A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

PRELUDE           “Sheep May Safely Graze”           J. S. Bach

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

CONFESSION & FORGIVENESS

GATHERING SONG           “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”           red book # 693

GREETING

KYRIE                                                                                           red book page 184 (set 8)

CANTICLE OF PRAISE                                                             red book page 169 (set 6)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

1 KINGS 17:8-16

PSALM 146

HEBREWS 9:24-28

MARK 12:38-44

SERMON                                                                                        Pastor Chris Halverson

Stewardship Sunday sermon: Down, Up, Out
On this Stewardship Sunday, the culmination of the last three months in which we’ve talked about stewardship, it is worth reviewing where we’ve been—putting it all together.

First, Linda talked to us about the way in which God comes down, that we are stewards—caretakers of that which was first given to us.
Ultimately, our time, talent, and possessions are all signs of God’s love for us, not something we earned, but something graciously given. We’re shepherding God’s flock, investing God’s money, managing God’s time. All that we have is a gift from God, and part of wise stewardship is recognizing that reality.

Second, Pat described the way in which we discern what it is God has given us. We lift up those things, which have first come down to us. We essentially do an inventory of all that is ours—our stuff, in every sense of the word.
On one hand, that in itself can make us thankful, because in our culture of acquisitiveness it is hard to remember all the good things we have, because we’re always being told about the good things we don’t have.
On the other hand, it also reminds us not to be possessed by these possessions, but instead to use them for the good of the Kingdom of God.

And that’s where the third part of this comes in, Peggy spoke about the third movement of stewardship—out. That we look out to our neighbors in need and take those gifts God has given us and use them for the good of those around us.

We recognize all that we have, is gift—God has came down to us. We reflect upon the particulars of what we possess—we lift it all up. Then we use it for the sake of those in need—out.
Down, up, out.

Prayer

Down, up, out.

Down—If God was a super hero he would have a broken ladder on his chest as his insignia. We don’t go up to God—we don’t climb a ladder, God comes down.
God acts first, and God’s acts are gifts—from the creation of our very selves, to our salvation found in Christ, to the Spirit moving within us and allowing us to believe—it’s all God coming down.
And the author of Hebrews makes this very clear. Jesus’ once for all death—done in the past and with ongoing effect for our sake—has been taken by God as a sacrifice for our Sin, that we, waiting with eager longing, will be saved. No ongoing sacrifice on our part. No –it’s all God—it’s all Jesus’ sacrifice for us. God comes down.

Up—What do they have? What do these widows have in today’s readings? A fist of dough to make bread in one and 2 pennies in the other.
For that matter, Elijah is a refugee in Sidon, chased away by the Prophets of Ba’al
—running for his life into the very country that threatens his life. He goes there with nothing, nothing except his life.
Bread for the day, pocket change, and an empty pocketed prophet in exile, such meager possessions that it might seem like God can do nothing with them…

Out—But then they see one another, look and find their neighbor. Elijah finds the widow—perhaps he’d expected some sort of well-heeled woman of means there to welcome him in, but instead he finds a lady on her last legs.
Likewise, she meets this prophet, and he immediately asks for something. It’s like he doesn’t see the starkness of her situation.
Yet they do this awkward back and forth and find a way to serve one another, to be neighbor for one another, because both have a need—one needs shelter and hiding, the other food for her and her son.
In contrast, in the temple, the scribes are too busy belly button gazing at their own importance to see the widow, and the rich give large sums, but do not see the widow… and so Jesus intentionally points out this widow giving all she has, calls on us to look outward, to see again, see our neighbor.
Down, Up, Out.

Down—Know this in the depths of your being sisters and brothers, everything we are and we have is from God. We are stewards only, entrusted with all that is found in this life.
Up—Reflect and discern what God has given you, sniff around until you find it, even the smallest thing, 2 pennies and some bread, or a booming voice or passion for poetry or a memorized family recipe, or just another day with breath in your body—be thankful and consider how it might be useful.
Out—Look then beyond yourself, see whom you are connected with and how, and how you can help, how you can strengthen that relationship, and be a little Christs to them.
Amen.

HYMN of the DAY           “For the Fruit of All Creation”           red book # 679

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

CONSECRATION OF PLEDGES

OFFERING

OFFERTORY ANTHEM           “The Potter’s Hand”

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS           “Lamb of God”

Also, “Let There Be Peace on Earth”, red book # 523, red book # 680

Sending

BLESSING

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG           “Have You Thanked the Lord?”           red book # 829

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE           “Hymn Improvisation”           Tom Baker

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