Word for the Week
Sunday, August 25, 2019 Lectionary 21, Year C
Remember the sabbath day. Call the sabbath a delight. This is the Lord’s day, and the Lord will do for us what the Lord does: feed us, forgive us, help and heal us. Rejoice at all the wonderful things God is doing.
Prayer of the Day
O God, mighty and immortal, you know that as fragile creatures surrounded by great dangers, we cannot by ourselves stand upright. Give us strength of mind and body, so that even when we suffer because of human sin, we may rise victorious through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Isaiah 58:9b-14
The Lord promises those who have returned from exile that where justice and mercy prevail, the ruins will be rebuilt and light will rise in the darkness. It is a day for new beginnings.
9bIf you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. 11The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. 12Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
13If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; 14then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Psalm: Psalm 103:1-8
The Lord crowns you with mercy and steadfast love. (Ps. 103:4)
1Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name. 2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all God’s benefits— 3who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases; 4who redeems your life from the grave and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy; 5who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like an eagle’s. 6O Lord, you provide vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. 7You made known your ways to Moses and your works to the children of Israel. 8Lord, you are full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Second Reading: Hebrews 12:18-29
Using images of Moses from the Old Testament, the writer presents a striking vision of the new covenant of God made possible in Christ. There is no longer fear; only awe in the new promise in Christ into which we are invited.
18You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, 19and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. 20(For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.” 21Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”) 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! 26At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.” 27This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; 29for indeed our God is a consuming fire.
Gospel: Luke 13:10-17
Jesus heals a woman on the sabbath, offering her a new beginning for her life. When challenged by a narrow reading of the sabbath command, Jesus responds by expanding “sabbath work” to include setting people free from bondage.
10Now [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
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.