Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, June 26, 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!
We have no good apart from God. That makes Jesus’ call to follow him an invitation to freedom. This is freedom to revel in the Spirit’s fruit: love, joy, peace, and patience. This is freedom to not be imprisoned by anything that would keep us from the fullness of the life God has given us. This is the path 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
Sovereign God, ruler of all hearts, you call us to obey you, and you favor us with true freedom. Keep us faithful to the ways of your Son, that, leaving behind all that hinders us, we may steadfastly follow your paths, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
In the story preceding today’s reading, the prophet Elijah flees for his life to the security of God’s mountain. There God reveals to Elijah that there are still other faithful people in Israel and commissions him to anoint new leaders, including his own successor, Elisha.
15Then the Lord said to [Elijah,] “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.
19So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. 20He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” 21He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.
Psalm: Psalm 16
1Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;
I have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my good above all other.”
2All my delight is in the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble among the people.
3But those who run after other gods
shall have their troubles multiplied.
4I will not pour out drink offerings to such gods,
never take their names upon my lips.
5O Lord, you are my portion and my cup;
it is you who uphold my lot.
6My boundaries enclose a pleasant land;
indeed, I have a rich inheritance.
7I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me night after night.
8I have set the Lord always before me;
because God is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.
10For you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor let your holy one see the pit.
11You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Second Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13-25
For Paul, the freedom Christ gives is not permission to do whatever we want. It is the invitation to be what we could not be otherwise. The power and guidance of Christ’s Holy Spirit produce a different kind of life, one marked by the fruit of this Holy Spirit.
1For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
13For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
16Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Alleluia. (John 6:68)
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62
Jesus is unwavering in his commitment to his mission in Jerusalem and will not be swayed by pettiness. In a series of striking cases in point, he calls his disciples to a similar single-mindedness.
51When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to another village.
57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, O Lord, and bring glory to Your Holy name.
When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He means it to be right away. I’ve often noticed how some young folks think that they can work on their relationship with Jesus another time. I have to admit that, for a long time, I was one of them. Maybe I still am. When you’re young, you think that life will go on forever and that you’ll always have a tomorrow. I’m reminded of the rich man in Luke 12:16, who built several large barns to store up goods for several years into the future. He thought himself wise, planning ahead like that. What he didn’t know was that his tomorrows were over that very night. The rich man’s error wasn’t so much that he was planning for his future, but only that he was planning for his physical needs and not his spiritual ones. “So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God”. Luke 16:21.
In today’s readings we see two instances of people being called by Christ but wanting to put it off for another time. One man wanted to bury his father first. We don’t know anything about the father. For all we know, Dad may have still been alive and the man meant to take care of him till his death, and then come and follow Jesus. On the other hand, Dad may be dead already and the man literally just wanted to go back and bury him. The other wanted to go back home and say good-bye to his family. Jesus replied that, “No one who put a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”. I think the message that Christ is trying to get across is about both the urgency and the importance of the work that lay ahead. Christ was about the business of saving the entire human race from their own folly. What could be more important than that? He also knew that His time on this Earth was limited, hence the urgency. Christ was also giving these people a chance at something we could only dream of today. To get to know Jesus while He was living among us was quite the opportunity! To learn from Him, personally. I can’t even imagine anything like it!
Elisha did something similar in our reading from First Kings today. When called by Elijah to be his successor and a prophet of God, Elisha’s response to ask to go home first and kiss his parents good-bye. He did this and then prepared a feast for his family before leaving and following Elijah.
During the past few years, I’ve felt a calling towards God’s service. I have tried to answer that call and made a plan for equipping myself in order to do what I believe God is asking me to do. I have a timetable and have taken some of the first steps towards becoming a minister of word and service. I’ve been so happy that I’ve been able to start that work here, among the congregation of Grace Lutheran Church in Toledo. I think that the Diakonia classes I’ve been taking have helped me to get ready for my studies at Luther Seminary. I am also blessed that I have been able to continue to learn here by serving this congregation. But I also wonder if I’m not procrastinating in some ways. The timetable I’ve put myself on will take about five to six years to complete. Should I be trying to finish my studies sooner? I’m confident that the Holy Spirit has been guiding me in making my plans and that my service to this community will only be enhanced by my deliberate pace. After all, God knows what I am capable of and how quickly. I’m certain that God has placed me where he wants me to be and has laid out the path before me.
What is God calling you to do right now? Perhaps He has something in mind for you that will help to spread Christ’s good news to others. That could take the form of helping at a soup kitchen or being there for a friend during a time of need. It could be as praying for someone, whether or not you even know them. Perhaps He’s calling you to a closer relationship with Him. That could take the form of reading your Bible more and meditating on what’s inside. Perhaps it’s both. (That’s how I feel about my calling) Don’t delay! The work may be difficult, but it is both important and urgent! Answer God’s call to do His work with your heart and your hands!
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.
God of faithfulness, set the face of your church firmly on you. Rooted in your self-giving love, may the church find freedom in loving our neighbors. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
God of gentleness, strengthen the earth’s ability to heal. Where there are dangerous storms, bring calm. Where there are destructive fires, bring rain. Protect homes, habitats, and livelihoods threatened by climate disasters. Open our eyes to where we are being poor stewards of your creation and open our hearts to do better. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
God of peace, guide all who govern, that they place the good of their citizens above self-promotion. Anoint leaders of nations with your Spirit of neighborly love. Protect refugees and all who live under tyranny or conflict, especially those in Ukraine and Russia and all other places of conflict and tyranny that don’t make our headlines. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
God of kindness, reveal your healing presence to all who are sick or dying, especially those whom we remember on our prayer list and prayer board as well as those we bring before you now, either out loud or in the quiet stillness of our hearts. Uphold those who grieve. Support the needs of any who are unemployed, hungry, or have nowhere to lay their heads. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
God of love, attend to those struggling with addiction, depression, or uncontrolled anger. Provide support systems and loving companions as they work toward health, that they may rest in hope and know the fullness of joy in your presence. Bless those who work with those so afflicted that they may act with patience and loving understanding. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
God of joy, we give thanks for all who have died and now celebrate the inheritance of life in you. Keep their examples of faithfulness always before us, that we trust your promises in life and in death. 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!