EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
September 26, 2021
Springwell Holy Communion
Last February, Jews celebrated the annual festival of Purim. The reading from the book of Esther in Sunday’s service explains the great story that gave rise to Purim. Yet once again, the Jewish people were in danger of annihilation. Once again, they found rescue and safety. For a little while, at least. Would that we never had to worry about such a thing again. However, the 20th century, and race attacks throughout the world in the 21st century teach us that hatred of Jews is primitive and prevalent, and always requires vigilance. In addition to Jews, others are hated existentially, and we have to be constantly vigilant on others’ behalf as well. Heartbreaking victims abound.
Hatred of Jews in the Esther reading isn’t explained. It’s just taken for granted. The story would have ended tragically, but Esther, a Jewish woman who because of her great beauty had ascended to the king’s harem, outsmarted the king’s lieutenant hellbent on genocide. Esther revealed the darkness that dwelt in the king’s court, and the perpetrator was eventually hanged, a sentence he deserved. We know from history that events could have gone the other way.
Purim is crucial respects is a secular holiday. In fact, it has some resonance with our celebration of Thanksgiving. Purim is a thanksgiving festival because the people of the nation were saved, and a meal is prepared in eaten together in family and community. It’s also a commemoration of the heady joy that ensues when it’s revealed that the thing you most feared didn’t come to pass. Giddiness heals.
The book of Esther is unique in that it’s the only book of scripture that doesn’t mention God. It’s as if God allows human beings to work out God’s plan for the world using human cleverness, courage, and commitment to the good and just. God is always there, and as the Epistle teaches, prayer is necessary. Sometimes though, human agency is how salvation is secured. Pastor Neil
Celebrant and people We gather together as we live our lives, in the name of the ☩ Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Celebrant Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins;
People His mercy endures forever.
Celebrant Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE COLLECT OF THE DAY
Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Celebrant O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
A READING FROM ESTHER, AT THE 7TH CHAPTER
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
The king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.
Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.
Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.
Reader The Word of the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.
LET US READ FROM PSALM 124 RESPONSIVELY
If the Lord had not been on our side, *
let Israel now say;
If the Lord had not been on our side, *
when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us up alive *
in their fierce anger toward us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us *
and the torrent gone over us;
Then would the raging waters *
have gone right over us.
Blessed be the Lord! *
he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler;* the snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the Name of the Lord, *
the maker of heaven and earth.
A reading from the Epistle of James at the 5th chapter
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Reader: The Epistle of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.
A READING FROM THE GOSPEL OF MARK, AT THE 9TH CHAPTER
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Celebrant The Gospel of the Lord.
People Praise to you, O Christ.
Sermon Pastor Neil
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Reader In peace, we pray to you, Lord God—
Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Guide the people of this land, and of all nations, in the ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another and serve the common good. Heal the rifts that bind, vex, and scare us. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory. Heal the wounds of those who have been victimized by climate change and destruction. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours, and grant that we may serve Christ in them, and love one another as he loves us. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give us purpose and hope in troubles; and bring us the joy of your salvation. Bestow courage upon those who look at the world, and who wonder if there is a safe and gracious place for them. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
We commend to your mercy all who have died, that your will for them may be fulfilled; and we pray that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Silence to lift up our own prayers to God
Celebrant Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage, we may always be supported by this community of fellowship of love and prayer. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
A CONFESSION OF OUR SINS TO GOD
Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
Silence may be kept
Minister and People
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Almighty God have mercy on you, ☩ forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.
Celebrant The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People And also with you.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Celebrant Lift up your hearts.
People We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is a right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. For you are the source of light and life, you made us in your image, and called us to new life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, who forever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:
Celebrant and People Holy, Holy, Holy Lord—God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Celebrant We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus, your Son. For in these last days you sent him to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.
On the night before he died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”
After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”
Therefore, according to his command, O Father, we say together:
Celebrant and People
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Celebrant And we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, O Lord of all; presenting to you, from your creation, this bread and this wine.
We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in
this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death,
resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.
Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be ☩ for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.
Celebrant and People By Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.
And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to pray:
THE LORD’S PRAYER
People Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
A CALL TO COMMUNION
Celebrant The gifts of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.
Celebrant will distribute communion to people in their chairs.
THE GENERAL THANKSGIVING
Celebrant and People
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Celebrant Sisters and brothers, we go out into the world in peace. We live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, to hold on to what is good, and to return to no one an evil for an evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering, do justice, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Celebrant Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.
Marc Arcis (1655–1739) was a French sculptor. He produced busts and statues of people we would call celebrities in today’s parlance: saints, people in history, characters in scripture, and mythological heroes. He worked in Toulouse, France, between 1674 and 1677. Subsequently, in Paris he took part in the interior decoration of the Sorbonne and produced works for Versailles. After 1690, he based himself solely in Toulouse, decorating several chapels and churches there. Arcis would no doubt have considered himself an artist, but we would put his output in the category of decorative arts. If you had an arch, a landing or niche, Arcis could sculpt something to fit there perfectly. Many of his sculptures were reproduced repeatedly, such as the Prophet Elijah on this bulletin.
The holder of this statues of Elijah is the Musée des Augustins de Toulouse, a fine arts museum with over 4,000 items of a particular nature. The museum conserves a collection of sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. The spirit of the museum is to preserve art that otherwise would be dispersed when the building or institution that houses it is torn down. The museum wants to ensure that art doesn’t get “lost.”
The building in which the museum is sited was convent built long before the French Revolution. The convent building was the secularized by the French government. Later work on the building was focused in removing as much as possible the building’s religious characteristics. The collections have been gathered from both destroyed religious buildings, and the private collections of well-to-do persons who were dispossessed. Items have come from throughout France