Suggested Lectionary Texts
Lamentations 1:1-6, Psalm 137, 2 Timothy 1:1-14, Luke 17:5-10
1 How lonely sits the city that once was full of people! How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal. 2 She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies. 3 Judah has gone into exile with suffering and hard servitude; she lives now among the nations, and finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress. 4 The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter. 5 Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper because the LORD has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe. 6 From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer.
2 Timothy 1:1-14
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of a life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I 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. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I 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. 6, For this reason, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and self-discipline. 8 Do 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, 9 who 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, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearance of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12 and 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. 13 Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 The 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?’ 8 Would 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’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So 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!'”
Boldly Worship God
Our lectionary passages this week have a wide range of thoughts and emotions within them. The Book of Lamentations, which is attributed to the writings of Jeremiah and as the name implies are words of woe. This book begins by lamenting over the present challenges of Jerusalem (the temple has been destroyed) through the lens of its former glory. Today’s Psalm is a continuance of the woe as the Israelites have been exiled to Babylon.
Each of us has or will have these desperate times in our lives. What do we do? Do we turn away from God or do we confront God with our woes? As Christians, we must never lose the understanding that God doesn’t promises to be with us always, but does not promise an easy life. We are given free will by God as through this we make choices that affect our lives and the lives of those around us.
Despite our greatest challenges, we must never lose sight of God and we will weather the storm when we build our foundation with God. In 2 Timothy, Paul is speaking to Timothy, so that he might remember the grace, mercy, and peace that God has bestowed upon all who call upon his holy name. 6 For this reason, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and self-discipline.
Additionally, Paul shares that despite his current suffering, he continues to praise God. 13 Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. Finally, we come to the gospel lesson where the disciples are asking for more faith to which Jesus reminds them that they can conquer all challenges if they can remove doubt and focus on believing. We don’t need more faith; we need to act on the faith that we have.
For this day of celebration, I will focus on transformation. 9 This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearance of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Perhaps if we can set things right in our own houses, we will be ready to fully accept that proclamation to go make disciples of the world.
Let us begin this transformation with the reading of Psalm 100.
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
In our epistle lesson, we recapture the grace of God. We all need this blessing; we stand under this call as followers of Jesus Christ. The author challenges us to live a life of faith, to be a leader, proclaimers, or witnesses to that faith every day of our lives. This is a perfect Scripture for a special service such as ordination or World Communion, but we must never lose sight that every act of worship in the life of the church is a call to service and an invitation to be a leader in kingdom-building as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Today is World Communion which is a celebration of God’s children around the world as we gather as the one body.
“Rekindle the gift” is the way the blessing is pronounced. The epistles lessons, the Letters of Paul, are full of talk about gifts. Paul, Timothy’s mentor speaks of grace—the empowering presence of the Spirit and the redeeming love of Christ. It is that which we claim when we first say yes, when we first accept the embrace of Jesus through the arms of the church. Go back, is the advice, and remember who you were and who you are. Go back and look forward. Go back and remember that you’ve been loved from the beginning, whether you knew it or not.
Have you ever had the urge to shout praise to God? Try it! Hallelujah! When you think of all of the blessings that we receive on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis, we should be continually thanking God. Gratitude should be pouring from us. What about during church services? Do you sit quietly, reverently, and smile, or do you enthusiastically embrace the magnitude of the moment? Are you comfortable when you go to another church and people randomly shout out their praises? Sadly, most of us grew up in a time and a church family where you were expected to sit quietly.
John Wesley addressed this idea frequently among his church members. He, too, had grown up where church was a quiet, “sleepy” time when you were expected to listen respectfully to the pastor or priest. In particular, Wesley believed that the Church of England was too remote and passive in its rituals and teachings. He advocated a Christianity that was both more responsive to and demanding of the religious impulses of the common folk. Wouldn’t it be great to feel free that when we are worshiping God that we can express our excitement? Think of Christmas morning or a birthday party. Who sits around quietly? Our excitement spills from us as we smile, laugh, and enjoy the moment.
Let me Reread this morning’s Psalm. What if I read PSALM 100 without emotion? You cannot effectively read these words in a monotone, expressionless way. No, this is not right! We must read with excitement. God’s gifts to us are the greatest gifts that we will ever receive, and we should express our praise so that others may know about the love and mercy that we have received. Maybe we are not quite ready to shout out during the service, but we should be engaged as we participate. Worship is an action word, a verb. What does this mean for you?
Timothy knew of this gift or should have. He was embraced by a mother and grandmother who lived a life of faith before him. This faith was passed on to him and now through him by a family. Timothy was blessed. Others might not feel that they have that blessing, yet Jesus is clear that relationships are available within the body of Christ. These are my brothers and sisters, he said, the ones who do the will of God (Matt. 12:49). Are we asking as the disciples did for another portion of faith?
What is the gift rekindled? the relationships, the fellowship that surrounds us.
Look at the Gift: means by which we experience the gift, become aware of the gift and live into the gift. The gift itself, the call of the gospel. The faith that can move mountains. Paul says to hold fast to the relationships by which you came to faith, even when those relationships change. Because they do. Because they will.
The conversation of shame is special: an intimate side note between two brothers in Christ: Don’t be ashamed of what happened to me as I lived this life of faith, and don’t be ashamed of the life of faith itself. The gospel isn’t what brought me here; it is the broken world in which we live—the same world we are giving our all to redeem, just as Christ gave his life to reconcile the world to himself.
Here’s the question that Paul is asking: “Can you trust in the presence of the God of faith even in the face of evidence to the contrary?” When our lives seem to fall apart and we are separated from those we love, we are still one through Christ. He reminds Timothy of the tears that were shed at their parting, of the closeness that they shared. Yet here he is still supporting, still advising, still encouraging, even from a distance, even from a humbled circumstance like prison. Prison walls won’t keep him from reaching out and mentoring his young friend, his apprentice. They are still connected in Christ as part of the one body of faith.
The gift, then, is both the faith itself and the relationships through which the faith is found. Rekindle the gift, Timothy, and call to mind your mentors in the faith, those who walked with you. Indeed, those who taught you how to walk. That is the spirit of power and love and self-discipline that can overcome any hesitancy, any reticence. So, embrace this life, Timothy, the glory and the suffering, embrace it all, knowing that you are not alone. The Spirit sustains; the community enlivens; the faith empowers; it is enough. |
As we accept the challenge to rekindle the gift of grace, help us boldly enter into worship fueled by the love of our Lord. Our excitement and joy are evidence of our acceptance of the unconditional grace which has been poured into us. And all God’s people said, Amen!
Let Us Pray: Dear God,
Sometimes we feel afraid. Give us your spirit of power.
Sometimes we feel upset. Give us your spirit of love.
Sometimes we feel confused. Give us your spirit of self-control.
Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to live in us.
O God, we are so grateful for your abiding love. We pray that we may embody a spirit of love and self-discipline, grounded in the power of your grace. We are taught in so many way – some subtle ways, some blatant ways – to fulfill all of our wants by consuming things. Remind us during this moment that we are called to invest in you. We join Christians around the world today who proclaim Jesus Christ as Savior. May we draw strength from this unity and from this act of sacrificial giving. In the name of one God, who offers grace, mercy, and peace, we pray. Amen.