September 18, 2022

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
    • Psalm 79:1-9
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Amos 8:4-7
    • Psalm 113
  • Second reading
    • 1 Timothy 2:1-7
  • Gospel
    • Luke 16:1-13

The gospel from Luke:
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’

Rich and Poor
17th century Artist:Anonymous
Museum Brot und Kunst
Ulm, Germany

Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’

So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’

And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?

No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Our congregation is small but is thrifty, careful about its spending, and yet financially helps other causes. In our gospel reading this week is the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. But it is not about money. Jesus is encouraging shrewdness. We are told to act on opportunities. Act shrewdly for God. Pastor Stevenson said that he is taking an online class on church renewal, which involves strategy, shrewdness. Members of Lutheran churches around the country are participating. One church with an average member age of 65 decided to focus on seniors and their membership grew, bringing in more seniors and then younger new members too. The idea is to count on God and take the initiative……..

September 11, 2022

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
    • Psalm 14
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Exodus 32:7-14
    • Psalm 51:1-10
  • Second reading
    • 1 Timothy 1:12-17
  • Gospel
    • Luke 15:1-10

Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart>
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

The gospel from Luke:
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:

Pharisees Question Jesus
1886-1894 Tissot, James*
Brooklyn Museum
New York, NY

“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’

Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

*….when his (Tissot) carefully researched collection of 350 watercolors depicting the life of Jesus was first published as a book in 1896, it found a large and enthusiastic audience. No one who had followed his previous career could have anticipated that this painter of urban life in Paris and London would undertake the project of painting virtually every event in the Gospels.

Pastor Stevensen is back teaching a college course. There are rules he needs to enforce, one being no work sharing. But no student who breaks the rule is punished or expelled because of tuition paid. Our gospel reading in Luke this week is about enforcing rules. The Pharisees took seriously the rule about work. The tax collectors and sinners were forbidden to eat with the others. The Pharisees ask Jesus why he does. He answers that there is more rejoicing over saving one sheep than those he leaves in the wilderness. Jesus is the one who goes out and rescues lost sheep. Psalm 51 today gives us the meaning of the lost sheep and offers the meaning of sin. “My inward being was born a sinner.” In our hymn #448, Amazing Grace, we sing “I was lost but now I am found.” God is superior to us. In our third hymn today, #492, we ask “O Master let me walk with you in lowly paths of service true.” In Luke we can read that when Jesus was nailed to the cross with two thieves on their crosses, one asked Jesus for forgiveness and Jesus granted it. Jesus had time to care about one more lost sheep.

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September 4, 2022

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Jeremiah 18:1-11
    • Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Deuteronomy 30:15-20
    • Psalm 1
  • Second reading
    • Philemon 1:1-21
  • Gospel
    • Luke 14:25-33

The gospel from Luke:
Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.

So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

Inspired by Ruskin’s [book] “Modern Painters”, Blunden abandoned her career as a governess in order to become an artist. She exhibited from 1853, attracting Ruskin’s attention in 1859 when she exhibited “God’s Gothic and Past and Present” at the Royal Academy. [from]

August 28, 2022

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Jeremiah 2:4-13
    • Psalm 81:1, 10-16
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Sirach 10:12-18 or Proverbs 25:6-7
    • Psalm 112
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
  • Gospel
    • Luke 14:1, 7-14

The second reading from Hebrews:
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

The gospel from Luke:
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable.

Among the Humble
1905 Lhermitte, Léon Augustin, 1844-1925
Metropolitan Museum of Art
:New York, NY

“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.

For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Pastor Stevensen says that pastors in general like both the Old and the New Testaments. Why should we care about the Old Testament? The New Testament refers many times to the Old. The Old Testament is remarkable in expressing faith in God. In Genesis we may read about the three visitors Abraham to whom he showed hospitality. In the Old Testament we learn about the nature of God. This helps us to understand our gospel lesson. Our lesson in Hebrews says to “not neglect to entertain strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels.” In Luke, Jesus says “Do not invite your friends, relatives or rich neighbors. …Invite the poor, the crippled and the blind.” This is contrary to the culture of the time. He says “You will be blessed ….for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Jesus is teaching those less fortunate. Why teach these people? God is generous. He is “wildly extravagant.” The visitors all come without money. God is generous to all people. Generosity is displayed in other parables, as in the seed, meaning the Word, sowed everywhere, and as in the father who is generous to his prodigal son. God is magnificently generous……..

August 21, 2022

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Jeremiah 1:4-10
    • Psalm 71:1-6
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Isaiah 58:9b-14
    • Psalm 103:1-8
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 12:18-29
  • Gospel
    • Luke 13:10-17
Woman with an Infirmity of Eighteen Years
1886-1896 Tissot, James
Brooklyn Museum
New York, NY

The gospel from Luke:
Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Pastor Stevensen told about how he took his two children when they were very young to the grocery store to return bottles and cans. The children inserted the cans and bottles and collected the deposits. The daughter when arriving back home would show how much they had earned. The child was focused on what she alone did. We go about the world in much the same way and play a small role. Jesus came to the synagogue and there was a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years. Jesus had compassion and saw healing as freeing her from bondage. The leader of the synagogue was offended. He needed to keep order there and his basis for offending Jesus’ actions was that the Jews do not work on the Sabbath. He suffered from a small perspective and Jesus had a broad perspective. To Him the sabbath was a day of rest, but also healing and restoring. Our modern perspective also is narrow. We often feel that God cannot do anything, that we live in a world that is broken, for example in the Ukraine, that evil holds us in bondage, that evil runs wild and we cannot do much about it. When will God deliver us from evil? He sent his Son. Liberation is underway. . . . .

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August 14, 2022

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Isaiah 5:1-7
    • Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Jeremiah 23:23-29
    • Psalm 82
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 11:29-12:2
  • Gospel
    • Luke 12:49-56

First reading from Jeremiah:
Am I a God near by, says the LORD, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back–those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? They plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, just as their ancestors forgot my name for Baal. Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the LORD. Is not my word like fire, says the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

The Psalm 82:
God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah

Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”
Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you!

1979 Pinart, Robert and Dieter
Washington National Cathedral
Stained glass
Washington, DC

The gospel from Luke:
Jesus said “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens.

You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Jeremiah is harsh at the end, where God askes “Is not my word like fire?”. The Psalm continues about the coming Judgment and the prophets who saw it coming. Pastor Stevensen begins with our natural impulses and tendencies and that a theme of the Judgment is unpopular. Nobody wants judgment on friends nor on themselves. Jesus said “I have baptism of firel” He sets off a chain of events and is caught up in these events. He would suffer. He knows that He is innocent, but He joins with the guilty and accepts the punishment. At great cost to himself Christ asked us also to be children of God.

August 7, 2022

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
    • Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Genesis 15:1-6
    • Psalm 33:12-22
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
  • Gospel
    • Luke 12:32-40

The First Reading from Isaiah:
The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation– I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

The gospel from Luke:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Artist’s Mother Opening a Door
1891-1892 Vuillard, Édouard
Minneapolis Institute of Art
Minneapolis, MN

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.

Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

This Sunday, Pastor Stevensen based his sermon on the First Reading from Isaiah and the Gospel from Luke and the contrast between them.

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July 31, 2022

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Hosea 11:1-11
    • Psalm 107:1-9, 43
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
    • Psalm 49:1-12
  • Second reading
    • Colossians 3:1-11
  • Gospel
    • Luke 12:13-21
Parable of the Rich Man
1627 Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Berlin, Germany:
from Art in the Christian Tradition
A project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library

The gospel from Luke:
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And 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.”

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then 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. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’

But 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?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

A professor at Luther Seminary in Minneapolis spoke at a funeral and was so saddened that when he went to a MacDonald’s for a hamburger he sat with a sad look until an old man in work clothing told him to cheer up. This week on his way to conduct a funeral, Pastor Stevensen was delayed by an accident that had occurred on the road, was reminded of the professor at the MacDonald’s and wondered where the nearest MacDonald’s was. But then he thought of all the volunteers at St John making preparations and so he knew that things would be okay. A Frenchman touring our country encountered many aid associations, of which there are more than there are in Europe. But the Progressive Movement here has reduced the need for them and their number is decreasing even today. Our church is an aid association. In today’s gospel reading Jesus is asked to be a judge. The rich man thought he could be a party animal, since he had done his life’s work. In Ecclesiastics and in Psalms we can read that the rich man’s responsibilities had just begun. In Jesus’ parable, God has a claim on us. The members of St John do a lot. The rich fool missed this chance.……… We need to participate in local communities and when we need it, receive aid ourselves.

July 24, 2022

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Hosea 1:2-10
    • Psalm 85
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Genesis 18:20-32
    • Psalm 138
  • Second reading
    • Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
  • Gospel
    • Luke 11:1-13

The First Reading from Hosea:
When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the LORD said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”

She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the LORD said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen.”

When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God.” Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”

The gospel from Luke:
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
ca. 1906 Eickemeyer, Rudolf
Library of Congress
Washington, DC

He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’

I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.

For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In chapter 1 of Hosea, Hosea, a prophet, is told by God to marry Goma and they have three children. In chapter 2, Pastor Stevensen tells us that Hosea learns that Goma was not faithful. In chapter 3, Goma runs away and Hosea is told by God to buy her back. God is faithful but Israel is not, just as God brings back his people by the death of His Son. Our Lord’s Prayer is given in Matthew and with slightly different wording in Luke followed by a parable about the power of prayer. To ask for bread, search and you will find, knock and the door will open. Trust the Lord and be persistent in prayer. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask “give us this day our daily bread.” God is faithful. A hymn sings “God is thy faithfulness and trustworthiness.” Luther emphasized God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness repeatedly. The Christian faith is in His promises…………

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July 17, 2022

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Amos 8:1-12
    • Psalm 52
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Genesis 18:1-10a
    • Psalm 15
  • Second reading
    • Colossians 1:15-28
  • Gospel
    • Luke 10:38-42
Christ with Mary and Martha
  1654 Vermeer, Johannes
National Gallery of Scotland
Edinburgh, UK

The gospel from Luke:
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

But 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.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

A short essay on the artistic and spiritual meaning of this artwork is available from The Visual Commentary on Scripture,

After conducting a memorial service the day before, Pastor Stevensen feels that the church is reaching out but people are not listening. Only at funerals, the bereaved families are interested in religion. There is a book about a mountain climber who was killed and a survivor just wanted someone to sit beside him. Pastor has two motivations for a funeral sermon. One is that the family has requested it. The other is that the family may follow with worship. To convince people to value prayer one can interest them with some history. The mother of the deceased, one of our members, Raymonde, wanted to know why her daughter had died and not her. Where is God? The epistle to the Galatians begins with doubt and question but ends with compassion. The hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness has an answer…………….

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