This Sunday’s texts paint startling pictures of the horrific nature of sin. The church’s repeated celebration of holy communion counters that tragic reality in a continued showing forth of the death of Jesus until he comes again. It is a dramatic declaration of “how much God has done for you.”
Prayer of the Day
O Lord God, we bring before you the cries of a sorrowing world. In your mercy set us free from the chains that bind us, and defend us from everything that is evil, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, one God, whose steadfast love endures forever. Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another. Merciful God, we confess that we have not followed your path but have chosen our own way. Instead of putting others before ourselves, we long to take the best seats at the table. When met by those in need, we have too often passed by on the other side. Set us again on the path of life. Save us from ourselves and free us to love our neighbors. Amen. Hear the good news! God does not deal with us according to our sins but delights in granting pardon and mercy. In the name of Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. You are free to love as God loves. Amen.
Scripture for Sunday – June 19
The prophet announces God’s impatience. The people’s self-absorption is idolatry, and images of practices that displease God fill this reading. Like a vintner who crushes the grape to release the wine, God will use Israel’s exile to establish a new community of the faithful.
1I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name. 2I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; 3a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; 4who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; 5who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. 6See, it is written before me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps 7their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they offered incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will measure into their laps full payment for their actions. 8Thus says the Lord: As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all. 9I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall settle there.
In the midst of the assembly I will praise you. (Ps. 22:22)
19But you, O Lord, be not far away; O my help, hasten to my aid. 20Deliver me from the sword, my life from the power of the dog. 21Save me from the lion’s mouth! From the horns of wild bulls you have rescued me. 22I will declare your name to my people; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you. 23You who fear the Lord, give praise! All you of Jacob’s line, give glory. Stand in awe of the Lord, all you offspring of Israel. 24For the Lord does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither is the Lord’s face hidden from them; but when they cry out, the Lord hears them. 25From you comes my praise in the great assembly; I will perform my vows in the sight of those who fear the Lord. 26The poor shall eat and be satisfied, Let those who seek the Lord give praise! May your hearts live forever! 27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; all the families of nations shall bow before God. 28For dominion belongs to the Lord, who rules over the nations.
For Paul, baptism is a powerful bond that unites people not only with God but with other believers. Those who call themselves children of God experience a transformation that removes prejudices of race, social class, or gender in favor of true unity in Christ.
23Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Jesus’ mission includes foreigners and his authority extends to the casting out of demons. Some who witness Jesus’ work are seized with confusion and fear, but the man who was healed is commissioned to give testimony to God’s mercy and power.
26Then [Jesus and his disciples] arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.