Worship at Home for Sunday, July 10

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. I see the scripture passages as giving instructions about how to build a community that has a solid foundation in the love of God and neighbor. Let us seek to love God and be loved by God, to love one another and to be loved by each other.

We (St. Peter’s UCC and BEM) are now planning a trip to see “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat” at the Muny on Thursday, August 18. Tickets will be $13.50 each. Please let me know, if you would like to go and how many tickets you need. Thanks!

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 57 3-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • The Pool Party will be on Sunday, July 10 from 6:15-8:15pm. Bring some snacks and drinks to share. Invite your family and friends to join us for a fun evening at the Owensville Water Park.
  • I will be on vacation from Tuesday, July 12 to Tuesday, July 19. Pat Peets will be preaching. Pastor Jeff Remelius is available for Pastoral emergencies.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Amos 7:7-15, Psalm 82, Colossians 1:1-14, Luke 10:25-37

Sermon: Building Community

We all wish to be a part of a community or at least we think we should. But what does community mean? Is it the place that we live? It is it a group of people that we associate with? Is it people with whom we have something in common? The Merriam Webster Dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/community) defines community as some form of all of these.

The question that I want to ask is, how do we as people of faith envision community? If how God wants us to live shapes our community, what would it look like? The readings from Amos, Luke and Colossians speak to what it is to be living in communities that are faithful to God.

Plumb lines are used to determine if a wall is standing straight or leaning. When building a wall (or hanging wallpaper) a plumb line which is a string with a weight on the end is held up next to the wall. If the wall is parallel to the string, all is well. If not, well adjustments need to be made.

If we look at community as a building project, the image of a plumb line in Amos gives us an idea of how well we might be doing or rather how well the northern Kingdom of Israel was doing during a time of relative prosperity. The answer is that the community of the Kingdom of Israel is a bit off kilter and if the community were a building, it needed to be torn down.

Why was Israel off kilter around 760 BCE? The previous chapters in Amos describe self-indulgent ways among the rich and powerful. The poor and needy are neglected and so much more. God wants the people to care for one another. This lack of care for those at the bottom created a crumbling foundation.

Centuries later Luke writes about Jesus’ concern living as faithful members of God’s community. The lawyer who questions Jesus knows the law and can quote it. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 which links with Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:17-18.) Jesus agrees and challenges the lawyer to go and live it. Not living this is what caused the foundation of Israel to crumble during Amos’ time, and the lawyer knows it. But the lawyer then asks another question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers with a story.

The story is one we have heard so many times in Sunday School and worship. Over the centuries, Jesus’ story has been given the title, “The Good Samaritan”. A good title that focuses on the Samaritan, but Jesus never uses the word good in the story. Maybe another title could be, “How to be a Loving Neighbor”.

To understand a story better, it may be helpful to place ourselves in the story. Maybe you had a moment in your life when you found yourself in a similar situation. When I was very sick from my cancer treatments, I tried to keep life as normal as possible for my boys. The church youth choir was having a special holiday practice with the adult choir on a Wednesday evening. Since Eddy was in the youth choir, I took him to the choir practice. It took about all my strength to do so. I sat down on a sofa in the Narthex to wait for practice to be over. Quite frankly, I was hoping someone would come by and offer to give Eddy a ride home after practice so that Luis and I could go home early and rest.

While I was sitting there, I saw the Vice President of the Church Council go by and give me a funny look before going into the choir room. No luck there. Then another council member and his wife quickly rushed by and gave me a quick glance as they were late as usual. No luck there either. Then the Choir Director came out of the Choir Room to check on me. She said that the others were talking about how strange I looked. She chose to see me, check on me and offer her help. Her kindness really touched me. She was my neighbor.

Mr. Rogers used to sing won’t you let me be your neighbor. Neighbors are the ones who build community by seeing those in pain and having compassion towards them. Compassion is not a cursory glance or a post on Facebook about kindness and caring. Compassion means stopping and doing what the love of God calls us to do for our neighbor. Jesus gives a list of what the Samaritan did for the hurt man. Loving people means doing acts of kindness. When we love our neighbor and allow our neighbor to love us, we build community.

Prayer: God we seek to love you with our whole hearts, minds, and strength. We deeply desire to love our neighbors and to be loved by our neighbors. Help us to build community by loving you and one another. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Jaqueline, Friends of Shelby, Bobby, Kevin, Jim, Darryl, Marilee, Uncle AJ, Jim, Jenny, Dixon’s daughter, and for peace in the world in Ukraine and other war-torn places.

  • Happy Anniversary 69th Anniversary last Sunday to Bill and Delores Green.
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