Let Us Worship Together!
Our Saviour is incredibly pleased to have you join us for live in-person worship inside the Nave and Sanctuary on Saturday, October 15 at 5:30 pm (casual with Voices of Praise), and Sunday, October 16 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.
(Fast forward to 3:17 in the recording for the beginning of service)
Sunday 8:00 am — First Light Service
Sunday 8:45 am — Fellowship
Sunday 9:00 am — Sunday School for All Ages
Sunday 10:30 am — Traditional Service with Choir and/or Organist: Download Sunday’s Worship Bulletin & Watch Service Here
(Fast forward to 7:23 in the recording for the beginning of service)
Altar Flowers for this weekend’s services have been lovingly donated by Jim & Katie Lowell in Celebration of their son Jimmy and his wife Maddie ❤ and their son Andrew and his wife Elle ❤.
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.
Readings and Psalms:
2 Timothy 3:14–4:5
19th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C
Jacob, the Persistent Widow, and Prayer: how to get through a dark night of the soul
Have you ever had a dark night of the soul? If you’ve had one, you know what I’m talking about. After tossing and turning longer than you can stand, maybe you realize your mind is racing—trying to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem in your life, stressed about an upcoming appointment, feeling the weight of bills you can’t pay, racked with grief and loneliness, burdened by shame over that time you failed in a major way…The lists can become an endless spiral that your brain won’t let go of. Been there?
When this happens to me, sometimes it works to get up, turn on a soft light, grab a notepad, and do what I call a “brain dump.” Others call a “mind sweep” or some other name. The point is to clear your head. You list it ALL. In the order they come to you or categorized in some way. Sometimes, when you write it down like that, the list stops being endless and becomes—I’m not going to say manageable!—but tangible. It becomes possible to find the one next step you need to take on that project, or you realize you need to set an appointment with the doctor or that therapist, maybe you just pay one bill and check that off. I can usually head to sleep then, knowing I can organize the list later if I need to. It helps to clear out my brain, at least for a moment. Do you ever do a brain dump like that? If you’d like a link to a podcast about doing it, let me know in the comments or send me an email.
But…Buuuut. Well, there are those times when that either doesn’t do it, or I don’t even try. At that point, I’m very glad for access to my old Wi-Fi. And by that, I mean [pull out my sweatshirt that says “Prayer, the worlds first wireless connection”], prayer!!!!
Sometimes I feel like I’m Jacob, wrestling with God (or an angel, or some sort of divine being… the Hebrew isn’t clear, but neither are my dark nights of the soul). I love this ancient, mysterious story from Genesis—how a man in deep trouble, who is at a turning point that he is afraid will end his life, comes face to face with “a man,” and they wrestle all night. The supernatural being can’t get the best of him, even after knocking his hip out of joint, so he agrees to bless Jacob, giving him a new name and a new lease on life.
When I hear this story, I think of prayer, the kind of physical, draining prayer of someone who needs more than they even know. And I know that kind of prayer can change you and change the world around you.
As some of you know, I struggle with depression and anxiety, and I get frustrated with that. I know I have many resources to help—more than most people in the world, and I truly appreciate the support provided. But I also want help beyond the miracles of modern medicines, and I know that the One who can help me is God. So, I beg for help. I reread psalms like we heard this weekend, “I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where is my help to come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. The Lord will not let your foot be moved nor will the one who watches over you fall asleep.” (I’m so glad to hear that I didn’t wake Jesus up with a text chime! Lol) “Behold, the keeper of Israel (and Terri; And you!) our keeper will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Before I move on, I need to say two things: One—if you are struggling with a mental health crisis, call the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988. And Two—God is listening, or ready to wrestle, if that’s the case. If you need us Pastor Michael and I will be here to pray with you in person or on the phone, and plenty of members of this church will make the same offer. Let us know how we can sit with you through your own dark night of the soul. You are not alone.
Jesus talked about how important it is to pray and pray and pray! In our gospel lesson today, Jesus tells a weird little story. It was probably laugh out loud funny to the people hearing it. The characters are simple cardboard cutouts—the mean, selfish, powerful person is a judge. The seemingly week, poor, needy person is a widow. She asks for justice—to make someone who defrauded or injured her pay. But the judge is not a good man—he even says so himself! She says, “Make ‘em pay!” He says, “Nope!” and this goes on for a while. But then, the unjust judge says, “because she keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out.” The word for “wear me out” literally means something like, “gives me a black eye”! The way Jesus tells the story, that “weak little widow” packs quite a punch! She is persistent, she asks and asks so that this unjust judge is worried about how far she’ll take it, so he gives in. She wins justice!
Once the slapstick story comes to an end, Jesus points out the obvious: If even this corrupt, nasty judge can do the right thing, won’t God (you know, the non-corrupt, loving, One) grant justice to those who pray non-stop?
I must remind you this is a parable—it’s a story made to point to a deeper truth, not a history lesson, and it is never wise to think we have God all figured out. That widow is not a real person; and the judge is not a stand-in for our loving heavenly parent. But still, we all know that not everyone gets justice in this world. If that is the point of this parable, perhaps it might prompt us to listen a little closer to someone around us asking for help, for justice, to be heard. In fact, whenever you put money in the plate, when you donate to Our Saviour’s general fund, you are helping people find justice. You’re paying for the quilting ministry, People Helping People, Habitat for Humanity, and more. Thank you for fighting injustice with your generosity, and however else you might do so.
But this little parable sits inside a bigger story, the story we read of Jesus telling the story. And Jesus certainly reminds us that God wants to hear our cries for help. Jesus wants us to ask, seek, knock—to break down the doors of heaven when we need to. Jesus asks us to wrestle with him, to argue and complain, to be real. Folks, (I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying this!) but I believe it is okay to get angry with God. He can take it! And, in praying to God, we just might get a practical answer that helps. Maybe, God is telling someone else how to help you right while you’re praying. I don’t know. I do know that God allows us to help serve the kingdom of Jesus, and sometimes that helps someone no one else was helping. And I know, that when you are praying, you are reminding yourself that Jesus cares about you, that you are not alone.
When you pray, that wireless connection is always open. Whatever you’re facing, take it up with God, and bring it up at church. When you see someone who’s needs are greater than you can meet, let us know so we can help. Together, we are the body of Christ, connected in ways we cannot quite fathom, stronger because we are together with Jesus Christ our Lord.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
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