Liturgy for Sunday, September 1, 2013

On Mondays I share liturgical writing focused on the Luke passages for each Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary. This week’s scripture is Luke 14:1, 7-14. There are three contributors this week. The first is Linda Curtis-Stolper of Newton, Iowa who offers a children’s sermon that truly helps young people understand what was at stake in Jesus’ day in different places at table. The second is Elaine Bolitho,  of Khandallah, Wellington, New Zealand (Aorearoa). In the southern hemisphere the first Sunday in September is considered the beginning of the Season of Creation. Her liturgy reflects this. The season of Creation is also celebrated in Canada. Finally, there is a powerful story by Dawn Garrett-Larsen of Dublin, New Hampshire who brings the scripture to life. Fiction? Memoir? Because the reader does not know we have to let it lead us back to Jesus’ words and our own lives.

Gift of Linda Curtis-Stolper

Children’s Sermon based on Luke 14:1, 7-14

(Above is the link to a picture of a band playing music as they sit on stage. This picture or another of the leader’s choice should be printed and ready to share with the children.)

How many of you like music? How many of you hope to play an instrument in a band someday? What do you want to play? I have a picture of a band with me. Look at all those people and all those instruments!

How do you think people decide where to sit in a band? There are a bunch of people all playing the same instrument – how do they decide who gets to sit in the seats that are close to the front and which people have to sit crowded in the middle? If you were playing in this band, where would you like to sit? I’m guessing most of us would like to sit close to the conductor and close to the sides where we can see the audience and get to our chairs easily.

Do you know what really happens in the band when they need to assign seats? The people who play the same instrument have a contest with each other. The person who is the best player on that instrument gets the first seat, right up front and easy to find. The next best player gets the next seat. Do you think you would be able to keep your seat right in front because you would be the best player on your instrument when you were brand new in the band? I know I would need to move to a different seat because I wouldn’t be that good.

Jesus went to a party and watched the people at the party act almost like the people in the band. Some people headed right for the very best seats at the table, the seats that were close to where the really good food was waiting to be served so they could get their food right away and not have to wait very long. That meant other people had to sit at other seats that weren’t as comfortable and weren’t as close to the food.

After watching the people, Jesus said that when you go to something like a birthday party, you should start out sitting in one of the places that isn’t so good. It would be sort of like coming into the band and starting out by sitting on a chair crowded in the middle. Jesus said that you should start in one of those seats that isn’t as comfortable or that doesn’t seem as important, because then the person giving the party can come to you and say, “It’s your birthday! Come here and sit right by the birthday cake!” The band conductor can point to you and say, “You are too good at playing your instrument to sit back there! Move up to this seat that is closer to the front!” And then whoever was sitting in that good seat would need to move to the not-so-good seat. How do you think that would feel to them? Probably embarrassing, huh?

Jesus wants us all to be humble, which means that we shouldn’t act like we’re better than other people. If we put other people in more important positions and better places, sometimes we will get to move in front of them! Instead of having to leave the first chair and move to a seat that isn’t as good, we’ll get to move to the best seat of all if we start by putting others first. Jesus said that “those who humble themselves will be exalted”, which means they will become the very special people. The next time you’re with a bunch of people and you need to get in order, try letting the others go before you. Maybe someone will notice and you’ll get to be the line leader after all! Maybe someday you will be playing in the first chair in the band!

Gift of Elaine Bolitho

In the southern hemisphere the first Sunday in September is considered
the beginning of the Season of Creation. This is often also celebrated in Canada.

God has a place for each of us – finding our place in God’s creation.

Call to Worship for the first Sunday in the Season of Creation
Leader                         God of all creation we come to praise and worship you today
People          We honour you for what you have done,
                                    what you are doing and what you will do.
Leader                    God in Christ Jesus, alive within this created world,
we come to praise and worship you today
People          We honour you for what you have done,
                                    what you are doing and what you will do.
Leader                    God present through your Holy Spirit,
breathing creativity into your people,
we come to praise and worship you today.
People                    We honour you for what you have done,
                                    what you are doing and what you will do.
Leader          You are our God
People                     and we are your people. Amen and Amen

God, our Creator,
all galaxies declare your glory;
our world shows your loving creativity.
In awe and wonder we are silent before you.

There is silence

There is music

We say together

Creator God you go with us into your world.
There is no place we can go where you are not.
With you we go to share creative love and blessings,
today, this week and always             Amen

Gift of Dawn Garrett-Larsen

The invitation came in the mail.  I was astonished.  Could it be that Marcus was inviting me to come to dinner next Sunday?  Honestly, I looked twice at the envelope to make sure that it was addressed to me.

I went. Of course, I went.  Who would have passed up the chance to walk inside the glorious halls of such an elaborately decorated home?  I had only been to the front doors before when I made a delivery there. I had peaked inside and wondered what lay beyond the foyer.  I handed the steward my invitation and walked in.  I was completely overwhelmed by the immensity of it all.  It felt like walking into a palace or a cathedral.  I was lost in the beauty and splendor.

I knew nobody. Absolutely nobody, except Marcus of course, but there were so many nobles gathered around him I decided to keep my distance.  I found my way to the foot of the table, introduced myself to a few others who were standing around looking as awkward as I felt.  None of us knew why we had been invited. We were all honored, but also slightly confused.

We knew one thing; we belonged at the foot of the table, far away from our host.  We saw the ball gowns and the elaborate dress of the rich and powerful who surrounded Marcus.  We looked at our own modest garb, the nicest we were able to muster on short notice, and we felt ashamed.  We were underdressed and outclassed by the others in our midst.

The servants appeared with glasses of wine. They distributed them to all the guests, not to those dressed most beautifully first. Whoever they came to received a glass, as if all were equal.  I was served by a waiter who could easily have gone to the woman adorned with diamonds first. It was remarkable and made me feel special.

Trumpets sounded and people were asked to come to the table. I quickly moved to the foot of the table, and the rich made their way to the head, jockeying for a place close to the host.

Then something unusual happened. Our host asked each of us to step back from the table to allow the servants to place the seating cards. After they were set on the table, we were invited to find our seat.

The looks on the faces of those who were near the host revealed confusion. Perhaps they had chosen seats that were too high for their position.  Nervous tittering followed as the servants placed name cards at each seat.

As the servants exited the room, Marcus called out “Friends, find your places. Let the banquet begin!”  And so I began to look.  I was surprised to see names that I recognized at the foot of the table, the mayor, the constable, the general and his wife.  Slowly I made my way up the table. Still I did not see my name. Perhaps they had forgotten me. Perhaps I should not be there at all.

I looked to the head of the table to see the welcoming eyes of our host.  “Here, come up here. You are next to me.”  I turned to see if there was someone behind me to whom he was speaking. But no, I was alone.

He beckoned to me. “Come join me, my friend! You delivered the medicine that made my wife well. I want to thank you!”

My job was a runner for a maker of medicines and cures.  I had nothing to do with creating the cure. I had simply delivered it.  I wondered aloud “You can’t mean me. I didn’t do anything but run it up here from town. It’s the doctor you want, or maybe the man who mixes the medicines, not me.”

“No, it is you my friend.  You were vital link in the chain that saved my wife. Your bosses have been paid, but I wanted to thank you personally for your part in making my beloved well again. Thank you.”

He said it with such sincerity; I knew that this was not an elaborate hoax.

“Come join me at the table. It is time to celebrate.”

I looked down the table and saw to my astonishment that those who were clothed most elaborately were at the foot of the table, and those of us in our simple garb, clean and neat but by no means new, were surrounding our host.

The world had been turned upside down. We were all welcome at the table.  I was valued and appreciated and I belonged here. I smiled knowing that others near me were feeling the same acceptance.  I looked up to heaven and gave thanks.  This was truly the Lord’s banquet and the meal we shared together was holy! Alleluia. Amen.

Luke for Sharing – A Community Resource
A Collaboration of Forty-four Writers on the Scriptures from Luke
June – November, 2013

edited by Maren C. Tirabassi

All of these resources were given freely and they may be used in worship contexts. They may be adapted to fit your context. Please cite the original author when you reprint them or share them orally. For any other use please contact me so that I can put you directly in touch with that particular author.

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