Come Worship Together Live & In-person!
Our Saviour is incredibly pleased to have you join us for live in-person worship inside the Nave and Sanctuary on Saturday, September 25 at 5:30 pm (contemporary with Voices of Praise), and Sunday, September 26 at 8:00 am (“simple” service) and 10:30 am (traditional with choir and/or organ music). The Saturday evening and Sunday 10:30 am services will will also be online via Facebook Livestream!
Join your prayers with the community! During the live stream of the service, you are invited to type into the Facebook chat any prayer requests for those you want included in the prayers of intercession. (As always, you may also send your prayer requests by Wednesday the week ahead to firstname.lastname@example.org.) Please do this at the beginning of the service so that we can write them up and hand them to the pastors before the prayers start.
Although Virginia’s mitigation measures ended (read more here), Our Saviour will keep a “safer zone” in the back section of the nave that will remain marked for masks.
Blessing of the Quilts will take place at all three worship services this weekend.
Saturday 5:30 pm — Contemporary Service led by Voices of Praise
Sunday 8:00 am — “Simple” Service
Sunday 8:45 am — Fellowship
Sunday 9:00 am — Sunday School for All Ages (including adults)
Sunday 10:30 am — Traditional Service with Choir and/or Organist
Readings and Psalms:
Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
Sermon: Prayer Works and Works of Prayer
Sermon for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B (Lect. 26). September 25-26, 2021
Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; Psalm 19:7-14; James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50
Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Warrenton, VA. The Reverend Terri E.L. Church
One of the big challenges for families during the pandemic, especially during the lockdown periods, has been having parents working from home. Anyone of you have to make that adjustment? What a challenge! However, many families also found a way to find joy in that change of venue, getting to spend more quality time with their children because of shorter commutes, fewer outside the home activities, and so on. I believe some families took advantage of that extra time to do extra teaching, like this one:
Their preschooler had not yet learned the Lord’s Prayer, so they were able to take time each night to kneel next to the bed—together! The parents would say a line, and the daughter would repeat it, until she was ready to try it on her own. Although, she wasn’t quite ready, it turns out. Also, given the evidence, the parents learned that the child had overheard more adult conversations than she was used to hearing from her stressed out parents. How did they figure that out?
As the family kneeled together, side by side, the little girl started,
“Our Father, who art in heaven,” and off she went. Everything was just out of the church bulletin until she got to this line, “And lead us not into temptation, but (and here her voice raised to match what she had heard) DELIVER US FROM EMAIL!”
I’m not going to tell you the power went out at that moment, or the internet crashed, but when those parents skipped that last minute email check before bed that night, one family learned something vital to life that night: prayer works!
Yes, my theme is Prayer Works. It is both a sentence (prayer does the work), as well as a noun with a description (as in a work of prayer). And because prayer does work, even in surprising ways, we know that sometimes you just have to get on your knees and pray, you need to put your concerns at the foot of the cross and rely on the help of Jesus.
This passage from the letter from James is one of my favorites. I quote it almost every time I gather at the bedside of someone in the hospital. Before beginning the prayers and as I pull out the anointing oil, I read:
“Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are 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. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up, and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.” (James 5:13-15)
These verses of the Bible add to others that remind us about the power of prayer, how the prayer of faith will save the sick. Oh, we are thrilled for doctors and nurses, for medicines and physical therapy. We need the psychologists and the nutritionists. But along with all the wisdom God gives through them, we need to pray.
Have you ever wondered why? Why should we pray? This passage says that the prayer of faith will save the sick, that prayer works. Thus, even if whatever ails us does not go away, our prayers still save us. How does praying for the sick help? First, prayer works by joining the community together to provide focused attention on the sick person. It also reminds us of the power of the incarnation, the humanity of God. Prayer works to remind us that whatever we cannot do, God can, and will. Finally, prayer often creates works of prayer that can go where we cannot go, reminding others that prayer works.
First: community connections. One thing I love about this Bible reading is how it draws the community together. Certainly, there are times when we need to pray alone, when our cries need to be private one-on-ones with Jesus. However, there is something powerful about two or three—or a roomful, or even a whole church praying together, naming someone before God together. It seems that when one is suffering, and others pray with them and for them, they can learn an important lesson: you are not alone. God is here. We are here. The Lord is with you!
Another gift of prayer is that it connects us to the humanity of Jesus. Do you ever reflect on just how cool it is that we pray to a Divine Being who became human to understand human suffering? I certainly do!! Jesus knows what it feels like to hurt, to be sick, to feel emotions like loss, grief, and questions by becoming one of us through the mystery of the incarnation. That’s powerful! Knowing the One we pray to understands us is a strong reason to pray.
Another reason to pray is that those prayers let us know that God is there to fill in the gaps when we cannot do it on our own. When we pray, we admit we need help. And that is sometimes the first step to healing and wholeness.
There was a moment in my years of training to become a pastor that sticks out for me as one of those moments, a time when I needed to know that God had my back.
It was a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Baptist Medical Center in downtown San Antonio, Texas. A CPE internship in a hospital setting helps you learn the behind-the-scenes working of a place all pastors would spend some time. You take classes, you dig deep in a small group to process your own feelings as you help others with theirs, you lead worship, and you take turns being On Call for those overnight needs.
Well, I had one of those nights. I’m not sure I ever even had a chance to lie down on the bed they had set up for us. The pager beeps “Code Blue,” which means someone was fighting for their lives with the hospital team with all the extreme measures, so I go and pray. I stand off to the side with the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer and pled for that patient’s life and comfort. The staff were able to get him stable, so I headed to my little room. But another call came in, and I prayed with a different family who had just lost their loved one. There was the call from the E.R. when a traumatic case came in, and the staff needed me as much as anyone. I prayed, and I walked the walls, and I felt like I was really doing the work God called me to do. And then it was time to grab some breakfast, brush my teeth, and head down for classes with the group.
Sometimes I would have been able to leave by noon, since I had been on call, but this time I couldn’t. I can’t even remember why not. What I remember is realizing I still had work to do, including my lists of names for the floors I checked with every day. There were new patients who needed to know God was there for them through my visit! But I was so tired! I just didn’t know how to keep going! So, God sent me just what I needed.
I reached out to one of the staff chaplains. Could she do my rounds for me? Perhaps she could have, but instead she said this, “Have you prayed for them?”
Had I prayed for them? Could that possibly be enough?!
I knew those words of James, which promise that prayer saves the sick, and “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” Did I believe that?
Did I believe that God would heal the sick? Forgive the sinners? Guide the undecided? Comfort the bereaved? Send the help they needed? And here’s the big one: did I believe that God could do all that without my presence?
Of course, I did! But I wasn’t letting go, I wasn’t living out my faith. And that chaplain called me on it. Therefore, I took myself into that hospital chapel with my list of names and I got on my knees and prayed.
Then I went home and went to sleep. And Jesus was there, in whatever way they needed, and I needed.
Prayer Works, my friends!
Finally, when we come together to serve others in the name of Jesus, God works through our prayer to make works of prayer—like these beautiful quilts for Lutheran World Relief. These are works of prayer, or prayer works. They are ambassadors for us, spreading God’s love. We can’t all be there when the floods come, the war zone expands, or whatever crises arises. But through these quilts, these prayer works, we can!
Prayer works to connect us to each other. Prayer works to connect us to God through the humanity of Jesus. Prayer works when we sin and break the commandments. Prayer works when we can’t do the job that we think God is calling us to do, so Jesus fills in the gaps. And prayer works when we cannot get there, like these quilts that are prayer works for others.
Let us thank God for saving us through prayer, for connecting us to others, and for taking over where we cannot go, to finish wash we must leave undone, and to bring our prayers right where they are needed most, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Altar Flowers for this weekend’s services were donated in loving memory of Walter Koozer by Fred and Marcia Koozer.
If you would like to donate flowers in memory, honor or celebration of a loved one or special date, please sign up on the chart in the church office hallway or call the church office at (540) 347-3224 with your information.
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