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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Understanding Homelessness at a Citywide Level – book review

The main characters in Homelessness Is a Housing Problem are not individuals experiencing homelessness; they’re cities. The book’s central question is this: What might explain the substantial regional variation in per capita homeless rates in the United States? The answers may not surprise everyone, but the authors’ route to their conclusions will both inform and inspire.

Gregg Colburn teaches at the University of Washington, where he studies housing policy, housing affordability, and homelessness. Clayton Page Aldern is a data scientist and policy analyst based in Seattle. If those bios make you wonder if this book is full of figures, tables, and endnotes, the answer is a resounding yes. While reading the first chapter, I texted a family member who works in statistics and said I might need her help. As I kept reading, however, I found the writing style very readable. The authors include stories, illustrations, and summary sentences with every argument, and I never grew frustrated or bored.

Read my full review in The Christian Century magazine by clicking HERE.

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Minnesota Day 6

We said goodbye to our companions from Hope Lutheran, who had an earlier flight, and ate breakfast at the Hope Breakfast Bar in downtown St Paul. Then we took a tour of the Wabasha Street Caves.

We took the bus to the Cathedral of St Paul.

We walked over to the state Capitol building. Several of us jumped on the guided tour that took us to the top of the building.

We took the bus back towards St Thomas, stopped for ice cream, filled up water bottles on campus, and headed to the small park near campus (Shadow Falls park along the Mississippi River).

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Minnesota Day Five

Today began with closing worship led by a variety of Boundless participants. We finally saw the video Mwajuma recorded earlier in the week, in which she talked about her own faith. Bishop Kevin of the Northeast Iowa Synod preached and presided. Then we said goodbyes, took a group photo, and headed out for the day.

We headed to Hmongtown Marketplace for shopping and lunch.

Then we went to Como Park (with mini-golf) Como Zoo, Como Conservatory, and Como Town. Everyone seemed to find something they enjoyed.

We came back to the St Thomas neighborhood for a delicious dinner at Mario’s.

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Minnesota Day 4

This was our service day (part of us crashing the Northeast Iowa Synod’s Boundless youth event at the Univ of St Thomas). Part of the day was with The Food Group in New Hope, MN and the afternoon was at Open Door’s community garden in Eagen. More pix of the whole trip later.

Morning with The Food Group

Afternoon with Open Door

Last Night of Large Group

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Minnesota Day 3

Yesterday we went on a 2 and 1/2 hour Grayline bus tour of the Twin Cities. We met the tour bus along the Mississippi River in downtown St Paul and had them drop off us off on Lake Bda Maka Ska in Minneapolis. I know the Twin Cities better than most other cities (topic for another blog post) but I learned so much on this tour. The themes of the tour were water and the former rivalry between the two cities.

Group looking at the Mississippi with part of downtown St Paul in the background.
Minnesota State Capitol
Cathedral of St Paul-the archbishop made sure the dome stood just a bit higher than the capital dome.
One of the many beautiful homes we saw on historic Summit Avenue.
Minnehaha Falls (a place people have visited for centuries, named by the Dakota long before Longfellow wrote the poem that launched his fame)

I haven’t been taking photos at night but our keynote speaker was Aisha Cox, who opened up the Parable of the Good Samaritan and asked us all “What do you want to be known for?”

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Minnesota Days One and Two

In the planning, this trip had many iterations. In the end, we (youth and adults from Trinity, Boise and Hope, Eagle) are joining the ELCA Northeast Iowa Synod’s Boundless event for several days on the University of St Thomas campus in St. Paul. We arrived a day before the official event began. Here are some pix and captions:

Group photo at Midtown Global Market, a contrast to our next stop-the Mall of America
Worship at Holy Trinity Lutheran in Minneapolis’ Longfellow Neighborhood
Former Luther Heights Bible Camp counselor La’Taya joined us all day, including this excursion along the river.
Lunch at Owamni by the Sioux Chef
Planetarium at the Bell Museum (natural history). There may have been some learning and also some napping.
After listening to our keynote speaker we headed to the Anderson Student Center for Nightlife. Here we are at the end of a large group Clue-like game
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Summer Preaching – 2022

July 2022 Trinity Epistle Pastor’s Column

Dear Friends in Christ,

I love the gems found in the Revised Common Lectionary (our three-year cycle of scripture readings) this summer! Before you read this column, I will have begun a three-week series on Galatians, on which I have also been leading a Monday Zoom Bible Study. The Apostle Paul is fired up, to put it mildly, in this letter and for good reason. I’ve often thought that no one should form a theology based solely on this letter, in large part because of Paul’s anger, and yet it contains a few of my favorite passages in all the letters and one of my favorite scripture passages of all time. I will try to faithfully open these letters and show how they are relevant to our lives of discipleship today. Then we will flip back the pages in our Bibles and have a summer of the prophets, not profits. We began hearing stories about Elijah and Elisha (recorded in 1st and 2nd Kings) in June. On July 17 we will turn to passages from the Minor Prophets (so named because their books are shorter, not because their words are not mighty) including Amos and Hosea. In August we will move to words from Isaiah and finally Jeremiah. The prophets we will hear from this summer lived and worked during the times of the monarchies or kingdoms. Who were these individuals and what was their task? Jewish scholar Abraham Heschel wrote this in his classic The Prophets, “The prophet was an individual who said No to his society, condemning its habits and assumptions, its complacency, waywardness, and syncretism. He was often compelled to proclaim the very opposite of what his heard expected. His fundamental objective was to reconcile man and God. Why do the two need reconciliation? Perhaps it is due to man’s false sense of sovereignty, to his abuse of freedom, to his aggressive, sprawling pride, resenting God’s involvement in history.”

I cannot predict exactly how these ancient words will resonate with our community of faith today, but I trust the Holy Spirit to show up in our gatherings, these ancient texts, the current context, adapted rituals, and our open hearts and minds. 

Peace,

Pastor Meggan

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Learning Peace

Originally published on tvprays.org

How beautiful upon the mountains
   are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
   who announces salvation,
   who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ (Isaiah 52:7)

The last week of June around 95 youth ages 6-13 participated in the 5th year of Learning Peace: A Camp for Kids. We have had a few bumps, like so many other organizations, these past few years and I always sweat if we will get enough volunteers, if the lunches will be delivered, if the afternoon guests will appear, and so many other details. We plan and plan and finally execute. As with most things, it is not what we plan for that finally brings the most joy or that we will remember in years to come. It is the surprises, the grace moments in which the Holy Spirit has clearly taken over and we are simply along for the ride. 

This year those times included a moment of repentance and reconciliation between and youth and adult, a family welcomed last minute who brought so many gifts to the week, a spontaneous dance party that no one could resist participating in. I shepherded a group of 12 ten-year-old youth through the week and grew to absolutely love them all. I loved that when they were creating their public service announcements for Media Literacy there was a deep care for all of God’s creation—other human beings and the natural world. I loved that they explored being embodied as our Mindfulness instructor led us through various yoga poses. I loved the way the City of Nampa Forestry staff included absolutely everyone when we planted trees at Stampede Skate Park on a gorgeous and cool morning. I loved that though most of the youth had untangled a human knot many times, they were up for the challenge when our Conflict Resolution teacher kept making the knot bigger. 

A favorite moment was with a girl who made it known she preferred the Play for Peace games over crafts each afternoon. One day I insisted she go color a tile and then drop rubbing alcohol on it. The next thing I knew she was dragging me over to show me her piece of art. Could we all be so willing to try to new things, to go out of our comfort zones, to take risks, big or small? There are so many powerful reminders about the reign of God that we receive when we spend time with children—the ability to make a good friend in just four days, the wonder about so many things, the ability to fully be oneself. Because we are all different, not every kid is able to carry all those traits, but they were on display collectively throughout our time together. 

The week was pure gift for me amidst all the sad, hard, and exhausting things we are living through. As hopeful and uplifting as my time was alongside the 10-year-old group, I also gleaned hope and deep joy witnessing the many adult volunteers. We were curious how so many one-day volunteers would impact the group but they each came so eager to give their time and other adults and youth welcomed their participation eagerly. This was a group of adults who had, beyond the planning team, not spend much time together, but with some clarity about our mission and roles they bonded over shared experiences and watched out for one another. 

I always anticipate those moments in the week when someone’s actions or inactions gets on my nerves and I am asked to practice peace-making, not passivity, but active peace. Even with the anticipation I am annoyed that the Holy Spirit interferes in the week that way. Why can’t I simply help lead the kids’ learning, why do I have to grow too? It does remind me why we are all there. Peace is not something that just happens. It is something we practice. We bumble along. We pick up new tools or insights or perspectives. We get better at it. Together we work towards and for peace. The Holy Spirit woos or beckons the whole community toward a more peaceful world. We get such a small glimpse of that peaceful world during the four days, but it’s a glimpse I return to throughout the year. Where have you had a glimpse of people actively working toward a peaceful community or world? 

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July 17, 2022

Prayer of the Day

Eternal God, you draw near to us in Christ, and you make yourself our guest. Amid the cares of our lives, make us attentive to your presence, that we may treasure your word above all else, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Amen.

Amos 8:1-12

1This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. 2He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, 
 “The end has come upon my people Israel;
  I will never again pass them by.
3The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,”
 says the Lord God;
 “the dead bodies shall be many,
  cast out in every place. Be silent!”

4Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
  and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
5saying, “When will the new moon be over
  so that we may sell grain;
 and the sabbath,
  so that we may offer wheat for sale?
 We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,
  and practice deceit with false balances,
6buying the poor for silver
  and the needy for a pair of sandals,
  and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

7The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
 Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
8Shall not the land tremble on this account,
  and everyone mourn who lives in it,
 and all of it rise like the Nile,
  and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?

9On that day, says the Lord God,
  I will make the sun go down at noon,
  and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10I will turn your feasts into mourning,
  and all your songs into lamentation;
 I will bring sackcloth on all loins,
  and baldness on every head;
 I will make it like the mourning for an only son,
  and the end of it like a bitter day.

11The time is surely coming, says the Lord God,
  when I will send a famine on the land;
 not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water,
  but of hearing the words of the Lord.
12They shall wander from sea to sea,
  and from north to east;
 they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
  but they shall not find it.

Saint Ranerius Frees the Poor From Prison  —  Sassetta, Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Psalm 52

1You mighty, why do you | boast of wickedness
  against the godly | all day long?
2Continually | you plot ruin;
  your tongue is like a sharpened razor that com- | mits deceit.
3You love evil | more than good
  and lying more than speak- | ing the truth.
4You love all words | that devour,
  O you de- | ceitful tongue.
5Oh, that God would demol- | ish you utterly,
  topple you, and snatch you from your dwelling, and root you out of the land | of the living!
6The righteous shall see | and be awestruck,
  and they shall laugh | at you, saying,
7“This is the one who did not take God | for a refuge,
  but trusted in great wealth and found strength | in destruction.”
8But I am like a green olive tree in the | house of God;
  I trust in the steadfast love of God forev- | er and ever.
9I will thank you forever for what | you have done;
  in the presence of the faithful I will long for your name, for | it is good.

Colossians 1:15-28

15[Christ Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
21And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him—23provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.
24I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. 25I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. 27To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Luke 10:38-42

38Now as [Jesus and his disciples] went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Sermon – Pastor Meggan Manlove

I spent this last week at Luther Heights Bible Camp with six youth from Trinity and another 40 youth from across the Mountain West. On Monday afternoon I volunteered to lead a special interest group. I’ve grown to love nine-square in the air, kind of like four squares except, as the name implies, there are nine squares and you set or hit the ball through the air instead of on the ground. The openings are about eight feet high and when we all assembled it became clear that we would need to adjust the rules, or some people would always be out/fail. 

I began though by asking for various rules the kids knew—you can’t let the ball touch the ground, if it hits a PVC pipe-that’s okay, you cannot hit the ball twice in one turn. Then I pointed out the height differences among us and asked if anyone had ideas about how to include the shortest among us. “They could catch the ball and then toss it,” one person volunteered. I asked, “What do you all think?” Everyone was agreeable. Then, later in the game, as different levels of athleticism and experience became evident, we all agreed that anyone could catch the ball and then toss it.

It was quite the contrast to what Amos addresses in today’s Old Testament lesson from the book with his name. The Book of Amos is a collection of prophetic messages, most of which are announcements of God’s anger with impending judgment on Israel (then the northern kingdom). Amos’s messages focus on Israel’s oppression of the poor and lack of justice. Amos consistently criticizes Israel’s worship life. He sees that it has deteriorated to rote ritual observance disconnected from daily life. 

The overarching message of Amos insists that God’s relationship with people includes all of their lives. Amos insists that because of injustice and oppression, God’s anger has been provoked and judgment will come. The judgment that Amos announced was not a final judgment, but a part of God’s relationship with the people. Because God still loves people, God still is provoked to anger when people cause others to suffer. 

Words of judgment like Amos’, directed at a whole people, naturally make us reflect on our own society and culture. One pastor noted that the lament about the moral decay in our country often concerns a perceived decline in personal relationships, sexual behavior, and family values. In contrast, note that Amos voices divine concern about those areas of morality related to, did you notice, economics.

“Hear this,” Amos says, “You that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying ‘When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

Amos is especially concerned with the treatment of the poor. He also voices divine judgment against a specific class of persons. He singles out the merchants who cannot wait for the religious holiday to end so they can get back to fleecing the poor with their high prices for grain.

God threatens fierce, dire consequences against an economically unrighteous society, promising dark days ahead. This prophet does not take injustice against the poor lightly. He tells this greatly contented society—made up of people who think they are secure in their prosperity and wealth—that they will disintegrate into dark, disruptive chaos. 

Will Willimon wrote that “One way you can tell the difference between a true and living God and a dead and fake god is that a false god will never tell you anything that will make you angry and uncomfortable!” How uncomfortable should or does this passage make us? I’m honestly not sure.

I said to a colleague up at camp that I had a very clear idea of how to preach on Amos 8 if I was in the well of the United States Congress or with a group of CEOs on Wall Street. But much of our congregation does not hold power like the leaders of ancient Israel or the leaders of our country or world today. I don’t even think we have anyone in the top 1%. 

But we do all know people who have been hurt–physically, emotionally, spiritually–by the greed and abuse of power at work in so many systems today. Take your pick, it could be insurance companies that make it far too difficult to access benefits; mortgage companies that sold deals that were too good to be true before the 2008 housing bubble; investment firms buying up whole subdivisions and destroying the rental market; industrial agriculture harming our soil and bodies. 

Do you ever wonder to yourself, why are the rich getting richer, while my friend/child/neighbor/self just cannot catch a break? Then maybe Amos’s words are good news. Why? Because it is clear that the increasing wealth gap, the fear, the apathy of younger generations, is not what God intends. God wants an economy with enough for all—no gluttons, no one hungry, enough for everyone. Jesus, God incarnate, announced the same when he walked among us, telling us what the reign of God looked like. The reign of God is not just about what’s in our hearts or what we do in this space, vital as those are.

A professor opens a theology class by asking students, “With what is theology concerned?” The students answer, “God,” or “Religion,” or “spiritual things.” He corrects their misapprehension, “No, Christian theology is concerned with everything!”

Worship of the God of Israel and the church itself are not limited to Sunday. Worship continues in what we do Monday and continues through the week. This God does not want just our “heart” or our “soul.” This God wants all of us. If we ever forget this, we can just turn back to Amos.

Amos represents and speaks for a God who loves Israel enough to call Israel to account. Not all gods throughout human history had such relationships with human beings. Israel lives under the judgements of a God who loves Israel, who wants this people to be a “light to the nations,” to show forth to the world what a people can do when they are owned by, accountable to, and called by a true and living God.

We, who so often feel powerless are reminded today not only that God cares enough about us to keep sending prophets. And we are not completely powerless. On Saturday, our group of youth will leave for our adventure to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Our programming will be primarily on the University of St. Thomas Campus with ELCA Lutherans from Northeast Iowa. We will learn about daily life and struggles and injustices in other states. We will also hear stories of people trying to follow Jesus wherever they are. 

Beyond our evenings together, we will explore the Twin Cities—lakes, museums, historical sites, churches, parks, and restaurants. We will worship Sunday morning in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. We will spend one day in service but, more important, we will encounter Jesus at every turn. We will interpret our experiences through the old, old story of God forming a people—the people of Israel, the whole Christian church, the congregation that is Trinity, Lutheran, Nampa. 

We will return and inevitably see our own communities with new eyes. Maybe we will see new injustices, but I trust that we will also see new possibilities. We will return renewed in our call to be disciples of Jesus Christ with you, our community of disciples. And together we will use old and new ways to share the good news of a God who wants to be in relationship with all creation, including us, and who wants an economy of equity for all.

Prayers of Intercession

United in Christ and guided by the Spirit, we pray for the church, the creation, and all in need.

A brief silence.

Ever-present God, in Christ you fill all things. As your church gathers to hear your word, share your meal, and receive your blessing, teach us to welcome strangers as we have been welcomed by you. God of grace, hear our prayer.

Through Christ you created all things, visible and invisible. Teach humankind to honor and protect all creation, including living things that remain hidden from our eyes such as air, atmosphere, molecules, and microscopic creatures. God of grace, hear our prayer.

Through Christ you reconcile all things. Motivate those in power to end enslavement, dehumanization, or brutality of any kind (in the spirit of Bartolomé de Las Casas, whom we commemorate today) and to protect and improve the lives of Indigenous peoples. God of grace, hear our prayer.

Through Christ you bring peace. Assure all who are worried and distracted by many things of your constant presence. Soothe those suffering in mind, body, or spirit. Sustain all who are afflicted and those who serve as caregivers (especially). God of grace, hear our prayer.

In Christ you make your word fully known. Inspire this worshiping community (congregation may be named) to abide fully in your word as we sit at the feet of Jesus. Bless the ministry of teachers and Bible study leaders. God of grace, hear our prayer.

Here other intercessions may be offered.

Almighty God, grant to your church your Holy Spirit and the wisdom which comes down from heaven, that your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve you and in the confession of your name may abide to the end. Direct the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by your wisdom, as this church prepares to gather in assembly. God of grace, hear our prayer.

In Christ you brought forth the firstborn from the dead. We give thanks for the saints you have gathered at your table. Gather us with them in your eternal glory. God of grace, hear our prayer.

God of every time and place, in Jesus’ name and filled with your Holy Spirit, we entrust these spoken prayers and those in our hearts into your holy keeping.

Amen.

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