Preview for Service of Word and Sacrament, November 17, 2019
The Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Liturgical Color Green
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Tiburon, California
This weekly study guide seeks to help us prepare for the upcoming Sunday service and teaching.
Call to Worship
One: We gather in the name of the one who makes all things new.
Many: We gather in the name of the one who enables us to endure the
One: Let us gather, then, to be blessed with vision and strength.
Many: Let us gather to give thanks and continue to learn how to be.
Gracious God, this time of year as the sky darkens and we approach a frenzied season, it is easy to grow weary. It is easy to grow weary because of things that aren’t important, leaving us unable or unmotivated to engage in what is. Release from that which wastes our energy, depletes our resources, or distracts us from that which is worthy, fulfilling, and pleasing to ourselves and the wider community. Renew us. Refocus us. Remind us of who we are in you. Amen.
Sermon Focus & Title Do Not Weary in What is Right Robert McClellan
Today’s Newer Testament reading provides a perfect example of why it is important to seek to engage the Bible in an informed way. On the surface the passage from 2nd Thessalonians appears to be a polemic against general laziness, a harsh judgment upon those who do not work. If not careful, we can (and have in our culture) use this to blame and shame those who are not employed in our society. Looking deeper, we learn that here the biblical writer is not interested in critiquing others, but rather in fostering accountability within the faith community, some of whom seem to be content to sit back, take advantage of the labors of others, and wait for God to come in and make things well. The corrective being offered is not about doing more in a contemporary sense of production (and consumption), but rather in never tiring of doing what is good, right, and helpful to the community.
17For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. 19I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. 20No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. 21They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the LORD-and their descendants as well. 24Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent-its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
6Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8and we did not eat anyone's bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. 9This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.
11For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 13Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.
Seek Ye First No. 175
We Wait the Peaceful Kingdom No. 378
Quotes, Questions & Prompts for Reflection, Discussion, and Prayer
"The time is always right to do what's right," - Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. What less than ideal situations in your life right now are requiring you to find a way to “make do”? How are you doing so/failing to do so?
2. What are some changes you need to be making? What’s keeping you from doing so?
3. Societally, what changes would you like to see? How are you participating in the process of working toward those changes?
4. How do you know when to put up with a situation and when to work to change the circumstances?
5. How do you generally navigate disappointing circumstances?