Once again, my bibliography is gone. 🙁 I thought I had posted a months worth of Sundays that I didn’t. I’ll post what I can remember.
St. Luke’s United Church
October 30 th, 2016
Hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus VU 664
Words of Welcome and Announcements
Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering
Hymn When Hands Reach Out and Finger Trace MV 136
Call to Worship:
One: We come each with our own fears and insecurities.
All: We come looking to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
One: We come searching for meaning in the everyday.
All: We come to celebrate our diversity.
One: We gather as individuals, working toward community.
All: We gather in worship.
Opening Prayer (Rex Hunt)
Loving God, we gather in this place,
coming from our varied concerns and competing views,
yet seeking our common humanity.
May our eyes be opened,
May our hearts be touched,
May our wills be empowered… now.
May it be so. Amen.
Readings: Luke 19:1-10
Hymn I Saw the Rich Ones MV 127
What’s the point of this story? As a child, it always seemed that the story about Zacchaeus was about a short man, who was a bit of a push-over as the crowd kept getting in front of him. Then Jesus yells at him and invites himself to Zacchaeus’s house. Zacchaeus then admits to do bad things a Jesus forgives him. But every three years when this reading comes around, I find yet another new spin on it.
The last time around I came across the story of Zac the Tax Man. The idea of Zacchaeus being bullied certainly hit home. It’s not just the suggestion that perhaps Zacchaeus was bullied as a child, it’s also the fact that adults bully each other. It only takes a few moments of election coverage, especially South of the border. But it’s not just in the election. Adults can be overly competitive or shame each other into submission. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who constantly one-upped you? Or, as many new moms can attest to – mommy shaming – especially over things such as breast feeding, co-sleeping, vaccinations and even post-partum. Believe it or not, some women can be so “right” that they can’t even hear another woman’s experience. Our words and actions affect other people. Period. Intended or not, what we say and do can have an impact. So while the crowd around Jesus and Zacchaeus might not have intended to hurt his feelings, how else could Zacchaeus felt when he heard them ask “Why is Jesus going to the Sinner’s house?” How can someone so beautiful be with such a geek? Why is someone so smart with someone so stupid? Why is someone so nice going to have supper with someone so horrible? I’m going to put a disclaimer in here: there’s a fine line between minding your own business and helping someone trapped in an abusive or dangerous relationship. Do what you need to do, but don’t just stand there, pointing fingers and gossip or “tsk, tsk” about it. Bullying and shame was my lesson the last time around.
This time around, the point that hit home for me was that Zacchaeus defended himself. I was surprised when it was noted in a commentary the Zacchaeus told Jesus “I give half of my earnings to the poor. If I cheated anyone, I’ll pay them back 4 times.” There was no “will” give. It was simply give. I checked another commentary. Same thing. I read a few translations, and my most trusted one made no promise of giving earnings to the poor. Instead, it was made clear Zacchaeus was already doing it. Zacchaeus wasn’t falling for the shame act. Unexpectedly, Zacchaeus was standing up for himself with an enviable amount of courage.
I’ll admit, I bristle a bit when I get a “sin” passage turns up in the lectionary readings. It’s these passages that are often used to shame people into submission. Sin is a breakdown in a relationship. Using a Bible passage to shame people is itself a breakdown in a relationship and the whole point of Christianity is to build relationships to make the world a better place. Zacchaeus stood up for himself. He made it clear that he had no guilt. He did not cross any personal boundary about taxes. He also made it clear that he would not be consciously crossing any societal boundaries, there would be no shame on his watch. Jesus helped him to achieve his shame free goal simply by spending time with him. Jesus didn’t do what was expected of him by society. Jesus did the unexpected. Considering our society’s fascination with competition, fascism and shame this whole Zacchaeus story is unexpected. Unexpected interest. Unexpected criticism. Unexpected courage. Unexpected compassion. Unexpected grace. It’s time people. It’s time for us to see the unexpected in our midst. Amen.
Litany (from A Song of Faith and Luke 19:1-10)
God is Holy Mystery,
beyond complete knowledge,
above perfect description.
the one eternal God seeks relationship.
Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town
when a wealthy person whose name was Zacchaeus appeared.
Zacchaeus was one of the senior tax collectors.
Zacchaeus was anxious to see what Jesus was like,
but was too short and could not see Jesus for the crowd.
So God creates the universe
and with it the possibility of being and relating.
God tends the universe,
mending the broken and reconciling the estranged.
God enlivens the universe,
guiding all things toward harmony with their Source.
Grateful for God’s loving action,
We cannot keep from singing.
Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree
to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.
When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke:
‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’
And Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Jesus joyfully.
They all complained when they saw what was happening.
‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house,’ they said.
We sing of the Creator,
who made humans to live and move
and have their being in God.
In and with God,
we can direct our lives toward right relationship
with each other and with God.
We can discover our place as one strand in the web of life.
We can grow in wisdom and compassion.
We can recognize all people as kin.
We can accept our mortality and finitude, not as a curse,
but as a challenge to make our lives and choices matter.
Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to Jesus, “Here and now I give half my belongings to poor people. If I’ve defrauded anyone in the least, I’ll pay them back fourfold.”
Scripture is our song for the journey, the living word
passed on from generation to generation
to guide and inspire,
that we might wrestle a holy revelation for our time and place
from the human experiences
and cultural assumptions of another era.
God calls us to be doers of the word and not hearers only.
Jesus said to the Tax Collector, “Today salvation has come to this house, for this is what it means to be a descendant of Sarah and Abraham. The Promised One has come to search out and save what was lost.”
We sing of Jesus,
born to a woman in poverty
in a time of social upheaval
and political oppression.
He knew human joy and sorrow.
So filled with the Holy Spirit was he
that in him people experienced the presence of God among them.
We sing praise to God incarnate.
Jesus announced the coming of God’s reign—
a commonwealth not of domination
but of peace, justice, and reconciliation.
He healed the sick and fed the hungry.
He forgave sins and freed those held captive
by all manner of demonic powers.
He crossed barriers of race, class, culture, and gender.
He preached and practised unconditional love—
love of God, love of neighbour,
love of friend, love of enemy—
and he commanded his followers to love one another
as he had loved them.
All: We sing of God’s good news lived out,
a church with purpose:
faith nurtured and hearts comforted,
gifts shared for the good of all,
resistance to the forces that exploit and marginalize,
fierce love in the face of violence,
human dignity defended,
members of a community held and inspired by God,
corrected and comforted,
instrument of the loving Spirit of Christ,
We sing of God’s mission.
Hymn Jesus Calls Us VU 562
Minute for Mission
We each have different abilities and gifts. Regardless of what we have to offer, we are called to offer from the heart.
Offertory Ev’ry Day Is a Day of Thanksgiving MV 185
May the gifts and those given though PAR, empower each of us to offer from a place of deep compassion. Amen.
Prayer Music Gather Us In MV 7
Prayers of the People, ending by singing the Prayer of Jesus VU Dana’s choice
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.
Commissioning and Benediction
Musical Blessing We Will Take What You Offer MV 196