church, the creation, and all in need.
A brief silence.
Ever-present God, in Christ you fill all things. Bless Daniel & Elizabeth, our bishops, and Brenda, our pastor, and all of your peoples. As your church gathers to hear your word, share your meal, and receive your blessing, teach us to welcome strangers as we have been welcomed by you. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Through Christ you created all things, visible and invisible. Teach humankind to honor and protect all of the creation which you have loaned to us, including living things that remain hidden from our eyes such as air, atmosphere, molecules, and microscopic creatures. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Through Christ you reconcile all things. Motivate those in power to end enslavement, dehumanization, or brutality of any kind in the spirit of Bartolomé de Las Casas, whom we commemorate today, and to protect and improve the lives of Indigenous peoples. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Through Christ you bring peace. Assure all who are worried and distracted by many things of your constant presence. Soothe those suffering in mind, body, or spirit. Sustain all who are afflicted and those who serve as caregivers especially those whom we remember on our prayer list, as well as those we bring before you now, either out loud or in the quiet stillness of our hearts. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
In Christ you make your word fully known. Inspire this worshiping community to abide fully in your word as we sit at the feet of Jesus. Bless the ministry of teachers and Bible study leaders. Bless the lives of those whom they teach and all who study your word. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
In Christ you brought forth the firstborn from the dead. We give thanks for the saints you have gathered at your table. Gather us with them in your eternal glory. 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!