Worship at Home for July 2 2023

Dear Friends,

I hope that you have a good Independence Day holiday. The Genesis text continues the rather troubling stories of Abraham and his sons. This time it is Isaac who is danger, but like with Ishmael, God provides.

I have new copies of These Days. I can deliver one to your home if you would like a copy.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

  • Youth Trip July 5-7 to see Esther at the Sight and Sound Theater in Branson
  • Pool Party Sunday, July 9, 6:15pm Invite your friends and family!
  • Church Council Meeting on Monday, July 10 at 6:30pm
  • Volunteer at the Gasconade County Fair Ice Cream Stand on Thursday, July 27 from 2-6pm.


Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture: Genesis 22:1-14, Psalm 13, Romans 6:12-23, Matthew 10:40-42

Sermon: Welcoming

The story of God testing Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac is deeply troubling to me. Abraham lived in a time and place when child sacrifice was an accepted practice. This statement alone illustrates just how different his world is from ours. We never learn what Abraham thought or felt about this order. We only learn that he went about the tasks of performing the sacrifice. On the journey to the site of sacrifice, Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham replied, “God himself will provide…” I am amazed that Isaac allowed Abraham to bind him like a lamb and lay him on the altar or did Isaac squirm and fight back? Some scholars look at this as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ willing death on the cross. The story of Abraham troubles me, perhaps I should be more troubled by the crucifixion.

We already know the ending of both stories. God provided a ram caught in a thicket of thorns for the burnt offering. Jesus rose from the dead. Abraham’s words to Isaac earlier in the story were proven true, God did provide. Jesus foretold of his resurrection to the disciples, Jesus lives.

The story of Abraham’s obedience and trust in God created a foundation for pilgrimage worship for both Jews and Muslims. The journey of three days would be the number of days needed for the typical Israelites to travel to Jerusalem for a pilgrimage festival such as Passover or Pentecost. In Biblical times burnt offerings were made upon the altar to God though human sacrifice was forbidden. (Leviticus 20) Burnt offerings are not part of our modern-day worship, but pilgrimages are still practiced.

The descendants of Ishmael (whose story of being cast out into the wilderness we learned about last week) count Abraham as their father too. These descendants became the twelve tribes of the Arabic nations (Genesis 25:12-18). Muslims, like Christians and Jews, consider themselves to be spiritual heirs of Abraham. The Muslim hajj (which takes place this week June 26 to July 1, 2023) commemorates these stories. I found this information about Hajj on the Islamic Networks Group (ING) website highly informative:

Hajj also reenacts and commemorates the story and struggles of Abraham and his family. Muslims believe that Abraham built the first house of worship to the One God, the Ka’bah, which is at the center of the pilgrimage as well as the direction of daily prayers. The pilgrimage commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God’s command who was then replaced by a lamb. This is the meaning behind the tradition of sacrificing a lamb at the conclusion of the pilgrimage; the meat is distributed to those in need. Abraham’s wife Hagar’s desperate search for water for her son Ishmael is commemorated during one of the obligatory rituals of Hajj called Sa’i, during which pilgrims walk in her footsteps between the small hills of Safa and Marwa. (https://ing.org/resources/for-all-groups/calendar-of-important-islamic-dates/hajj-information-sheet/)

Sacrifice and sharing with those in need is an important part of the hajj. Jesus emphasized the importance of sacrifice and sharing in Chapter 10 of Matthew. Jesus explained to the disciples that following him would not be easy. There would be a lot of personal sacrifice, but God would provide and care for them as God cares for the sparrows.

There would be those who would welcome them. The disciples were told that those who welcomed them with a cup of cold water would be welcoming Jesus by proxy. This welcome would earn a reward for the welcomers. Those who did not welcome them would lose their reward. Giving and receiving a cup of cold water may not sound like much, but when one is parched and dry it is a sure comfort.

Even small gestures of care can make a difference. Tiffany DeTienne, our Church World Service CROP Walk regional coordinator, said in CROP Coordinators Zoom that I attended that she encourages even the smallest walks, because their efforts and donations matter when helping to feed hungry people. She did say that our Owensville/Gasconade County walk is outstanding in the amount we raise, “You are a small, but mighty walk.” Last year we raised a total of $12,511.99 for CROP which per capita terms is amazing. Each donation is a cup of cold water given to welcome others in Jesus’ name.

Take time this week to meditate on how on a time when you were following Jesus that someone welcomed you. Maybe they gave you a cup of water or an encouraging word. How did this make you feel? Then think of times that you welcomed someone. How did you feel? Through it all, we trust that God will provide and that we will be welcomed and welcoming to those who follow the pilgrim’s path.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sacrifice is hard for us. We want life to be smooth and easy, but sometimes you call on us to obey in difficult ways. May we trust in you to provide what we need and to share with those in need. Amen.

Prayer list: Elizabeth, Cheryl, Dave, David, Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Bobby, Kevin, Jim, Darryl (doing better!), Marilee, Beverly, Jim, Jenny, Jaqueline-Dixon’s daughter, Kirk, Barbara, Mitchell, Mahala, Mary, La Rae, Bud, Tyra, Marilyn, Tom, Jeff, Jesse, Kate, Kyle, Carmen, Sandy, Gary, Terry, Bob, Mark’s brother Billy, Delores W., Tyra, Freya, Vicki B., Barb Z. Jesse, Mammie, Heath and JoEllen and for rain.  

Joy! Congratulations to Bill and Delores Green on their 70th Wedding Anniversary on July 3. Cards are appreciated!

Meghan, Scott, and Walker (new baby) Hillis sent a thank you note for their prayer shawl.