August 19, 2019
All my hope on God is founded
who will all my trust renew,
who through change and chance will guide me,
only good and only true.
God unknown, God alone,
call my heart to be thine own.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #757]
The assigned lectionary readings for August 25, 2019, the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
As you read this, I am on an Amtrak train bound for Washington, D.C. with my son, David, for our annual vacation together. We haven't done a train trip for the last couple of years since our destinations have been drivable distances. This is a return trip to Washington. We were last here in 2012. The accompanying photo if from that last trip to D.C.
These trips and our time together are meaningful for reasons that I've written about on my personal blog. You can read that reflection by clicking [here].
Since I won't be preaching on this upcoming Sunday's Gospel reading, I'll share with you snippets of a sermon I preached three years ago. The story is of Jesus healing a woman on the Sabbath.
Summertime is when most pastors look out over an assembly and lament that so many are missing. They may be on vacation, like my son and me, or simply taking advantage of the nice weather. But it is somewhat discouraging - almost distressing - to see the paltry attendance, which also reflects on the reduced offering.
Luke's story doesn't tell us why the woman chose that particular Sabbath day to show up at the synagogue. Perhaps it was because Jesus was there.
When I was in the parish I used to say to my parishioners, "If you miss a Sunday, you miss a lot." I said it in a kidding manner, but I was serious when I said it. Based on this story of the crippled woman, I could also add that missing a Sunday you could miss a miracle. You might even go so far as to say that missing a Sunday could be hazardous to your health.
But the benefits and the blessings of coming to church are secondary.
Our worship is preparation for our life in the city of God, because as we worship that life breaks open to us even in the midst of time and space. It provides access to God and festive participation in community. Worship connects us with God, with angels, and with the saints past and present who comprise that "great cloud of witnesses" that the author of Hebrews mentioned in our reading last week from the first verse of chapter 12.
Jesus makes possible our access and communion with God. He moves our hearts to thanks and praise for the grace we have received. To worship is to encounter God, to hear God's voice, to be transformed. True worship does not leave us as we are, at ease with illusions of our own power and significance. Rather, it makes us aware of the weakness of all human lives and institutions around us.
As a community of faith, we discover our mission, our purpose. As the people of God, we enter into the Kingdom work that God calls us to and that God desires to do in and through us. As the body of Christ, we go into the world to love and to serve and to be those who respond to his call to stand straight once again, to stand straight and to praise God's name-both now and forevermore.
Now, back to my vacation....
This upcoming Sunday afternoon at four p.m., I will be with the people of God at Zion Lutheran Church in North Canton, Ohio, to install their new pastor, the Rev. William Weidenbach. Rostered ministers are invited to vest and process. The color of the day is green.
This week and always, may the Lord satisfy your desires with all good things, a crown you with love and mercy.
+Bishop Abraham Allende