The 14th Sunday after Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 6, 2020

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-11

R:  A reading from Ezekiel, the 33rd chapter.

God appointed Ezekiel as a sentinel for the house of Israel. Ezekiel must faithfully convey God’s warnings to the people. Remarkably, God—who is about to attack Jerusalem—gives a warning with the hope that repentance will make the attack unnecessary.

7So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. 9But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.
10Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” 11Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Psalm: Psalm 119:33-40

R:  Psalm 119, read responsively by verse.

33Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes,
  and I shall keep it to the end.
34Give me understanding, and I shall keep your teaching;
  I shall keep it with all my heart.
35Lead me in the path of your commandments,
  for that is my desire.
36Incline my heart to your decrees
  and not to unjust gain. 
37Turn my eyes from beholding falsehood;
  give me life in your way.
38Fulfill your promise to your servant,
  which is for those who fear you.
39Turn away the reproach that I dread,
  because your judgments are good.
40Behold, I long for your commandments;
  by your righteousness enliven me. 

Second Reading: Romans 13:8-14

R:  A reading from Romans, the 13th chapter.

The obligation of Christians is to love one another and so fulfill the heart and goal of the law. Clothes make the person as we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and live today in light of the future God has in store for us.

8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

*Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

P:  The holy gospel according to St. Matthew, the 18th chapter.

Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus offers practical advice to his disciples on how individuals—and the church as a whole—should go about restoring relationships when one member has sinned against another.

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

Devotion

“Clothes Shopping”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

         In the past month many families have gone clothes shopping.  It is an annual ritual of sorts for the time of back to school.  This is done for at least two reasons.

1 – to make sure the student has sufficient and proper fitting clothes.

2 – to help the student begin the year with a fresh attitude of self-respect and readiness for getting down to work.  The outer garb helps with the inner attitude.

         There is that old proverb:  The Clothes Make the Man.  This generally means that what a person wears helps to define who they are and what their attitude will be.  Sloppy or dirty clothes can affect the attitude of a person. Neat, clean and well-ordered clothes can be part of a generally together and positive attitude for a person.  Also, the way one dresses affects how the person is perceived or understood by others.

         Clothes used as a uniform help identify the role, actions, or associations of a person.  Police officers, fire fighters, restaurant workers, soldiers, pastors, medical staff, and many others wear uniforms for identification by others.

         In today’s reading from Romans we read about a new kind of clothing or uniform for God’s people.  This clothing can not be seen on the body, but it can be seen in how the believer lives.  Paul writes in verse 14 of our reading, “Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for he flesh, to gratify its desires.”  The Apostle Paul also refers to this as the “armor of light” in verse 12.  The basic message is that through the forgiveness of sin and the loving goodness of God, believers in Jesus have the opportunity to become someone different.  For us to have believed in Jesus and received him through baptism and faith, we are called to become the person God has made us to be.  Our lives are changed for the better by entering into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  When we put on or receive Jesus Christ in our lives we get to see how the Holy Spirit transforms our lives.  Our new set of clothes, our new uniform is Jesus.  We become what God has dressed us to be.  In a very real sense, by the grace of God, the Clothes make the Christian.

         With God’s abundant goodness and mercy we are invited to put on the new clothes of faith.  These new spiritual garments replace the old.  This replacement takes place first on the cross of Jesus.  Our old way of living, filled with broken lives, sin, death, self-deception, evil and destruction, has only brought us death.  Paul reminds us earlier in the book of Romans that, “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23).  Our rejection of God and his will had become our way of living.  Humanity had put on the dirty rags of sin, death and evil. 

         God, through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, has offered to us a new set of clothes.  He first takes upon himself our dirty rags of sin and death.  These he wore spiritually when he died on the cross for the forgiveness of all we had done to disregard his ways.  Just days after Jesus was lain in the tomb and left for dead he surprised the world by fulfilling his promise to rise from the dead.  In that he offers to humanity a new set of clothes.  As we are joined spiritually to his death and rising from the tomb we are granted the new garments of salvation from eternal death and the power of sin and evil.  Through baptism and the gift of faith we are clothed with Jesus’ perfection, love and goodness.  Paul reminds us of this truth in Galatians, chapter 3, verse 27, where he writes, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ”  We give thanks that God gives to us life and hope and the garments of salvation, and we are empower and gifted to live God’s most excellent way. 

         Along the way we discover and implement all that this “Putting on Christ” means for our lives.  One of the most powerful passages describing this is in Ephesians, chapter 6, verses eleven through seventeen.  Paul writes, “11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

         God’s blessing of being clothed with Christ changes who we are and what we do.  Through the mercy of our Lord we can put on the whole armor of God and we can be ready for all that God calls us to do.  I invite you to ponder the words of this passage about the Whole Armor of God.  Start with giving thanks to God for his mercy and grace.  Then prayerfully consider how you might utilized the gifts of God for the encouragement of your faith, for being a blessing to others, and to give praise and thanks to our loving God.  And remember, by the grace and goodness of God, the Clothes make the Christian.

Let us pray – Gracious Lord, your mercy is greater than we can ever imagine.  By your Holy Spirit help us to receive you in faith and to grow into the people you have redeemed us to be.  We pray this in Jesus’ holy name.  Amen

*Prayers of Intercession

A:  Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.

A brief silence.

Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are the one true God.  Turn our spiritual hearts toward you so that we may respond to you with joyful worship and abundant praise.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for the blessings of work in our daily lives.  Help us to use our gifts and resources in a manner which builds up life for the community.  Lord, in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

Enable each of us to show compassion and charity for our neighbors each day.  Guide us to love and care for one another in your Church, the Body of Christ.  Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer those who have suffered in any way due to recent disasters. Help us work with others to bring relief and encouragement to these neighbors in need.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray that all who mourn will receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Guide us to care for those who struggle following the loss of a loved one.  (We especially remember…)   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good and Gracious Lord, bring healing, strength and hope to those who struggle in mind, body, or spirit, especially . . .  and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…  May your comforting Spirit strengthen all for whom we pray.   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer Texas Lutheran University and the Lutheran Seminary Program of the Southwest.  Guide the leaders, students, staff and faculty at these schools as they train leaders for the church and society.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

You grant us what we truly need in this life.  We pray that you would be powerfully present with each of us.  Stir your Holy Spirit in us to bring out the spiritual fruit of generosity and goodness in our lives.  Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

P:  Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

LORD’S PRAYER 

Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #27061.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Waldeck Lutheran Church BBQ Sunday, September 27. 10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.  Drive thru only.  Whole Chicken $10/each; Sausage Links $7/each.  Homemade BBQ sauce also available.  Pre-order by calling 979-249-6551 or 979-966-8872.  Tell your friends.  This is their main, special fundraiser for 2020.  Thank you for your support.

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