Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Evening Prayer for June 9, 20


June 9, 2021

Evening Prayer (Vespers)

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



Loving God, some of us come to this place
full of anticipation and joy,
others come weary and tired.
And some of us come here today
wondering why we are even here.
Renew us in your Holy Spirit.
Remind us that your steadfast love
follows us wherever we go.
Increase our faith,
that we may not lose heart
or become burdened by the challenges of life.

Help us hear again the words of Christ:
“Whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”
We are yours, O God.

Thank you for claiming us as your own.
In the name of Christ, your Son and our savior,
we pray. Amen.

HYMN: Will You Come and Follow Me? / The Summons

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FIRST READING: Isaiah 26:16-21 (CEB)

A reading from: Isaiah

Lord, in distress they sought you out;
they poured out prayers to you when you disciplined them.
17 As a pregnant woman close to childbirth is in labor pains,
crying out in her pangs,
so were we because of you, Lord.
18 We were pregnant, we writhed,
but we gave birth to wind.
We have achieved no victories on earth;
the inhabitants of the earth never fall.

19 Your dead will live, their corpses will rise,
and those who dwell in the dust will shout for joy.
Your shadow is a shadow of light,
but you will bring down the ghosts into the underworld.
20 Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut your doors behind you.
Take cover, for in a little while the fury will be over.
21 Look! The Lord is going out from his place
to bring the iniquity of the ruler of the earth down upon him.
The earth will uncover its blood
and will conceal its slain no longer.

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

Gospel: Luke 11:14-26 (CEB)

A reading from: Luke

14 Jesus was throwing out a demon that causes muteness. When the demon was gone, the man who couldn’t speak began to talk. The crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He throws out demons with the authority of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons.” 16 Others were testing him, seeking a sign from heaven.

17 Because Jesus knew what they were thinking, he said to them, “Every kingdom involved in civil war becomes a wasteland, and a house torn apart by divisions will collapse. 18 If Satan is at war with himself, how will his kingdom endure? I ask this because you say that I throw out demons by the authority of Beelzebul. 19 If I throw out demons by the authority of Beelzebul, then by whose authority do your followers throw them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. 20 But if I throw out demons by the power of God, then God’s kingdom has already overtaken you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his possessions are secure. 22 But as soon as a stronger one attacks and overpowers him, the stronger one takes away the armor he had trusted and divides the stolen goods.

23 “Whoever isn’t with me is against me, and whoever doesn’t gather with me, scatters. 24 When an unclean spirit leaves a person, it wanders through dry places looking for a place to rest. But it doesn’t find any. Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house cleaned up and decorated. 26 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself. They go in and make their home there. That person is worse off at the end than at the beginning.”

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


Some days, we feel hopeless. Nothing is going right. A loved one is ill. There is not enough money to pay the bills. We can’t afford to repair the car. We were turned down for a job we thought we really wanted and were well qualified for. We acknowledge we were wrong, and struggle to forgives ourselves. And so forth!

Not to mention the waves of despair that washed over us as more and more people were diagnosed with COVID, more and more people we know grew ill and died or are battling long-lasting symptoms. COVID highlighted inequities in our society and now we are frustrated, sure nothing will ever change.

Julian of Norwich had a saying: “All will be well and all will be well and every kind of thing will be well.” This doesn’t mean there won’t be pain, but that all will be well for us in spite of the pain, or even as a result of the pain.

This gives us cause to hope. We are claimed as God’s children, beloved and forgiven. Jesus is the strong man in our lives, powerful enough and caring enough to battle our demons and declare that they have been defeated. It doesn’t look like it, though. There is much work to do. The world, our congregation, our community, our nation, nations around the world, are all in need of healing.

Jesus doesn’t do this work of healing without our help. This is why he searched for and trained disciples, to carry on his ministry of healing. This is why Jesus continues to call and train today’s disciples. We use the gifts, the talents, the learned skills serve God in particular ways.

When we seek to bring healing, we also bring hope to hurting, despairing people. One of the flowers I miss from up north are the poppies that grew next to my house. They always give me joy to see them. Note: the joy comes just from looking at them, not from using a byproduct of the flowers. J

It often doesn’t take much to change despair to hope. Sometimes it is as little as a smile, or a pretty flower. Sometimes it is the reminder that God knows us and loves us. Sometimes it is the assurance that God’s reign is already a reality. Let’s seek to spread hope where it is needed.



People of God, do you feel the movement
of the Holy Spirit?
Our hearts have been broken open
to receive the grace of God.
People of God, what do you hear?
We hear Christ calling us to follow
and to be faithful.



In Christ Jesus we meet the God who knows our weakness and bears the wounds of the world. Therefore, let us be bold as we pray, trusting that God draws near to those in any kind of need.

Individual prayers are offered silently or aloud.

Into your wide embrace, O God, we place all our prayers, spoken and unspoken, trusting that you will receive them into your heart of mercy, Jesus Christ, your Son, our Savior. Amen



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.


HYMN: Lord of All Hopefulness

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Brothers and sisters, as you go from this place:
extend grace to all,
be faithful to Christ,
and do not lose hope.
Go in peace.

Thanks be to the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen

Scripture from Common English Bible © 2012

Liturgy from ELW Annual Liturgy License 26504

And Abingdon Worship Annual 2021


Sunday, June 6, 2021

We Are Family!


Mark 3:20-35

We have spent the last few weeks reading from John’s Gospel. Today, we return to the Book of Mark. Let’s recall the first verse of the Gospel, because it reminds us of Mark’s reason for writing. “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

We are in Chapter 3, and already Jesus has enemies. So far in Mark, Jesus has been baptized by John; he has appointed twelve disciples to be sent out; cast out demons and healed sick people. He has forgiven sins, which resulted in the healing of a person who had been crippled. He has eaten with tax collectors and argued with Pharisees. Some of what he has done is contrary to Sabbath laws. He is so popular, he has to hide in deserted places to find time to pray.

The Scribes are calling him names, accusing him of representing the Evil One, Beelzebul. They say, “He casts out demons in the name of the chief of demons.” But Jesus counters that. “That makes no sense! It would be counterproductive for evil to cast out evil.”

His family is worried, first that what he is saying seems crazy, and second, that what he says and does is having a negative impact on the whole family. Society in ancient Israel, in fact the whole region, was based on honor and shame. Honor and the reputation of the family name were of utmost importance. Anything a person did reflected on the whole extended family, far beyond the nuclear family of parents and children.

 So, a few family members show up where Jesus is teaching and speak to him. They try to save themselves from his growing reputation as a crazy person. “C’mon, Jesus, it’s time to stop this nonsense. Think about what you are doing to the whole family.”

Jesus’ response is not what they expected. “Who is my family? Maybe you are not really my family! Those who do the will of God are my family!” This is not the outcome the family members were looking for, of course.

It may look different today, but people are always guilty of forming in-groups and out-groups. Are you a member of the family or group? Do you conform to our rules, our standards? If you don’t conform, you risk being cast out of the group. If you don’t conform already, we won’t let you in.

This behavior begins early. It seems to be hard-wired into us. Adam and Eve struggled with it. They wanted to be part of the group who knew what would happen if they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree.

We learn the behavior from our parents and our peers in elementary school, refine it in middle school, perfect it in high school, and formally implement it in the community and workplace. We cement it in place with laws that reinforce the preferences of the in-group, resulting in the abasement and even abuse of the out-groups. The question becomes, where is Jesus? For example, is he in the circle of whispering, giggling girls? Or is he with the one girl who has been left out?

As Jesus’ ministry continues it is clear he sides with those outside the in-group circle. He challenges the rules that separate people into groups in the first place. Jesus eats with tax collectors and other sinners. He talks with foreign mothers and with bleeding women. He welcomes children. He says all those in the room are his family members.

Jesus works tirelessly to demonstrate that a relationship with God should be free and easy. He makes it plain that all are welcome in God’s reign. Yet, from the beginning the Church has struggled with this. Issues such as circumcision, baptism, skin color, ability, gender, and class have all been used to limit who is welcome. Those same descriptors have been used to determine who can be leaders even if they are otherwise welcome.

Jesus broke a lot of rules and included so many in his circle of welcome. We are not always so welcoming. This is hard work, admitting that we sometimes think some people don’t belong, that some people are less worthy of God’s love, because something makes them different.

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Here’s a story of very inclusive welcome adapted from the June/July 2021 issue of Living Lutheran. Emily worked for several years at a homeless shelter. She wasn’t ordained, but many of the clients opened up to her and considered her their pastor.

They expressed the desire for a faith community that looked like them, people who were homeless. They wished for a space where they could worship and not feel judged by their housing status, their past, or their appearance.

Emily found herself at Wartburg Theological Seminary, and was ordained in 2020. She is now serving as the mission developer for the Dwelling, a faith community designed for people who are or have been homeless, and those who choose to be among them. The Dwelling has established ministries including mobile showers and affordable housing. The participants are more than clients; they are also the leaders of the community.

One member describes the Dwelling this way. It is a place “where you can come in and get comfy. It’s OK to talk to the person next to you, get up and get a cup of coffee, doughnut or muffin.” She calls it one of her “God spots.”

Can’t you imagine Jesus sitting and chatting with these folks, calling them his sisters and brothers? Can you imagine St Matthew’s being just as welcoming? Does it help to remember that sometimes Jesus shows up looking like a person who is homeless? We can learn some things from our siblings at the Dwelling. Amen