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Grace Notes


Sunday, October 17, 2021                    LECTIONARY 29
 Alleluia. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Alleluia. (Mark 10:45)
Prayer of the Day
Sovereign God, you turn your greatness into goodness for all the peoples on earth. Shape us into willing servants of your kingdom, and make us desire always and only your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.
Readings and Psalm
Sunday            October 17 (Lectionary 29)
                        Isaiah 53:4-12; Psalm 91:9-16; Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45
 
            M         Psalm 37:23-40; 1 Samuel 8:1-18; Hebrews 6:1-12
Tu        Psalm 37:23-40; 1 Samuel 10:17-25; Hebrews 6:13-20
            W        Psalm 37:23-40; 1 Samuel 12:1-25; John 13:1-17
            Th        Psalm 126; Jeremiah 23:9-15; Hebrews 7:1-10
            F          Psalm 126; Jeremiah 26:12-24; Hebrews 7:11-22
            Sa        Psalm 126; Jeremiah 29:24-32; Mark 8:22-26
 
Sunday            October 24 (Lectionary 30)
                        Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52
 
Sharing the Glory
When you picture Jesus in power and glory, what comes to mind? Maybe a heavenly vision of an enthroned Christ, surrounded by saints and angels and the whole heavenly host? This is the kind of image that must have been in the minds of the disciples James and John in today’s gospel when they came to ask Jesus if they could be seated at his left and right side in his glory. Yet, Jesus redirects their desire for glory toward a different picture—active service to those around them.
The picture of Jesus’ power in the gospels is not one of king but of servant Lord. We do not see Jesus seated on a throne, issuing orders, and being served, but as an unassuming man, living among people, listening to their needs, and sharing God’s healing mercy with them. Throughout his life, Jesus revealed his power and glory through the love and compassion he showed to those who were suffering, through forgiveness for those overwhelmed with guilt, and by speaking truth to worldly powers. Jesus calls his followers to share in his power and glory by being at his left and right hand as he stoops to wash feet, as he touches those considered unclean, as he is mocked by worldly powers. This is where true glory and power are found.
Christ gathers his followers together in one body for worship today in order to serve them with his word, with the waters of rebirth, and with his own body and blood. In these simple acts, his glory and power are present. They call us to carry Christ’s love out into the world, sharing it in our homes, at our jobs, and with the people around us who need to know God’s power in their life.
A Hymn for the Day
A hymn appropriate for the day is Albert Bayly’s “Lord, whose love in humble service” (ELW 712). The text brings together the cross of Christ and ourselves as servants of all, and the stanzas list many human needs that cry out for our care.
Visual Art
Meister des Handbuches’s painting from 1475 depicts Christ washing the feet of his disciples. Eleven of the disciples are shown with a nimbus, as if their holiness shines forth from them. Judas does not have a nimbus. According to traditional iconography, Peter is drawn with white hair and beard, and John’s youth is indicated by his having no beard. The nimbus on Christ includes the three stars suggestive of the Trinity.
Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses
The seemingly impossible role of service is possible for us all because it is not just a command. It is a gift of God. Service is God’s gift because it is God who serves us. Other gods have been revealed so that women and men could serve them. This God, the God of the Suffering Servant, the God of Jesus Christ, begins from the other end. God is, first of all, not a king sitting on a pyramid of the world creating pyramids of domination and subjugation in the hierarchies of church and society. Rather, the humanity of God is seen in that God chooses to be related to human beings through service. Jesus helps us to see the humanity of God so that we too can become representatives of new humanity. This is the image of God: freedom to serve others.
Letty Russell
[Letty Russell, in Women and the Word: Sermons, ed. Helen Gray Crotwell (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978), 87-89.]
Upcoming Commemorations
Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, martyr, died around 115      Sunday, October 17, 2021
Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch in Syria, the city where the name "Christians" originated. Ignatius is known to us from his letters, which encouraged Christians to live in love, yet stand firm in true doctrine.
 
Luke, Evangelist                                                                    Monday, October 18, 2021
Identified as the author of both Luke and Acts, Luke was careful to place the events of Jesus' life in their social and religious contexts. His gospel gives us some of the most beloved parables, as well as the songs of Zechariah, Mary, the angels, and Simeon.
 
 
 
James of Jerusalem, martyr, died around 62                     Saturday, October 23, 2021
One of three early-church leaders named James, this man is identified in the New Testament and by a historian of the time as a brother of Jesus. Scholars are uncertain whether this means a blood brother. He was a leader of the church in Jerusalem.
 
TAKING FAITH HOME 10/17
CARING CONVERSATION: Discuss in your household or small group:
• Share about a time when you felt important.
 • Who is considered important in your town or city? Why?
 • What makes someone great in God’s kingdom? (Read Mark 10:43-44).
 • How did Jesus make himself the “slave of all”? In what ways can we follow his example?
DEVOTIONS:
Jesus told his disciples that following him would involve suffering (Mark 10:39). In your family devotions this week, pray for Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. Visit www.persecution.org to read about specific people and situations in need of prayer.
SERVICE:
There are many in our churches and communities who serve God and others, humbly and faithfully, without much recognition. Identify one such person you would like to honor. Send him or her a thank you card, or prepare a small gift in recognition of his or her efforts.
RITUALS AND TRADITIONS:
Acknowledge the ways in which family and household members have served Christ through their words or actions, however large or small. This could take the form of a weekly or monthly gathering where “Servant of Christ” certificates are handed out to each person, noting ways in which God has used them to spread love and service to others. Encourage one another to continue to serve others. Here are some ideas:
 • Look around your neighborhood for service opportunities. Be ready to help a neighbor in need or to do an act of community service.
 • Take advantage of service opportunities offered through your church or local community.
 • Use your natural talents to make serving others easy and enjoyable.
 • Along with giving service, don’t be afraid to accept it as well.
 • Talk about your own experiences of serving and being served Make the connection between your faith and your actions.
 
SCRIPTURE VERSE FOR THIS WEEK: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (TNIV)
A Prayer for the Week: O God, when I call I know you will answer, when I am in trouble, I know you will deliver me (Psalm 91.15). Amen.
Mealtime Prayer: Lord, you fill each cup, you fill each plate. Help us your love to imitate. Amen.
A Blessing to Give: May God watch over you wherever you go. May God keep you from falling, and answer when you call for help. Amen
© 2011 Vibrant Faith Ministries. All rights reserved. Written by Pr. Greg Priebbenow and edited by Vibrant Faith Ministries

Sunday, October 24, 2021                    LECTIONARY 30

Alleluia. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for the heavenly kingdom. Alleluia. (2 Tim. 4:18)
Prayer of the Day Eternal light, shine in our hearts. Eternal wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance. Eternal compassion, have mercy on us. Turn us to seek your face, and enable us to reflect your goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.
Readings and Psalm
Sunday            October 24 (Lectionary 30)
                        Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52
 
            M         Psalm 119:17-24; Exodus 4:1-17; 1 Peter 2:1-10
            Tu        Psalm 119:17-24; 2 Kings 6:8-23; Acts 9:32-35
            W        Psalm 119:17-24; Jeremiah 33:1-11; Matthew 20:29-34
            Th        Psalm 119:1-8; Exodus 22:1-15; Hebrews 9:1-12
            F          Psalm 119:1-8; Leviticus 19:32-37; Romans 3:21-31
            Sa        Psalm 119:1-8; Numbers 9:9-14; Luke 10:25-37
 
Sunday            October 31 (Lectionary 31)
                        Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Psalm 119:1-8; Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 12:28-34
 
Hope Cannot Be Silenced
Have you ever had to take a break from the news or shut the TV off because the story was just too much to take in? All the reminders of pain, injustice, and misfortune in the world around us can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes the problems feel so insurmountable that we become frustrated, even angry at the constant reminders of our powerlessness. At our worst, we may block out not only the problems but our compassion for the people who are suffering and crying out for help.
In today’s gospel, a man who suffers cries out again and again for mercy as Jesus passes by. Yet his cries are too much for others gathered around, who are annoyed by the man and want him to be quiet. In his cries they hear only hopelessness, pain, and misfortune with no remedy; they hear their own powerlessness. But Jesus hears something different: rather than the problem, pain, misfortune, and human weakness, he hears a person in need, hope, and divine strength. Jesus hears the man’s faith that his cries will not be in vain, and his trust in God’s mercy and power. When Jesus hears the suffering one crying out in hope, it is the beginning of healing.
In Christian assembly, we gather to lift up our own cries and to hear those of others. The peace that comes when the body of Christ gathers is not achieved by shutting out the sounds of a world in pain, but through the hope that wherever they ring forth, God is already present and listening and ready to heal. As you listen in your own life and among those gathered today, what do you hear? And how is God calling you to respond?
A Hymn for the Day
A hymn most appropriate for this Sunday is “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound” (ELW 779). Its author John Newton was master of a slave-trading ship, until under the influence of the evangelical preacher George Whitefield he became an abolitionist and later an Anglican priest. To see something of Newton’s life, watch the film Amazing Grace, which chronicles the career of William Wilberforce in his efforts to outlaw the slave trade in Britain. Newton composed this hymn, one of the most well-known Christian songs throughout the world, in response to his meditation on 1 Chronicles 17:16-17, where King David praises God for mercy. Grace is God’s blessing on undeserving wretches like us. See Romans 7:24, where Paul describes his situation before Christ as wretched. The fifth stanza was composed anonymously. The tune new britain is sometimes called amazing grace because since about 1835 it has been so closely identified with Newton’s beloved text.
Visual Art
Consider using the seventeenth-century depiction of Jesus healing the blind man by Eustache Le Sueur.
Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses
The blind man could not see the light of truth, but in his soul he could feel his presence, and with the desire of his heart he laid hold of what his eye could not see. He hears them saying it is Jesus of Nazareth. They who could see made answer from what was known by common report. But the blind man makes known what he had learned from truth itself, for he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” On him, Jesus, the sun of justice has arisen. The rays of this spiritual sun spread out in all directions. Since our thoughts and purposes are the windows of our soul, when you open wide your heart, you receive a larger, more generous, divine favor; when you narrow your soul, you can but receive a less abundant grace. Open wide and lay bare your heart and soul to God, that God’s splendor may enter into you.                                   —John Chrysostom
[John Chrysostom, in Sundays Sermons of the Great Fathers, I, 415, 417.]
Upcoming Commemorations
Philipp Nicolai, died 1608; Johann Heermann, died 1647; Paul Gerhardt, died 1676; hymnwriters                                                                                       Tuesday, October 26, 2021
These great hymnwriters all worked in seventeenth-century Germany in times of war and plague. Nicolai, a pastor, lost 1,300 parishioners to plague, 170 in one week. He wrote "O Morning Star, how fair and bright" and "Wake, awake, for night is flying." Heermann's hymns, including "Ah, holy Jesus," often express the emotions of faith. Gerhardt, perhaps the greatest Lutheran hymnwriter, was a pastor in Berlin.
 
Simon and Jude, Apostles                                                                Thursday, October 28, 2021
We know little about these apostles. Simon is listed as "the zealot" or Cananean in New Testament lists. Jude, also called Thaddeus, asked Jesus at the last supper why he had revealed himself to the disciples but not to the world.
 
TAKING FAITH HOME 10/24
CARING CONVERSATION: Discuss in your household or small group:
• Share about a time when you felt “put down” by others. How did you respond?
 • When blind Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, others told him to be quiet (Mark 10:46-52). What did Bartimaeus do? What did Jesus do?
 • Is it sometimes hard for you to stand up for your faith? Explain.
DEVOTIONS:
October 31 is observed as “Reformation Day” by many churches, a day to remember the reform that came to the Christian Church in the 1500s. As part of your family devotional times this week, learn together about the life story of the great reformer Martin Luther. Discover how he took a stand for the truth of the Gospel (a good website to look at is http://www.luther.de/en/leben.html). Give thanks to God for people who have influenced members of your family and household through their Christian witness.
SERVICE:
There are approximately 50 million people in the world who are blind. Ninety percent of these people live in the world’s poorest countries. 1.5 million children in the world are blind and another half million go blind every year, many because of vitamin A deficiency. Founded in 1908, Christian Blind Mission International (CBMI) is an independent Christian development organization dedicated to preventing and curing blindness and to the education and rehabilitation of people who are blind or have other disabilities. CBMI has over 1000 ongoing projects in 110 countries. Visit www.cbmi.org to find out more about the work of this organization, and how you can support their work.
RITUALS AND TRADITIONS:
In celebration of the Reformation, make this week “Red Week” in your home. Decorate your home with red and enjoy red drink and food. If suitable, make time to watch the Luther movie together (2003, rated PG-13).  Share this quote from Martin Luther on parenting:
“Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops, and priests to their children, for it is they who make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal. Whoever teaches the gospel to another is truly their apostle and bishop.”
SCRIPTURE VERSE FOR THIS WEEK:
Jesus is able always to save those who come to God through him because he always lives, asking God to help them. Hebrews 7:25 (NCV)
A Prayer for the Week: O God, you have done great things for us. Our hearts are filled with joy (Psalm 126.3). Amen.
Mealtime Prayer: God our Savior, we give you thanks for food so good, food so tasty, food so full of flavor! Amen.
A Blessing to Give: May the Lord Jesus hear all your prayers, meet all your needs, and give you faith to always follow him (Mark 10:48-52). Amen
© 2011 Vibrant Faith Ministries. All rights reserved. Written by Pr. Greg Priebbenow and edited by Vibrant Faith Ministries

Sunday, October 31, 2021                    LECTIONARY 31

 Alleluia. If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Alleluia.        (John 8:31-32)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.
Readings and Psalm
Sunday            October 31 (Lectionary 31)
                        Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Psalm 119:1-8; Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 12:28-34
 
            M         Psalm 51; Deuteronomy 6:10-25; Romans 12:17-21; 13:8-10
            Tu        Psalm 51; Deuteronomy 28:58—29:1; Acts 7:17-29
            W        Psalm 51; Micah 6:1-8; John 13:31-35
            Th        Psalm 146; Numbers 36:1-13; Romans 5:6-11
            F          Psalm 146; Deuteronomy 15:1-11; Hebrews 9:15-24
            Sa        Psalm 146; Deuteronomy 24:17-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-24
 
Sunday            November 7 (Lectionary 32)
                        1 Kings 17:8-16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
 
Free, Indeed?
Today the scriptures tell us that God’s grace comes freely, as a gift. But is anything really free? Advertisements claiming “free” goods or services pique our attention: What’s the catch? What does the small print say? Even beyond the world of commerce, we know that nothing comes without a price: time and sacrifice are required for a scholarship to college, a promotion at work, a happy marriage, a worry-free retirement. Our worthiness and success can seem to hang on our ability to perform, to do well, to get things right, to excel. Even with those closest to us—friends, coworkers, and family members—we may feel just one mistake or misstep away from losing their approval. In such a world, is God any different?
Yet before we were even born, before our first exam or job interview, before our first failure or sin, before our first fight or our first loss, Jesus Christ hung on a cross to be a sign that God’s grace is free indeed. To his cross he drew every cost, every pain, every judgment, every failure—and what poured forth was only love, as pure gift. In his cross, there is no catch or small print; there is simply the divine love that has been there for us all along. This is the love of a God who made the world and called it good. It is the love of a God who formed us and gave us life. It is the love of a God who sees us, suffers with us, and binds up all our wounds.
Child of God, God loves you, deeply and freely. As an assembly, we are gathered by this truth. We practice it in the font and at the table, through our words and in our offerings. It calls us to always be reformed so God’s grace and love may pour forth through us into the world, free of charge.
A Hymn for the Day
A hymn suited for Reformation Day is Martin Luther’s “Lord, keep us steadfast in your word” (ELW 517). A trinitarian prayer, the hymn originally expressed Luther’s polemic against the Pope and the Turk and included the sort of angry words that characterized much of the Reformation debate. Subsequently, Lutherans edited the text to be a more accessible prayer to Father, Son, and Spirit.
Visual Art
Considering using an image of a stained-glass window at St. Matthew’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The window depicts the Augustinian monk Martin Luther with the Ninety-Five Theses (1517), scenes from the Diet (imperial meeting) in the city of Worms (1521) and the Diet of Augsburg (1530), and the Luther rose.
Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses
Every renewal of the church essentially consists in an increase of fidelity to her own calling. Undoubtedly this explains the dynamism of the movement toward unity. Christ summons the church, as she goes her pilgrim way, to that continual reformation of which she always has need, insofar as she is a human institution here on earth. Consequently, if, in various times and circumstances, there have been deficiencies in moral conduct or in church discipline, or even in the way that church teaching has been formulated—to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself--these should be set right at the opportune moment and in the proper way.
Decree on Ecumenism, Second Vatican Council
(Vatican Council II, The Basic Sixteen Documents, Revised Translation in Inclusive Language, ed. Austin Flannery, OP [Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1996], 507-508.)
Upcoming Commemorations
Reformation Day                                                                              Sunday, October 31, 2021
By the end of the seventeenth century, many Lutheran churches celebrated a festival commemorating Martin Luther's posting of the Ninety-five Theses, a summary of abuses in the church of his time. At the heart of the reform movement was the gospel, the good news that it is by grace through faith that we are justified and set free.
 
All Saints Day                                                                                    Monday, November 1, 2021
The custom of commemorating all of the saints of the church on a single day goes back at least to the third century. All Saints Day celebrates the baptized people of God, living and dead, who make up the body of Christ. On this day or the following Sunday, many congregations will remember the faithful who have died during the past year.
Martín de Porres, renewer of society, died 1639                Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Martín was the son of a Spanish knight and a freed black slave from Panama. As a lay brother in the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), he engaged in many charitable works in Lima, Peru. He founded an orphanage, a hospital, and a clinic for cats and dogs
 
TAKING FAITH HOME 10/31
CARING CONVERSATION: Discuss in your household or small group:
• Share about a time when you received something for free.
 • God gives a free gift to all who have faith in Jesus. What is it?
 • While God gives us the gift of his grace (forgiveness) for free, what did it cost Jesus?
 • How has God’s gift of grace changed your life?
DEVOTIONS:
October 31 is observed as “Reformation Day” by many churches, a day to remember the reform that came to the Christian Church in the 1500s. As part of your family devotional times this week, learn together about the life story of the great reformer Martin Luther. Discover how he took a stand for the truth of the Gospel (a good website to look at is http://www.luther.de/en/leben.html). Give thanks to God for people who have influenced members of your family and household through their Christian witness.
SERVICE:
Jesus said “freely you have received, freely give.” Organize some free gifts to give to your neighbors this week, such as plates of cookies. Work together to prepare and deliver your gifts.
RITUALS AND TRADITIONS:
In celebration of the Reformation, make this week “Red Week” in your home. Decorate your home with red and enjoy red drink and food. If suitable, make time to watch the Luther movie together (2003, rated PG-13). Share this quote from Martin Luther on parenting:
“Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops, and priests to their children, for it is they who make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal. Whoever teaches the gospel to another is truly their apostle and bishop.”
SCRIPTURE VERSE FOR THIS WEEK:
The free gift of God’s grace makes all of us right with him. Christ Jesus paid the price to set us free. Romans 3:24 (NIRV)
A Prayer for the Week: O God, you have done great things for us. Our hearts are filled with joy (Psalm 126.3). Amen.
Mealtime Prayer: Loving God, we praise your name for you are rich in grace. Please bless this food and hear the thanks we offer in this place. Amen.
A Blessing to Give: May the grace of God cover you, the love of God fill you, and the Spirit of God lead you. Amen
© 2011 Vibrant Faith Ministries. All rights reserved. Written by Pr. Greg Priebbenow and edited by Vibrant Faith Ministries

 
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