Blessing of the Quilts during all three services this weekend.
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, September 24 at 5:30 pm (casual with Voices of Praise), and Sunday, September 25 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 5:40 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 4:40 in the recording for the beginning of service)
Altar Flowers for this weekend’s services were donated by Debbie Henson in loving memory of her husband Gerry. ❤ “Always loved… never forgotten… forever missed.”
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:
1 Timothy 2:1-7
16th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C
Seeing with Eyes of Compassion—Lutheran World Relief
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock, and our redeemer. Psalm 19:14
We had a few moments of terrified waiting this past week, Michael and I. (That’s Pastor Michael, my coworker here at Our Saviour Lutheran and my husband, a.k.a. Dad to a certain high-schooler named Pidge.)
I had heard the sirens, but we live so close to Fauquier Hospital and the Warrenton Fire Department that the sounds didn’t even register. That is, until I got a text—two texts, really, from the aforementioned teenager in the middle of the school day. I saw the texts out of order, so what I saw first was, “This is bad.” 😱!!! Then I read, “We got evacuated and there are emergency vehicles and news helicopters.” All of a sudden, I could hear those same sirens.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I was pretty darned terrified! As was Michael, when I called him. After a lifetime or so… which really only lasted 8 minutes, I got an all-clear text from Pidge and a note from the school. It had been a potential gas leak. (Whew!) All was well. Safety guidelines were followed. Caution was taken. Kids back in class.
And that made me realize just how good I have it. I’ll tell you why: that particular stressor was unusual for us.
For others? Well, that sort of alarm is not nearly unusual enough. Between ongoing weather catastrophes, drug cartels, or warring governments, those sounds of sirens and threats of danger are all too common. And then there are some people who don’t even get an alarm before everything is gone, and they feel lucky to escape with nothing but the shirts—or children—on their backs.
Lutheran World Relief is ready to jump into action for people like them, and I am very grateful that. This agency is one that is on the ground as soon as disaster strikes and stays to the end—helping, responding, caring. LWR and their partners here and around the world are not surprised by emergency calls, for they are designed with compassion in mind. Oh, and despite being a church-sponsored agency, they do not have any agendas. They help anyone in need without any religious strings attached.
Here’s what you see on their website (https://lwr.org/): “Lutheran World Relief saves and improves lives in the poorest parts of the world. We will persist until your love reaches every neighbor.” I like that. They extend our love where we cannot go.
Today we thank them. LWR shows love; they allow us to help those far away; and—this is important—they see people as the human beings they are.
Our lessons today remind us to look at those around us, noticing them, and seeing them as God’s children like us. In fact, Jesus thinks it is so important to see needy people as real people that he creates the story we just heard from the gospel of Luke. Did you catch it?
There’s this rich dude who eats like Thanksgiving every day of the year and who feels nothing but the finest cloth touching his skin. We’ll call him “the dude” because Jesus didn’t bother to give him a name.
Also, there’s some poor guy. Wait! He’s not “some guy”; he’s got a name. Lazarus. That means—despite what those listening to Jesus would have thought—he’s the star of the show.
Well, Lazarus is so poor and sick someone tossed by him like garbage by the dude’s gate. Probably they figured the dude would have some of his servants feed the man (but no such luck). Lazarus was so weak he couldn’t even shoo away those diseased dogs that licked the sores on his poor body! And yeah, since the dude did not see him and did not feed him or care for him, Lazarus died.
You can tell from how the story continues that the rich dude is a dud. While angels carry Lazarus to be loved on by Abraham, the dude is just buried and then he’s tortured in “Hades.” And here’s how it is really clear that the dude is a dud: even while he is being burned for his lack of humanity, he has the gall to ask Father Abraham for help is the most inhuman way. I can’t summarize any better than what Jesus said so I’ll read it. The rich dude says:
“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.” And when Abraham refuses, he keeps at it:
“Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house” … I can’t keep reading.
Can you believe that dude? You’d think he would show some humility, seeing as how he did not get into the good place. But no. Sure, he finally sees Lazarus, but not until after the poor man died from starvation and disease at his doorstep. Then, rather than apologizing and begging Lazarus for mercy, the no-longer-rich, still-unnamed dude expects Abraham to order Lazarus around like a servant to serve him and his nasty brothers! I gotta say, Jesus does a great job of portraying this villain. The dude ends in just as much torment, refused by Abraham and left to be ignored by everyone but the demons, and we are all pretty happy about that.
However, admit it. We’re some of you good Christians out there expecting a happy ending for him? I could write it. I mean, our faith is founded on the belief that we are NOT saved from some evil afterlife by our good deeds, but by the love of Jesus. But that’s not what Jesus gave us here. What’s going on? Remember folks, this is a parable, a story with multiple meanings and not a history lesson. It is not a statement of faith nor something to put in canon law. With parables, you never want to get lost in the details, especially if they take you away from Jesus and his love.
And so, even though this story does not end on a happy note for the dude, I think I can help us feel good—and not just by guiltily hating on the bad guy. Jesus invites us to with that hint about believing someone raised from the dead right there at the end. We believe someone who was raised from the dead! We trust that through Jesus we are given abundant, overflowing life. Through God’s generosity, love, and compassion, we are claimed as children forever. Yay!
Therefore, we get it that our heavenly parent expects us to share with our siblings, even ones we don’t like, understand, agree with, or even know. And, think about it, if we don’t at least attempt to do that what kind of life would we have? What kind of life is it to be oblivious to another human being, to treat them like garbage and then feel the effects of that indifference on our lives? That is NOT living the abundant life we are given. That would mean we were slaves to money or power or comfort, not in control of our lives and not connected to people around us.
Who would want to join us if we wasted our gift of abundant life like that? I wouldn’t. Fortunately, that is not representative of who we are, or at least who we want to be. We, as members of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Warrenton, Virginia, aspire to show compassion, generosity, and love to all. We are called to give until it hurts, and then keep on giving until it feels amazing. And it does feel amazing to live the generous life! Especially today, when—kind of like that rich dude—we sit in wonderful comfort on these beautiful, handcrafted quilts, am I right? But don’t feel bad. We can celebrate our comfort because—unlike the dude in the story—we are not going to hoard these treasures. Through the agency I started with, Lutheran World Relief, we are going to 📣 give them all away!
We’ll give them to homeless beggars with open sores who need help, like Lazarus, with no strings attached or expecting anything in return.
📣But that’s not all!
We’ll give them to business women who need help selling their wares to feed their families through a famine or economic hardship.
📣But that’s not all!
We’ll give them to refugees and asylum seekers who must abandon their homes and countries over the likes of war or hurricanes.
Are you in on the amazing joy now? My friends, we are having a giving party today! We celebrate that we have enough to share, and it makes us happy to share it.
Now, that’s a community I am proud to belong to, and it’s one I’m delighted to invite others to join. I hope you feel the same. (If you don’t yet, talk with some of these men and women who make them—it’s contagious!)
So, let’s ask God to bless these quilts and the people who will receive them.
Let’s ask God to bless the people who made them and those who will pass them out across the globe.
Let us not forget to ask God to bless us with forgiveness when (not if!) we do not live up to our aspirations of generosity. We’ll mess up, but God will show us compassion and forgive us!
And let’s ask God to bless anyone who sees this worship service and decides they want to learn more about our community—a church that sees them and reminds them they are loved, a church that calls us all to share that love freely and with joy.
God does see you wherever you are, and loves you, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 adapted
Liturgical material © 2017 Augsburg Fortress, used by permission of Augsburg Fortress/Sundays and Seasons #SAS009239. Copyright Acknowledgments for print & broadcast: CCLI - Copyright License #2800659 and Streaming License #20585472 (including SongSelect Advanced); and One License #710443-A.