Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Someone who isn’t part of Jesus’ own circle is casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and the disciples want him stopped. They appeal to Jesus, as Joshua did to Moses about the elders who prophesied without official authorization. Like Moses, Jesus refuses to see this as a threat. Jesus welcomes good being done in his name, even when it is not under his control. The circle we form around Jesus’ word must be able to value good being done in ways we wouldn’t do it, by people we can’t keep tabs on.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
whose teaching is life,
whose presence is sure,
and whose love is endless.
Let us confess our sins to the one who welcomes us with an open heart.
Silence is kept for reflection.
God our comforter:
like lost sheep, we have gone astray.
We gaze upon abundance and see scarcity.
We turn our faces away from injustice and oppression.
We exploit the earth with our apathy and greed.
Free us from our sin, gracious God.
Listen when we call out to you for help.
Lead us by your love to love our neighbors as ourselves.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
By the gift of grace in ☩ Christ Jesus, God makes you righteous.
Receive with glad hearts the forgiveness of all your sins.
Prayer of the Day
Generous God, your Son gave his life that we might come to peace with you. Give us a share of your Spirit, and in all we do empower us to bear the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
What constitutes legitimate need and legitimate leadership is the focus of this reading. God provides manna in the wilderness, yet the people crave meat. What is truly needful? God bestows the spirit on seventy elders, yet two men not designated as leaders prophesy in the power of God’s spirit. What constitutes real leadership?
4The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
10Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the Lord became very angry, and Moses was displeased. 11So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? 12Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child, to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors’? 13Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. 15If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once—if I have found favor in your sight—and do not let me see my misery.”
16So the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you.”
24So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. 25Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
26Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!” 29But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord‘s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!”
Psalm: Psalm 19:7-14
The commandment of the Lord gives light to the eyes. (Ps. 19:8)
7The teaching of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.
8The statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.
9The fear of the Lord is clean and endures forever;
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold,
sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.
11By them also is your servant enlightened,
and in keeping them there is great reward.
12Who can detect one’s own offenses?
Cleanse me from my secret faults.
13Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not get dominion over me;
then shall I be whole and sound, and innocent of a great offense.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Second Reading: James 5:13-20
Marks of the Christian community include praying for those who are sick and in need, celebrating with those in good health, restoring those who have strayed, confessing sins to one another, and offering forgiveness to each other.
13Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
19My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Alleluia. Your word, O Lord, is truth;* sanctify us in the truth. Alleluia. (John 17:7)
Gospel: Mark 9:38-50
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus teaches his disciples about ministry that involves service and sacrifice. His disciples are slow to realize that these words apply to them as well as to others.
38John said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
42“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
49“For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, and bring glory to Your Name, O Lord. Amen.
In today’s Gospel reading, some folks are doing good works in Jesus’s name. John had a problem with this because they weren’t followers of Jesus, but Jesus didn’t have any issue with it. I look at it like this, if you were in an auto accident and needed first aid immediately, would it matter if the person rendering that aid had a certificate saying that they were authorized to do so? Would you want to wait for a certified paramedic to show up, or would you just want someone to put some pressure on the wound and stop the bleeding? While that’s good in emergency situations, I don’t suppose that any of us would want our next-door neighbor performing surgery on us unless they were a licensed, qualified doctor.
One of the things I’m taking from that particular part of the reading is that Jesus didn’t care much for formalities. He wasn’t so much concerned about who was teaching about Him or giving out blessings in His name as long as the work is being done. How strange it is, given that passage, that some of us get so hung up on things like denomination and so on. I’ve read signs outside of some churches or seen posts on their website about them being the only “true” church of God. I personally think that we can learn something from our brothers and sisters in other denominations as well as from those in the ELCA. Some people, however, seem to think that their way is the only way and if we want to be saved, we’d better conform to their way of thinking. I think that is one of the stumbling blocks that Jesus is talking about in the next part of the reading. The little ones Jesus is referring to could be any of us, or anyone else for that matter. What sort of stumbling blocks might we put in someone’s way? They could be things like requiring someone to go to confession weekly, or perhaps requiring speaking in tongues as an indication of their faith. If those things bring some comfort as one of God’s children, then fine. But if we say that you can’t truly be a part of our community without them, then they become stumbling blocks. That’s one of the reasons I like our policy of open Communion. I don’t think that we should erect any barriers to prevent anyone from receiving Christ.
The next part of the Gospel has always struck me as being difficult. Is Christ telling us that we should maim ourselves to make us acceptable to God? The other week, Pastor Howard talked about the difference between law and Gospel. This portion of the reading seems to be oriented towards the law side of things, warning us of the consequences of sin and how they are to be avoided at all costs. In fact, I’d say that the portion about stumbling blocks could also be considered law. It’s just about us making up our own law to impose on others as a condition of being a Christian.
Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about complying with man’s law to be a Christian, nor do we have to cut off parts of our body to be acceptable in God’s sight. All we need is Jesus. And since Jesus is all we need, He’s all anyone needs to be saved.
Prayers of Intercession
Made children and heirs of God’s promise, we pray for the church, the world, and all in need.
A brief silence.
We pray for the church and its ministry. Bless the newly baptized and encourage them in their journey of faith. Inspire bishops, pastors & deacons, especially Elizabeth & Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor. Sustain all members of the body of Christ in lives of prayer, service, and worship. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray for natural wonders of your creation, especially the hills and prairies in our state as well as the Great Lakes. Restore damaged forests, waterways and natural habitats and lead us to be good stewards of what you have provided. Care for people in areas affected by flooding, or hurricanes, or wild fires. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray for those in authority. Give them wise minds and compassionate hearts. Strengthen in them a desire to protect the vulnerable and care for those under-served. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray for those who are struggling with cancer, dementia, or any other disease, especially those on our prayer list. Provide them with peace and resilience for the days ahead. Sustain caregivers with energy and patience. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray for the worship leaders of this congregation: musicians, readers, acolytes, and ushers. Bless us through their ministry and grant them the passion to continue in their service. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We give thanks for all your saints, those we have loved and known and those from every time and place. Continue to guide us by their example and reassure us of your promised salvation. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Receive these prayers, O God, and those in our hearts known only to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.
People of God,
you are Christ’s body,
bringing new life to a suffering world.
The holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
bless you now and forever.