January 15, 2017

Links of Interest/Bibliography:
Patheos, Patheos 2, Patheos 3
Working Preacher – Commentary 1, Commentary 2, Commentary 3
The Labyrinth Way
Moving Beyond Mending Our Walls
Left Behind and Loving it
The Listening Hermit
Robin Mark on the Days of Elijah

St. Luke’s United Church
January 15th, 2017
Words of Welcome and Announcements

Welcome to St. Luke’s, a proud congregation of the United Church of Canada.  If this is your first time with us, please be sure to come across the hall for coffee/tea and snacks after worship.  We have visitor offering envelopes available from the greeters, as well as a “Welcome Brochure” outlining our contact information.  If you have come looking to speak to someone, please be sure to find one of our Pastoral Care Volunteers wearing an “I am here to listen” nametag.

Hymn       Let Us Build a House      MV 1
Lighting the Christ Candle & Centering
Call to Worship:
One:  These are the days.
All:  These are the days of justice.
One:  These are the days of the kin-dom.
All:  These are the days we celebrate.
One: These are the days we worship.
All: These are the days.

Opening Prayer:
God of prophets and pilgrims,
We pray that this hour might be a time of homecoming.  For those of us who find it comforting, we give thanks.  For those of us who find it an awkward homecoming, we pray that they become stronger because of it.  May it be so.

Hymn         A Light is Gleaming           VU 82
Catching Up.
Readings      Luke 14:1-30
Hymn      We Meet You O Christ    VU 183
These Are The Days
Here’s a surprise: Jesus’s first sermon was unpopular. Anyone who has preached enough to know the box you are supposed to stay “in” knows that anytime you step outside the norm and challenge people, suddenly you find yourself on the receiving end of harsh criticism. It was a Meryl Streep/Donald Trump kind of moment. Jesus called the authorities out and they reacted poorly.
The reason for their upset: Jesus told them that no one was going to save them but themselves, and what they were working towards wasn’t necessarily for them. What they were called to do was for those less fortunate and for future generations.
The year of the Lord’s Favor had been happening every 50 years since at least the time of the book of Leviticus. It’s sometimes called “The Year of Jubilee”. The Year of Jubilee was an opportunity for the poor and oppressed to change their position. Instead of owning slaves, the wealthy Hebrew people were encouraged to treat people as employees paying them a minimum sort of wage, but in the Jubliee year, they were encouraged to relieve all debt of their employees. This wasn’t an action that was in the best interests of the employer – they would be losing money. I’m sure a number of the employers likely looked for loopholes and ways to get around freeing the debt-load. However, it was good for the employees, and simply put, it was the right thing to do.
Jesus was preaching about the Jubilee year and the time of Elijah, a time when miracles happened for those who need them the most. Jesus had no fear when it came to saying things people didn’t want to hear. He had no time for useless practices that were set-up just to make people feel better about themselves for a time being. His point in this particular case was why wait 50 years to relieve debt, when you have the ability to relieve the debt now. Why should one person sit in comfort, making all the money, when others don’t get to sit at all and still end up in debt? Popular message if you are talking to poor people. Absolutely not popular if you are talking to people who are only interested in accumulating wealth. Depending on how it’s phrased, it could be popular when talking to the middle class. In this particular instance, it wasn’t a popular message, so either the crowd was upper class and Jesus, someone from a lower class, was challenging their power or more likely, Jesus is talking to his middle class counter-parts. I suspect some of his particular phrasing is lost in the translation, but my hunch is that Jesus was talking to overworked people. People who had decent jobs, but they certainly weren’t living a life of luxury. Maybe in their minds, they were just getting by and barely hanging on themselves. Maybe they were exhausted emotionally and financially and felt they could stand some rescuing themselves. A familiar kind of setting for many of us. An insult almost, when you feel like you are giving it your best shot, but no one else is joining in. They probably were pretty mad. Here’s this young person full of himself, coming into their community after leaving it and telling them what to do. What business did he have? He hadn’t earned his dues. They were the ones who had spent so many years looking after things and now they were going to have to save themselves? Who was this disrespectful person? It’s a familiar song and dance of the generations, and I’m sure ten years later the same people who chased him out of town were somewhat embarrassed about the whole situation. If they were alive now, I imagine they would shake their heads in disbelief at their own actions. But still they chased him out because he wasn’t dreaming their dream. Something they had worked their whole lives toward…and here was the next generation saying they were changing the dream. There are two ways they could have responded to this situation: one is with anger that their dream is not being carried out the exact same way they had imagined it (this is the response they chose) or they could have been proud that the next generation saw enough value in their dream to add to it and to try accomplishing it another way. What dreams are you picking up? What dreams are you letting go of? Will you let go in anger or with pride in what you’ve been able to accomplish and where it will go with new leadership?

Minute for Mission
Offering Invitation
This is the year of Jubilee.  If we work together, all can join in the Jubilee and experience peace.
Offertory     Though I May Speak     VU 372 v. 2
Offering Prayer
May these gifts and those given through PAR become the trumpet blasts that sound the year of Jubilee. Amen.

Prayer Music     Pure Love     MV 31
Prayers of the People
Ending with a sung Prayer of Jesus.

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     Behold, Behold, I Make All Things New     MV 115


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