Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Vespers for June 17

You may wish to light a candle and place it before you as you begin.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.
Stay with us Lord, for it is evening, and the day is almost over.
Let your light scatter the darkness and illumine your church.
HYMN: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, ELW 803
FIRST READING: Nehemiah 9:1-8 (NRSV)
A reading from: Nehemiah
Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. Then those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their ancestors. They stood up in their place and read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth part of the day, and for another fourth they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the Lord their God. Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”
And Ezra said: “You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life, and the host of heaven worships you. You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham; and you found his heart faithful before you, and made with him a covenant to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite; and you have fulfilled your promise, for you are righteous.
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

Gospel: Luke 6:12-19 (NRSV)

A reading from: Luke

12 Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
17 He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.


The text from Nehemiah begins with the people gathering together in a ritual of confession and forgiveness. From what? (Caution! This is a very short version of the story!) From ignoring the Torah, the covenant for living in relationship with God. The people had strayed. But then, one day, someone was cleaning a closet in the temple and found a scroll. It was a portion, the core, of the Torah. When they read it, it tore at their clothes in grief. They had strayed so far from what they should have been doing!

And so, a fast was declared. Repentance reigned. They dressed as if they were in mourning. They confessed their sins, and they worshiped God. And they promised to follow God just as Abraham once did.

The people repented and confessed and chose to change their ways. I am sure not everyone who stood there that day went home a totally changed person, but they had taken steps forward toward a new way of living.

It doesn’t take the discovery of an old document to remind us that we are broken people. We recognize it every day, even if we try to hide the fact. When we come to the lines in the traditional confession about things I have done and things I have not done, it is always the things I haven’t done that stop me. And I pause, reflect, repent, and promise to do better, or I remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect in order for God to love me. So I move on.

In the Gospel reading for tonight, we find Luke’s list of the disciples, which is similar to, but not exactly the same as, Matthew’s list and Mark’s list. In this version, Jesus calls the large group of disciples together and chooses twelve to be apostles, sent out ones. These twelve men will receive special training, in addition to the messages all the disciples will hear. The Twelve will learn from Jesus and go out among the crowds and into the cities to heal those who are hurting.

Through the centuries, people have been called by Spirit to follow Jesus into healing ministry. Right now, the US is in need of healing, from the physical and emotional and financial devastation of a virus. We have been separated from each other for three months and it looks like it will be another couple months before we are able to be together.

And we are learning from the protests about how unfair life is for some people in the US. While we have come a long way in 60 years since the Civil Rights Movement, there is much yet to do, much to repent, much to heal.

Jesus calls us to take a stand against hatred, violence, and injustice wherever it is found. We are called to protest against it, in marching, in speaking, in learning how we need to change our minds and our hearts.

As I considered this message, I began to think of the protests as a scroll. The message of this scroll was there all the time, but now has suddenly been discovered in the temple closet. The message of the scroll, of the protests, call us to repentance and to change, to pay more attention to what God has been calling us to be and do.

Let us listen to the words and hearts of the protesters and their supporters and remember that Jesus has sent us to heal the hurting. Let us confess where we have done the hurting, even if it was unintentional. Let us repent and vow to change. Let us seek to be work individually and together toward making the world we live in a better place for all of Gods children.

Jesus said, I am the light of the world.  
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.

Intercessions to Mark the Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine
For the church: God, our truth, through the ages you have spoken through prophets. Stir up in your church a passion for your word revealed in Jesus, that following the witness of the Emanuel Nine, your church studies the scriptures, shows hospitality, prays without ceasing, and embodies prophetic justice in community. Embolden church leaders and all the baptized to remember the lives of the Nine, repent of racism and white supremacy, and renew our commitment to your word revealed most fully in Jesus, our way, truth, and life. In your great mercy, receive our prayer.

For the nations: Mighty and loving God, we pray for our nation and the plague of racism that threatens, destroys, and kills. Root out white supremacy wherever it takes hold. Release its grip on those lured by its false promises. Bring to repentance all who continue to benefit from prejudice and hatred, both hidden and revealed. Plant in our hearts and nation a willing spirit open to truth-telling and healing. In your great mercy, receive our prayer.

For those who are oppressed and victimized: Immanuel, God with us, you embrace in love those who cry out to you. Lift up all whom hatred has cast down (especially … ); embolden those who need courage to speak and act against oppression (especially … ); sustain those who are weary from efforts that bring no end to injustice (especially … ). Comfort parents weeping for children, children who have been separated from parents, and families in crises of any kind. Restore hope where it has been lost, so that all may trust your love that reaches to the depths of pain and suffering. In your great mercy, receive our prayer.

Thanksgiving for the saints: We give you thanks, Holy God, for the faithful life and witness of Clementa, Cynthia, Daniel, DePayne, Ethel, Myra, Sharonda, Susie, and Tywanza, the Emanuel Nine. May their faith and witness to your forgiving love in Jesus Christ inspire all people to pursue paths of justice, courage, and self-giving love. In your great mercy, receive our prayer.

Other intercessions may be offered here

Into your hands, merciful God, we offer these words and the longings of our hearts. Amen

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory, are yours now and forever. Amen.

HYMN: Change My Heart, O God, ELW 801

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, + keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen

Liturgy from ELW Annual Liturgy License 26504
Prayers of Intercession Copyright © 2020 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
This document may be reproduced for use in your congregation as long as the copyright notice appears on each copy.

Monday, June 15, 2020


Here is Intern Lori's sermon from Sunday. 

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new
wineskins, and both are preserved.”

While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. Amazing three stories we just read in the gospel today.


I want to talk about this story of where Jesus heals a sick woman. The woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. I love how Jesus said, “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” That is love. Wow….How Jesus spoke so tenderly to this woman. Jesus healed this woman through love not only physically but spiritually. How often do we show this kind of faith?  I see people say there’s not many miracles that happen today like the story in the Bible. I disagree. I see miracles around us all the time. It may not be what we expect it to be, but it is a miracle.

How many of you have heard of Joni Eareckson Tada? I have been following her and her ministry for a little while now. It was not until she was 17 years old in 1967 that she took a dive in a pool that left her a quadriplegic. She went through rehab and a lot of hard times. However, what admires me is her strong faith. Think about it, she was able to run, walk, jump, and do all kinds of things. Now she uses a wheelchair. She lost something that she had in the first place. She went on to marry her husband Ken
who is not in a wheelchair and travels all around the world showing people that God LOVES you even if your body is broken.

That is a miracle. Just understanding your worth and value in God, not society.

My friends, rejoice….
You are made an image of God.
Yes, my dear daughter, and son…

It took me a long time to really understand and accept that wholeheartedly with my broken ears and all. At home, I forget that I am Deaf. I have light that flashes to let me know someone is at the door, or an alarm clock that will shake the whole bed to wake me up with device that you put under the mattress (Sorry Curt). However, when I step out of my home to go out into the world it is then I remember oh yeah I am Deaf. When I try to check out at the grocery store and cashier will say something, or if I travel and I can tell you that airports ARE NOT Deaf friendly. I miss announcements of when it’s time to board. Deafness does not define me. It is a part of me, but it’s not all who I am. Same for Joni.

 Same for Katherine Wolf who at age 26 had suffered a massive brain stem stroke out of the blue. She’s a miracle. She was not supposed to live. God was not done with her yet. She went onto write books, start a ministry called, “Hope Heals.” She just recently gave birth in 2015 to another boy. Her story continues.

My friends…there are miracles happening all the time.

Many of you may know Pastor Dennis Koch who is a pastor at Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Hernando. He is also one of my internship supervisors. His son who is age 28 who has disabilities himself but was successful in walking, working, and living independently. This past April he had a massive stroke. He was not expected to live, but God was not done with him yet. He is now in rehab and working hard to come home soon. My friends, his body is still recovering but you should see the love he shares
with all those around him. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him next.

We see stories in the bible that shows God’s love. God’s love has never stopped. It still continues today, tomorrow, and for eternity.

When things go well, we have no problems believing in God. However, when life gets challenging, we need to remember to hold onto our faith and loving look at Jesus in his
eyes as he says to you and me “take heart, your faith has healed you.” Amen.