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NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
October 3, 2021

A MEDITATION

The epic of Job in Hebrew scripture is among the most powerful accounts in all of sacred literature throughout the world of God’s direct contact with a human beings. It has everything. God. A hero, Job. A villain, Satan. Huge issues, primarily why do dreadful things happen indisputably good persons. Poetry, conflict, and wisdom. Hapless onlookers who take a difficult situation and make it worse. Bystander victims, Job’s family and livestock. And a big ending where God and Job go at it, with a ragged, not tidy conclusion. In true fact, the Jewish people are indescribably courageous in raising to the level of holy scripture such a story. It demonstrates how awesomely compelling truth is. Simply, Job is us and we are Job.

From Wikipedia: “Job is an investigation of the problem of divine justice. This problem, known in theology as the problem of evil, can be rephrased as a question: “Why do the righteous suffer?” The conventional answer in ancient Israel was that God rewards virtue and punishes sin. This assumes a world in which human choices and actions are morally significant, but experience demonstrates that suffering is frequently unmerited.

The biblical concept of righteousness was rooted in the covenant-making God who had ordered creation for communal well-being, and the righteous were those who invested in the community, showing special concern for the poor and needy. Their [opposites] were the wicked who were selfish and greedy. The Satan (or The Adversary) raises the question of whether there is such a thing as disinterested righteousness: if God rewards righteousness with prosperity, will men not act righteously from selfish motives? He asks God to test this by removing the prosperity of Job, the most righteous of all God’s servants.

For those looking for an answer tied up in a bow, they will be disappointed, perhaps infuriated. But for all of us who live in the world and observe what’s going on, we know this question of why bad things happen to good people has no resolution. God is who God is. To be in love with God is ultimately inscrutable.

OPENING ACCLAMATION

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 Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

A READING FROM JOB, AT THE 1ST CHAPTER

Job 1:1; 2:1-10

There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish bystander would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Reader    The Word of the Lord.
People     Thanks be to God.

Let us read from psalm 26 responsively
Psalm 26

Give judgment for me, O Lord,
for I have lived with integrity; *
   I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.

Test me, O Lord, and try me; *
examine my heart and my mind.

For your love is before my eyes; *
I have walked faithfully with you.

I have not sat with the worthless, *
nor do I consort with the deceitful.

I have hated the company of evildoers; *
I will not sit down with the wicked.

I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, *
that I may go in procession round your altar,

Singing aloud a song of thanksgiving *
and recounting all your wonderful deeds.

Lord, I love the house in which you dwell *
and the place where your glory abides.

Do not sweep me away with sinners, *
nor my life with those who thirst for blood,

Whose hands are full of evil plots, *
and their right hand full of bribes.

As for me, I will live with integrity; *
redeem me, O Lord, and have pity on me.

My foot stands on level ground; *
in the full assembly I will bless the Lord.

THE EPISTLE
A reading from the Epistle of Hebrews at the 1st chapter

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor, subjecting all things under their feet.”
Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

Reader: The Epistle of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.

A READING FROM THE GOSPEL OF MARK, AT THE 10TH CHAPTER

Mark 10:2-16
Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

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 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.

The Peace

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.
THE BLESSING

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.

 

 

More about the artwork on this bulletin

Marck Chagall was a monumental artist of the mid and late 20th century. He was a master of painting, lithography (printmaking), stained glass, ceramic, and mural. His artwork spans the globe. He made art that was personal and intimate, but also art that was public, to be seen by thousands. Some of his commissions include the ceiling of the Paris opera, murals at the Chicago Institute of Art, the Israeli Knesset, stained glass windows at Reims and Metz cathedrals in France, and countless lithographs priced so that ordinary persons could afford his artwork for their own walls.

 

It’s important to know how completely he was infused with his Jewish faith, and that he produced much Christian art that reflected Christianity’s deep Jewish roots. One of his most famous paintings is of the crucifixion, where Jesus wears as a loincloth a Jewish prayer shawl. His works often include images of the Jewish menorah and star of David.

 

The cover art of this bulletin shows the sorely afflicted Job after having overcome the harm he has experienced by praying to God in a lucid green representing hope and confidence. Job self-effacingly asks God for leniency with his friends, who had judged him wrongly. Christianity also considers the color green to be the color of resurrection. God heard Job’s prayers and gave him back his health, wealth, and reputation. He also spares Job’s “short-sighted” friends of their deserved divine punishment.

The idea that strong religious belief and imperturbable moral integrity would be rewarded, notwithstanding hard testing, must have moved Chagall deeply at that time. Thus, he dedicated some of his lithographs to the prophets and their difficult lives. It wasn’t lost on his public that tens of thousands of Jews carried the memory of their time of suffering in the Holocaust, who had to rebuild their lives just as Job had to do.

Pastor Neil