Our July 18 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The July 25 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
Jeremiah 23:1-6 | Psalm 23
Ephesians 2:11-22 | Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
The Gospel, the apostles return from their journeys. They had been sent out by Jesus, two by two, kind of makes you think of the animals going into Noah’s Ark, and it is kind of an act of salvation, or impending salvation. They were sent out as harbingers of the Kingdom of God to preach and heal. They have much to tell of their journeys. Jesus says to them, “Let’s go on a retreat.” He knows that they are tired, not just from their journeys, but also from all that is going on around them. “They had no leisure even to eat.” But the crowd runs ahead. The retreat is out of the question. “Jesus had compassion upon them, because they were like a sheep without a shepherd (an allusion to Jeremiah); and he began to teach them many things.” I wish Mark would have recorded that part more fully.
I think that this is the first example of a Lutheran retreat, a working retreat. Only the Catholics and the Orthodox, I think, really do a retreat which is a retreat. Have you ever gone on “an organized” church retreat? I dread it when the bishop tells the pastors that we are to meet the bishop and staff somewhere for a “retreat.” I know that instead of a time of quiet contemplation of God and rest, which is what a retreat is supposed to be, there will be a very pressed, and rigid schedule which must be obeyed, it is like the 11th Commandment. Often, 2-3 days worth of work will be compressed into one. And I, like everyone else will come back exhausted. Kind of like the way we schedule our vacations. “They had no leisure even to eat.”
It is not really just being Lutheran, it is the American way! A wise woman once told me, “Americans worship their job, work at their play, and play at their worship.” Think about that. We do. That is one of the reasons that we as a people are tired and confused. We have really taken no time to center ourselves. Worship their jobs. Many are like that. The job is the leading influence in their life. Do people want their headstones to read, “Here lies a good worker,” or “He never missed a meeting?” I really don’t think that will get you into heaven, sorry. But, it will get you there sooner, I believe. I was not really surprised when they announced that 2 million Americans quit their jobs in April. People blamed the stimulus checks. Possibly, but a lot of people discovered during the pandemic shutdowns that there were other things in life. By the way, don’t be surprised at economic changes because of the pandemic. It was the Bubonic Plague that really created the “Middle Class” in the Middle Ages. Work at their play. We love competition, even more than fun. And it destroys play. Play is meant to be a release, not work. Although, I have heard it said that, “Play is the work of children.” So we set up leagues for them to play in, so the parents can yell and shout at them. I was golfing with a friend once. He had just bought a brand new pitching wedge. After flubbing his shot the third time, he bent it over his knee and threw it into the water trap. Yeah, it must have been a faulty pitching wedge. You’ve got to play the game, to enjoy the game. It isn’t the club. Some don’t play at all. They just want to win. Play at their worship. Many want to leave worship happy. That is the trouble some people have with Lent and Good Friday. You aren’t going to leave happy. That isn’t the point. Worship is a duty that we owe to God. It is to please Him. The word “Liturgy” comes from two Greek words put together. It means “work of the people.” Worship is awe, praise and adoration, coming before God. It is an act of devotion. It is not play. The “Entertainment Churches” haven’t learned that yet, and many of them are failing, and portraying worship in an inaccurate and incomplete manner. And we now have an entire generation who really need to be retrained in the meaning of worship in this world.
What we need to recover in the land is a sense of the Biblical concept of Sabbath. It has been ignored by too many for too long. But, God built it into the system for a reason, from the beginning. The Sabbath is a time of rest and pleasure in our being created by God. Even God took the seventh day off. It is a break in the week, a time of “fresh air” from life’s criticisms and that which wears us down. The Sabbath is a time to refresh. It is a question of worth, of not doing, but of being; resting, reflecting. And it is not easy for us. But it is something which God commanded in Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy. I have come to believe that it can even be a measure of faith, how much Sabbath we have in our lives. It can almost be seen as the Gospel in a nutshell, a gift of God. Sabbath is where we recover our creativity and our createdness, resting and filling up our souls. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath.” It is a gift.
Here are some characteristics of the Sabbath. First, it is withdrawl for gifted communion. You do not do Sabbath. It is a time to stop using and being used, just to be. It is rest without motive. Rather a time of deep pleasure of rest, to restore the soul. Second, it can be play, but in a certain sense. It is Useless, free time, “Holy play.” Play is physically needed by us, and spirituality is often related to the physical sphere. They overlap. It frees the mind. Prayer and scripture study, the Greek word for the Holy Spirit is “paraklesis,” which also can mean “Dancing around.” There is no motive of competition, but rather the joy of just being with God. And third, Sabbath is mindfulness, not usefulness. It is a time to focus on God’s presence in everything that is, even the most mundane activities. “Peace in every step,” recovering a sense of the sanctity of life. Let God refill us, re-create us; as He has made us a new creation in Christ Jesus, who saw the need for Sabbath in the lives of his apostles after a period of hard work. And, perhaps, those were some of the “many things” that he stopped to teach the crowd.