Worship 6.28.2020 Extending Hospitality
Introduction to the day:
The welcome of baptism is for all God’s children. This baptismal gift sets us free from the power of sin and death. In today’s gospel, Christ promises that the disciple who gives a cup of cold water to the little ones serves Christ himself. From worship we are sent on our baptismal mission: to serve the little ones of this world and to be a sign of God’s merciful welcome.
Call to Worship Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life (LBW 429)
1 Where cross the crowded ways of life, where sound the cries of race and clan, above the noise of selfish strife, we hear your voice, O Son of Man. 2 In haunts of wretchedness and need, on shadowed thresholds dark with fears, from paths where hide the lures of greed, we catch the vision of your tears. 3 From tender childhood's helplessness, from human grief and burdened toil, from famished souls, from sorrow's stress, your heart has never known recoil. 4 The cup of water giv'n for you still holds the freshness of your grace; yet long these multitudes to view the strong compassion in your face. 5 O Master, from the mountainside make haste to heal these hearts of pain; among these restless throngs abide; oh, tread the city's streets again; 6 Till all the world shall learn your love, and follow where your feet have trod; till glorious from your heav'n above shall come the city of our God.
Confession and Forgiveness
All may make the sign of the cross, the sign marked at baptism, as the presiding minister begins.
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
whose steadfast love is everlasting,
whose faithfulness endures from generation to generation.
Trusting in the mercy of God, let us confess our sin.
Silence is kept for reflection.
we confess that we do not trust your abundance,
and we deny your presence in our lives.
We place our hope in ourselves
and rely on our own efforts.
We fail to believe that you provide enough for all.
We abuse your good creation for our own benefit.
We fear difference and do not welcome others
as you have welcomed us.
We sin in thought, word, and deed.
By your grace, forgive us;
through your love, renew us;
and in your Spirit, lead us;
so that we may live and serve you in newness of life. Amen.
Beloved of God,
by the radical abundance of divine mercy
we have peace with God through ☩ Christ Jesus,
through whom we have obtained grace upon grace.
Our sins are forgiven.
Let us live now in hope.
For hope does not disappoint,
because God’s love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit.
Prayer of the Day
O God, you direct our lives by your grace, and your words of justice and mercy reshape the world. Mold us into a people who welcome your word and serve one another, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Lesson: Jeremiah 28:5-9 The Test of a True Prophet
Through a symbolic action Jeremiah insisted that Judah and all the surrounding nations should submit to the king of Babylon (Jer. 27). Hananiah contradicted the word of Jeremiah, who in reply insisted that Hananiah’s rosy prediction should not be believed until it came true. God confirmed the word of Jeremiah and sentenced the false prophet Hananiah to death (vv. 16-17).
Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hananiah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord, and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words that you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. Yet hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”
Here ends the reading.
Psalm: Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18
Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing. (Ps. 89:1)
I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.” 3 You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: 4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’”
15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, 16 who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. 17 For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. 18 For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.
Second Lesson: Romans 6:12-23 No Longer Under Law but Under Grace
Sin is an enslaving power which motivates us to live self-serving, disobedient lives. Sin’s final payoff is death. We, however, have been set free from sin’s slavery to live obediently under God’s grace, whose end is the free gift of eternal life.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[a] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here ends the reading.
Response Thy Word CH #184
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
When I feel afraid
And I think I've lost my way
Still You're there right beside me
Nothing will I fear
As long as You are near
Please be near me to the end
I will not forget
Your love for me and yet
My heart forever is wandering
Jesus be my guide
And hold me to Your side
I will love You to the end
Gospel: Matthew 10:40-42 Welcome Christ in Those He Sends
When Jesus sends his disciples out as missionaries, he warns them of persecution and hardships they will face. He also promises to reward any who aid his followers and support their ministry.
[Jesus said to the twelve:] 40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Sermon- " Extending Hospitality” -Pastor Jill
When I look at the verse about “extending a cup of cold water..I remembered the childhood experience of running across the field bare-footed, as fast as I could so as not to get too many stickers in my feet--bringing a quart jar of cold water to Mom & Dad as they were putting up hay….so hot, thirsty, and that water was such a gift to them! Or when the threshing crew was working hard all day in the hot sun—we brought out lunches at 10:00, dinner at 12:00, lunch again at 2:00 & later made them a hearty supper of meat, potatoes, gravy, lefse and apple pie.
How they loved those simple acts of hospitality! Some of the men who helped Dad I had never met—they went around the neighborhood helping each other out. A cup of cold water, a plate of home-cooked food—to fill the belly & maybe soothe the soul. Simple acts.
The Matthew text today speaks about hospitality as receiving and welcoming the stranger. Jesus reminds us of a profound privilege, and, a tremendous responsibility. He tells us that we represent and symbolize him before others. He tells us that the reverse is also true: namely, that others represent and symbolize Him before us. Jesus assures us that he himself is present in our lives when we welcome others into our midst. He is also present when others do the same for us.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it well about the sent ones: " They are now Christ's fellow workers, and will be like him in all things. Thus they are to meet those to whom they are sent as if they were Christ himself. When they are welcomed into a house, Christ enters with them. They are bearers of his presence. They bring with them the most precious gift in the world, the gift of Jesus Christ."
Likewise, we bring Christ before others in our homes, in the church, in school, at work, at play, in the whole world. What would happen if, every day, we were always conscious of this truth and did our best to put it into practice? When we offer and receive hospitality Jesus is made present. This truly is the most precious gift we could give to anyone!
Most of us probably don't find it too difficult to offer hospitality to our family and friends, but what about the stranger, the neighbor we meet across the street, the fellow worker on the assembly line that speaks a different language, the fellow student in a wheel chair? How often do we welcome these and similar people who are labeled outcasts in our society? Do we give them the gift of Christ's presence? Or do we say to ourselves, they have their own people who look out for them? I don’t want to mess with them, I’ll just look the other way.
Hospitality is risky business. An open heart and an open home or church can be a target for unpleasant experiences. But, it can also be the recipient of unexpected surprizes.
A seminary student drove about thirty miles to church on Sunday mornings and he would frequently pick up hitchhikers. One day he picked up a young man who noticed that he was wearing a suit and asked if he could go to church with him. The student said, "Of course you can." The stranger came to church and afterward was invited over to one of the members' home for lunch and fellowship. While there, he received a hot bath, some clean clothes, and a hot meal. Through their visit, the hosts found that he was a Christian, but he had been out of fellowship with the Lord. His home was in another state and he was just passing through on his way back. Later in the evening, they bought him a bus ticket and sent him on his way. A week later, the seminary student received a letter from the hitchhiker. Enclosed with the letter was a newspaper clipping with headlines reading, "Man turns himself in for murder." This young man had killed a teenage boy in an attempted robbery and had been running away from the law for some time. But the kindness and hospitality of Christians had convicted him. He wanted to be in fellowship with God, and he knew he needed to do the right thing about his crime. Little did those believers know that by their faithfulness to show hospitality they had influenced a man to do what was right in God's eyes and thereby help restore him to fellowship with his Lord.
Hospitality, however isn’t only about going some place and quietly hoping that the receiver of our hospitality will see Christ in us. A good friend of mine taught me this: “Jill, when you’re going on a pastoral call, especially when it’s a difficult situation, don’t expect that you will always bring Christ to them. Rather, be assured that Christ is already there.” What a profound truth. Sometimes we do good to see Christ in the people that we want to reach out to.
The real meaning of hospitality is found in inviting someone who cannot repay you, someone who is unfamiliar to you. Christ is the Hospitality of God toward us. He invites all of us, from all languages and cultures, to His great banquet, the feast which none of us can repay.
And remember---Christ fully receives us and accepts us as we are. Can we do the same?
Church growth experts say that healthy and growing congregations are generally friendly churches that offer hospitality to others. They are churches that live by the principle that, there are no strangers here, only friends whom we have not met.
Maybe we need to push the boundaries of what we find comfortable and easy. I can’t express in words how proud it makes me feel to be a part of this church when I hear someone give testimony of the warm and friendly reception they had in our church.
Maybe the best way of discipling for us is to invite them to dinner. Friendly, warm, welcoming, tummy filling, joy sharing, home fellowship! Or maybe it is to accept an invitation from someone who is offering it.
To be faithful disciples, we need to push the boundaries of what we find comfortable and easy. It is hard for many of us, but with God's help it is not impossible. Remember that it may well make all the difference in the world to the person who receives your hospitality. And the reverse is also true; someone may be the very presence of Christ for you in an unexpected time and place.
As we continue to open our hearts and our lives to others let us not be concerned about outside appearances—my house isn’t clean enough or I have only leftovers to offer. Rather, let us say, “I extend the gift of hospitality to the people he sends my way. And, on the other hand, Hebrews 13:1-2 says, Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to welcome strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Let us remember that it takes a true disciple’s heart to make our guests feel welcomed– whoever they may be & they don’t always come invited. And let us also be assured that if they recognize the hospitality of God in us, it is because we have been a faithful representation of Jesus Christ to them.
It is my fervent prayer and deepest hope that we would grow as a congregation where there are no strangers – only friends that we have not met.
Hymn of the Day Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound (LBW 448)
1 Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see. 2 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed! 3 Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; 'tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. 4 The Lord has promised good to me; his word my hope secures; he will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with your free Spirit.
Called into unity with one another and the whole creation, let us pray for our shared world.
A brief silence.
God of companionship, encourage our relationships with our siblings in Christ. Bless our conversations. Shape our shared future and give us hearts eager to join in a festal shout of praise. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
God of abundance, you make your creation thrive and grow to provide all that we need. Inspire us to care for our environment and be attuned to where the earth is crying out. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
God of mercy, your grace is poured out for all. Inspire authorities, judges, and politicians to act with compassion. Teach us to overcome fear with hope, meet hate with love, and welcome one another as we would welcome you. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
God of care, accompany all who are in deepest need. Comfort those who are sick, lonely, or abandoned (especially). Strengthen those who are in prison or awaiting trial. Renew the spirits of all who call upon you. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
God of community, we give thanks for this congregation. Give us passion to embrace your mission and the vision to recognize where you are leading us. Teach us how to live more faithfully with each other. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Here other intercessions may be offered.
God of love, you gather in your embrace all who have died. Keep us steadfast in our faith and renew our trust in your promise. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Receive these prayers, O God, and those too deep for words; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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,
forever and ever. Amen.
Blessing (sung- acapella)
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you
May he bless you in the name of the Lord;
May the blessings of the Lord be upon you
May he bless you in the name of the Lord.
Sending Hymn Give to Our God Immortal Praise! (LBW 520)
1 Give to our God immortal praise! Mercy and truth are all his ways; wonders of grace to God belong; repeat his mercies in your song. 2 He sent his Son with pow'r to save from guilt and darkness and the grave. Wonders of grace to God belong; repeat his mercies in your song. 3 Give to the Lord of lords renown; the King of kings with glory crown. His mercies ever shall endure when lords and kings are known no more!
Go in peace. Christ is with you.
Thanks be to God.
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