Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, October 2, 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!
A little faith goes a long way is Jesus’ point in the gospel. A mustard seed’s-worth of faith has miraculous potential. The patience, tenacity, and endurance required for the life of faith are the blessings received in holy baptism, holy communion, and the word read and proclaimed in this assembly. Anticipate them. Receive them with thanksgiving.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
who is eager to forgive
and who loves us beyond our days.
Dear friends, together let us acknowledge
our failure to love this world as Jesus does.
Silence is kept for reflection.
God of mercy and forgiveness,
we confess that sin still has a hold on us.
We have harmed your good creation.
We have failed to do justice,
and walk humbly with you.
Turn us in a new direction.
Show us the path that leads to life.
Be our refuge and strength on the journey,
through Jesus Christ, our redeemer and friend.
Beloved of God:
your sins are forgiven ☩ and you are made whole.
God points the way to new life in Christ,
who meets us on the road.
Journey now in God’s abiding love
through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer of the Day
Benevolent, merciful God: When we are empty, fill us. When we are weak in faith, strengthen us. When we are cold in love, warm us, that with fervor we may love our neighbors and serve them for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Injustice and violence in the time leading up to the Babylonian exile move this prophet to lament: How can a good and all-powerful God see evil in the world and seemingly remain indifferent? God answers by proclaiming that the righteous will live by faith.
1The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw.
2O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3Why do you make me see wrongdoing
and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4So the law becomes slack
and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous—
therefore judgment comes forth perverted.
2:1I will stand at my watchpost,
and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
and what he will answer concerning my complaint.
2Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may read it.
3For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.
4Look at the proud!
Their spirit is not right in them,
but the righteous live by their faith.
Psalm: Psalm 37:1-9
Commit your way to the Lord; put your trust in the Lord. (Ps. 37:5)
1Do not be provoked by evildoers;
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
2For they shall soon wither like the grass,
and like the green grass fade away.
3Put your trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and find safe pasture.
4Take delight in the Lord,
who shall give you your heart’s desire.
5Commit your way to the Lord; put your trust in the Lord,
and see what God will do.
6The Lord will make your vindication as clear as the light
and the justice of your case like the noonday sun.
7Be still before the Lord and wait patiently.
Do not be provoked by the one who prospers, the one who succeeds in evil schemes.
8Refrain from anger, leave rage alone;
do not be provoked; it leads only to evil.
9For evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord shall possess the land.
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-14
This letter written to Timothy is a personal message of encouragement. In the face of hardship and persecution, Timothy is reminded that his faith is a gift of God. He is encouraged to exercise that faith with the help of the Holy Spirit.
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
2To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 6For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
8Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
Alleluia. The word of the Lord endures forever. That word is the good news that was announced to you. Alleluia. (1 Pet. 1:25)
Gospel: Luke 17:5-10
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus instructs his followers about the power of faith and the duties of discipleship. He calls his disciples to adopt the attitude of servants whose actions are responses to their identity rather than works seeking reward.
5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
7“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’ ”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
In today’s Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus for more faith. A bit of context here might be helpful. In verses one through four, Jesus is cautioning the disciples against being a stumbling block to others. He’s also talking to them about forgiving constantly. Perhaps the disciples thought this was something that they needed more faith in order to comply with. I think Jesus must have gotten frustrated with their request, because he responds in a way that some might say is snarky. He tells them that if they only had faith the size of a mustard seed, they could perform miraculous things. A mustard seed, in case you don’t know, is one of the smallest seeds which you can plant in the ground. Yet from this small seed, a very large bush will grow, sometimes as large as ten feet tall. It’s also a seed that germinates quickly. You could plant it one day and it would start growing the next.
I can sympathize with what the disciples were asking for. There have been many times in my life when I wished I was a better Christian, in other words, when I wished I had more faith. One time that springs to mind is when I was going through my divorce. That was probably one of the lowest periods in my life. At times I felt as though my faith wasn’t strong enough and I was being punished as a result. I remember asking God, why me? What did I do to deserve this? But then I tried to remind myself of something that I’ve told many people. That God doesn’t put more on your plate than you can handle. God knows full well what gifts he has given us and what we are capable of doing. I firmly believe that God would not assign us a task without giving us the tools we needed to finish it.
I want to dwell for a moment on the second paragraph in today’s reading. But in order to do that, I have to go back for a bit. In Luke 17, we are with Jesus during his last journey to Jerusalem. The closer he gets to Jerusalem, the closer he gets to his crucifixion and the more that he wants to teach his disciples about the aspects regarding their discipleship. I mentioned earlier that Jesus was talking about the consequences of tempting others to sin or placing stumbling blocks in their path. And after that, Jesus is teaching them about what to do when somebody does sin. They are told that they are to rebuke the Sinner and then forgive the repentant Sinner and forgive them repeatedly. Then Jesus is talking about the attitude that a dutiful servant should have toward his master. Of course, the servant here being the disciples, and the master being God. Jesus asked the disciples three rhetorical questions to make his point. The first one being that of the servant plowing the field or keeping the sheep. When he comes in from the field will the master ask him to sit at table with him? The answer of course being no leads to the second question. Will he not rather say to him, prepare supper for me and serve me while I eat, and after that you can eat and drink? The answer, of course, to that question is yes, and that leads to the third question. Does the servant think that he should be rewarded simply because he did what he was commanded to do? The answer there again is no. This last question is the one that really spikes my interest. Do we think that simply because we are doing God’s will here on Earth that God owes us anything? The answer to that question, of course, is also no. The fact of the matter is that we owe everything in our life, to God. That is why we should do everything that God asks joyfully and with gratitude. It is merely our duty to do what God asks us to do.
And the last part of this reading Jesus says that when we have done all that we were commanded to do, we should say to ourselves that we are unworthy servants, for we have only done what was our duty. I think what he’s trying to say here is that we were only doing what God expected us to do, so there was nothing special about it and we should not take extra pride in that. Let me put that another way. If we hire someone to put a roof on our house and they guarantee that this roof is not going to leak for 10 years, then come year 5 that roof has not leaked, does that mean that we should be jumping up and down for joy? After all, it has only done exactly what it was advertised to do so far.
It Is our duty to do God’s will. We should expect no acclaim for doing that. As it says in the hymn: “My hope is built on nothing less” (ELW 596 & LBW 294) “No merit of my own I claim, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”
Prayers of Intercession
As scattered grains of wheat are gathered together into one bread, so let us gather our prayers for the church, those in need, and all of God’s good creation.
We pray for your holy church in every place and for those who serve following the example of Christ, especially Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Branda, our pastor. Help them and all your people to live by faith and walk by the light of your gospel. Hear us O God,
Your mercy is great!
For parts of the world ravaged by natural disaster: relieve those affected by floods, wildfires, droughts, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Hear us O God,
Your mercy is great!
For every nation and for those entrusted with authority: grant our leaders self-discipline in all things, and inspire them with love for your people. Hear us O God,
Your mercy is great!
For victims of violence, abuse, and neglect: heal those who have been harmed and protect those who are vulnerable. For all who are sick, especially those we remember on our prayer list, and those we bring before you now, either out loud or in the quiet stillness of our hearts. Hear us O God,
Your mercy is great!
For this and every congregation: rekindle your gifts within your people, and inspire councils, committees, and individuals to plan and work together that all may know your love. Hear us O God,
Your mercy is great!
In thanksgiving that you have abolished death, and for the saints who have died. Bring us all to eternal life with you. Hear us O God,
Your mercy is great!
Gathered together in the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit, gracious God, we offer these and all our prayers to you; through Jesus Christ, our Savior.
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.
God, who gives life to all things
and frees us from despair,
bless you with truth and peace.
And may the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
guide you always in faith, hope, and love.
Go in peace, with Christ beside you.
Bless the world and be God’s grace!
Thanks be to God!