Word for the Week
Sunday, August 4, 2019 Lectionary 18, Year C
Today’s texts offer instruction and encouragement for all who are occasionally overwhelmed by the “unhappy business” of life. Jesus urges us to take care and be on guard against all kinds of greed. We who have died with Christ in holy baptism have also been raised with him and are encouraged to elevate our thinking, seeking the “things that are above.” To that end we seek the sustenance of the Lord’s supper and the encouragement of God’s word.
Prayer of the Day
Benevolent God, you are the source, the guide, and the goal of our lives. Teach us to love what is worth loving, to reject what is offensive to you, and to treasure what is precious in your sight, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
2Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 12I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, 13applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. 14I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
2:18I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me 19—and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? 23For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.
Psalm: Psalm 49:1-12
1Hear this, all you peoples; give ear, all you who dwell in the world, 2you of high degree and low, rich and poor together. 3My mouth shall speak of wisdom, and my heart shall meditate on understanding. 4I will incline my ear to a proverb and set forth my riddle upon the harp. 5Why should I be afraid in evil days, when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me, 6the wickedness of those who put their trust in their own prowess, and boast of their great riches? 7One can never redeem another, or give to God the ransom for another’s life; 8for the ransom of a life is so great that there would never be enough to pay it, 9in order to live forever and ever and never see the grave. 10For we see that the wise die also; like the dull and stupid they perish and leave their wealth to those who come after them. 11Their graves shall be their homes forever, their dwelling places from generation to generation, though they had named lands after themselves. 12Even though honored, they cannot live forever; they are like the beasts that perish.
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-11
1So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 8But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
13Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Theme for the season of Pentecost (summer)
Pentecost is the season in which we celebrate the arrival and presence of God in our hearts and in our lives, through the gift of the Holy Spirit. There are many symbols and images that we use to describe and understand the Holy Spirit: the Breath of God, a mighty wind, or the Holy Ghost. One of the most vivid images we have of the Holy Spirit is a flame.
Fire gives us warmth, lights our way in the darkness, shines as a beacon of hope or a warning of danger. It also provides the heat for the process of refinement. In order to be refined, we must first be changed: The fire of the Holy Spirit melts our hardened hearts and consumes all of those things that keep us apart from God, so that we can be made as new creations, holy and wholly acceptable to God.
Throughout this season of Pentecost, we will be digging into scripture, worshiping together, and seeking out ways to live as God’s new creations, refined by fire and led by the Spirit.