May 29, 2018
[Jesus said to the Pharisees:] "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent.
[Mark 3:4]
The readings for Sunday, the Second Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
I don't watch as much television as I used to. But when I did, I was somewhat disappointed at this time of the year because my favorite programs went into re-run mode. The season ended, often with a cliffhanger that left you in suspense until they began producing new episodes in the fall. The cliffhanger was a way of making sure you would return to find out what happened when new shows began running after their summer hiatus.
When I entered the working world as an adult, and sometimes missed shows during the season, I took advantage of the summer to catch up with the episodes I had missed during the months of regular programming. That changed with the invention of the VCR, which enabled me to record the show and watch it at my leisure. Today, even the VCR has become obsolete because cable companies offer the option of watching a show any time with advent of an "on-demand" channel. And most recently there is the opportunity of streaming channels such as Netflix or Hulu that enable one to binge-watch an entire season or seasons of shows or movies whenever one is bored and in need of something to do.
The church is slowly making progress in embracing technology, although it has quite a way to go. Some congregations record sermons and entire services, either audio or video, that enable the homebound or the absentee to be a virtual member of the worship community. But though technology keeps one connected, it is still not the most desired alternative. There is still the desire for human contact.
As Paul urges the hearers in his letter to the Hebrews, "And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching." [Hebrews 10:24-25, bold print mine]
I say all this as we enter into the long season that the Church calls Ordinary Time. In the Lutheran tradition, we refer to these days as the Sundays after Pentecost. During these Sundays, the Gospel lessons will concentrate on Jesus' ministry and what it means to be disciples. These lessons are vitally important in helping us make sense of our faith.
I've always considered this season most important in the life of the church, and yet, it is the time most people take prolonged absences from worship. I've said these words often, we all need vacations. That is the purpose of Sabbath, the topic in this Sunday's gospel. But keep in mind that God does not take a vacation from you.
Before I get too far off track in this long tirade, I want to make a book recommendation that would be helpful reading in preparation for this Sunday. It is,
Sabbath as Resistance , by one of my favorite authors, the Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann. It's a quick read, although full of food for thought.
I invite you to struggle with this idea of Sabbath as rest. Rest that also commands us not to ignore our faith, or our neighbor, and to step in and offer to help them in their need.
This announcement is a carryover from last week, but we are now 10 days away from our Northeastern Ohio Synod Assembly at the John S. Knight Center for our synod assembly. As I stated last week, our theme is "Ambassadors for Christ," based on 2 Corinthians 5:20. And our goal this year, as always, is to make this the best assembly ever.
Among the innovations for this year, we are introducing an electronic guidebook app for your smartphone or other electronic devices. It provides all the information you need for the assembly at your fingertips. Please see the Northeastern Ohio Synod website for instructions on how to download and use.
For those who are not voting members to the assembly, we will be livestreaming the assembly on the internet. It is helpful for you to see what actually goes on during the two days that we are together and hopefully, it will inspire you to become a voting member from your congregation at future assemblies.
I ask your prayers for our synod office team, as they are hard at work in making assembly preparations.
Thursday, May 31, the church commemorates the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. It is one of those "Lesser Festivals" that goes largely ignored by most faith communities. I happen to like it for its readings, which include Hanna's song from the Old Testament reading from Samuel; and the Magnificat, in the Gospel reading from Luke. It's worth reading those texts to remind us how much God cares for the poor and the outcast, and also to lift up the faithful women and the role they played in God's plan of salvation.
This coming Saturday, we consecrate Lindsay Bailey into the ministry of Word and Service. The service of consecration will be at Lindsay's home congregation, Bethel Lutheran Church in Middleburg Heights, beginning at 10:30 a.m. All rostered leaders are invited to vest and process. The color of the day is red.
Lindsay has been called to serve at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Medina.
Sunday morning, I will be at Camp Luther in Conneaut, Ohio, to commission the camp staff of
Lutheran Outdoor Ministries of Ohio (LOMO), just before the camps begin their summer season.
I last had the chance to worship and commission the staff three years ago. This was a photo from that day.
This week and always, may God's love continue to shine in our hearts, and give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
+Bishop Abraham Allende