July 31, 2022

Prayer of the Day

Benevolent God, you are the source, the guide, and the goal of our lives. Teach us to love what is worth loving, to reject what is offensive to you, and to treasure what is precious in your sight, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Amen.

Psalm 107:1-9, 43

1Give thanks to the Lord, for the | Lord is good,
  for God’s mercy en- | dures forever.
2Let the redeemed of the | Lord proclaim
  that God redeemed them from the hand | of the foe,
3gathering them in | from the lands;
  from the east and from the west, from the north and | from the south.
4Some wandered in | desert wastes;
  they found no path to a city where | they might dwell.
5They were hun- | gry and thirsty;
  their spirits lan- | guished within them.
6Then in their trouble they cried | to the Lord,
  and you delivered them from | their distress. R
7You led them | on a straight path
  to go to a city where | they might dwell.
8Let them give thanks to you, Lord, for your | steadfast love
  and your wonderful works | for all people.
9For you satisfy the | thirsty soul
  and fill the hungry | with good things.
43Whoever is wise will pon- | der these things,
  and consider well the Lord’s | steadfast love. 

Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Luke 12:13-21

13Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Message/Pastor Meggan, Sierra, Mwajuma, Kevin, Giada, and Alexa

Sierra, Mwajuma, Kevin, Giada, and Alexa will be sharing some of the message this morning, but I promised to provide an introduction and conclusion. Perhaps we’ll ask Jason, now in Florida, to narrate the slide show on Sunday School kick-off day in September. Larry gets today off.

The nine of us have been reading and reflecting on two verses from Ephesians Chapter 3 since last September, when we first began preparing for our trip to Minneapolis St. Paul: “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” 

With this verse as the launch, the ELCA Youth Gathering team landed on the theme of Boundless for the Gathering, originally scheduled for summer 2021, with an expected attendance around 30,000. The Gathering was first postponed to 2022 and then cancelled last winter due to Covid and perhaps registration numbers. Our Trinity group decided to go to Minnesota anyway, partially influenced by plane tickets already being purchased. I saw that the Lutherans from the Northeast Iowa Synod were holding an alternative event for their synod on the Univ. of St. Thomas campus in St. Paul during the original dates and asked if we could tag along. A group from Montana and another group from Minnesota also joined the event. In the end, around 220 of us were there for three nights, with our group going early and staying late.

The theme of Boundless is primarily about God, but I want to say a big thanks to the youth and their families for their boundless flexibility and graciousness as our plans altered. Your commitment to this trip was never taken for granted, never. And our experience as a group was richer because of the gifts and personality that each youth brought with them. Our experience was also enriched by partnering with Hope Lutheran, Eagle, who sent three youth and their young disciples director Casey Cross, who all our youth know through Confirmation Co-op. 

Back to Boundless. For those of you who attended camp this summer, the words of Ephesians should sound familiar, because many camps now use the same theme as the ELCA Youth Gathering for their summer bible studies. And it has ended up being a great theme for this year—to ponder the “breadth and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Snippets of our time together will come out as the youth share what we learned about Minneapolis/St. Paul, what we learned about ourselves and our group, and what we learned about God. Perhaps because we had so many interesting and flavorful meals together, the metaphor I keep returning to is that we had a feast of experiences. We truly experienced God’s boundless creation, God’s boundless forgiveness, God’s boundless invitation, and God’s boundless promise. So let’s hear what we learned.

YOUTH REFLECTIONS

What we experienced and what we will continue to share with you all through our storytelling in the weeks and months to come, is what the writer of Ephesians captures. We might ask, the breadth, length, height, and depth of what? I think it’s a metaphor to speak of the wonders of a multi-dimensional God, who is a God of power, rich in mercy, lavish in grace, and rich in wisdom. In 3:19, the author speaks of knowing “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” To know Christ’s love is greater than knowledge itself. 

This is the same Triune God we encountered on the public buses and trains, in the clear warm waters of Lake Bde Maka Ska, in the adrenaline of our food box assembling, in the beauty and stillness of the Cathedral of St. Paul, in the hospitality at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church last Sunday, in our keynote speaker’s stories and messages, in the laughter and fun at nightlife, in the delicious food cooked by people of many different backgrounds, and in our sharing and reflections as a small group each night. Thanks to all of you who helped make this trip possible and thanks be to God, whose boundless love, mercy, power, and wisdom we know and experience each day.

Prayers of Intercession

Trusting in God’s extraordinary love, let us come near to the Holy One in prayer.

A brief silence.

O God, you are wholeness. Where there is division in your church, bring reconciliation and healing. Guide the work of theologians, Sunday school teachers, seminary professors, and all who provide instruction for the building up of your church. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

O God, you are the source of all life. Where creation cries out in distress, bring relief and renewal. Bless farmers, ranchers, distributors, and all who provide our food. Nourish the land and all its habitants. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

O God, you are wisdom. Where nations and communities yearn for peace, bring justice. Strengthen those who toil for the welfare of others, especially military personnel, police, first responders, and activists, and for the healing of the nations. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

O God, you are life. Where your people are overwhelmed with the busy-ness of life, bring encouragement. Accompany all who experience emotional, mental, or physical distress (especially). Renew us at your table of mercy. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

O God, you are our treasure. Where scarcity and anxiety pervade your church, bring abundance and vitality. Guide the work of church councils and committees and give them clarity for the work of ministry in this place (specific ministries may be named). Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Here other intercessions may be offered.

O God, you are resurrection. We give you thanks for all your saints (especially). Inspire us by their example of faithful living to set our minds on things above and to be rich in love toward you. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Receive the prayers of your children, merciful God, and hold us forever in your steadfast love; through Jesus Christ, our holy Wisdom.

Amen.

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