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A Meditation

The wise and courageous Teacher Prophet in Ecclesiastes nails all of us. We are indeed vain. We are steeped in it. It’s a human instinct. An irresistible craving. Vanity contorts and unbalances the things that we profess to be most dear. Tragically.

This truth is set out in our reading from Hebrew scripture. It is exemplified in the gospel parable that Jesus tells. The already wealthy man, coasting on the wave of plenty and his own pride in equal measures, wants more. More is measured by the grain in his barns. He’ll build bigger barns, he tells himself. However, God tells him that he’s yearning after a phantom. Notwithstanding riches and the prospect of even more, he’ll be dead by morning.

That is a stark yardstick: How would we measure up? Let’s not consider the truly epic considerations in our life. Let’s pick something simple: like the cars we drive. Our cars, either our present one or the one we owned last: what make and model was it, how new, how much did we fret over it, what did it cost? How clean was it and what did the trunk look like? This is truly an almost incidental example. However, for many—perhaps even ourselves—it’s not incidental at all.

Our car is fully and singularly expressive of how we position ourselves to the collective societies we inhabit. And how is that, exactly? What does/did it say? How important—really—is that to you? I submit that you held yourself and your family, the work you did, and in most of the things you particularly cherish—your car is pretty much at the bottom of your list. Vanity is the measure of how hard it would be to give all that up. All is vanity. How it clings to us says more than we want to say. Vanity rules.

                                                                                                                                                                                                           Pastor Neil

GATHERING

Celebrant ☩ Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
People And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever.
Amen.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: 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.

Celebrant Jesus said, “The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

THE COLLECT OF THE DAY

Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Celebrant Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; 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

Old Testament

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me — and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. So, I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.

 

The Psalm

Psalm 49:1-11

1 Hear this, all you peoples; hearken, all you who dwell in the world, * you of high degree and low, rich and poor together.
2 My mouth shall speak of wisdom, * and my heart shall meditate on understanding. 3 I will incline my ear to a proverb * and set forth my riddle upon the harp.
4 Why should I be afraid in evil days, * when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
5 The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods, * and boast of their great riches?
6 We can never ransom ourselves, * or deliver to God the price of our life;
7 For the ransom of our life is so great, * that we should never have enough to pay it,
8 In order to live for ever and ever, * and never see the grave.
9 For we see that the wise die also; like the dull and stupid they perish * and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
10 Their graves shall be their homes for ever, their dwelling places from generation to generation, * though they call the lands after their own names.
11 Even though honored, they cannot live for ever; * they are like the beasts that perish.

 

The Gospel: Luke 12:13-21

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.”

Celebrant The Gospel of the Lord.
People Praise to you, Lord Christ.

SERMON PASTOR O’FARRELL

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

Celebrant and People together, all standing

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Celebrant
In calling forth creation from the void, God, you revealed yourself in human form. You manifest your concern for your whole universe. Hear the world’s needs, as we bring the matters of our hearts before you.

Lay Reader

Pour out your life-giving Spirit on your holy church throughout the world. Equip its members to boldly proclaim their common faith and your bountiful blessings across the earth. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Let your Spirit move over our unruly time and heal its people broken in spirit and body. Bring peace to a weary and struggling world. Intercede and bring peace to Ukraine, Afghanistan, Haiti, the Middle East, and the streets of Baltimore. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Help those suffering mental illness, broken families, and homelessness. Protect Mother Earth from human neglect and destruction. Protect the animals and species in danger from human selfishness, greed, and misadventure. This must break your heart as much as it breaks ours. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Create changed hearts within us. Help us to become our best selves, as you created us to be. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Burn out all that is evil in us. Consecrate us for holy service. Empower us to work toward the salvation of the world. Give us energy and insight for our personal missions. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Renew the faith of all who call you Lord, so that we may devote ourselves to worship, teaching, and prayer—all to reveal your grace to a fragile humanity. Give noble purpose to our secular leaders, and a desire to do justice in the land and in the world. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Be with those who are dying and ill, and their families and loved ones. Bless the pastoral ministries of this congregation. Safeguard immigrants and refugees. Provide solace and healing to those beleaguered by the reality of their lives. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We especially pray for those we silently name now. (Pause) Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Celebrant Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

A CONFESSION OF OUR SINS TO GOD

Celebrant Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Silence will 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.

Celebrant 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.

Celebrant It is indeed right and salutary that we should in all times and in all places give thanks to you Almighty Father, through Jesus Christ your son. For by water and the Holy Spirit you have made us a new people in Jesus Christ our Savior, to show forth your glory in all the world. Therefore, we praise your name and join angels and archangels by saying:

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.

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us
for yourself. When we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you in your mercy sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human
nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the
God and Father of all.

He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself
in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole
world.

On the night before his death, 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, we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

W
e celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanks- giving. 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. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ.

By him, and with him, and in him,
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.

 

THE 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 Almighty and ever living God,

All We thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and for assuring us in these holy mysteries that we are living members of the Body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal kingdom. And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord. To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. 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.

 

DISMISSAL

Celebrant Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.