Worship this Sunday (Sept. 8) is at 11 a.m. — outdoors at Edgewater Park, upper pavilion off West Boulevard, with Trinity (Lakewood) and St. Thomas (Cleveland) Lutheran Churches, in celebration fo the 25th anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Followed by a potluck and hotdog lunch and service projects in the afternoon, including a cleanup of the park area near E. 55th Street and quilt and cross-making at the Edgewater Pavilion.
What do you make of this advice that Jesus seems to be dishing out at the meal in this Sunday’s gospel reading? In a nutshell, it seems to be:
- Don’t sit down at the head table. Sit in the worst seat and let the host invite you to a better one. The “so that” business is a little troubling and smacks a little of what we might think of as “false humility.”
- If you’re putting on a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends and relatives and rich neighbors. They might want to pay you back. Instead, invite folks who can’t pay you back. Hmm.
So, is this merely “Miss Manners” advice from Jesus? The “wedding banquet” language is a tipoff that he’s talking about something more than dining and hosting etiquette. That’s kingdom of God language, likening the coming kingdom to a heavenly banquet with God as the host.
If we’re the guests in both of these bits of advice, what might this passage tell us about the nature and intention of God?
Yes, it was the Sabbath and we worked — though not for ourselves but to help paint a house in the Birdtown neighborhood through Lakewood Alive. Many thanks to the Faith Serves crew of Ariel and Mike Benewiat, Abbie and Dave Blocksom, JoAnn Dickey, Ann and Fred Norman, and Jay Shackelford for a lot of hard work on a hot afternoon.
One of the ironies of my part-time seminary studies was that I volunteered to work Sundays at my full-time job. By working a Sunday shift I could go to church in the morning, work in the afternoon and then have a weekday off to travel back and forth to Columbus for a seminary class. My religion had me working on the sabbath.
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus angers a religious leader by healing a woman on the sabbath. And in the Old Testament reading we hear about the importance of honoring the sabbath and not “trampling it.”
This Sunday afternoon some Faith folks are going to go finish painting a house in Birdtown. In a few weeks we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by cleaning up a portion of the Cleveland Metroparks Lakefront Reservation.
What are to make of working on Sundays?
Does this scripture merely give us guidance about the propriety of working on Sundays? Or does it say something bigger about Jesus and the kingdom of God?
Give it some thought. If you like, click on that balloon in the upper right corner of this post and share your thoughts or questions.
– Pastor Mark Rollenhagen
You can click here to open a printable PDF file of a poster regarding our missing communion ware. You can help by printing it out and dropping it any nearby pawn shops, second-hand stores, antique galleries or jewelers or some place where someone might try to sell them.
If you’re out and about and come across communion ware — chalice and ciborium — that looks like this, please give Faith or Lakewood PD a shout. This is a catalog photo of what was taken from Faith this week. The only differences are that our chalice has a pouring spout on the rim and there is an engraving that includes the name “Daugstrup.”
We would be happy if it would just show up again.
Faith’s After School Arts Camp for children in grades K – 5 returns this fall.
Beginning September 4, the camp is open every Wednesday afternoon that Lakewood City Schools are open. The annual fee is $10. Registration is limited to 15 students. Hayes Elementary School students gather at the school and walk together with arts camp volunteers to Faith.
The registration form is available here.
We know the two topics to avoid if we want a peaceful holiday dinner with the relatives: politics and religion. And if some of those relatives are from Michigan, maybe Big Ten sports and Major League Baseball.
Religion can be divisive and, in first century Palestine, Jesus was a flashpoint for conflict. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus flat out says he came not bring peace on earth but rather division. That’s a lot to think about.
Go back to a passage we heard a few weeks ago about Jesus forgiving the sinful woman who had washed his feet with her tears. The people Jesus was having dinner with were appalled and offended. Nnotice the themes of hypocrisy and inability-to-perceive in both passages.
What is it about Jesus’ actions and teachings that people find so troubling?
Are they still troubling? Should they be?
– Pastor Mark Rollenhagen
Have you ever had guests coming but didn’t know when they would arrive? Maybe they were traveling a great distance or maybe they had a prior engagement and weren’t sure when that would end. Maybe it wasn’t even clear which night or day they would arrive.
Most of us like to know exactly when someone will be coming. Without an arrival time how are we to figure out when to start scrambling to vacuum, dust and wash the dishes? Knowing when tends to determine what we do in the meantime.
Biblical scholar Joel Green suggests that in this week’s Gospel passage Jesus is trying to convey the certainty of his coming again and the unpredictability of when that will happen — along with suggestions as to what we do as we wait.
Pastor Brian Stoffregen, whose Biblical interpretation work is available at CrossMarks, adds this: “Christians know Jesus is coming and we are to live as if he were already here.”
So, how do we do that? What might people look like when live as though Jesus were already here? What would a community of faith look like if its people were living as though Jesus were already here?
— Pastor Mark Rollenhagen
I love those AT&T commercials. The ones with the guy in a business suit sitting on the floor, talking with young kids. I laugh every time. This one came to mind this week when I was reading the Gospel reading for this Sunday (August 4).
The commercial and the scripture hit on a basic truth: we all want more.
But contrary to the message of the commercial, it is complicated.
One of my favorite covers of the Christian Century magazine carried this provocative headline: “God Does Not Love Your 401(k).” Inside was an essay about the tension between saving and sharing.
Arthur Simon, founder of Bread for the World, wrote an intriguing little book called How Much is Enough? Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture.
And there are deeper questions beyond the balancing act:
What is it that drives our desire for more? Do we fear that we won’t have enough? Do we think our accumulation of possessions says something important about us?
What does this week’s gospel reading have to say to our predicament of always wanting more?
— Pastor Mark Rollenhagen