Ken Brown, our Lay Leader and Church Council Chair, will be offering the sermon this week. We are so blessed to have Ken’s leadership each and every day and I know we will be inspired by his words and witness this Sunday!
A Blessing of the Animals is often celebrated close to the Feast Day of St. Francis (October 4th) and we are partaking in this wonderful tradition this morning! We delight in the knowledge that all of God’s creation is GOOD. We will be lifting up, in word and song and story, thanksgiving for the many blessings we receive through our pets and all of God’s glorious creation.
Today, along with siblings in Christ around the world, we will be celebrating World Communion Sunday. In literal and figurative ways, we will be “at table” with one another, near and far. Please join us in person or online as we reflect on the sacrament of Holy Communion and what it means, in the midst of all of our differences, to come together at Christ’s Table.
Today’s scripture passage from Mark highlights an age old challenge for people of faith…where and how we draw the circle of who is on the inside and who is on the outside. While we might like to believe that our circle is always wide open, the truth is that we struggle at times with “us” and “them.”
Today is Homecoming Sunday! We’ve all been away for a while due to the pandemic and a whole host of other reasons. We’ll be reflecting on the Bible’s quintessential homecoming story…the story of the prodigal son.
Our reading from Mark’s gospel takes us into the heart of a heated exchange between Jesus and some of the religious leaders. The religious leaders ask a question about Jesus’ disciples that is clearly more of an accusation than a genuine question. They want to know why Jesus’ disciples don’t all wash their hands according to the purity laws before eating. Jesus, drawing on the words of the prophet Isaiah, calls them out for honoring God “with their lips” while their hearts are far away.
Our reading from Ephesians is a good indicator that this truly MAY be an age old question! This passage is moving for some and troubling for others with its warrior imagery. We’ll spend time this Sunday exploring this text in relation to the last of the “Jesus as bread of life” texts from the Gospel of John.
“Take. Eat. This is my body, broken for you.” Those of us who are newer to Christianity might have an advantage here and be more able to perceive how shocking these words were to Jesus’ contemporaries. Folks who gathered around Jesus, including his own disciples, balked when Jesus started talking about “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood.” And who can blame them? At face value, it’s a fairly gory notion. But in this passage Jesus says, “Unless you do this…you have no life in you.” That’s the piece we’ll focus on in worship today. What does Jesus mean when he says this? Is Jesus talking about physical life? Eternal life? Or is there something else?