Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, September 18, 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!
As we are invited today to consider what it means to be managers (rather than owners) of all that we have, it is crucial to recognize that we are bought with a price. “Christ Jesus, himself human, . . . gave himself a ransom for all.” Apart from the generosity of God we have nothing—we are nothing. By God’s gracious favor we have everything we need.
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
God among us, we gather in the name of your Son to learn love for one another. Keep our feet from evil paths. Turn our minds to your wisdom and our hearts to the grace revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Amos 8:4-7
Amos was called by God to prophesy in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Peace and prosperity in Israel led to corrupt business practices and oppression of the poor. The prophet declares that God will not tolerate such a situation.
4Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
5saying, “When will the new moon be over
so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath,
so that we may offer wheat for sale?
We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,
and practice deceit with false balances,
6buying the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”
7The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
Psalm: Psalm 113
The Lord lifts up the poor from the ashes. (Ps. 113:7)
1Hallelujah! Give praise, you servants of the Lord;
praise the name of the Lord.
2Let the name of the Lord be blessed,
from this time forth forevermore.
3From the rising of the sun to its going down
let the name of the Lord be praised.
4The Lord is high above all nations;
God’s glory above the heavens.
5Who is like the Lord our God,
who sits enthroned on high,
6but stoops to behold
the heavens and the earth?
7The Lord takes up the weak out of the dust
and lifts up the poor from the ashes,
8enthroning them with the rulers,
with the rulers of the people.
9The Lord makes the woman of a childless house
to be a joyful mother of children. Hallelujah!
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
The pastoral epistles offer insight into how early Christians understood many practical matters, such as church administration and worship. The church’s focused prayer for others is an expression of the single-minded passion God has toward us in Jesus.
1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For
there is one God;
there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
6who gave himself a ransom for all
—this was attested at the right time.7For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
Alleluia. Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; strive side by side for the faith | of the gospel. Alleluia. (Phil. 1:27)
Gospel: Luke 16:1-13
Jesus tells the curious story of a dishonest manager who cheats his employer and then is commended by him for having acted so shrewdly. Jesus wonders why his own followers are less creative and diligent in their stewardship given that they are managers of a far more valuable household.
1Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
10“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
College football started again this month. Some of you may be moaning at the prospect while others will have a hard time containing your excitement! I tend to be in the latter group, but not just because of football, but also because the start of football season means that hockey is not far behind! Living in Toledo during football season is a unique experience from other parts of the country that I’ve lived in. The city seems to be pretty evenly divided between Michigan fans & OSU fans. That’s not to say that there aren’t fans of any other schools in the area, but those are the predominate two groups. When I lived in Ypsilanti, MI, almost everyone was a Wolverine fan. Woe onto the individual that lived there and cheered for the Buckeyes. But here in Toledo, we get along pretty well with each other. But don’t ask a Buckeye to change sides and become a Michigan fan, or vice versa for that matter. At least not the serious ones anyway. You’ll also have a hard time selling a Michigan fan on the idea of cheering for OSU, even when they’re playing someone else. I personally have two favorite teams. Michigan and whoever is playing OSU that week. For most football fans, you can’t cheer for both teams. It just isn’t done.
That strikes me as being very similar to what Jesus said in verse 13 of today’s gospel. “No slave can serve two masters, for a slave will either hate the one and love the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” I think what Jesus is trying to say here is that your focus should be on one thing, loving and serving God. When we love and serve God, we will do as He asks us to. Jesus said that the two most important things that God tells us to do are to love Him and to love our neighbors. But God needs to be first! If you put God first, everything else will fall in line.
The parable that Jesus told early in the reading is about a dishonest steward who has a conflict about whom he should serve, his master or himself. In this case, the dishonest steward was supposed to take care of the master’s business for him. Instead, the steward was squandering what the master had given him to be in charge of. When the master has had enough of this, he tells the steward to get his books together because he is being fired and he wants to know exactly what he’s got. Here the steward has his clear conflict of interest. He has his master who wants to know an accurate accounting of everything, and then he has his own interest of being able to feed himself after he is no longer employed. Unsurprisingly, he chooses to be concerned more about his own interest than his masters. To me, this is a clear example of about how one cannot serve two different masters. One will always win out over the other.
A few weeks ago, we read about when Jesus said in order to be his disciple, we had to hate our parents. I think this was another example of how Christ was talking about the dangers of having divided loyalties. In both cases, what we’re being told is that our number one priority has to be God. If we put anything before him, then we are creating false idols. Especially when it comes to money and possessions.
We all have things in our lives that compete with our loyalty to God. For some it could be greed or love of money. Perhaps it’s a desire for the approval of those around you, or even the ability to control them. Many of our politicians have a lust for power that is in conflict with their duty to their constituents. In all of these cases, it’s important that we try to shift our focus so that it is on godly things and not on worldly things.
I’d like to close with a prayer that I read on a website called Knowing Jesus. It goes; “Heavenly Father, keep me from ungodly and unprincipled thinking. Keep the eyes of my heart looking to Jesus for my provision and protection and prevent me I pray from looking to my own bank-balance or any other source of supply for my security. May I have an undivided heart that looks to Jesus the Author and Finisher of my faith.. and in Whose name I pray, AMEN.”
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.
God our Savior, you keep your church in faith and truth. Accompany those preparing for baptism or affirmation of baptism. Enlighten preachers, such as our pastor, Brenda, and our bishops, Elizabeth & Daniel, as well as teachers, seminarians, and all those who share your good news with the world. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Divine teacher, you instruct your children to be responsible stewards of your creation. Show us how best to care for the earth and its resources, and guide those who work to develop sustainable practices. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Ruler of the nations, you direct those in authority. Give leaders wisdom and compassion so that all may live in peace. Inspire public servants to follow the example of courageous leaders and safeguard the dignity of each person. We pray especially for those in areas of current conflict, such as Ukraine. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Helper of the needy, you lift up those who are oppressed. Breathe justice into economic and social systems that perpetuate poverty and hunger. Sustain food ministries, clothing banks, and emergency shelters, such a Sparrow’s Nest and Cherry Street Mission. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Sustainer and giver of life, you bless this congregation with abundance. Instruct us in the proper and faithful use of wealth and resources, that we share generously. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
God of glory, you gather your saints around your throne. Keep us thankful for the witness of those who have gone before us and bring us with them to the heavenly feast that has no end. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
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.