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Do Not Make Room for the Devil

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For August 8, 2021:

Mary AustinDo Not Make Room for the Devil
by Mary Austin
Ephesians 4:25--5:2

"Telling the truth shouldn't be hard,” US Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn told the Congressional Committee investigating the January 6 riots at the US Capitol. In a heartbreaking day of testimony, four police officers told members of Congress about being involved in hand-to-hand combat with rioters who were armed with stolen police shields, mace, bear spray, poles and tasers. “D.C. Metro Police Officer Michael Fanone, testifying about the events of January 6, said it was “unlike anything I had ever seen, unlike anything I had ever experienced.” He recalled being pulled into the crowd, beaten with fists and “what felt like hard metal objects,” and electrocuted. “I heard chanting from some in the crowd, “‘Get his gun,’ and ‘kill him with his own gun.’” He said doctors later diagnosed him with a concussion, a heart attack, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“Putting away falsehood, let us speak the truth to our neighbors,” the letter to the Ephesians urges, “for we are members of one another.” This is as true for strong nations as it is for strong churches. The events of January 6 and the brutal attack on the Capitol are summoning us to understand the truth and to speak it to each other. In Congress, the longing for truth is meeting with equally determined reluctance to hear it.

The letter to the Ephesians poses powerful questions to us not only about how we speak the truth, but also about how we hear it. “Live in love,” the letter counsels us, asserting that both offering and receiving truth are important practices for any kind of shared community life.  

In the News
The testimony by four police officers about the January 6 riots was, in turns, blistering, tearful (for the police officers, members of Congress and those listening) full of bewilderment, and painful. The truth of the day is hard to hear. The pain of the day is far from over for the people who defended the Capitol in January. Officer Gonell, “a naturalized American citizen and Iraq War veteran, characterized the bedlam as like something from “a medieval battle.” He described how his hands, shoulder, calf and foot were hurt in the attack — and wept while explaining how he couldn’t even hug his wife upon returning home, fearing the chemicals that had seeped into his clothes and were burning his skin would make her sick, too. “To be honest, I did not recognize my fellow citizens who stormed the Capitol on January 6th or the United States that they claim to represent,” he testified, adding, “Nothing in my experience in the Army or as a law enforcement officer prepared me for what we confronted.” It’s been estimated that 140 police officers were injured in the riot.”

Now Congress is wrestling with the question of how to get at the deeper truth about the day, and how to tell a story that all of Congress is willing to hear, so we never have a day like that again.

Other truths are emerging in the world of sports. Olympic champion Simone Biles drew both praise and scorn for withdrawing from several Olympic events, citing her mental and physical health. It looks like Biles plans to return for one final individual event. “Biles came to Tokyo as the biggest star of these Olympics, projected to win a record five gold medals. But she developed a case of “the twisties,” a loss of air awareness that can have catastrophic consequences for a gymnast.” In an Olympics without many household names and marquee stars, the Olympic organization and its sponsors used Biles’ talent to enhance excitement about the games.

In a sport where the mental and physical have to align perfectly to compete at Biles’ level, the demands on her going into the games were high. “In Tokyo, Biles, 24, was expected to defend her all-around title from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles in the all-around in 53 years. She also had qualified for all four finals in each individual event at these Games next week and was widely expected to win at least three golds. If Biles doesn’t compete at these Games at all, there’s a distant possibility that she will try for the 2024 Olympics in Paris to honor her coaches, Cecile and Laurent Landi, who are French. But in an interview with The New York Times before she left for Tokyo, she said she is tired and stressed, and that retirement is looking more and more appealing.”

More enduring than Biles’ medal count is the power of her speaking the truth about her mental health. Tennis star Naomi Osaka spoke a similar truth recently, when she withdrew from a competition. “Biles’ decision is part of a larger cultural moment. In recent months, multiple high-profile athletes — many of them young Black women — have been open about prioritizing their mental health over someone else’s definition of success. Before Biles, the most prominent was tennis star Naomi Osaka, who stepped away from press conferences and then from tournaments earlier this year out of a need to protect her mental health. “It’s OK to not be OK, and it’s OK to talk about it,” she wrote in a July essay at Time explaining the move.”

Each person who bravely shares their truth opens a door for others to claim their own experiences, and allows us to move toward living together in love, as we greet each other with understanding and support.

In the Scriptures
The epistle’s call is to speak the truth to our neighbors — to people with whom we have a relationship, and some common ground. It could be police officers speaking to the people they’re assigned to protect, like members of Congress. In another situation, it could be citizens speaking to the police. Sports stars speak to their fans, and some fans have spoken back with their own opinions. In a church community, we are truly members of each other, and have the connection with each other to enable speaking the truth in love. The words we speak, as the letter advises, are meant to build up, not tear down. The truth, wisely spoken, can build up an individual and enhance the whole community.

“Be angry,” the letter advises, acknowledging that there are times when anger is the right response. We can be angry about systemic injustice, pervasive untruth and personal violations, and our anger can lead to the truth, when we use it with wisdom. Be angry, the letter allows, and let the anger serve a greater purpose than an individual tantrum.

Speaking the truth happens within the framework of community. To knit together the fabric of community, the author advises, “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Anger is one part in a range of emotions that we have in our connections with each other, and truth-telling is another piece of the connection, alongside other experiences of forgiveness, kindness and compassion.

In the Sermon
Mental health is suddenly in style — a trend that I hope will endure and become a standard part of our cultural conversation about health in general. Anna North notes in Vox that high profile people in pressured situations are not the only ones talking about mental health. “And it’s not just famous people who are done staying silent. Record numbers of workers from retail to restaurants to offices have left their jobs this year, often citing mental health as a factor. In one 2020 survey, 80% of workers said they would consider quitting for a role that offered better support for mental well-being.”

The sermon might encourage members of the congregation to attend to their own mental health, and it might address the stigmas around seeking help, or talking about our struggles. The sermon might normalize taking medication, seeing a counselor and acknowledging that we all have ups and downs in our health, whether physical or mental.

Too often in church life, we get the balance of speaking the truth wrong. We hold back the truth to be nice, when it would be more loving to speak up. Or, we burst out in rage, after holding the truth in for too long. The sermon might address how to start from the foundation of being members of each other, and speaking the truth to others from that foundation.

The scripture leaves out the other half of speaking the truth — being willing and able to hear it. The sermon might focus on what we need to do to hear the truth. How do we build up our skills so we receive it with acceptance? Hearing the truth about ourselves, or about practices we take for granted, can be hard, particularly if we come from a place of privilege. How do we cultivate a listening, learning spirit, so we can learn when the truth comes to us? How do we keep from burdening others with the work of educating us? How do we make space for people to share their truth with us, in a way that’s safe for them? The sermon might explore these vital spiritual skills, both for individuals and for whole communities of faith.

Seeing with clarity, speaking up and listening well are all crucial practices for life in Christ, and they strengthen our connections with each other, and with the Jesus who never shied away from the truth. As we follow him, the truth is both a gift and a calling, prompting us to do much better so we can truly be members of each other.



Dean FeldmeyerSECOND THOUGHTS
Absalom, My Son
by Dean Feldmeyer
2 Samuel 19:5-9, 15, 31-33

Before I retired, I served for more than 40 years as a parish pastor. And in those four decades, more than a few times, I sat with and stood at the graveside with parents who had experienced the death of their child.

I have never seen such pain, such misery, such anguish in all of my life.

We are not meant to live longer than our kids. We are not naturally equipped with the mental strength, the spiritual resources, or the emotional maturity to go through such a trial and come out unscarred. Indeed, I have known parents who never really seemed to come out at all.

I sat with parents whose children died in accidents and from illness. I wept with parents whose children were murdered, whose children committed suicide, and whose children died of old age. And regardless of the relative age of the parent and child, the pain was just as real, just as devastating.

I prayed with parents whose children were their best friends, and parents who were estranged from their children, and with whom they hadn’t spoken in years. I listened to parents who were proud of their deceased child and parents whose child died in prison, and the grief was just as real for all of them.

King David’s son, Absalom, hated him, tried to kill him, and attempted to usurp his throne. And, yet, when Absalom died, David became paralyzed with grief.

In the Scripture
Handsome, charismatic, ambitious Absalom was David’s third and favorite son and Absalom had a sister, Tamar, who was as beautiful as he was handsome.

Their half-brother, Amnon, lusted after beautiful Tamar and, after she rebuffed his advances, he invited her to his home under the pretext of apologizing for his boorish behavior. Once she entered his house, however, he raped her and then threw her out into the street.

Tamar went to her brother, Absalom, and told him what had happened and he immediately placed her under his protection in his home while he went to their father, David, expecting David to punish Amnon and restore Tamar’s honor. David, however, prevaricated; making excuses, and took no action for over three years.

With each passing day of the three years, Absalom’s anger and hatred for Amnon grew as did his exasperation and indignation over his father’s refusal to act on Tamar’s behalf. David’s passive inactivity, his weakness and equivocation, Absalom reasoned, made him unfit to be king. If Amnon was going to be punished it would have to be at the hands of Absalom. So, he invited Amnon to his home under the pretext of setting things right and then ordered his servants to kill is half-brother.

Absalom had already begun to marshal his supporters and formulate a plan for a coup that would put himself on the throne. Civil war ensued with heavy casualties on both sides, the climax coming at the battle of Forest of Ephraim. David ordered his general, Joab, to win the battle and end the war but to “deal gently” with Absalom, but Joab disobeyed the orders. It became clear that the battle was going to be won by David’s army and Absalom fled, riding a mule into the forest. As he rode, his long hair, about which he was proud and vain, was caught in the branches of a tree. The mule ran off, leaving Absalom hanging in the tree, defenseless. Joab, believing that the war would never end as long as Absalom lived, ordered his men to kill the young man with arrows.

Today’s lesson from the Hebrew scripture tells of how David received word of Absalom’s death. Heartbroken, he went into deep mourning, giving his troops the impression that he cared more about his traitorous son than he did about them. Eventually, Joab came to him and told him to stop making a spectacle of his grief and to show some appreciation for those men who had offered and given their lives for their king and country.

In the News
"He meant the world to me, and it feels like my life is over. That was my baby. I've never, never thought pain like this could exist." Joanna Cloonan, mother of Aiden Leos, six-years-old, who was shot to death in a road rage incident on his way to school, while sitting in his booster seat in the backseat of his mother’s car, May 21, 2021.

Daisha Smalls of Houston was pumping gas and she saw police cars and heard sirens. Her one-year-old son, Legend, was in the back seat of her vehicle. A man being chased by police got into the car and police, seeing him holding a gun, opened fire, killing him. But they also shot Legend in the head.

At last report, he was experiencing multiple seizures, a portion of his skull had to be removed, and he was fighting for his life in intensive care.

We are supposed to be protecting our children. So why are so many of them dying by gun violence? So far, this year, (as of August 1, 2021) 907 American children and teens under 17 have been killed by gunfire and 2,421 have been injured. 178 of the fatalities were under 11 years of age.

According to a 2019 study by the University of Michigan, firearms are the second leading cause of death among US children and adolescents, after car crashes. Firearm deaths occur at a rate over three times higher than drownings. Causes of injury and death due to motor vehicle crashes have steadily declined over the last 20 years, but death and injury due to firearms has remained about the same over the same period.

Rates of death from firearms among young people ages 14 to 17 are now 22.5% higher than motor vehicle-related death rates. In the US, middle and high school age children are now more likely to die as the result of a firearm injury than from any other single cause of death.

The US stands out among high-income countries: Over 90% of all the firearm deaths among children and adolescents that occur in industrialized nations occur in this country.

Furthermore, the US has more privately owned firearms — not including military firearms — than citizens. Data from the Pew Research Center indicates that 54% of firearm owners with children under 18 living in the home have their firearms locked away. This suggests to us that many young children and teens (46%) may have relatively easy access to unsecured firearms.

Tragic and regrettable and heartbreaking as this data is, it misses one important point. Every human being who is killed by a firearm in this country is somebody’s child. Every single one of the 25,927 Americans who have died this year as a result of gun violence (as of August 1) is someone’s son or daughter.

And the grief those parents have experienced is unimaginable in its depth and intensity.

No doubt, little Aiden Leos’s mother speaks for them all when she says: “I never, never thought pain like this could exist.”

In the Sermon
When it comes to guns, Americans like to talk about their rights and their freedoms and not so much about their responsibilities. When it comes to the 2nd Amendment we are, as a nation, largely adolescents in our thinking. Even the slightest mention of regulating gun ownership is met with some version of, “You’re not the boss of me!”

The only way we can think of to protect our children is to arm everyone. More guns seems to be the preventative for every crime, the answer to every question, the solution to every problem.

We know, however, that putting more guns in the hands of people is not going to mitigate the pain felt by Aiden’s mother. It is not going to bring back the 20 children or the 6 adults killed at Sandy Hook. It’s not going to ease the grief of the friends and families of the 9 adults murdered at the Mother Emmanuel church in Charleston.

The best way to mitigate the pain and grief of a lost child, be they young or old, is to prevent the loss before it happens. As Christians, we are called to be proactive in our care and protection of our neighbors and their children. We are not allowed to shrug off 25,927gun deaths in seven months as simply “the price we pay for freedom.”

Let us begin imagining how we can hold those parents in our “thoughts and prayers” before their children die rather than after when those words ring hollow and empty.



ILLUSTRATIONS

Chris KeatingFrom team member Chris Keating:

1 Kings 19:4-8
What if Elijah had Netflix?

There’s no ignoring the fact that Elijah needed a break. Queen Jezebel’s response to Elijah besting the prophets of Baal was to put a contract on his life. Fleeing for his life, Elijah runs to the wilderness under the shade of a solitary broom tree. His lament bounces across the empty spaces: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”

While Elijah’s soliloquy is often associated with symptoms of depression, his cries could also be associated with the laments of one who is languishing. Indeed, as Wharton psychologist Adam Grant observes, languishing might describe the lingering sense of stagnation, emptiness, and muddling along many have felt during the pandemic.

Grant points out that the spectrum of mental health ranges from depression to flourishing. He believes that there are many persons who may not be clinically depressed but who are still in need of a mental health boost. He observes:

Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.

Research indicates that medical workers in Italy who experience signs of languishing during the early days of pandemic were three times more likely to be later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. (It’s safe to say that lamenting under a broom tree in the wilderness could be an indicator of potential PTSD!)

Naming languishing is an important first step toward healing. Grant says that antidotes to languishing may include the immersive experience known as “flow,” or the sense of being absorbed in a challenge, project, or experience. Flow can be achieved in many ways, Grant says, including that late-night Netflix binge. Flow is anything that diverts our otherwise scattered or fragmented attention spans. This explains why so many of us were fixated on Netflix’ “Tiger King” in 2020.

For Elijah, that moment of flow came as God called to him in his languishing, certainly a much better alternative than the Tiger King.

* * *

Psalm 34:1-8
Blessed Earworm, Jesus is mine!

It’s possible that the psalmist’s ebullient declaration of continual praise of God is an indicator of the existence of biblical earworms. An earworm, of course, has nothing to do with something creepy crawling through your eustachian tubes. It’s that frequently repeated song constantly looping through your head — a personal soundtrack rattling around with you all day long. “With an earworm,” writes Kathy Gottberg, “there is no off button and like a worm, the message is often so deep inside us that we aren’t even aware it is there. Even worse, there is a good chance you have dozens of earworms playing out messages repeatedly in your head on a regular basis.”

A 2016 study of more than 3,000 persons revealed that the most frequently named earworms included catchy songs with strong beats such as “Bad Romance,” by Lady Gaga; “Can’t Get You Out of My Mind,” by Kylie Minoque, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey; and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. No doubt that many of us remember singing “Amazing Grace” at church camp to “House of the Rising Sun.” (You’re welcome!)

But earworms could be the songs of faith that bring us healing, comfort, and hope.  The psalmist models for us praise that is constant and life-long, a connection to God’s grace that enables us to proclaim, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

* * *

Ephesians 4:25--5:2
Speaking truth to our neighbors

For those of us who dwell on Earth, this summer has been a moment of truth, and a moment to tell the truth about climate change.

In one week, commuters in Zhengzhou, China, panicked as muddy waters streamed into their subway train, forcing them to cling to poles and jump on seats. Meanwhile, at least 800 persons in Oregon died from what scientists called “the most anomalous heat event ever observed on Earth.”

There’s more: massive flooding in Central Europe, Nigeria, Uganda and India have killed hundreds. Wildfires fueled by scorching temperatures blaze across North America. Madagascar is facing the worst drought in decades while tens of thousands of forests are burning in Siberia. The alarm bells are ringing, and there is no denying the truth that needs to be spoken.

“What more can numbers show us that we cannot already see? What more can statistics say about the flooding, the wildfires, the droughts and hurricanes and other deadly events?” United Nations Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa told a gathering of energy and environment ministers from G-20 nations. “Numbers and statistics are invaluable, but what the world requires now, more than anything else, is climate action.”


* * * * * *

George ReedWORSHIP
by George Reed

Call to Worship:
One: Out of the depths we cry to you, O God.
All: Let your ears be attentive to the voice of our supplications!
One: If you, O God, should mark iniquities who could stand?
All: But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
One: With God there is steadfast love, and great power to redeem.
All: It is our God who will redeem us from all our iniquities.

OR

One: God invites us to come and hear the truth.
All: We want to know what is true and real.       
One: God invites us to treat each other in love and kindness.
All: We want to live together in harmony and peace.      
One: Truth and peace rely on each other.
All: In love we will speak the truth to each other.       

Hymns and Songs
O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
UMH: 57/58/59
H82: 493
PH: 466
AAHH: 184
NNBH: 23
NCH: 42
CH: 5
LBW: 559
ELW: 886
W&P: 96
AMEC: 1/2
Renew: 32

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty
UMH: 64/65
H82: 362
PH: 138
AAHH: 329
NNBH: 1
NCH: 277
CH: 4
LBW: 165
ELW: 413
W&P: 136
AMEC: 25
STLT: 26
CCB: 15
Renew: 204

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
UMH: 103
H82: 423
PH: 263
NCH: 1
CH: 66
LBW: 526
ELW: 834
W&P: 48
AMEC: 71
STLT: 273
Renew: 46

The God of Abraham Praise
UMH: 116
H82: 401
NCH: 24
CH: 24
LBW: 544
ELW: 831
W&P: 16
Renew: 51

Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above
UMH: 126
H82: 408
PH: 483
NCH: 6
CH: 6
W&P: 56
Renew: 52

I Love to Tell the Story
UMH: 156
AAHH: 513
NNBH: 424
NCH: 522
CH: 480
LBW: 390
ELW: 661
W&P: 560
AMEC: 217  

Jesus Shall Reign
UMH: 157
H82: 544
PH: 423  
NNBH: 10
NCH: 300
CH: 95
LBW: 530
ELW: 434
W&P: 341
AMEC: 96    
Renew: 296

Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart
UMH: 160/161
H82: 556/557
PH: 145/146
AAHH: 537
NNBH: 7
NCH: 55/71
CH: 15
LBW: 553
ELW: 873/874
W&P: 113
AMEC: 8

O Jesus, I Have Promised
UMH: 396
H82: 655
PH: 388/389
NCH: 493
CH: 612
LBW: 503
ELW: 810
W&P: 458
AMEC: 280  

O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee
UMH: 430
H82: 659/660
PH: 357  
NNBH: 445
NCH: 503
CH: 602
LBW: 492
ELW: 818
W&P: 589
AMEC: 299  

From the Rising of the Sun
CCB: 4

How Majestic Is Your Name
CCB: 21
Renew: 98

Music Resources Key
UMH: United Methodist Hymnal
H82: The Hymnal 1982
PH: Presbyterian Hymnal
AAHH: African American Heritage Hymnal
NNBH: The New National Baptist Hymnal
NCH: The New Century Hymnal
CH: Chalice Hymnal
LBW: Lutheran Book of Worship
ELW: Evangelical Lutheran Worship
W&P: Worship & Praise
AMEC: African Methodist Episcopal Church Hymnal
STLT: Singing the Living Tradition
CCB: Cokesbury Chorus Book
Renew: Renew! Songs & Hymns for Blended Worship

Prayer for the Day/Collect
O God in whom truth and honesty abound:
Grant us the courage to speak the truth in love
that we may be knit together into one community;
through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

OR

We praise you, O God, because honesty and truth abound in you. In you there is no deception or deceit in you. Help us to be your true children by speaking the truth in love so that we may bound together as your family. Amen.

Prayer of Confession
One: Let us confess to God and before one another our sins and especially our failure to speak the truth in love.   

All: We confess to you, O God, and before one another that we have sinned. We have deserted the truth. We are afraid to speak the truth because others might not accept it from us. We see and hear things that cause harm to others but we don’t speak up. Other times we speak but we do it with anger and spite. Forgive us and embolden us to speak truth in love as Jesus did. Amen.

One: God is truth and welcomes our attempts to be truthful and kind. Receive God’s grace and use it to be truthful with others and your selves.

Prayers of the People
Praise and glory are yours, O God, of truth. In you there is no shadow of falsehood or deceit. 

(The following paragraph may be used if a separate prayer of confession has not been used.)

We confess to you, O God, and before one another that we have sinned. We have deserted the truth. We are afraid to speak the truth because others might not accept it from us. We see and hear things that cause harm to others but we don't speak up. Other times we speak but we do it with anger and spite. Forgive us and embolden us to speak truth in love as Jesus did.

We give you thanks for all the blessings of this life. We thank you for the open truth of Jesus and his teachings. We thank you for those who have loved us enough to speak truth to us when we were heading in the wrong direction. 

(Other thanksgivings may be offered.)

We pray for all who are in need this day. We pray for those who have been deceived and tricked for the gain of others. We pray for all seek the truth and find no one to help them discern it.  

(Other intercessions may be offered.)

All these things we ask in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together saying:

Our Father....Amen.

(Or if the Our Father is not used at this point in the service.)

All this we ask in the name of the Blessed and Holy Trinity.  Amen.

Children’s Sermon Starter

Hold up an object such as a red ball and talk about it by describing it as being a white ball. You might ask the children if they like this white ball. When they point out it is red talk about telling the truth. Telling the truth is simply saying what is real. God wants us to be truthful but God wants us to be kind, too.


* * * * * *

Quantisha Mason-DollCHILDREN'S SERMON
Time and Space
by Quantisha Mason-Doll
1 Kings 19:4-8

Does anyone here know what it means when we call a person a prophet?

How many of you think that a prophet is someone extra special?

Prophets are people just like me and you but they are kind of like a leader or someone that sets an example on what it means to be a follower of God. Do you want to know who is one of my favorite prophets? Well, he is the prophet Elijah of the Hebrew Bible, and our story today is one of the reasons why I love him so much!

In our story today Elijah is very upset and scared. Elijah is overwhelmed and feels like he cannot handle being a prophet anymore. He runs away from everyone he knows and cares about and ends up under a tree in the desert. Elijah turns to God in prayer but his prayer was a sad one and he no longer believes in himself. Sometimes this might happen to you. When you get sad or angry you might say something mean about yourself. I know I sometimes do this. When that happens I think about the rest of the story.

After Elijah fell asleep and was able to nap for a little while the Lord sent messengers with gifts of food and water for Elijah to have to help him feel better. After Elijah napped, ate, and drank he felt better about himself and spent some alone time before talking with God again. It is here when Elijah realizes that things can and will get better if you give the problem time and space.

Moral of the story:
1. Be kind to yourself
2. It is okay to take time to yourself.
3. Something can wait until after you have taken a nap, had a little snack, and had time to think about how that disagreement made you feel.

Prayer
Loving God,
We want to thank you for always loving us the way you loved Elijah.
Help us to know when it is okay to spend time by ourselves.
Show us how to be kinder to ourselves and to our friends.
We pray this in your son’s name,
Amen.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *


The Immediate Word, August 8, 2021 issue.

Copyright 2021 by CSS Publishing Company, Inc., Lima, Ohio.

All rights reserved. Subscribers to The Immediate Word service may print and use this material as it was intended in sermons and in worship and classroom settings only. No additional permission is required from the publisher for such use by subscribers only. Inquiries should be addressed to or to Permissions, CSS Publishing Company, Inc., 5450 N. Dixie Highway, Lima, Ohio 45807.
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New & Featured This Week

The Immediate Word

Mary Austin
Katy Stenta
Christopher Keating
Dean Feldmeyer
Quantisha Mason-Doll
For October 17, 2021:
  • Not Suffering Alone by Mary Austin — Covid has been so painful, for so many people around the world. Can there be anything redemptive in this season of suffering, for us and for the people around us?
  • Second Thoughts: God Answers Job by Katy Stenta — How do we make time, like Job, to sit with our grief?

Emphasis Preaching Journal

Bill Thomas
Mark Ellingsen
Bonnie Bates
Frank Ramirez
Job 38:1-7 (34-41)
There are a total of 39 questions in Job chapter 38, more than any other chapter of the Bible. It is God’s reply to Job’s situation and addresses his sovereignty.
David Kalas
Note: This installment was originally published in 2006.

When I was in grade school, there was not much freedom for individual children to wander the halls. If a student was seen walking alone down the hallway during school hours, a teacher or administrator was bound to stop the student and ask, "Where are you supposed to be?"

The underlying presumption, of course, was that there was seldom a good reason for a young child to be on his/her own, away from the teacher, and apart from the class. To be

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Frank Ramirez
John E. Sumwalt
Contents
“Whatever You Ask?” by Frank Ramirez
“I Surrender All” by John Sumwalt


Whatever You Ask?
by Frank Ramirez
Mark 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” (v. 35)

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John Jamison
Object: Chairs for a short game of Musical Chairs. NOTE: You can use pillows or cushions if it is easier. You will want one seat for each child. However, if you have a large group of children, you can just have three or four take part in the actual game if you prefer. For more fun, talk with your music person to see if they will play the short pieces of music for your game of musical chairs.

The Village Shepherd

Janice B. Scott
Clarence was always very particular, even as a fledging only just out of the nest. He happened to have been born with an especially large and beautifully radiant white bib, which he probably wouldn't have noticed if the large snowy owl, who kept a weather-eye on all the young birds, hadn't remarked to Clarence's mother, "Oh my! What a bootiful bib! You'll have some trouble keeping that clean with a young chick like that! But he'll sooon get into mischief, so it won't be white for long."

SermonStudio

Robert A. Hausman
What does it mean to be great? That is the question our texts raise today. "Great" is a wide-ranging word: You can have a great king, great skill, a great storm, a great number, great joy, or great fear. You can use it in its Greek form, mega -- as in megachurch; or in its Latin form, magna -- as in magnify. It can refer to physical form, size, or height. Pull yourself up, stand tall, like the cedars of Lebanon! Be great!

Lee Ann Dunlap
Many of you may remember from your grade school days a novel by Mark Twain titled, The Prince and the Pauper. It has been adapted in various forms of Disney productions and even a few cartoon tales. The Twain story begins with two boys with identical features -- one a spoiled royal heir, and the other a street urchin surviving on his wits. By chance they meet. The pauper is enamored with the fineries of the palace, while the prince envies the pauper's freedom to come and go as he chooses.

William G. Carter
Historically speaking, the church has usually painted a pretty picture of the twelve original disciples of Jesus. All except Judas have been considered saints. Pious people have named churches after them, often referring to the first disciples as the rocks upon which Christ has built his church. Yet anybody who hears the Gospel of Mark's stories about the disciples gets a different picture of who they were and what they wanted. Sure, the disciples walked the road with Jesus. They listened as he taught. They watched as he did signs and wonders. They followed where he led.

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