July 8, 2019
Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands
that holy things have taken;
and let the ears that heard your Word
to falsehood never waken.
The tongues that sang your holy name
now purge of all deception;
keep bright the eyes that saw your love
and sharpen their perception.
And may the feet that walked your courts
be never lured to wander;
but lead the faithful nourished here
to journey on in splendor.
Evangelical Lutheran Worship #497
The assigned lectionary readings for July 14, 2019, the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
The alert observer will quickly note that the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday was the central focus and theme of our recently completed Northeastern Ohio Synod Assembly.
A lawyer challenges Jesus with a question, "Who is my neighbor?", which is the springboard from which Jesus then launches into a story which we have come to know as the parable of the Good Samaritan.
This story is arguably one of the best known of Jesus' parables. And like any well-known story, it has taken on a life of its own. Today, anyone who rushes to another one's aid is called a "Good Samaritan." We have a Good Samaritan health system, a network of hospitals based in the Toledo area. In Ohio we also have what is called a Good Samaritan law, which excuses people of liability when they donate perishable food items to a charitable organization.
One of the challenges of hearing a story that we think we know well is to hear it with a fresh set of ears. The preacher's challenge, of course, is to tell it to you in such a way that you hear it differently than you've heard it before.
I won't attempt to do that in this brief writing, but I would point you in the direction of the sermon by the Rev. Amy Reumann, who preached at the opening Eucharist of our Synod Assembly. You can hear that sermon by clicking HERE. It runs about 20 minutes.
I would also invite you to read the Gospel lesson and focus on Jesus' final four words to the lawyer: "Go and do likewise."
That is the invitation God issues to us, this and every day: "Go and do likewise."
Jesus is telling us not to count the cost, not to turn up our noses, but to reach out to whoever may need the love of God. We are all called to be neighbor to all, to those who are not our neighbors; to love those who do not necessarily love us; to give to others who may not ever give back to us; without regard to race, ethnicity, creed, color, sexual orientation, political viewpoint or anything else. For Jesus, there are no borders, no boundaries, and no boxes.
"Go and do likewise."
When this begins to happen, all the world will change along with our way of acting with it. That's the world we experience when we accept God's invitation.
We can embrace the mission of a God who is fully alive in the world, moving, and active, blessing in limitless abundance, and loving with more power in the world for every person in the world with whom God's love is shared.
When we align our way of living with God's love and God's mission, that's what we experience.
When we live in an active search for opportunities to extend mercy and compassion, we experience more fully the reality that this world and every one of us was created by the God of mercy and compassion.
And when we do, we become a reflection of God's love for the world.
"Go and do likewise."
This Thursday evening I will be at the Hartville Migrant Center to spend some time with the children of the migrant families who annually come to plant, tend, and harvest produce from the farms in the area. This is a fun time for me as I engage in conversation and a brief bible study with the youngsters.
These migrant and seasonal workers are from Mexico and several states in the South. For nearly eighty years, they have provided the labor to sustain the productivity of the Hartville farms.
The Hartville Migrant Ministry is an ecumenical, non-profit organization established in the Hartville area in the late 1940's when the first migrant workers were brought from Jamaica to work on the local farms. The ministry provides a free medical clinic, as well as other services which include a children's educational summer program, bible studies, and a community center with a bilingual library and computer center. All of these services are run by volunteers and funded by donations and grants.
Sunday morning I will be with the people of God at Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton, where we will worship outdoors at Hillside Park on Comet Road. The Trinity church building has been undergoing repairs for structural damage, forcing the congregation to seek alternative worship sites until the renovations are completed.
This week and always, may you be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. [Galatians 1:9b-10]
+Bishop Abraham Allende