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!
Jesus does great deeds of power and gives his disciples authority over demons. Yet none of this power is unilateral; it all must be received by faith. Jesus asks his disciples to go out without money or supplies, so that they will be dependent on how others receive them. When we are sent from the assembly to witness and to heal, we are asked to be vulnerable, to be dependent on the reception of others. The Spirit always operates in the “between”: between Jesus and his Abba, between Jesus and us, between you and me, between us and those to whom we are sent.
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
God of the covenant, in our baptism you call us to proclaim the coming of your kingdom. Give us the courage you gave the apostles, that we may faithfully witness to your love and peace in every circumstance of life, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Ezekiel 2:1-5
In 597 BC, the priest Ezekiel was removed into exile in Babylon. While there, he received a vision of God appearing majestically on a chariot throne. Today’s reading recounts God’s commissioning of Ezekiel during this vision. The prophet is to speak God’s word to a people unwilling to hear.
1[A voice] said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.2And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. 3He said to me, Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. 4The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” 5Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.
Psalm: Psalm 123
Our eyes look to you, O God, until you show us your mercy. (Ps. 123:2)
1To you I lift up my eyes,
to you enthroned in the heavens.
2As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to you, O Lord our God, until you show us your mercy.
3Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy,
for we have had more than enough of contempt,
4too much of the scorn of the indolent rich,
and of the derision of the proud.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Christians do not boast of their own accomplishments. Rather, Christian boasting focuses attention on how the power of Christ is present in our lives, especially in times of weakness and vulnerability. No matter what our circumstances in life, Christ’s grace is sufficient for us.
2I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. 3And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows—4was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. 5On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 7even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
Alleluia. I will boast gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Alleluia. (2 Cor. 12:9)
Gospel: Mark 6:1-13
At home and abroad, Jesus and his disciples encounter resistance as they seek to proclaim God’s word and relieve affliction.
1[Jesus] came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.2On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
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
There was a man who was a drug dealer. As could have been easily predicted, one day he was caught by the police, charged with possession with intent to distribute, convicted by a judge and sent to prison. As with most young men who end up in prison, he was angry and blamed everyone else around him at first. His conviction was the fault of the customer who snitched on him, not his for selling the drugs in the first place. The police and the judge were corrupt and conspired against him. The sentence was unfair because the judge didn’t like him. While in the prison, when he was caught with more drugs, it was the corrections officer’s fault because they shouldn’t have stopped him in the hall and searched him. This went on for a good portion of the early part of his sentence. Then something happened. He stopped blaming others for everything and took responsibility for his situation. He began to rebuild relationships with the people in his life that were hurt by his actions, his family and friends. And he started planning for a future where he wouldn’t have to risk being arrested and could still take care of himself and his children. After he was released, he started working with organizations that help incarcerated persons find a way out of the life that got them locked up in the first place. Outside the walls of the prison, he worked with recently released offenders to help them find housing or jobs or any other services they might need to help them to keep from re-offending. He would also go back into the prisons and teach classes, or hold talks in an effort to reach anyone that would listen. At the prison in which he had been incarcerated, however, he seemed to have some credibility issues. Several of the correction officers viewed him with a suspicious eye, thinking that it was just a front so that he could bring drugs or other contraband into the institution. Some of the inmates who knew him from his early days of being incarcerated also didn’t take him seriously, because they remembered the younger man who was still angry and unrepentant. But he continued on and to this day he works with the prisons to try to help others get out of their bad situations the way he did. He is even a resource that I refer some of my offenders to when they are having trouble finding a job or something.
I think that Jesus could understand how this guy felt as he went back into the prison to talk. After all, when Jesus went to His hometown and began preaching, His friends and neighbors questioned his credibility. They were possibly thinking of the young boy who used to play in the streets with them or their children. Or perhaps they were thinking of the adolescent kid, who seemed a bit off to their way of thinking. The way the story is written in Mark, with there being no reference to His father, Joseph, they may have been thinking of Him as one who was born out of wedlock, something that would have been very scandalous at that time. But whatever the reason, they found it hard to accept Christ as someone who could teach them anything.
Why was Jesus unable to do any deeds of power while in His hometown? An answer that is often given is that it was due to the locals’ lack of faith. After all, several of the miracles that Christ performs during His time on Earth are accompanied by a statement like “your faith has healed you”. (Remember the woman from last week who touched Jesus’ cloak and was healed? Before she left Him, he said “Daughter, your faith has made you well”.) However, those whom He saved from demon possession probably showed no signs of faith prior to their being freed. Maybe “He could do no deed of power” while he was there because He wasn’t asked to, except by a few sick people. Perhaps it was like in a sports game, where you’re told “you can’t cross this line”. Well, of course you’re physically capable of crossing that line, but it’s against the rules of the game. It’s possible that Christ thought that, in the presence of those whose unbelief was so strong, it would be unproductive to do such deeds as it wouldn’t change their minds. Whatever the reason, I think that Christ was capable of doing deeds of power but was constrained from doing so by His own choice.
God can do great miracles in our lives. I know He has in mine. I know that I’m not the same person I was twenty years ago. By His grace, I have found happiness and worth in my daily life. May we all have faith that God will work miracles for us every day!
Prayers of Intercession
Let us come before the triune God in prayer.
A brief silence.
God of all, through the waters of baptism you claim people of all races, ethnicities, and languages as your beloved children. Sustain the baptized and increase their faith, that your gospel may be proclaimed throughout the earth. Bless your servants Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God of the heavens, your creating Spirit animates the universe. We give you thanks for the moon and stars, for the planets and the Milky Way Galaxy, and for all of the mysteries of the cosmos that remain unknown to us. As we learn more and more, never let us become so arrogant that we might think that we know all there is to know. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God of freedom, you have liberated us from sin and death and rescue us from all forms of spiritual, social, and political oppression. Defend us from tyrants in our midst and deliver us from all forms of slavery or corruption. Direct our freedom for works of liberation and wholeness for all peoples and for the entire world. 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 holiness, you send us out into the world to proclaim your love. We pray for our outreach ministries, such as our blood and food drives and our youth ministries. Equip us as we leave this place to witness and serve our neighbors. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We give you thanks that in every time and place you call forth prophets who move us towards freedom. Thank you for those who work for human rights, community organizers, and all who strive for liberty for all. 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.