The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury
July 10, 2022
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Holy God, we come together to worship, a people who would like to think that we love you with all our hearts and souls, with all our might, but there are so many other things in our lives that clamor for our attention that we often relegate you to Sundays, and times when we want you to rescue us. Most of us really do want you to be the one in whom we live and move and have our being. We really do want to hear your voice above all of the other voices in our lives. But we get bogged down in the daily routine. We forget who we are. We forget who you are. We forget what the church is supposed to be. So here we are, standing before you today, with our human foibles and our short attention spans, asking that you would make yourself known to us, that you would help us to recognize the presence of the Holy, that you would continue to challenge us, inspire us, and make us into the people you want us to be. Amen.
CALL TO WORSHIP
We are called to love the Lord our God
We are called to love with all our heart and soul
We are called to love the Lord our God
We are called to love with all our mind and strength
We are called to love the Lord our God
And we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Come, let us love our God and share God’s love in this time of worship!
*HYMN No. 17 “Sing Praise to God, you Heavens”
1 Sing praise to God, you heavens!
Sing praise, each shining light!
Sing, planets in your orbits;
sing, stars all burning bright!
Sing praise, you winds and tempests,
you driving rain and snow!
Sing, clouds that race and billow
and shadow earth below!
2 Sing praise, O earth, sing praises!
Sing praises, hill and plain,
you mountains thrusting skyward,
you valleys ripe with grain!
Sing praise, each fragrant flower;
your fairest hues display.
Sing praise, you trees of autumn
in glowing, glad array!
3Sing praises, all you creatures
in whom God takes delight:
you whales that roam the oceans,
you eagles in your flight!
Sing praise, you sheep on hillsides,
you cattle in the stall!
Though wordless, sing your praises
to God who made you all!
4 Sing praises now, God’s people;
your gift of speech employ
to praise the Lord, your Maker,
with thankfulness and joy!
Sing with the whole creation;
a cosmic chorus raise:
“To God alone be glory
and everlasting praise!”
*CALL TO RECONCILIATION
Some people say the great addiction of our age is busy-ness. Being busy confirms our importance in the world. Sitting still leaves time to consider the things we have done and the things we have left undone. This is hard work, but it is necessary for our relationship with God. Let us open our hearts in prayer.
*PRAYER FOR CONFESSION
All-seeing God, You know the condition of our hearts. You know the words we never should have said and the words that might have helped but remained unspoken. You know the ways we spend our time. You know the things we leave undone and the things we did but wish we hadn’t. You know the reasons our lives spin apart. You know the ways we hold on too tight to what we don’t need and let important connections slip through our fingers. Have mercy on us. Have mercy on us.
Silence is observed
*ASSURANCE OF PARDON
All things are held together in our Lord Jesus Christ. That includes every one of us. No matter what has happened in the past, those who turn to God are forgiven. This is the Good News that brings new life.
We thank God for it.
*RESPONSE No. 581 “Glory Be To the Father”
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen, amen.
*PASSING OF THE PEACE OF CHRIST
Since God has forgiven us in Christ, let us forgive one another. The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
And also with you.
CHILDREN’S MESSAGE Laken Franchetti
PLEASE JOIN ME IN THE UNISON PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION:
Almighty God, you give the holy law to your people so that it will always be near us and our children. Through our Lord Jesus who has fulfilled the law in every way, grant that we may love you with heart, soul, strength, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. Amen.
THE SCRIPTURE READING FOR TODAY IS LUKE 10:25-37, HEAR NOW THIS PORTION OF GOD’S WORD:
25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
PAUSE – COUNT TO 10
THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD.
THANKS BE TO GOD
Stacey and I were recently at Target doing some shopping and I noticed a T-shirt that had four Disney characters across the front. It wasn’t Mickey and Minnie. It wasn’t Leo & Stitch. It was four villains. Cruella DeVille from 1001 Dalmatians, the Evil Queen from Snow White, Ursula from Little Mermaid and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Who are your favorite villains?
We like stories with good villains and good heroes, don’t we? NOW! Close your eyes and think of the person you dislike the most, that visceral revulsion that makes you not want to be within 100 miles of that person – a person that you perceive as a villain—that’s who you should picture in this parable. Now imagine, you’re the half dead person on the side of the road, and that person is the one who stops to take care of you.
Jesus is seriously messing with us in this parable, expanding our understanding of neighbor, both in the Parable, and also in his daily living. He eats with sinners, outcasts, and women. He touches lepers and the unclean. Jesus showed us that his Holiness was what was contagious, not our uncleanness.
Jesus calls his followers to see the world in a more expansive way – expanding who our neighbor is. Our neighbors become the people who need us the most. Everyone, in a way, becomes our neighbor.
“Who is my neighbor?” is the question the lawyer asks when he quotes Leviticus. But the parable Jesus offers, and this passage quoted from Leviticus might actually better answer the question “how do I act as a good neighbor?”
As a quick refresher, Leviticus instructs us to:
Provide for the hungry.
Deal fairly with both the rich and the poor.
Pay a fair wage at the end of each day.
Not to cheat the deaf or the blind.
Seek justice over vengeance.
Not to lie or steal.
At the end of chapter 19, the Levitical writers also address how to be neighbors, even to foreigners: “When an alien resides in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides among you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Turns out, we aren’t terribly surprised by this list of neighborly action. It isn’t a huge shock. We know how to be good neighbors. But some days it is harder to live out than others. Because we are imperfect people who love to use our rules to judge others while conveniently forgetting to apply them to ourselves.
And this is where I am thankful for grace, the free and un-earned mercy of God that loves and accepts us where we are but refuses to leave us where it finds us.
The priest and the Levite, walking down the road, are not bad people. They may have had their own worries about being on the dangerous Jericho Road, which was just as risky for them as it was for the man, half dead on the side of the road. Maybe they were in a hurry and trying to get off it before dark. They may have been late for a meeting, or on their way to worship.
We are all the priest and Levite some days, seeing people in need of our help, but distracted by many things. I suspect another way we are like the priest and Levite is that we see people on the side of the road and see the half dead part, as Luke described the man, and determine we don’t need to intervene, that death has won.
The Samaritan, who would not have been seen as a neighbor by the lawyer or the crowd, managed to see the half of the man that wasn’t dead. The half living part.
As people who serve a resurrected God, one who conquered more than being “half dead”, we should note our tendency to let “half dead” be an excuse to walk on by someone on the side of the road.
We have to be the people who look at the body on the side of the road and see it half alive. The Samaritan—who worshiped wrong, believed wrong— he managed to live out our faith better than the people who knew the right answers. He saw the man as half alive, and that was enough.
It’s the “glass half full” equivalent for our faith. We are the people called to see the half alive part of everyone we meet, trusting that if resurrection is true for us, that it is also possible for people, half dead on the side of the road. And being a neighbor means we do what we can to help that process.
The Samaritan saw the half alive part of the man, and that was enough for inconvenient compassion to kick in.
I noticed the lawyer, when answering Jesus’ question about which person acted the neighbor, can’t quite bring himself to say the word “Samaritan”. He says, “the one who showed mercy”. It’s not the wrong answer, but it whitewashes things a bit, doesn’t it? Showing mercy makes it sound like the Samaritan just waved his arm and showed someone mercy at a distance, over there. “Look—there’s mercy over yonder! I just showed it to you.”
But acting the neighbor came with a cost. It took time, and his money that he left with the innkeeper. It was up close, personal, and an invasion of space. And he likely got blood on his robe, which would have made him unclean. He didn’t just show something. He did things. Dirty, messy, inconvenient things.
Who is our neighbor? The truth of the matter is everyone in the story should be seen as neighbors. Yes, we are to offer care for the people we find, half alive on the side of the road. And we are to attend to the fact that the Jericho Road is dangerous for everyone and do what we can to change the systems that put everyone in danger, because the priest and the Levite are our neighbors too.
Even that precious lawyer, wanting to test Jesus, is our neighbor, because we know that even the people who have all the answers and want to make sure we know it are God’s beloved children—Jesus loves them too. They are at least half alive.
And sometimes we’re the one in need of the neighbor, in need of the care, the mercy, the person willing to invade our space to save our lives. I confess, I’d much rather be the neighbor than be the person in need.
I also confess that it is in those moments when I’m in need— where I’m not sure whether I’m half dead or half alive—in those moments when someone picks me up, cleans my wounds, puts me on their donkey, and takes me to the ER—that’s when I understand God’s love and the new life of resurrection in new ways.
Because when the world walks on by and determines you’re half dead, it’s hard to remember the other half, still alive, seeking hope and a second chance. Friends, wherever you are on the Jericho Road right now, I pray we can be “the glass is half alive” kinds of people, sharing and receiving that promise of hope and resurrection as we need it.
Commentary and Liturgy provided by Baron Mulls, Marcie Glass, Amanda Brobst-Renaud, Karoline Lewis, Mikael C. Parsons, David Lose, and Scott Hoezee.
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
A portion of the Brief Statement of Faith
We trust in Jesus Christ, fully human, fully God. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God: preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives, teaching by word and deed and blessing the children, healing the sick and binding up the brokenhearted, eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners, and calling all to repent and believe the gospel. Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition, Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain and giving his life for the sins of the world. God raised this Jesus from the dead, vindicating his sinless life, breaking the power of sin and evil, delivering us from death to life eternal. Amen.
*HYMN No. 330 “Our Help Is in the Name of God”
1 Our help is in the name of God the Lord,
the One who made the heavens with a word,
creator of the world, each living thing.
Come, bless the Lord, lift up your hearts and sing:
“Our help is in the name of God the Lord.”
2 When evil seems to have the upper hand,
call on God’s name: the Lord, the great “I am.”
When troubles rise and all around gives way,
remember God stays with us night and day.
Our help is in the name of God the Lord.
3 Praise God the Lord who hears the captives’ prayer.
Like birds escaping from the fowler’s snare
we are set free; our praises now ascend:
“Blessed be the Lord: Creator, Savior, Friend.
Our help is in the name of God the Lord.”
THE PASTORAL PRAYER & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Holy God, Your blessings flow forth freely and forever from the gracious mercy of your loving heart. We are grateful. We rejoice in the wonder of being the heirs of such an incredibly good fortune.
We know that as we come once more in your name to your house to be your people, you will claim us as always and make us your own. Enter our hearts and make them your dwelling place. Take our lives and direct our steps. As your people, called and chosen, loved and useful, we meet to worship and to rejoice in you and trust in you. Hear us as we raise our voices on behalf of the people of God.
Hear us as we pray for your world. For the nations of the earth, send peace among the people. Guide our leaders with wise counsel. Direct our ways that we may do your work. Forgive us where we have allowed jealousy and fear of being shortchanged or when not having enough keeps us from living as your people with a different vision of you, a vision that is wide enough to know you love us all. Help us to live as though this is so.
Hear us as we pray for the world nearby. For your children in harm’s way, we pray safety. For your children without homes, we pray compassion and awareness. For the victims of gun violence, and all violence, for the ailments of our community, we ask your healing touch. Guide our ways and provoke a right response from us. Help us to live as though we know our good fortune of being your beloved. Help to put aside all competing messages that would distort your love for us, so that we might remember that we are claimed by you and respond in joy.
Hear us as we pray for your church. For the church universal, for the Presbyterian Church and our own congregation, we pray again that your spirit would be poured out on us in surprising and new ways. Give us a vision of life as you intend it, the new life we receive in Jesus Christ. Help us to remember that we have a message that is vitally important for our common life together and for the community that we serve.
Help us to know, O God, how we might share the great good news that you love
us with a depth of personal compassion and caring which has no ends or limits or conditions. Help us to share this message so that our homes, our neighborhoods, even our city might give evidence of your way for us.
We make these, and all of our prayers, in the name of Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, “Our Father…”.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
The flowers are given in the glory and honor of God by Alwayne, Jill, Eric, Kurt, Tim and the great grand kids in memory of Wayne Dahmer.
OFFERING OF TITHES
Remembering that all that we have, and all that we are, our treasure, our prayers, the fullness of our lives, is a gift from God, entrusted to our care for only a season, let us worship God as we make our offerings.
Praise God, from whom all blessing flow, Praise God, all creatures here below. Alleluia, Alleluia Praise God in Jesus fully known; Creator, Word, and Spirit one. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
* PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Eternal God, you have blessed us with abundance upon abundance. We have all we need; indeed, we have more than we need. Receive, we pray, our offerings as a first- fruit of our intention to follow your way. Bless them. Multiply them. Use them. May we be blessed as we see your reign at work among us, through Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.
*HYMN No. 619 “Praise, My Soul, the God of Heaven”
1 Praise, my soul, the God of heaven;
glad of heart your carols raise;
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
who, like me, should sing God’s praise?
Praise the Maker all your days!
2 Praise God for the grace and favor
shown our forebears in distress;
God is still the same forever,
slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Sing our Maker’s faithfulness!
3 Like a loving parent caring,
God knows well our feeble frame,
gladly all our burdens bearing,
still to countless years the same.
All within me, praise God’s name!
4 Angels, teach us adoration;
you behold God face to face.
Sun and moon and all creation,
dwellers all in time and space:
Praise with us the God of grace!
Friends, the good news of the gospel is clear. God has saved us from our sin and saved us for a new life. Let us go forth in the knowledge of God’s saving love that we might offer our lives as a continual thank-offering responding to what God has done. And as we go, may the love, grace, and fellowship of our triune God abide with us, and with those we love, both this day and forevermore.