(House Church 8.25.2019 // Proper 16 - Year C - Track 2: Isaiah 58:9b-14, Psalm 103:1-8, Hebrews 12:18-29, Luke 13:10-17)
Ordinary time refers to the two periods in the Church calendar that are not marked by a major church season (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost). The Ordinary time after Pentecost lasts until Advent. (Church calendar + Special days )
Awaken your Church to gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, so it may show forth your love among all peoples and to all peoples. Amen.
First Lesson - Isaiah 58:9b-14
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;
then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, or the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
The Response - Psalm 103:1-8 *She Remix
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless her holy Name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all her benefits.
3 She forgives all your sins
and heals all your infirmities;
4 She redeems your life from the grave and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
5 She satisfies you with good things,
and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
6 The Lord executes righteousness
and judgment for all who are oppressed.
7 She made her ways known to Moses
and her works to the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is full of compassion and mercy,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The Epistle - Hebrews 12:18-29
You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death." Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear.") But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of what is shaken-- that is, created things-- so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.
The Gospel - Luke 13:10-17
Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day." But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
NOTES + THOUGHTS:
*Liturgy means “the work of the people.” We enter into this work when we enact the scriptures together by reading and discussing them and allowing our lives to be formed by Christ and each other. Like a potluck, we each bring something to the discussion, and there is always enough.
Which passage jumped out at you the most? Why?
What thoughts / questions do you have?
What connections do you see between the readings + life?
What action or change do they invite?
Why was it included in the Bible?
Is there any disconnect between the narrators perspective and our perspective as modern readers?
… If you remove… the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil… from among you,
And if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
THEN your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The word “Gospel” means good news. Jesus preached “Good news” the the poor and outcast - namely the good news revealed in Isaiah 58. God was against the economy of the powerful, who sat at a table of feasting while the poor fought for scraps. This is not a political issue - its a spiritual one: If I can sit and enjoy plenty while others have die of not enough, there is still much work to be done in my inner life. If we want to make Christ know to the nations, we must set an example in love and care for those who are hungry and afflicted.
Discuss: Christians often blame the “sinners” - usually sexual or liberal - for the problems in the world. Isaiah seems to think the actual problem is greed and pride among the “faithful”
Imagine: How would America be different if Christians were known primarily for feeding the hungry, helping the afflicted and not pointing their finger in blame.
“… so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear."
I am not sure you can love someone who you are terrified will kill you. Psychologically, that seems problematic. For millennia, and centuries and our early life - we feared God as the one who could hurt us. The most popular version of the Gospel in America is expressed as Jesus saving us from God’s wrath - God is to be feared. Like a child who fears his parents spanking, we feared God collectively. But in Jesus, the highest resolution photograph of God we have even been given according to the 4 Gospels, we grow up to find God as the one who loves even those who transgress and who faces our judgement with unflinching love and forgiveness. Jesus exposes that the wrath and anger is and was always ours and not Gods. His Good news is not innocent blood spilled on the ground - but a gospel of a God who is free - free to love and forgive and extend grace.
How we view God shapes us. If we view God as the one who scares and punishes people into goodness, we will also think it is out job to scare and punish people. On the other hand, if we understand God as a an almost reckless lover - who meets people where they are with love and by the same loves heals their underdeveloped inner spaces until they can love themselves and their neighbors too. Before we are anything else we are loved - and so are all of our neighbors - regardless of documentation.
Discuss: What does it look like to let go of fearing God? Is that ok?
How might love accomplish more than fear?
Discuss: Where do you want God to be judgmental? Why?
“… ought not this woman… be set free from this bondage… ”
There are many details in this story, but the suggest is the 10 words above. Whatever the bondage, the weight that is holding her down, shouldn’t someone lift it off of her? Shouldn’t she be set free. Taken with Isaiah, we have an ancient view of faith that challenges the popular view today. A faith that is about how you treat people much more than the propositional statements you believe about God. Faith is more like courage than belief - the courage to help my neighbor, even though I fear scarcity.
Fill in the blanks: Ought not _________ … be set free from the bondage of __________?
How could the people you filled in above be set free?
This is the table of Christ.
Here we remember God’s love + acceptance for humans.
Here we remember our connection with all humankind.
All are invited to come and eat
You who have much faith + you who have little.
You who have been here often + you who are new.
You who have tried to follow + you who have failed.
Come, because Christ has invited us here together.
(*Inspired by Galatians 6, Isaiah 66, and Psalm 66)
Come now and see the works of God,
how wonderful she is in her doing toward all people.
Her eyes keep watch over all the nations,
as a mother comforting her children
Come and join her in this universe of care,
Lifting one-another’s burdens
Opening our hearts to the burdens of all our neighbors,
across the street and around the world.
Come let us carry the burden of love together,
For she who holds our life, will keep our feet secure. Amen.