Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, July 24, 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!
Persistence in prayer is encouraged by Jesus and wins the attention of God when Abraham intercedes for Sodom. The life of the baptized—to be rooted and built up in Christ Jesus—is to be nurtured with prayer. God hears and answers prayer and so strengthens God’s own. “When I called, you answered me; you increased my strength within me.”
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
Almighty and ever-living God, you are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and you gladly give more than we either desire or deserve. Pour upon us your abundant mercy. Forgive us those things that weigh on our conscience and give us those good things that come only through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Genesis 18:20-32
In today’s reading, Abraham undertakes the role of a mediator between God and sinful humanity. Appealing to God’s justice, Abraham boldly asks for mercy for the city of Sodom for the sake of the few righteous people there, including Abraham’s nephew, Lot.
20Then the Lord said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! 21I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”
22So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” 27Abraham answered, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29Again he spoke to him, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31He said, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
Psalm: Psalm 138
Your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands. (Ps. 138:8)
1I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.
2I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your steadfast love and faithfulness;
for you have glorified your name and your word above all things.
3When I called, you answered me;
you increased my strength within me.
4All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they have heard the words of your mouth.
5They will sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.
6The Lord is high, yet cares | for the lowly,
perceiving the haughty from afar.
7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
8You will make good your purpose for me;
O Lord, your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands.
Second Reading: Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]
The writer of this letter warns the congregation in Colossae about “the empty lure” of philosophies and traditions that compromise faith. Through the gift of faith, the church is mystically connected with Christ in his death and resurrection which is enacted in baptism.
6As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. [
16Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. 17These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, 19and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.]
Alleluia. Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. Alleluia. (Luke 11:9)
Gospel: Luke 11:1-13
In teaching his disciples this prayer, Jesus also reminds them to focus on God’s coming reign, God’s mercy, and the strengthening of the community. Jesus encourages his disciples to childlike trust and persistence in prayer.
1[Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”2He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3Give us each day our daily bread.
4And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
5And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
“Lord, teach us to pray”. That sounds like a pretty simple request. To some folks, prayer might seem to be something basic, something that every Christian should know and do. But many of us haven’t the slightest idea where to begin. In its most sincere form, prayer is a conversation with God. Many of us have problems talking to our children. How are we supposed to start a conversation with God? Some folks like to use a formula for their prayer such as ACTS. That stands for Adoration (praising and exalting God), Confession (telling God where we know we’ve sinned), Thanksgiving (being grateful for all the blessings that God has bestowed upon us) and Supplication (making a request, asking for something). If that helps anyone, using a formula like that one, that’s fine. If that’s not helpful to you, well that’s fine too. Even the prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples in today’s Gospel doesn’t follow that format. Luke’s telling of what we commonly call the Lord’s Prayer has adoration and supplication, but not confession nor thanksgiving.
I want to focus more on the importance of prayer than on its form. Jesus talks about this in the second part of today’s reading. He gives the example of a friend coming to your door in the middle of the night asking for help. In this case, he has an unexpected visitor who he needs to feed. This guy just got off the road and is famished. Remember, in Jesus’ day there weren’t any late-night diners for someone to stop at as they journeyed from one city to another. This was one of the reasons that hospitality was so important to the people living then. The responsibility of being a good host was shared with those in one’s community, so you, the neighbor had a duty to help as well. You originally tell the neighbor to go away because you and your family have already shut the house for the night and are in bed. But Jesus implies that the neighbor continues to ask you for help to the point that you finally relent and give him what he needs, just to make him go away and let you sleep, if nothing else. He told this story to illustrate, not just the importance of being persistent in our prayers to God, but also how God will answer our prayers. “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” He goes on to discuss how God will take care of us the way a good father takes care of his children.
Like any other relationship, our relationship with God needs to be nurtured. We can accomplish this, at least in part, by having a conversation with God on a daily basis. Think about some of the couples that you think have a great relationship with one another. I’ll bet you that they talk to each other all of the time. I know that Joyce and I talk about almost everything all of the time. That level of communication is a two-way street. That’s how we remain aware of each other’s needs and desires, as well as our fears. It keeps us strong as a couple. Our relationship to God should be no less important, if not more so, yet in our busy lives, we often forget to talk to God. Maybe we have a report that our boss needs early the next morning, so that concern keeps us away from spending time in prayer, either because we’re working on it ceaselessly or because the worry of getting it done takes up all of our thoughts. Or perhaps we’re celebrating our child’s home run that they hit that day and just forget to say “thank you” to God for helping them in that achievement.
Whatever keeps you from praying, I’d encourage you to find some way around it. There are plenty of things out there to assist you in doing that. Perhaps a daily devotional, such as “God In Our Homes” can help you get started. There are also organizations out there that will email devotions to you on a daily basis. I like the one I get from Luther Seminary called “God Pause”. It has a reading, sometimes it’s even from a hymn, a one paragraph reflection and a short prayer. But I’d also encourage you to start small and build it up as you are comfortable. I think of it as I would an exercise regimen. If you try to do too much too soon, you may be overwhelmed and end up walking away from it again.
As important as our relationship with God is, it’s worth the time that it will take to nurture and grow it.
Prayers of Intercession
Trusting in God’s extraordinary love, let us come near to the Holy One in prayer.
A brief silence.
Rooted and built up in Christ, we pray for the church. Embolden Brenda, our pastor, and Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and all church leaders to take risks for the sake of the gospel and equip the baptized to proclaim your extravagant love for the whole world. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Rejoicing in the works of your hands, we pray for the natural world. Make rivers and lakes, oceans and all waterways, sparkle with your radiance. Protect water sources such as Lake Erie from our foolish abuses and strengthen those who defend them. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Interceding on behalf of the vulnerable, we pray for the peoples of the world, especially those suffering war, genocide, violence, famine or any other calamity. Inspire all rulers and governing authorities with your justice. Guide the work of legislators and public officials, that they advocate for the well-being of those they serve. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Persistent in prayer, we pray for our neighbors in need. To all who have hunger, give daily bread. To all who have bread, give hunger for justice. Open us to the cries of those who suffer especially, those whom we remember on our prayer lists and those we bring before you now. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Abounding in thanksgiving, we pray for this congregation. Bless the prayer and fellowship ministries in this place. Call us together in times of praise and blessing, trouble and sorrow, in your holy name. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Buried with Christ in baptism and raised with him to new life, we give thanks for your saints who rest in your eternal presence. Join our voices with theirs as we sing of your great glory. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Receive the prayers of your children, merciful God, and hold us forever in your steadfast love; through Jesus Christ, our holy Wisdom.
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!