July 17th, 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, Kolleen’s family with the loss of her mom, Ukraine, Arlene Pawlik, Angela and Tristan, Karla Singer (Rich Lewis Niece), Bonnie Pillers, Deb Weller, Barbara Russell and Family, Manon Family, and Linda Wenzel.
*CALL TO WORSHIP Psalm 84:1-4, CEB
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of heavenly forces!
My very being longs, even yearns, for the Lord’s courtyards.
My heart and my body will rejoice out loud to the living God!
Yes, the sparrow too has found a home there.
The swallow has found herself a nest
where she can lay her young beside your altars.
Lord of heavenly forces, my king, my God!
Those who live in your house are truly happy; they praise you constantly.
Oh, Lord, our God, our Creator and Savior. You indeed are our dwelling place. You have provided the world in which we live and everything we need to sustain that life, but you also invite us to dwell with you in sacred space, in a relationship of trust and love. You covenant to be our God if we will choose to be your people. You encourage us to live as in your kingdom here on earth, and you welcome us to your eternal home when this life is complete. For our life in you we offer our thanks and praise. Amen.
HYMN Oh Worship the King #476
CONFESSION from Colossians 1:21-22
“Once you were separated from God. The evil things you did showed your hostile attitude. 22 But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame.”
Since Christ has made a way for us, let us confess our sins and shortcomings to God.
Gracious and most merciful God. We confess that we have separated ourselves from you by the way we think, by our attitudes, by our actions, and by our inaction. Though we profess our love for you, we do not always live in agreement with your teachings. We do not always understand what you want from us or for us. We get lost in the ways of the world and fail to hear what the Holy Spirit would remind us. As a society we wander down many paths that are not your intention for us. Father, forgive us for the times we do not know what we are doing. Lord, have mercy upon us for the times we know too well but choose our own way instead of yours. Open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to better live for you. Amen.
*WORDS OF ASSURANCE from Colossians 1:20
Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son's blood on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.
Through Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
*SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
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
You ask us, Lord to bear one another’s burdens in gentleness. But to do that we need first to understand the nature of your hope for our world. As scripture is read and proclaimed whisper that hope into our ear and give us the wisdom and courage to reach out to our neighbor that we might share their struggle and offer your grace. Amen
SCRIPTURE LESSONS Genesis 18:1-10a, Good News
18 The Lord appeared to Abraham at the sacred trees of Mamre. As Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent during the hottest part of the day, 2 he looked up and saw three men standing there. As soon as he saw them, he ran out to meet them. Bowing down with his face touching the ground, 3 he said, “Sirs, please do not pass by my home without stopping; I am here to serve you. 4 Let me bring some water for you to wash your feet; you can rest here beneath this tree. 5 I will also bring a bit of food; it will give you strength to continue your journey. You have honored me by coming to my home, so let me serve you.”
They replied, “Thank you; we accept.”
6 Abraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, “Quick, take a sack of your best flour, and bake some bread.” 7 Then he ran to the herd and picked out a calf that was tender and fat, and gave it to a servant, who hurried to get it ready. 8 He took some cream, some milk, and the meat, and set the food before the men. There under the tree he served them himself, and they ate.
9 Then they asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
“She is there in the tent,” he answered.
10 One of them said, “Nine months from now I will come back, and your wife Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was behind him, at the door of the tent, listening.
Luke 10:38-42, CEB
38 While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. 40 By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.”
41 The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42 One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”
SERMON “A Ministry of Hospitality”
I’ve always thought Abraham’s care for his three visitors to be a prime example of hospitality. It fits the hospitality culture of a nomadic desert people. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes that Abraham offered protection in the form of shade, amenities in the form of foot-washing and nourishment by preparing a meal. The notes go on to explain, “Custom mandated such hospitality from a host when travelers passed through since public accommodation was scarce and the climate threatening.” (Notes for Genesis 18:5) Similar hospitality today whether in our home or our yard would likely include shade, air-conditioning, or a fan this time of year. We don’t offer foot washing, but the availability of a bathroom is essential. If not a meal then typically a beverage is offered and perhaps snacks. Our guests may not require all of these, but making them available if needed is pretty standard hospitality. It is worth noting, however, that Abraham’s hospitality goes beyond standard. It is the finest flour, wheat not barley which would have been more common, and enough to bake several loaves of bread. The meat would be freshly butchered from a tender calf. This represents a feast, not their daily diet.
“Hospitality was one of the most highly regarded virtues of the ancient world” (NIV Quest Study Bible Notes) and continued to be significant throughout biblical stories. Among those who offered hospitality to Jesus, we are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha whose brother was Lazarus. Jesus often came to their home at Bethany when he visited the area. These sisters each offer hospitality in their own way according to their “gifts and graces,” by which I mean the strengths and personalities God gave them. These sisters might seem to us to be polar opposites. One is in the kitchen and one in the living room. One is on her feet; the other is seated, on the floor no less. One is busily preparing a meal; the other is listening with respect and reverence. But would I ever say one is offering hospitality and the other is not? No! I would not say that! Martha’s hospitality is in a form we expect. She is preparing food for her guest, and we know going back to Abraham’s story that is a standard practice of hospitality. But Mary’s hospitality is also important. She is giving her guest her full attention, listening intently to what the teacher has to say. When Jesus chides Martha for expecting Mary to join her in the kitchen, I think Martha’s fault was in not recognizing that Mary’s hospitality was of equal worth. I believe Jesus appreciated the meal being offered, but appreciated the devotion of Mary’s open heart even more. Martha was intent on feeding Jesus’ body. Mary was focused on letting Jesus nourish her soul. Both are valid hospitality, but while one is standard perhaps the other is rare. We might also note that “Women in ancient Judaism were usually not permitted this privilege.” (NIV Study Bible Notes) So, for Mary to have the courage to sit and listen as a disciple and for Jesus to acknowledge and praise her choice is significant for the times. Martha did what she believed she was expected to do. Mary took a rare opportunity to heart. Both did so with sincerity and genuine love for Jesus.
I want to look at three perspectives on hospitality. From these Bible stories let’s consider how we offer hospitality to God and to others, but let’s also take a moment to consider the hospitality God offers to us.
Our opening Psalm declared “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord.” (Psalm 84:1) The dwelling place where God resides and provides hospitality is not only in the heavens, but also here on earth. Whether we are talking about the paradise God intended our world to be, the Eden described in Genesis 1 or God’s heavenly realms described in Revelation 21-22, the dwelling to which God invites us a place of beauty and peace where everything we need is already provided. Psalm 104 speaks of God’s hospitality in creation, food for all creatures, wine, oil, and bread for human beings to enjoy, trees for bird nests, rocky shelters for other animals. God’s hospitality is rich in God’s plan for this planet Earth on which we live, but God also has an eternal plan for our life beyond this. A favorite funeral text from John 14:2-3 tells us that among the many rooms in God’s house, one is prepared especially for each of us, and Jesus will bring us there.
Sometimes when we focus on the things that don’t meet our expectations or desires we miss God’s hospitable providence. Even in the flood God had Noah build an ark. Even in the wilderness God provided water and food. Even when Jonah was tossed overboard in a storm God gave him shelter in the belly of a whale in spite of Jonah’s disobedience. Even during a famine or when Elijah was on the run God saw to it he had food and shelter, sometimes directly but also through the widow of Zarephath.
In your own quiet time today, I invite you to think of all the ways God has provided hospitality on this earth for you whether directly or through human hands. You might push yourself to consider your own “Even when…” list. How has God still offered you hospitality even in the midst of adversity?
Even though they were nomads in an arid place, God made sure Abraham and Sarah had tents and shade and grain and meat. Genesis 18 claims it was “The Lord [who] appeared to Abraham at the sacred trees of Mamre.” When Abraham offered hospitality out of that bounty to the three travelers before him, he was offering it back to the Lord.
I think again of Mary and Martha and see the balance they suggest as we offer God both our service and our reverence. Sometimes we work hard serving the Lord not only in the church but also in our homes and in the world around us. That is our Martha hospitality. Sometimes, however, we just sit in God’s presence and listen to God’s Word or to God’s Spirit or simply witness the beauty of God’s world. These worship filled moments are more like Mary’s hospitality.
In a relationship such as we have with God, the hospitality we receive we can also return. If we accept God’s covenant proposal to be our God, then we respond by being God’s people. We offer God a place in our lives. We make room for God in our busy schedules. We invite God’s wisdom into our decisions. We seek God’s assistance as we go about our work. We welcome God’s Spirit to nudge and guide us. We hold God’s Word in our minds to influence and to comfort us. We put physical reminders of God’s spiritual presence around us in our homes. We let God’s teachings inform our actions.
I think the art of hospitality is making a bit of room in our lives for someone else to occupy. It is essential that we make such room for God because it is God who makes it possible for us to offer such space to anyone else.
Sometimes what we offer to others will be physical space, just as Abraham offered under the shade tree to his visitors or Martha offered in her home to Jesus. It’s like the kitchen table next door when I was growing up, where everyone gathered for Georgia’s chocolate chip cookies and a whole lot more. It’s like Wednesday night youth group at our home in Albany when my daughters were in high school. An assortment of teenagers showed up after school and hung out for a while, then ate together, and even learned a bit more about life and Jesus. It’s like my high school friends welcoming me into their home the evening after mom died, even though it was late after their grandkids’ ballgames, and even though I hadn’t been in their home for a few years. It’s like your upstairs kitchen now being used to prepare summer meals and Calvin Hall hosting a PEO or an AAUW meeting. All of these are examples of hospitable physical space.
But sometimes we offer more than space. Sometimes we offer food or drink. Rebekah showed hospitality when she drew water for Abraham’s servant and even his camel. It was the sign that servant wanted to find the right woman for his master’s son, Isaac. Another woman, this one of Samaria, was willing to draw water from the community well for Jesus when he asked. Her hospitality was rewarded with an offer of living water. Think how many more stories in the Bible relate to sharing a meal together. Joseph fed his brothers when they came for help in Egypt. Esther prepared a banquet for King Xerxes before presenting her request. Jesus was notorious for eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” He also told many parables that involved feasts.
We remember Jesus for feeding thousands and for sharing a special meal with his disciples. Think how many times you have enjoyed a meal with your family or friends. Table hospitality is significant and something any of us can offer whether we cook or cater or take a friend out for a meal.
But hospitality can also meet more than physical needs. There is a concept of hospitable space that is less tangible but equally important. It goes beyond giving our time or a listening ear, though it includes both of these. It is sometimes referred to as holding space, sacred safe space for another person. It can be a place to unburden oneself of grief or guilt or fear or doubt or frustration. It can be a place of learning or healing or maturing. It is what God offers us in the gift of prayer. It is what my coach offers me when I receive Spiritual Direction in our monthly phone call. It is what we can offer each other over a cup of coffee or sitting on the porch, leaning over the backyard fence, or in a desperate phone call. When we allow another person that safe space to be themselves whatever their needs or hurts might be in that moment, we have offered a significant gift of hospitality. This kind of hospitality is to be offered without judgement or scolding, but simply accepting, perhaps even sharing another person’s pain. Everyone needs that hospitality of safe, sacred, space. I think it is the truest meaning of the word sanctuary.
A favorite parable reminds us that the hospitality we offer to others is as if we have given it to the Lord. You probably know the one I mean, where those who offered the hospitality of food or drink or clothing or being present with someone who was sick or in prison were told that as they did for the least of the people around them, they did it for the Lord. God has offered the ultimate hospitality to us, making space for each of us in this vast universe, but also in the intimacy of a relationship with God. If we choose to belong to the Lord, we will make hospitable space for the Lord in our daily lives. In the midst of that, we also share hospitality with the people God puts in our lives, as another way of returning our love to our God. One more example of what hospitality can do is the story of Zacchaeus, that wee little man who climbed a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus walk by. When Jesus asked Zacchaeus to share the hospitality of his home and dinner, Jesus also extended to Zacchaeus that sacred hospitality that allowed Zacchaeus to become a new man, no longer a tax collector who cheated people for us own wealth, but a generous man who relearned how to love God and neighbor, because Jesus took the time to meet him.
Jesus taught us that the greatest commandments of our Old Testament law are to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. There are many ways to interpret this and live it out in our own lives. One such expression of this love is hospitality as we offer space for God to permeate our whole being and as we extend that hospitable space to the many neighbors of our world just as we also accept that hospitable love for ourselves.
*HYMN Lift High the Cross #407
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.
OFFERING OUR LIVES
Lord, as you have provided for all our needs, may we also learn to provide hospitality to those who come our way. By doing so may we be offering the best of ourselves to you. Amen.
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
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.
*HYMN Called as Partners in Christ’s Service #343
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* 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