October 10, 2021
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· masks are required by Session, as well as social distancing
bulletins are placed in the pews to help with social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship will be continuing with beverages only, in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Jack Braden, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Valerie Jerez, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Dr Dyke, Jane , , Amy Jacobs, Bonnie Pillers, Mike Niles, Harlan Marx had a knee replacement and Tom Kelly who is recovering from surgery. Lois Seger is moving to Council Bluffs, IA to be near her daughter and will be living in an assisted living -we send her with love, the Steven’s Family, Reed Family, and Patti Thomas’s Family
Call to worship (based on Psalm 146)
Let us praise the Lord this day!
We will praise the LORD, singing praises to God all our days.
Happy are those whose help and hope are in God.
May the Lord feed us, open our eyes, and lead us in righteousness.
As the Lord watches over us, so also does God welcome the orphan and widow, the poor and the oppressed.
May all feel welcome as we gather in praise of our God.
Gracious God, we open our hearts to you to offer praise and to hear you speak to us, that we may follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Amen
HYMN God of Grace and God of Glory No. 420
Prayer of Confession
Holy God, you have loved us unconditionally and have commanded us to love one another. But, we confess that our love for one another has
faltered, and sometimes failed altogether. At times we turn away from those not like us; at times have disdain in our hearts for the unlovely,
or for the poor and despised. Forgive us for those times we show love only to those who love us. In Christ we pray, Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
The love of God is poured out in Christ whose forgiving grace is unconditional. God forgives us of all sin.
*THE PASSING OF THE PEACE
THE OFFERING AND OFFERTORY
God of all good, we are thankful for your many blessings, and offer ourselves and a portion of what you have given to us, that your love and mission may continue in our church, our community, and our world. Amen.
Prayer for Illumination
Lord, help us to set aside distractions. Speak to our hearts as we listen to your word and apply to our faith and action. Amen.
24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.
This is the gospel of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
James 2:1-10, 13-17
22 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
SERMON “Faith without Favoritism”
“Faith without Favoritism”
A young boy was standing in a church foyer looking at a plaque with several nameplates attached to it. The pastor walked by and he asked, “What are those names there for?”
Looking at the plaque of the names of veterans, the pastor answered, “Well, Jimmy, those are the names of members of our church who over the years have died in the service.”
He thought for a moment and asked, “Which one, the 9 or 11 o’clock service?
It is appropriate to remember and to honor groups of people who have served us, and churches are one place where we do that. But as we see in our gospel and epistle readings, genuine faith is about showing honor to all. (Prayer)
As we read in Mar 7, Jesus travels up the Mediterranean coast a bit with his disciples into Tyre, formerly Phoenicia and now modern day Lebanon. He is there to bring the good news, but is taking a break. Not easy. His fame follows him and a woman of Syrian and Phoenician descent, a Gentile, finds him and bows before him. She begs the Lord to exorcise the demon from her daughter. Is it a true demon or an illness of some sort, as the child lies in bed at home? We aren’t told.
Jesus answers in what appears to be not only an unkind, but rudely judgmental way.
Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” WHAT? We know it was a kind of test of her faith. He’s the Messiah to the Jews, and she is a Gentile. The Gentiles were sometimes referred to as dogs in the Old Testament. What right does she have to receive anything from him, the Messiah to the Jews?
She is not offended, but instead answers, “Sir, even the dogs under the table get to eat the children’s crumbs. She believes and asks in so many words, “Throw me a crumb of your compassion and power for my daughter.” Jesus hears her faith in those words, and as she leaves him, she returns home to see that the demon has left her daughter. Jesus wants all to see that God has compassion for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
It’s a rather subtle gospel lesson on not playing favorites compared to James letter. The half-brother of Jesus, James, may be a lot of things, but subtle is not one of them! Chapter 2, v. 1: “My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?” WOW! James wonders if such church going folks are even true Christians when they play favorites!
He illustrates this way: A person with gold rings and fine clothes shows up in your gathering, at home or at church, and also a poor person in dirty clothes. Whom to you notice and fawn over? The rich one? offering that person a seat of honor, but telling the other, “Sit at my feet.” James adds, “If you do that, you are judges with EVIL (yes, he uses the word “evil”) thinking.”
James explains (in so many words), “God chooses the poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him. But the rich… aren’t they the ones who oppress you, who drag you into court, who blaspheme the excellent name invoked over you? Notice, James is making a “judgment” here.
“Instead, brothers and sisters, ‘Fulfill the royal law… You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Showing favoritism is sin. Judgment will be without mercy to any who show no mercy.’ ”
James pounds his verbal gavel with this truth: (paraphrase) “If you say you have faith but do not have works, will that faith save you? Don’t quote meaningless platitudes to the poor and send them away. Instead, put your ‘money’ so to speak where your mouth is: Clothe the naked, feed the hungry. Because, faith without works is dead. And by implication, so are you!” So says James to his audience. And today, we are that audience!
Jesus exorcised a demon from this Gentile little girl. Two chapters earlier he healed the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue official who knelt before the Lord asking for her life. These miracles of compassion were answered prayers for a notable leader of the Jews and for a Gentile woman. And, by the way, both of the ones healed were children, both were girls. There is no favoritism with the Lord.
The Apostle Paul is a little less bombastic than the Apostle James, perhaps. But in Romans 12 Paul writes:
3 “For by the grace given to me I say to every one among you not to think of yourself more highly that you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment….”
10 “Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor”
16 “Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not claim to be wiser than you are.”
Associate with the lowly… let’s go back to James’ example. Two people show up at
church. One is obviously wealthy. The other is on welfare. One is important. The other is impoverished. The one has social graces. The other is awkward. James wonders, do we fall all over ourselves to make the one feel welcome? And do we fall all over ourselves trying to avoid the other?
Maybe we aren’t that obvious. I hope not. But, do we show more attention to married couples who visit than to singles? Do we fawn over families with little children but perhaps overlook the widow who visits? Would we welcome the nicely dressed couple but ignore, or maybe even show disdain for someone dressed like… well I hate to pick on anyone’s style so I won’t offer one! However I do remember my dad several decades ago not liking young men who had beards! Or, let’s say, the one visiting happens to be an extreme right-wing evangelical? Or a dyed in the wool extreme socialist? Or whatever labels are floating around right now that are like a burr under your saddle or mine? You know who might be your opposite! We all have our opinions… but when it comes to welcoming those seeking God, do our opinions cloud our faith and come out as showing favoritism?
Brennan Manning in his book, The Signature of Jesus, shares the following story from his own life:
In January of 1987 the mail carrier delivered an invitation from the US Senate and House of Representatives to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in the Washington Hilton with President and Mrs. Reagan and other government leaders. I was asked to speak at two dinners preceding the breakfast and at two seminars the following morning.
My wife, Rosalyn, read the invitation and remarked, “Brennan, I knew you when your were nothin’!” [My daughters] Simone, eighteen, and Nicole, sixteen, were heading out the door to school. Simone shouted back, “You’re still nothin’.” And Nicole added, “You’ll never amount to nothin’!”
How’s that for family support?! Not much danger of Manning getting too full of himself in that household. Actually I’ve read a few of his books and got to meet him at a retreat. Brennan Manning is a humble man with a great sense of humor. He’d need one with his family’s dynamic!
Friends, we’re all nothin’ next to God, AND we are everything because of God. So, let’s not be haughty, or think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Let’s associate with the lowly, and the not so lowly if they will allow it. Let’s welcome the stranger who just might be an angel in disguise. Bottom line, may we have the eyes of Jesus and walk in welcoming faith without favoritism.
*Hymn We Are One in Mission No.435
Affirmation of faith
We believe the words of Christ:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Bless are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
MORNING PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in 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,
for ever. Amen.
*HYMN What Does the Lord Require No 407
CHARGE & BLESSING
And now, may the grace, mercy, and peace which proceeds from God the Father, through Jesus Christ, the Son, and into the Holy Spirit within us, may it rest and abide within us, now and forever more. Amen
*Stand as you are able.