Monday, August 5, 2013

Invest in the Kingdom

Invest in the Kingdom is my suggested worship theme for the twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, August 11, 2013. Focus scriptures are Isaiah 1:1-20 and Luke 12:32:34.

Isaiah pictures the aimlessness and violence that result when a people abandon God and pursue selfish goals. At the end, however, he sees God offering an olive branch – the possibility that all is not completely lost -- that despite their bloody sins the people can yet return and be healed.

In Luke, Jesus makes essentially the same offer -- assuring us that it is God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. Therefore we can trust investing ourselves in creating the love and justice and peace that God created us to create. And we can restrain ourselves from abandoning God by investing too much in material possessions.

Our hearts, after all, need to go somewhere. They want to be joined to some worthy cause. Both passages tell us that there is only one really satisfying end. As Augustine remarked about the way our search must end with God, “Our hearts are restless till they rest in you.”

Here is a Call to Worship based on Isaiah 1:1-20. Please use or adapt anything helpful to you.

Call to Worship    From Isaiah 1:1-20

L: Sisters and brothers, do you ever wonder how God feels about us?
     Let’s recall what the prophet Isaiah saw in a vision a long time ago…
P: God speaks: “Once I had children, and I cared for their every need.
      But can you imagine this, they disowned me and ran away!
L: A dog would never bite the hand that feeds him, but not my children!
     No, they left home and never looked back!
P: It’s the funniest thing, though. They’re not doing too well on their own.
    They kill each other. A lot of them are poor. They fight stupid wars.  
    They’re greedy. They’ll do anything for money but they aren't happy.
L: And then they have the audacity to complain to me! Why aren’t you listening?
     We send up our prayers. We go to church. Why don’t you help us?
P: Why don’t I help you! It’s all lip service!
     Your pious prayers are like putting a tiny band-aid on a gaping wound.
     You’re wrecking lives as fast as you can and your hands are bloody!
L: To be frank, I can’t stand your prayers. I shut my ears to your drippy music.
     Please don’t hold another meeting! Just do what I taught you in the first place:
     create justice; help the poor; house the homeless; stop the violence!
P: If you really want help, come back to me. Sit down and let’s talk this out.
     Even if your sins are blood-red, I’ll make them white as snow.
L: If you keep my commandments – really keep them – you’ll thrive in every way.
     But if you go down the path that you’re on now, you’ll die like fools.”
All: This is God’s word. Let us worship – really worship – God!

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