Worship Outline and Sermon

Sermon, October 2, 2022:

Text: Luke 17:6

Our three readings today each speak of what possessing faith means. The prophet condemns the proud, saying that ‘their spirit is not right in them.’ If it were, through their displays of faith all would see them as righteousness, God-fearing people. Because of this, Paul commends Timothy for his sincere faith, living in him just as it did in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. The apostle encourages him to rekindle this gift of God, so that by faith he will be able to live in ‘a spirit of power and love and of self-discipline.’ This connects us to this passage from Luke. As it begins, we hear the disciples asking Jesus for more faith.

From each of these, it appears faith, in great quantities, is what we need to follow Jesus most closely, and to have favour in God’s sight. How then do we do this? And, what happens, when we don’t succeed, when our faith seems weak, or missing? In Jesus’ answer, there continues to be good news for all who seek to live by faith.

Timothy, I believe, also wondered about this. Here was his great teacher, encouraging him to continue in the journey of his foremothers, to be full of power, love, and self-discipline. Unsaid is that while his mom and grandma might have been heroes of the faith, many times Timothy feared he could not live up to their examples. Paul’s words hint that this young disciple could not see himself moving forward as a believer, had moments when he felt weak, ashamed, unable to live out the gospel message. He felt afraid to share it, having suffered for doing so. He needed more faith.

These feelings continue among those who seek God. So Lutheran pastor Jenny Sung confessed last week, “Sometimes I wish I had more faith. I wish I could believe the power I hold as a person who is baptized and called Beloved by the Creator of the universe. Every day it feels hard to believe I have any power. It seems even the power I hold I miss use or drop on the ground like a careless child.” (FaithLens) Like her, I’ve also known moments when my supply of faith, my trust in the grace of God, my feeling of being surrounded by the love of Christ, seemed to be running on empty. I suspect that many of us experience those times when we feel the Spirit calling us to share the good news, and yet we cannot find the power, the resolve to do so. We watch modern day Christians like Lois and Eunice, and say, ‘Wow, I wish I could be like them.’

Like Sung wrote, this doesn’t mean that we deny that we are children of God. It just means we don’t see a way forward. Hanging on as quiet believers, we ask God, ‘Increase our faith. Give us the power to be who you want us to be!’ Yet it also can also seem that many times, the Creator seems slow in answering, or does not respond with what we feel we need.

In the verses immediately before our reading from Luke, the apostles, those sent out by Jesus to share the good news, had questioned him about how many times they should forgive someone who has wronged them. “In true Jesus style, he” had responded back with an impossible number, ‘70x7’. Jewish thought imagines such a figure to imply ‘always,’ or ‘infinity.’ So then Jesus is calling them to practice never ending acts of forgiveness. Understandably, the disciples are more than a bit overwhelmed. Publicly, they cry out, “Increase our faith.” (Sung) Inwardly, like us at moments in our lives, they are reeling, thinking, “Jesus, you’ve GOT to be kidding.” They’re also hoping two things: first, that Jesus isn’t reading their minds, like he is able to do; and, secondly, even if he is, that he tells them he was just joking.

It doesn’t seem to be the latter. Jesus replies, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.”

Wrestling with Jesus’ words here, Sung came up with another question, “What if Jesus is encouraging us to see beyond measurement? In a culture where we have a whole grocery store aisle for salad dressings, maybe less can be more. Perhaps a seed has more possibilities to offer than a full-grown tree. Inside each seed is the potential and hope of growing and dreaming. In a full-grown tree are memories and glory years. A seed believes it still has everything to give, and perhaps a full-grown tree is like a full-grown human, more careful to assess the emotional bandwidth and capacity it has to stretch and grow.”

If this is so, rather than fearing about the shortcomings of our faith life, or about making excuses for why we don’t measure up, we can hear Jesus here calling us to work with what we have. Another writer suggests Jesus is encouraging the apostles and us to see that even if we feel we only have a mustard seed of faith, ‘God has given you everything you need’ (Tuck, Pulpit Fiction)

Sung concludes, “So often we compare our abilities and growth beside others who are growing. Maybe God is asking us to knock it off and notice the places and spaces we are planted to grow.” As beloved children, grace, mercy, and peace have been given to us all in Christ. Even as we pray for our faith to be rekindled, we go forward to serve, in the company of Timothy, Lois, Eunice, and all who have received the mustard seed of faith. Although we might be seeds, taken together we become a field, full of blossoms and life and beauty. It is enough to move the world. Amen.

Worship Outline: October 2 - Time After Pentecost


Introduction to the Season of Creation

Celebrated by many church bodies, including our Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, this season in the Time after Pentecost extends from Sept. 1 – Oct. 4, the commemoration of Francis of Assisi. This year’s theme, “Listen to the Voice of Creation,” asks us to listen to the human and non-human beings with whom we share our home. It is a response to “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge … their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the Earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps 19:1-4).

Quiet Time for Reflection and Prayer

Prelude

Welcome and Announcements

Land Acknowledgement

Throughout the Season of Creation, we are practicing acknowledging our personal and collective relationships to the land on which we gather and the land that has sustained us through our lives. We recognize the enduring presence of Indigenous peoples in this land. We acknowledge that the land on which we live and work is the traditional territory of the Ojibway of the Fort William First Nation, signatory to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850.

Litany Of Repentance And Longing For The Feast Of St. Francis

In the beginning, the Spirit moved over the deep;

new life daily unfolding at God’s call.

Darkness and light: Good.

Skies, lands, and seas: Good.

The earth and all that fills it—plants and rocks,

the finned, the feathered, the furry: Good.

At the last, humankind in God’s image: Very good.

Yet we have failed to draw from that goodness

in care for God’s creation.

Forgive us, God, for the ways we have

have exploited earth and its creatures.

We have misunderstood our calling

to be protectors of God’s creation.

Forgive us, God, for the ways we

have exploited earth and its creatures.

We long for new relationships with God’s creation

that has been entrusted to us.

Help us, God, to make a new community

with all that lives alongside us.

May the merciful God who calls us

to tend earth and all its creatures,

deepen our knowledge of creation’s interweaving,

so that our lives are shaped in wholeness and peace

with all living things; in Jesus’ name.

Amen.


*Gathering Song Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (# 859)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q2lJkRnnXc

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the God of creation!

My heart is longing to offer up sweet adoration.

Melody make;

Dulcimer, heart, now awake,

Sound forth your praise, ev’ry nation.

Praise the Almighty, o’er all life so wondrously reigning,

And, as on wings of an eagle, uplifting, sustaining,

Have you not seen?

All that is needful has been

Sent by God’s gracious ordaining.

Praise the Almighty, who prospers your work and defends you;

See from the heavens the showers of mercy God sends you.

Ponder anew

What the Almighty can do;

Infinite Love here befriends you.

Praise the Almighty! In wonder my spirit is soaring!

All that has life and breath, come now with praises outpouring.

Let the amen

Sound from God’s people again,

Gladly forever adoring!

(Text: Joachim Neander; tr. Composite. © 2001, Augsburg Fortress. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved. Music: ‘Ernewerten Gesangbuch’, Part II, Stralsund, 1665. Public domain.)

*Greeting

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

And also with you.

*Canticle of Praise (Sung, p. 99)

This is the feast of victory for our God.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain,

whose blood set us free to be people of God.

Power and riches, wisdom and strength,

and honor and blessing and glory are his.

This is the feast of victory for our God.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Sing with all the people of God,

and join in the hymn of all creation:

Blessing and honor, glory and might

be to God and the Lamb forever. Amen.

This is the feast of victory for our God.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

For the Lamb who was slain has begun his reign.

Alleluia.

This is the feast of victory for our God.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Prayer of the Day

Let us pray.

Benevolent, merciful God: When we are empty, fill us. When we are weak in faith, strengthen us. When we are cold in love, warm us, that with fervor we may love our neighbors and serve them for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

First Reading: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

A reading from Habakkuk.

Injustice and violence in the time leading up to the Babylonian exile move this prophet to lament: How can a good and all-powerful God see evil in the world and seemingly remain indifferent? God answers by proclaiming that the righteous will live by faith.

1The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw.

2O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,

  and you will not listen?

 Or cry to you “Violence!”

  and you will not save?

3Why do you make me see wrongdoing

  and look at trouble?

 Destruction and violence are before me;

  strife and contention arise.

4So the law becomes slack

  and justice never prevails.

 The wicked surround the righteous—

  therefore judgment comes forth perverted.

2:1I will stand at my watchpost,

  and station myself on the rampart;

 I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,

  and what he will answer concerning my complaint.

2Then the Lord answered me and said:

 Write the vision;

  make it plain on tablets,

  so that a runner may read it.

3For there is still a vision for the appointed time;

  it speaks of the end, and does not lie.

 If it seems to tarry, wait for it;

  it will surely come, it will not delay.

4Look at the proud!

  Their spirit is not right in them,

  but the righteous live by their faith.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Hymn God, Whose Almighty Word (# 673)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8byo57z6lE

God, whose almighty word

Chaos and darkness heard

And took their flight;

Hear us, we humbly pray,

And where the gospel day

Sheds not its glorious ray,

Let there be light.

Christ, who once came to bring,

On your redeeming wing,

Healing and sight;

Health to the troubled mind,

Sight where illusions blind;

Oh, now to humankind

Let there be light.

Spirit of truth and love,

Lifegiving, holy dove,

Speed forth your flight;

Move on the water’s face

Bearing the lamp of grace,

And in earth’s darkest place

Let there be light.


Holy and blessed three,

Glorious Trinity,

Wisdom, Love, Might;

Boundless as ocean’s tide,

Rolling in fullest pride,

Through the earth, far and wide,

Let there be light.

(Text: John Marriott, alt. Music: Felice de Giardini. Text and music: public domain.)

Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-14

A reading from 2 Timothy.

This letter written to Timothy is a personal message of encouragement. In the face of hardship and persecution, Timothy is reminded that his faith is a gift of God. He is encouraged to exercise that faith with the help of the Holy Spirit.

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

2To Timothy, my beloved child:

  Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 6For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

8Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Gospel Acclamation (ELW p. 102)

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Luke 17:5-10

The holy gospel according to Luke.

Glory to you, O Lord.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus instructs his followers about the power of faith and the duties of discipleship. He calls his disciples to adopt the attitude of servants whose actions are responses to their identity rather than works seeking reward.

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

7“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon

Hymn of the Day Lord of all Hopefulness (# 765)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNlLEl8rkSA

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,

Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy;

Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,

Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,

Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe;

Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,

Your strength in our hearts, Lord,

At the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,

Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace;

Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,

Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,

Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm;

Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,

Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

(Text: Jan Struther. From ‘Enlarged Songs of Praise’, 1931. Oxford University Press. Reprinted under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved. Music: Irish traditional, public domain.)

*Creed (ELW p. 105)

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 to the dead. 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 the life everlasting. Amen.

*Prayers of Intercession

As scattered grains of wheat are gathered together into one bread, so let us gather our prayers for the church, those in need, and all of God’s good creation.

We pray for your holy church in every place and for those who serve following the example of Christ, including the congregations of Trinity – Bergland and Zion – Fort Frances. Help them to live by faith and walk by the light of your gospel. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

For parts of the world ravaged by natural disaster, including Atlantic Canada, the south United States, and the Caribbean: relieve those affected by floods, wildfires, droughts, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

For every nation and for those entrusted with authority: grant our leaders self-discipline in all things, and inspire them with love for your people. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

For victims of violence, abuse, and neglect: heal those who have been harmed and protect those who are vulnerable. For all who are sick, and for those who ask for our prayers, including … God of grace,

hear our prayer.

For all who pray this day: listen to our silent prayers, as well as those we speak … God of grace,

hear our prayer.

For this and every congregation: rekindle your gifts within your people, and inspire councils, committees, and individuals to plan and work together that all may know your love. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

In thanksgiving that you have abolished death, and for the saints who have died ... Bring us all to eternal life with you. God of grace,

hear our prayer.

Gathered together in the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit, gracious God, we offer these and all our prayers to you; through Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Amen.

*Peace

The peace of Christ be with you always.

And also with you.

*Offering Prayer

Gracious God, in your great love you richly provide for our needs.

Make of these gifts a banquet of blessing, and make us ready to serve all creation; through Jesus Christ, who sets a table for all. Amen.

*Great Thanksgiving (Sung, p.107)

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, almighty and merciful God, through our Savior Jesus Christ. And so, with all the choirs of angels, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.

Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.

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; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

*Invitation to Communion

Christ invites you to this table. Come, taste and see.

Communion

If watching online, when the presiding minister says, ‘The body of Christ given for you’, we welcome all to take and eat a piece of bread, remembering and giving thanks for the promises of grace, forgiveness, love, new life, and community given us in Christ Jesus. Please also do so, taking a glass of wine or other beverage, when the presiding minister says, 'The blood of Christ, shed for you'.

Prayer after Communion

God of the abundant table, you have refreshed our hearts in this meal with bread for the journey. Give us your grace on the road that we might serve our neighbors with joy; for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

*Blessing

God, who gives life to all things and frees us from despair, bless you with truth and peace. And may the holy Trinity, one God, guide you always in faith, hope, and love. Amen.

*Sending Song Let All Things Now Living (# 881)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=111nlkf0YDI

Let all things now living

A song of thanksgiving

To God the Creator triumphantly raise,

Who fashioned and made us,

Protected and stayed us,

Who still guides us on to the end of our days.

God’s banners are o’er us,

God’s light goes before us,

A pillar of fire shining forth in the night,

Till shadows have vanished

And darkness is banished,

As forward we travel from light into light.


God rules all the forces;

The stars in their courses

And sun in its orbit obediently shine;

The hills and the mountains,

The rivers and fountains,

The deeps of the ocean proclaim God divine.

We too should be voicing

Our love and rejoicing;

With glad adoration a song let us raise

Till all things now living unite in thanksgiving:

“To God in the highest,

Hosanna and praise!”

(Text: Katherine K. Davis, alt. © 1939, 1966, E. C. Schirmer Music Co. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved. Music: Welsh folk tune, public domain.)

*Dismissal

Go in peace, with Christ beside you.

Thanks be to God.

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