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!
Mark’s gospel makes clear how great is the press of the crowd, with its countless needs to be met, on Jesus and his disciples. Yet in today’s gospel Jesus advises his disciples to get away and rest, to take care of themselves. Sometimes we think that when others are in great need we shouldn’t think of ourselves at all; but Jesus also honors the caregivers’ needs. We are sent from Christ’s table to care for others and for ourselves.
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, powerful and compassionate, you shepherd your people, faithfully feeding and protecting us. Heal each of us, and make us a whole people, that we may embody the justice and peace of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Jeremiah prophesied before the exile in 587 BCE. In this passage, he uses the metaphor of a shepherd to describe the bad kings who have scattered the “flock” of Israel. God promises to gather the flock and to raise up a new king from David’s line to save Israel and Judah.
1Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.
5The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
Psalm: Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. (Ps. 23:1)
1The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not be in want.
2The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.
3You restore my soul, O Lord,
and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.
4Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:11-22
The author of this letter reminds his audience that originally they were not part of God’s chosen people. Through Jesus’ death, however, they are included in God’s household of faith, whose cornerstone is Jesus Christ.
11Remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands—12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Alleluia. My sheep hear my voice.* I know them, and they follow me. Alleluia. (John10:27)
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
When Jesus sends his disciples out to teach and heal, they minister among large numbers of people. Their work is motivated by Christ’s desire to be among those in need.
30The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
53When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Meditation by David O’Brien
Have you ever needed a break from your daily activities? It’s good to get away from it all from time to time. Jesus seems to be telling His disciples that in today’s Gospel. “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while”. The disciples were just getting back from the mission that Christ had sent them on and while they were excited, they were also tired. So Christ tells them to take a break. I suppose it’s like when you accomplish something big. You might feel tired, but it’s a good kind of tired. We here in the US should pay attention to this line in today’s Gospel. According to a study done by the US Travel Association, Americans left 768 million days of paid time off unused in 2018. 55% of us did not use all of our paid vacation. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, as my wife will tell you. But one of my coworkers is worse. He hasn’t taken a single vacation day in years! I’ve also know a few pastors that are reluctant to take any time off, even when it’s paid for.
In my job as a parole officer and also when I worked at the prison, I am considered a first responder in certain situations. Whether responding to a first aid emergency and a security situation, we are always told to make sure the area is safe before attempting to enter and render aid. The idea being that we would be unable to help anyone if we were injured. We called this taking care of the caregiver. It applies to our mental health as well. That’s why it’s important to take time off and care for ourselves from time to time.
Part of Jewish law requires that no one work on the Sabbath. That was their way of obeying the Fourth Commandment, “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”. The Sabbath of course being the day that God rested from His creative works. If God takes a break from time to time, should we? Time away from the stresses of everyday life is essential to one’s mental health. When the disciples had returned to Christ, they were spent. They had taught others about the good news of Jesus. They had also cured many sick people and cast out demons. It’s plain to me that they were being caregivers for those to whom they ministered. Jesus recognized the importance of caring for the caregivers. He knew that the disciples would not be able to care for others if they didn’t also take care of themselves. So He gets them all in a boat and they go somewhere to be by themselves.
But people can sometimes be demanding. The folks who saw them sailing off, rushed ahead of them by foot so that they could have their needs met. It’s a good thing that Jesus is fully divine as well as fully human, because the crowds demands on him were greater than any of us ordinary people could have handled. Jesus looked at these lost sheep and felt their pain with them. They felt a need to know God in a way they had never been taught. Because He had compassion for them, Jesus got out of the boat and “began to teach them many things”. He gave up his vacation time because His people needed Him. He’s like that still. He feels compassion for us in our suffering and wants to help. He shares our pain as Grace Church is transitioning to a new era in our walk with God. If we listen to Him, He will guide us in the right direction.
It’s an interesting detail in this story that people were able to run along the shore and reach the other side before Jesus and His disciples. But if you look at a map of the Sea of Galilee, it’s really not all that big. It’s only 33 miles around and surrounded by hills. Even Lake St. Clair, which isn’t big enough to be considered one of the Great Lakes is more than four times bigger. So it wouldn’t be too difficult to see the boat that Jesus was in and where it was going. Knowing this, I wonder if the deserted place He wanted to take the disciples to was the middle of the sea. A nice boat ride, after all, can be very relaxing.
When you look at the roof of a lot of churches, you might notice that a lot of them look like the inside bottom of a boat. It seems to me to be a good reminder of being in a boat with Jesus, letting him do the navigating, and we can find rest for our souls.
Lord, I know that sometimes I want to push myself to get everything done. It’s part of my wanting to be in control all of the time. Help me to know when it’s time for me to take a break and rest. Help me to know that You can guide the ship of my life to where You want it to be and I don’t always have to worry so much about it. Help me to understand that, just because I step away for a bit, everything won’t fall apart because You can hold it together. Teach me to trust in Your compassion for me. Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
Rooted in Christ and sustained by the Spirit, we offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all of creation.
A brief silence.
Tend your church, O God. Encourage bishops, such as Elizabeth and Daniel, pastors, such as Howard, and deacons in their proclamation of the gospel. Raise up new leaders and encourage those pursuing a call to ministry. Embolden all the baptized to embody your love and justice. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Restore your creation, O God. Sustain croplands and pastures and safeguard all farm animals and livestock. Preserve lakes, rivers, and streams that offer refreshment. Revive lands recovering from natural disasters and protect coast lands threatened by rising oceans. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Reconcile the nations, O God. Break down the dividing walls that make us strangers to one another and unite us as one human family. Equip leaders to deal wisely with conflict and guide diplomats who seek peaceful solutions. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Heal your people, O God. Look with compassion on immigrants, exiles, and all who are afraid or feel lost. Comfort those who suffer in the loneliness of institutionalization. Give rest to those who are weary, comfort to those who are grieving, and recovery to those who are ill especially those on our prayer list. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Nourish this congregation, O God. Prepare a table where we receive food for our hungering spirits. Renew our commitment to provide for one another and revitalize our ministries of feeding and nurturing hungry neighbors. Guide our call committee and church council to make choices pleasing to You and in line with Your plan for Grace Lutheran Church. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
You lead us home, O God. We give thanks for all who have died, now citizens with the saints. As you have received them into your heavenly home, so welcome all of us to dwell in your house forever. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
We lift these and all our prayers to you, O God, confident in the promise of your saving love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.