For Sunday November 11, 2012
Year B, Twenty fourth Sunday After Pentecost
Green :: 1 Kings 17:8-16 :: Psalm 146 :: Hebrews 9:24-28:: Mark 12:38-44
Editor’s Note: We are in the midst of about 25 weeks of texts which are less connected by one theme than to each other week to week. The lectionary follows somewhat sequential readings in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Psalms which supplement them. The New Testament Readings are also sequential week to week, but do not necessarily fit a theme. Given this, I will be attempting to tie Call to Worship and Invocation to Hebrew Scriptures; Stewardship and Communion to Gospel and Epistle with little concern for overarching theme.
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 146
L: Praise the LORD!
P: We will praise the LORD as long as we live.
L: Happy are those whose hope is in the LORD their God,
P: God keeps faith forever, executes justice for the oppressed, and gives food to the hungry.
L: The LORD sets the prisoners free and opens the eyes of the blind.
P: The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, and loves the righteous.
L: Put not your trust in princes in mortals in whom there is no help.
P: For the LORD will reign forever. Praise the LORD!
O God, our God, the one true God, we come into your sanctuary out of our want and need. We come knowing your stories of old, how you provide when there is nothing. We come trusting the stories of now, how you send love when there is only hopelessness. Some of us come here rejoicing, some of us come mourning. You, O God, are here; neither rejoicing nor mourning, only patiently waiting to provide your abundant love, and guide with your everlasting hand. Help us to know your presence as we seek to worship you in truth and love.
The Gospel of Mark reports to us the familiar story of the Widow’s gift or “mite”. How Jesus observed people putting in large sums of money out of their abundance, but marveled at the widow who gave all she had. In First Kings we encounter a similar widow, who is planning to use the last of her grain and oil to make a last meal, but instead gives it to Elijah, and in doing so, the jar never runs empty. In both cases, the story points to a willingness to trust God to provide when our systems fail. How bold is that? I don’t know that I could do it, especially knowing that in our society the logical question would be: “Why did you give away what might have sustained you?” I think the message for today might well be that when we give to God what is right, not just what we can spare, we make space for God’s blessings to abound. It starts with a willingness to look at all we have been provided, and decide in advance what belongs to God. This week, give what you may, but then go home and think about what earnings God will bless you with in the week ahead, and set aside God’s portion first. I believe you will find you have enough, and you will find yourself blessed.
We come before you God, out of relative abundance. When we consider our wealth compared to so much of the world, we find ourselves in awe. Help these gifts bring some equality to those who are truly in need. Bless these gifts, and all who brought them to not only become a source of blessing to others, but to remind us of all which you have given. We offer them in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the Hebrew tradition, the Day of Atonement is a big deal. On that day, the high priest of Israel enters the Holy of Holies, the very throne room of God, and offers a sacrifice for the sins of Israel in the preceding year. The author of Hebrews makes the case that the Day of Atonement still takes place each year at the foot of Heaven’s throne. The difference is that each year, it is Jesus himself, who comes before God, bloodied and scarred, and reminds God that the sacrifice has been made for our sins. We come to this table, to remember that sacrifice, to confess before God, and to be assured of our pardon. Christ has invited us to come and accept that perfect sacrifice through our remembering. Will you come?
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