July 10th, 2022
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 those not vaccinated as well as 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 in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Judy Welcher, Dr Dyke, Harlan Marx, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Werner & Kelly Families, , Ukraine, Arlene Pawlik, Angela and Tristan, Bonnie Pillers, Deb Weller, Kolleen’s Family, and Linda Wenzel.
*Call to Worship
L: What must we do to inherit eternal life?
P: Love the Lord with all our hearts, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind. And our neighbor as our selves.
L: Let us open our hearts and souls, our strength and our minds to God’s amazing love.
P: Let us offer our worship and praise that we might gain the power to truly love our neighbor as our selves. Amen.
*Prayer of Invocation
O Lord, we come before you, not as prophets or priests, but as ordinary, every day people who need your touch and who seek avenues of grace. Bend low, Loving One, and infuse our worship with your Spirit of life that we might gain the power to offer your hope and healing into our world. Amen.
*HYMN O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing #466
Call to Confession
We don’t want to think of ourselves as sinful beings. We live decent, responsible lives! Yet the nature of humanity is to fall short of God’s desire for us. Let us confess our sins before our Gracious Lord, knowing that God hears and offers us the gift of healing and wholeness. Let us come before our Creator.
Prayer of Confession
Gracious Lord. The world is a place where the loudest voice is very often the dominant one. It’s so much easier to go along than to fight for your holy design. Forgive us for the many times we’ve thrown up our hands and kept silent, even when we knew that people were being harmed and your good earth was being desecrated. Forgive us for assuming we had no ability to speak your love into hurtful situations. Forgive us for our lack of courage and our unwillingness to risk. Help us to do better, Lord. Help us and love us, we pray.
Words of Assurance
God does love us. God sent his Son to a cross that we might know ourselves forgiven and washed clean. Let us claim this gift of redemption that we might begin again to do the will of our father and care for our neighbor. Amen.
PASSING THE PEACE (facing those across the aisle from you)
Left: May the peace of Christ be with you.
Right: And also with you. May the peace of Christ be with you.
Left: And also with you.
Prayer of Illumination
Spirit of Hope and Healing. We invite you into our hearts and minds as God’s holy word is read and proclaimed. Help us to hear that which we need to be the people you call us to be. Amen.
Amos 7: 7-17
7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer. 9 “The high places of Isaac will be destroyed and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined; with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.” 10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying: “‘Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’” 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.”14 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now then, hear the word of the Lord. You say, “‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.’ 17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: “‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan country. And Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’”
Luke 10: 38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
SERMON Who is my Neighbor?
If you have ever been around construction, you’ve probably seen one of these. It’s a level; used to answer the questions --Is it straight? Is it square? Is it true? Is it right? Amos uses a plumb line to address these questions, but I couldn’t find a plumb line. A plumb line is a string or line with a weight at the end that drops by the force of gravity to assist the worker to build the wall straight. The level I have here is a modern day version of that. To some degree both of our scriptures for today deal with the question of building a strong, straight life built on God’s desires for us.
Amos is shown several prophetic visions that are metaphors for what God is seeing in his people, Israel. The first 2 are pretty disturbing. Swarms of locust or showers of fire are descending on the nation to destroy it. But Amos pleads with God on behalf of the people and God relents. The third is the plumb line. This time God is showing Amos (and us) why he is so intent on tearing down his people. They have built their lives and their society in a way that is crooked and bent and not at all as God intends. God tells Amos he is measuring the nation. Twice before God has relented, but not again. Now he has objective proof of their corruption. They have turned their backs on justice and compassion and caring for the vulnerable or living in a fair and equitable manner.
Think about it for a minute. God is holding up a measure—a plumb line—to determine whether his people are doing that which is expected of them. That would be a frightening thing. I don’t feel a lot of confidence that our society could pass such a test. With gun violence at an all-time high, immigration issues leaving thousands in limbo and suffering, racism, prejudice of all forms, the rich getting richer off the backs of the poor. What would God say? What would God’s plumb line look like if measuring our society? It’s scary.
The plumb line here is being used to judge that which was already happening. But I note that a plumb line is also a tool that is used to build straight and true. I think our gospel scripture provides an example of that for us.
Do you notice that it begins with a lawyer, one who is trained as an expert in the law? He’s asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Now for many of us eternal life is that reward we hope to receive when we die and go to heaven. I want to suggest, however, that it’s much more than that. Here is what Jesus says about eternal life when he is praying for his disciples before his death. This can be found in John 17:3. “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Do you notice that there’s no mention of heaven here? That doesn’t rule heaven out, but the emphasis is on relationship and that begins right now. The verb that we translate as “know” is the same verb used in the Genesis story when we hear that “Adam knew Eve.” It’s a deep abiding and intimate knowing that clicks on all levels of our being. It’s interdependence and participation and acceptance of the whole person. It’s to be in relationship. What Jesus is saying is that to have that type of relationship with God changes everything. It gives meaning and direction and purpose.
I wonder if that lawyer wanted that, or if, like many in today’s world, he just wanted a ticket to the streets of gold—heaven when we die?
Jesus invites him to answer his own question. What do the scriptures say? His answer—“To 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.” Perfect.
But the lawyer wants to eliminate all ambivalence. He doesn’t quibble with the loving God with all our being part. Instead he turns to that horizontal piece of the equation. Who is my neighbor? It’s sort of like drawing boundaries. Who’s in? Who do I have to love? Who’s out and who can I walk away from? How much easier his life will be if he can simply drill down on that detail. Then he can merrily turn his back on any who are outside of that circle.
But Jesus isn’t going to play that game. The plumb line he holds up is a parable. It’s one of our favorites.
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was an especially dangerous route with lots of places for the bad guys to hide and jump out to ambush travelers. And that’s exactly what happens. This man was robbed, stripped of his clothing and beaten. They leave him half dead on the side of the road.
A priest came along. Now a priest was a man trained in the ways of God. He was held in high esteem. But when he saw the man he passed by on the other side. (Now before we shake our heads in disgust, we maybe need to give the poor guy a break. Perhaps he was afraid that that robbers were still there waiting for someone to come to this man’s aid so they could attack them, as well. Or perhaps he was being cognizant of the law in Leviticus that said a priest should not touch a dead body lest he have to undergo a process of cleansing. If the priest thought the man dead and had a priestly duty to perform, he might have passed without going to the man.)
Next came a Levite. A Levite in todays world might be thought of as an associate pastor, or the priest’s helper—maybe a church administrator. He was also held in high esteem and thought of as a godly man. But just like the priest, he passed by. Maybe he had some of the same issues as previously listed.
Finally it was a Samaritan who came by. And here’s the shocker; he immediately went to the man and cared for him. There was so much animosity between the Jews and Samaritans. Samaritans didn’t worship at the temple. They only considered the first 5 books of the Old Testament as their scripture. Both sides considered the other as outsiders and sinners. But this man dresses the man’s wounds, puts him on his donkey—which meant he was that much more of a sitting duck for the robbers. He took the man to an inn where he cared for him over night. The next morning he paid the innkeeper, not only for the night just passed, but for caring for the man going forward, and he promised to pay whatever else was needed when he came again.
This Samaritan didn’t just put a band-aid on the wound or give the poor guy a lift to the next town. He went the next step to really make sure this man had the best he could offer.
And Jesus asks. Which one was the neighbor to the man beaten and robbed? Be the neighbor! Be the one who doesn’t look and measure who should receive one’s compassion and care. Be the neighbor! Be the one who has compassion because of the humanity which we all share.
And that’s the plumb line that Jesus offers. Are we the neighbor who loves regardless of where that needy individual lives? Regardless of what language they speak or the color of their skin? Regardless of whether they deserve our care? Regardless of whether offering that care is convenient or within our budget?
Are we the neighbor who becomes God’s hands and feet in that moment? Because loving God with our heart, soul, strength and mind (and I would add check book) means we participate with God in these moments when God calls us forward to act. When we act we are offering not just our care—we’re offering God’s love and grace. We’re telling that other person that they are valued and loved. They’re worthy and special before our Creator.
I want you to notice one more thing in this, as well. In this story the Lawyer recited this most important command that is found in both the Old and New Testament. In it we are instructed to love our neighbor as ourself. That means God wants us to love ourselves. He wants us to have a positive self-esteem. He wants us to let go of those nasty whispers that so many have repeating in their heads—the whispers that tell us we’re not good enough, pretty enough, lovable or capable. Those self-repeating voices need to be banished because we are so beloved by God. We need to love ourselves so we can also love our neighbor. God loves us all.
A plumb line falls into our midst. It shows us what is straight and true and good, and it also serves as the criteria which offers judgement on the faith we live. We can’t address every problem in our world, but God calls us forward to address many around us. God asks us to be a neighbor.
Let us each find our own ways to care for our neighbors, both as individuals and as a congregation. Let us love our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength and all our minds. It’s a joyful way to know the love and the meaning of our God.
Praise be to God. Amen.
*HYMN I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me #369
PASTORAL PRAYER AND 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.
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, now and forever. Amen.
*AFFIRMATION Apostle’s Creed (Ecumenical) p. 14
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into heaven
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen
*Prayer of Dedication
Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings you have poured into our laps. Most specifically we thank you for the gift of grace in Jesus Christ that washes us clean and sets us free. As we return to you a portion of this bounty, we pray that you will use us to announce your love and grace to all the world. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
*HYMN God of Grace and God of Glory (verses 1-4) #420
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.
Some of today’s liturgy came from the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship
Please stay for a very short congregational meeting to elect Sue Pinkston to the nominating committee Thank you!