Introduction to our September Series:
During the month of September, we will be using a lectionary-based sermon series entitled “Having Words with Jesus”. Jesus has a way of getting to difficult, hard-to-hear issues quickly and easily. Sometimes it is in a story where he is revealing to us our own secret sins; other times, it is the answer to a question that catches us in our prejudice or blindness. Sometimes, it is a teaching that we struggle to wrap our heads around. These are his words - words we believe are valuable, words with which we need to wrestle, words that we need, somehow, to learn to live by.
Our September series is called “Having Words with Jesus” to reflect a variety of moods and meanings. Maybe we want to argue, or turn away, or give up. Or maybe we really want to know, to spend some time in his presence to understand and to explore, and finally, we hope, to hear. This series is a call to listen again, even to the more difficult passages that we sometimes want to skip over.
Join in this month as we have words with Jesus in worship, and in these mailed (and e-mailed) threads that weave us together.
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost –
“Counting the Cost”
September 4, 2022 – Luke 14:25-33; Phil 1:1-21
Color: Green – Communion Sunday
Call to Worship – Psalm 139:1-6
(The Voice, read responsively; congregants read bold verses)
1 O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; 2 You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again. Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking. 3 You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming, and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. 4 You know what I’m going to say long before I say it. It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone. 5 You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. 6 It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out; the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.
Prayer of Illumination:
Creator God, you form us on the wheel of life as a potter molds the clay. As we listen to your words today,
shape us into holy vessels, bearing the mark of your wise crafting, that we may remain strong and useful through years of faithful and obedient service in Christ's name. Amen.
1st Reading: Philemon 1:1-21 (The Voice)
1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus the Anointed One, with our brother Timothy, to you, beloved Philemon, our fellow worker; and 2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that gathers in your house. 3 May grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus the Anointed surround you.
4 I am constantly thanking God for you in my prayers 5 because I keep hearing about your love and faith toward our Lord Jesus and all those set apart for His purposes. Here’s what I’ve been praying on your behalf:
6 Thank You, Father, for Philemon. I pray that as he goes and tells his story of faith, he would tell everyone so that they will know for certain all the good that comes to those who put their trust in the Anointed One.
7 My brother, because you are out there encouraging and reviving the hearts of fellow saints with such love, this brings great joy and comfort to me.
8 Although I am bold enough in the Anointed, our Liberating King, to insist you do the right thing, 9 instead I choose to appeal to you on account of love. I do this for my own sake since I, Paul, am an old man and am held prisoner because of my service to Jesus the Anointed. 10 I make this request on behalf of my child, Onesimus,[a] whom I brought to faith during my time in prison. 11 Before, he was useless to you; but now he is useful to both you and me. 12 Listen, I am sending my heart back to you as I send him to stand before you, although truly 13 I wished to keep him at my side to take your place as my helper while I am bound for the good news. 14 But I didn’t want to make this decision without asking for your permission. This way, any goodwill on your part wouldn’t be seen as forced, but as your true and free desire.
15 Maybe this is the reason why he was supposed to be away from you for this time: so that now you will have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave—as a dear brother. Yes, he is dear to me, but I suspect he will come to mean even more to you, both in the flesh as a servant and in the Lord as a brother.
17 So if you look upon me as your partner in this mission, then I ask you to open your heart to him as you would welcome me. 18 And if he has wronged you or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 Look, I’ll put it here in my own handwriting: I, Paul, promise to repay you everything. (Should I remind you that you owe me your life?) 20 Indeed, brother, I want you to do me this favor out of obedience to our Lord. It will refresh my heart in Him. 21 This letter comes, written with the confidence that you will not only do what I ask, but will also go beyond all I have asked.
Gospel (Preaching) Text: Luke 14:25-33 (The Voice)
Introduction Words: Jesus continues to challenge Jewish ideas about who will be in the kingdom of God and how the Kingdom will work. Those who have been dishonored on earth will be honored in the Kingdom, and those in positions of economic and religious honor here will be dishonored there. He also challenges individuals to reconsider their personal value systems. They should not honor their own lives and family above Christ, but rather give them up for Him.
Hear now the Words of Life from Luke’s gospel narrative:
25 Great crowds joined Him on His journey, and He turned to them.
Jesus: 26 If any of you come to Me without hating your own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and yes, even your own life, you can’t be My disciple. 27 If you don’t carry your own cross as if to your own execution as you follow Me, you can’t be part of My movement. 28 Just imagine that you want to build a tower. Wouldn’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to be sure you have enough to finish what you start? 29 If you lay the foundation but then can’t afford to finish the tower, everyone will mock you: 30 “Look at that guy who started something that he couldn’t finish!”
31 Or imagine a king gearing up to go to war. Wouldn’t he begin by sitting down with his advisors to determine whether his 10,000 troops could defeat the opponent’s 20,000 troops? 32 If not, he’ll send a peace delegation quickly and negotiate a peace treaty. 33 In the same way, if you want to be My disciple, it will cost you everything. Don’t underestimate that cost!
Loose Threads: A Gathering our Community Reflections
Gratitude is extended to Cathie Favret, one of our beloved quilters, who has written the first devotionals for this series! As we read her reflections on “The Weaving”, we consider how Jesus uses parables and stories to weave the upper and lower threads together, giving us glimpses of a wider perspective on the Great Tapestry of our collective and individual lives…
When I left home to start my own household, Mom gave me a recipe box filled with family recipes like her famous Almond Roca, great-aunt Meddie’s Feather Rolls and Grandma Sims Cranberry Salad, just to name a few. She also tucked in some of her favorite poetry. Included in that category was “The Weaving.”
My life is but a weaving Between my Lord and me; I cannot choose the colors He weaveth steadily. Oft times He weaveth sorrow And I in foolish pride Forget he sees the upper While I the underside. Not till the loom is silent And the shutters cease to fly Shall God unfold the canvas And explain the reason why, The dark clouds are as needful In the Weaver’s skillful hand As the threads of gold and silver In the pattern He has planned.
I’ve referred to this many, many times in the years since Mom included it in my recipe box. It has given me a new perspective when times have been troubled. While it doesn’t make the sad times go away, it gives me hope that I’m not seeing the whole picture and faith that better things are on the other side!