Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, September 25, 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!
Consideration of and care for those in need (especially those “at our gate,” visible to us, of whom we are aware) is an essential component of good stewardship. It is in the sharing of wealth that we avoid the snare of wealth. It is the one whom death could not hold—who comes to us risen from the dead—who can free us from the death grip of greed.
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
O God, rich in mercy, you look with compassion on this troubled world. Feed us with your grace and grant us the treasure that comes only from you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Amos 6:1a, 4-7
The prophet Amos announces that Israel’s great wealth is a cause not for rejoicing but rather sorrow, because God’s people have forgotten how to share their wealth with the poor. The wealthy will be the first to go into exile when judgment comes.
1aAlas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
4Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the stall;
5who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David improvise on instruments of music;
6who drink wine from bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
7Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.
Psalm: Psalm 146
The Lord gives justice to those who are oppressed. (Ps. 146:7)
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3Put not your trust in rulers,
in mortals in whom there is no help.
4When they breathe their last, they return to earth,
and in that day their thoughts perish.
5Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help,
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
6who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps promises forever;
7who gives justice to those who are oppressed, and food to those who hunger.
The Lord sets the captive free.
8The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9The Lord cares for the stranger;
the Lord sustains the orphan and widow, but frustrates the way of the wicked.
10The Lord shall reign forever,
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations. Hallelujah!
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-19
Timothy is reminded of the confession he made at his baptism and of its implications for daily life. His priorities will be different from those of people who merely want to be rich.
6Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
11But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
17As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
Alleluia. You know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. Alleluia. (2 Cor. 8:9)
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31
Jesus tells a parable in which the poor one is “lifted up” and the rich one is “sent away empty.” Jesus makes it clear that this ethic of merciful reversal is not new but is as old as Moses and the prophets.
[Jesus said:] 19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
Meditation by Vicar Dave
Working in the prison, I’ve seen a lot of things that I wished I hadn’t. Lots of the people there are just lost. So many of them measure their success by how much money they’ve made. Many of them are so in love with money that they have dollar signs tattooed all over their bodies. I remember one man in particular, that had so much money on the outside, that he looked down his nose at the guards and others working there as though they were suckers for working at an honest job. When he was eventually released, he was still at it. I ran across him while working as a parole officer and though I knew him, he didn’t even recognize me. His feeling that he was better than everyone else, because he had more money than most, eventually caught up to him again. He violated his conditions of supervision by traveling out of the state without permission and was sent back to prison. During a search of his home, we found stacks of counterfeit money which, I later learned, he was using in posts to social media to make it appear that he was wealthier than he actually was. It really seems to me that his love of money was out of control.
The parable that Jesus tells in today’s Gospel tells the story of a rich man and one who is impoverished. He’s telling this story to a group of Pharisees, who are lovers of money. This is not dissimilar from our society, in the US, today. We have glamorized money to the point that riches and an opulent lifestyle have become the biggest measure of one’s success. Think about the ads we see during Advent, when we should be focused on the birth of Jesus. Instead, we are bombarded with presentations telling us that if we want a joyous Christmas, we’d better have just the rights gifts under the perfect tree and have all the right dishes, perfectly prepared, for the largest feast of the year. All of this is going on when we have people living in the streets, suffering from various health issues and mental illnesses, and going hungry.
We here in the US could be looked at as the rich man. We dress in the best clothing and eat to the point that 35% of us are considered to be obese. A family of four in the US, making $60,000.00 per year is among the richest 8% of families globally. Yet we want to build walls to keep people out who are looking for a life where they can feed their families. That’s not to say that we’re not a generous people. When tragedy strikes somewhere, we often send aid in the form of medical help (Doctors Without Borders comes to mind) or food or money. We even send in people to help rebuild nations that we had just finished fighting a war against. But lately, we’ve been looking inward more and more and starting to hoard our blessings like Smaug the dragon from the Hobbit would.
Having said all of this, money, in and of itself, is not evil. Having money is not evil. In our second reading today, Timothy is reminded that it is the “love of money” that “is a root of all evil”. If we love money more than we do our fellow humans, that become the evil that creates the chasm between us and God. If we are blessed with riches, should we not share our blessings with those around us who are in greater need than we are? As Christians, we are called to love, not just our neighbor, but the world, including those whom we call enemies. As individuals, we should give generously to those in need and to the Church. As a nation, we should support policies that allow the many blessings this nation has received to be shared with those less fortunate than ourselves.
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.
A brief silence.
O God, rich in mercy, fill your church with righteousness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Empower Daniel and Elizabeth, our bishops, and Brenda, our pastor, and all the baptized by your Spirit to be rich in good works and ready to share. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Protect the earth and its creatures. Provide water, food, shelter, and favorable habitats, especially for endangered species. Preserve threatened ice caps, glaciers, parks, and beaches. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Increase justice in nations, local governments, and courtrooms. Guide lawyers and those who hold public office to act with compassion and discernment. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Give food to the hungry. Set the captives free. Lift up those who are bowed down. Watch over the stranger. Tend to those who are ill, especially those we bring before you now, either out loud or in the quiet stillness of our hearts. Stir us to act in the best interest of our neighbors. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Enliven our praise. Inspire musicians, artists, poets, and all who create beauty in this place. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Enfold the saints who have died in the arms of your loving care. Grant that the holy angels accompany us and bring us to eternal life with them in the light of your presence. 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.