Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, June 19, 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!
This Sunday’s texts paint startling pictures of the ever-present nature of sin. The church’s repeated celebration of holy communion counters that tragic reality in a continued showing forth of the death of Jesus until he comes again. It is a dramatic declaration of “how much God has done for you.”
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
O Lord God, we bring before you the cries of a sorrowing world. In your mercy set us free from the chains that bind us, and defend us from everything that is evil, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Isaiah 65:1-9
The prophet announces God’s impatience. The people’s self-absorption is idolatry, and images of practices that displease God fill this reading. Like a vintner who crushes the grape to release the wine, God will use Israel’s exile to establish a new community of the faithful.
1I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask,
to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that did not call on my name.
2I held out my hands all day long
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
3a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and offering incense on bricks;
4who sit inside tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat swine’s flesh,
with broth of abominable things in their vessels;
5who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all day long.
6See, it is written before me:
I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their laps
7their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they offered incense on the mountains
and reviled me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
full payment for their actions.
8Thus says the Lord:
As the wine is found in the cluster,
and they say, “Do not destroy it,
for there is a blessing in it,”
so I will do for my servants’ sake,
and not destroy them all.
9I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
and from Judah inheritors of my mountains;
my chosen shall inherit it,
and my servants shall settle there.
Psalm: Psalm 22:19-28
In the midst of the assembly I will praise you. (Ps. 22:22)
19But you, O Lord, be not far away;
O my help, hasten to my aid.
20Deliver me from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog.
21Save me from the lion’s mouth!
From the horns of wild bulls you have rescued me.
22I will declare your name to my people;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.
23You who fear the Lord, give praise! All you of Jacob’s line, give glory.
Stand in awe of the Lord, all you offspring of Israel.
24For the Lord does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither is the Lord’s face hidden from them;
but when they cry out, the Lord hears them.
25From you comes my praise in the great assembly;
I will perform my vows in the sight of those who fear the Lord.
26The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
Let those who seek the Lord give praise! May your hearts live forever!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord;
all the families of nations shall bow before God.
28For dominion belongs to the Lord,
who rules over the nations.
Second Reading: Galatians 3:23-29
For Paul, baptism is a powerful bond that unites people not only with God but with other believers. Those who call themselves children of God experience a transformation that removes prejudices of race, social class, or gender in favor of true unity in Christ.
23Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Alleluia. Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you. Alleluia. (Luke 8:29)
Gospel: Luke 8:26-39
Jesus’ mission includes foreigners and his authority extends to the casting out of demons. Some who witness Jesus’ work are seized with confusion and fear, but the man who was healed is commissioned to give testimony to God’s mercy and power.
26Then [Jesus and his disciples] arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
Meditation by Vicar Dave
The Gospel today tells the story of the man possessed by many demons, whom Jesus casts out, and they go into the pigs. Something that I think is interesting, that sometimes gets passed by as we move into the miracle, is the fact of where Jesus is during this event. He is in the country of Gerasenes. In other words, He’s among the Gentiles. I think it’s significant because it’s another example of how Jesus demonstrated that His ministry wasn’t just for the Jews, but for everyone! Paul makes a point of this in his letter to the Galatians when he tells them in their baptism, they’re clothed with Christ and therefore “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” That’s a powerful statement! As it applied to the Galatians, it also applies to us today. Christ didn’t come just for us Christians, but also for the non-Christians. The Muslims, the Hindus, the Jews and even the Atheist. Jesus came for all of the human race!
Then we come to the case of the man that met Jesus as He stepped out of the boat and onto the land of Gerasenes. This guy was in a bad way. He’s been possessed by demons for a long time now. He’s lost everything as a result. His clothing, his home and every shred of dignity that he once possessed. He spends his days naked and his nights living in tombs. When they can catch him, the people of the town lock him up so that he can’t cause any trouble. When Jesus comes across the man, the demons inside of the man instantly recognize Christ for who He is, the “Son of the Most High God” and they beg Jesus to not torment them. I’ve always thought of demons as being prideful things, who don’t want to acknowledge any power other than their own. But in Christ, they know they have no chance. He has absolute power over them and can do with them as He pleases. He can cast them out of the man or leave them where they are. He can send them wherever He likes, even back to the abyss. That’s a prospect that the demons aren’t enthused about. Instead, they beg, beg to be sent into a nearby heard of pigs. Jesus decides to allow them to go to the pigs and then the pigs drown themselves in the lake.
When the people of the city came out to see what was going on, they found Jesus with the man who had just been freed from the demons at His feet, wearing clothes, and acting in his right mind. They became afraid of someone with such power and asked Jesus to leave them. I’m not sure why they would do that. The man they have known for a long time to be possessed has been cured! His dignity and humanity have been restored to him. Wouldn’t they have wanted more of that? In some ways, I can understand their hesitation. Occasionally, we’ve all felt as though we weren’t worthy to be in the presence of the Almighty, and in fact we aren’t. That was the reason that God came down to us in the person of Jesus Christ, so that we might be redeemed from our sinful nature and be adopted as children of the Most High. But the townsfolk didn’t know that, so they were afraid of what punishment Christ might have given to them as He did the demons.
As Jesus leaves them, the newly freed man asks to come with Him. Instead, in another example of how Jesus came for everyone, he sends the newly freed man back to his own home and tells him to spread the word of what God has done for him. Perhaps the next time they hear of Jesus and His saving grace, they wouldn’t be afraid, but will stay and listen to the word and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
We can all share in the mission given to the man in today’s Gospel. We can be freed of all of the sins of our past, then respond to God’s gift of grace by going into the world to tell everyone about all that God has done for us!
Prayers of Intercession
United in Christ and guided by the Spirit, we pray for the church, the creation, and all in need.
Holy God, you hear the cries of those who seek you. Equip your church with evangelists who reveal the continuous call of your outstretched hands and your promises of a home in you. Send all of us along with Daniel & Elizabeth, our bishops, and Brenda, our pastor, out into a world that doesn’t know you so that we may tell of all the great things you’ve done for us. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You hear the cries of the earth. Restore places where land, air, and waterways have been harmed. Teach us to be good stewards of all of the natural resources you have lent to us. Our lakes and forests and all of the life contained therein. Guide us to develop and implement sources of energy and food production that do not destroy the earth. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You hear the cries of those who are marginalized or cast out. On this Juneteenth observance, guide us continually toward the end of oppression in all its forms, especially white supremacy. Bring true freedom and human flourishing to all your beloved children. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You hear the cries of those who suffer, especially those on our prayer list and prayer board. Come to the aid of all who are homeless, naked, hungry, and sick. Bring peace to any experiencing mental illness, that they can clearly recognize your loving presence. Bring the restorative grace of your forgiveness to those who are incarcerated, that they may return home one day and tell their families of your great goodness. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You hear the cries of those who celebrate and those who grieve on this Father’s Day. Nurture mutual love and tender care in all relationships. Comfort those for whom this day brings sadness or longing. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
We give thanks for the faithful departed whose lives proclaimed all you had done for them. At the last, unite us with them as we make our home in you. 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!