Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time C, September 4, 2016

Jeremiah 18:1-11
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
Philemon 1-21
Luke 14:25-33

The family reunion with celebrations for birthdays and anniversaries is now over, and I apologize for the delay in this week’s liturgy. I promise you that I will work this week to get back to 3 weeks ahead, and I’m saying it here to keep me on task. So thank you. 

My heart is full as my little girl is one:


And last week’s Gospel lesson about inviting not your family or friends to your parties but instead those who can’t reciprocate – well, that wasn’t lost on me. Still trying to figure out how to bring that one home. 

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: O Lord, you have searched me and known me. 
All: Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. 
One: How weighty are your thoughts, O God!  How vast the sum of them!
All: I try to count them – they are more than sand; I come to the end – I am still with you. 
One: Today let us again approach the mighty whom we can only comprehend in part. 
All: Today let us revel in the care that God has for us and all creation. 

OPENING PRAYER
O Lord,  today we see the ordinary and extraordinary – the simple and impossible, and we watch you rearrange all of our pre-conceived notions about importance and priority. Help us today look at the world with your eyes. Help us live into your intentions for your beloved creation. Amen. 

CALL TO CONFESSION
The Lord knows your path and your lying down. The Lord knows everything about you, so come clean, revel in honesty, and here confess your sins before the Lord. 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
O Lord, we are spoiled pots – crumpled and useless – without form or purpose. We have done evil in your sight, not listened to your voice or fulfilled your purpose for us. But we want to turn from our evil. We want to return to your path for us. Forgive us, please. Rework us into new vessels as seem good to you. Help us fulfill the intention of your potter’s hands. Amen. 

ASSURANCE OF PARDON
When you were being knit together to be you, God made sure that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are still intended to be more than a crumpled bit of clay. You are still being hemmed in, behind and before, with God’s hand laying upon you. Know that in the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven. Now go and sin no more. 

CALL FOR THE OFFERING
In Luke, Christ says that, to be his disciple, we must give up all of our possessions. It is that blatant, and makes us feel uncomfortable. At this time of bringing forth our tithes and offerings let us follow Christ’s examples and begin making estimates to fully build God’s tower. Let us look ahead and make plans to negotiate for peace. Let us begin the process of letting go of things and power, and letting God in instead. 

PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Holy One, you know us so well, and you know how we like having possessions and influence. Help us let go. May these things from our pockets go to serve you. May we as people be released and release others as Paul worked to release Philemon from his slavery. And may we turn everything over and back to you. 

INVITATION TO THE TABLE
(If there were ever a Sunday to forgo the fancy communion set bequeathed by whomever and use simple earthenware instead…)

A potter’s work is usually not exciting or glamorous. There are some unique creations to be made, but usually it’s thousands of plates and cups and bowls and storage vessels and the like. The work of a potter is about making dirt functional and useable to improve everyday life. So come to this table with simple bread and ordinary wine/cup [depending on what you drink]. Come to this almost mundane meal on mundane dishes, and experience the extraordinary love and purpose that the Lord has for you. Come and find God at this  everyday and unremarkable table just as God finds the incredible within you as well. Come. 

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