THE THEME OF TODAY’S TEXTS – ALL OF THEM – FROM PROVERBS (WORDS TO YOUNG MALES ABOUT BEHAVIOR IN THE KING’S COURT) TO THE PSALM (WORDS ABOUT LIVING A RIGHTEOUS LIFE) TO HEBREWS (WORDS ABOUT COMMUNITY LIVING) TO JESUS’ WORDS IN THE GOSPEL TO BOTH THE GUESTS AND HOST AT A DINNER PARTY – ALL OF THEM IT APPEARS – AT LEAST AT FIRST READING – ARE WORDS OF INSTRUCTION ON PROPER ETIQUETTE – GOOD MANNERS. AND GOOD MANNERS ARE IMPORTANT.
WE SHARED “GOOD MANNERS” STORIES IN BIBLE STUDY WEDNESDAY MORNING. THIS WAS MINE. WHEN OUR FIRST GRANDCHILD WAS BORN WE WERE LOOKING FOR A NAME FOR ME. THERE ALREADY WAS A MAMA, AN OTHERMAMA, GRANDMAMA, MEMAW – SO WE THOUGHT ABOUT “GRAM.” THAT SHOULD WORK. HOWEVER, TYLER COULDN’T SAY HIS G’S AND SO MY NAME BECAME MAAM – AND REMAINS SO TO THIS DAY. WHEN TYLER AND HIS YOUNGER BROTHER JORDAN WERE ABOUT 6 AND 4 I TOOK THEM CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AT SOUTH PARK MALL IN CHARLOTTE. AND IT WAS “MAAM, LOOK AT THIS,” “MAAM, CAN WE BUY THAT?” “MAAM, WE’RE HUNGRY,” ETC. A WOMAN APPROACHED US AND SAID, “I JUST WANT TO TELL YOU THOSE ARE THE MOST POLITE CHILDREN I’VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME!” “WHAT?” THEY ASKED, LOOKING PUZZLED. “WHAT DO YOU CALL ME?” I ASKED THEM. “MAAM…MAAM” – AND THEN THEIR EYES LIT UP. THEY HAD NEVER CONNECTED MY NAME WITH GOOD MANNERS! SO, YES, GOOD MANNERS ARE IMPORTANT AND APPRECIATED…AND NOTICED!
IN TODAY’S GOSPEL TEXT, WE FIND JESUS ON HIS WAY TO THE HOME OF A LEADER OF THE PHARISEES FOR A MEAL FOLLOWING WORSHIP. BUT, YOU NEED TO KNOW, THIS IS NOT HIS FIRST MEAL IN THE HOMES OF PHARISEES. ACCORDING TO LUKE’S GOSPEL, HE’S BEEN INVITED TWO OTHER TIMES – AND AT THOSE MEALS – AS AT THIS ONE - HIS PROPER ETIQUETTE AND GOOD MANNERS ARE OBVIOUSLY LACKING. AT THE FIRST MEAL, A WOMAN LABELED AS A PROSTITUTE AND SINNER, ENTERS THE HOME, WASHES THE FEET OF JESUS WITH HER TEARS AND DRIES THEM WITH HER HAIR. WHEN THE HOST SILENTLY QUESTIONS HOW THIS MAN CAN BE THE PROPHET THEY SAY HE IS AND STILL ASSOCIATE WITH SUCH A SINNER, JESUS TELLS HIM, “WHEN I ENTERED YOUR HOUSE, YOU GAVE ME NO WATER FOR MY FEET…YOU GAVE ME NO WELCOMING KISS…YOU DID NOT ANOINT MY HEAD WITH OIL…(ALL BY THE WAY, PROPER ETIQUETTE FOR HOSTS IN THOSE DAYS)….BUT SHE HAS DONE IT ALL.”
THE SECOND TIME HE IS INVITED TO THE HOME OF A PHARISEE, THE HOST QUICKLY POINTED OUT TO HIM THAT NEITHER HE NOR HIS DISCIPLES PROPERLY WASHED THEIR HANDS BEFORE EATING. HERE’S HOW JESUS REPLIED THAT TIME. “ …YOU PHARISEES CLEAN THE OUTSIDE OF THE CUP AND OF THE DISH, BUT INSIDE YOU ARE FULL OF GREED AND WICKEDNESS. YOU FOOLS! DID NOT THE ONE WHO MADE THE OUTSIDE MAKE THE INSIDE ALSO? SO GIVE FOR ALMS THOSE THINGS THAT ARE WITHIN; AND SEE, EVERYTHING WILL BE CLEAN FOR YOU.”
SO, GIVEN THOSE TWO ENCOUNTERS AT THE MEAL TABLES OF PHARISEES, IT’S RATHER SURPRISING, MOST SCHOLARS AGREE, THAT JESUS WAS EVEN INVITED TO A MEAL A THIRD TIME. BUT HERE THEY ARE, LUKE TELLS US, GOING TO THE HOUSE OF A LEADER OF THE PHARISEES TO EAT A MEAL ON THE SABBATH AND, AS LUKE NOTES, “THEY WERE WATCHING HIM CLOSELY.” NOW, GIVEN HIS BEHAVIORS AT THE LAST TWO MEALS, THAT’S NO SURPRISING, BUT HERE’S THE THING. JESUS WAS WATCHING THEM CLOSELY AS WELL. HE SEES THE GUESTS JOCKEYING FOR THE SEATS OF HONOR – AND REMINDS THEM THAT IT IS BETTER TO TAKE THE LOWEST SEAT AND BE INVITED FORWARD THAN TO TAKE THE SEAT OF HONOR AND BE ASKED TO MOVE BACK. HE SEES A HOST WHO HAS INVITED ONLY THOSE OF SIMILAR STATUS AND REPUTATION – A HOST WHO INVITED THESE PEOPLE EXPECTING AND KNOWING FULL WELL HE WOULD RECEIVE SIMILAR INVITATIONS IN RETURN – AND REMINDS THE HOST THAT THOSE WHO BUILD THEMSELVES UP WILL ONE DAY FALL. HUMAN WEALTH, POWER AND GREED, ALWAYS, IN THE END, FAIL. INSTEAD, HE INSTRUCTS THE HOST TO INVITE THE POOR, THE CRIPPLED, THE LAME, THE BLIND.
SERIOUSLY? IS JESUS REALLY SERIOUS? DON’T LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF? IT’S OK TO LET OTHERS RUN OVER YOU? DON’T LET THOSE IN POWER KNOW WHO YOU ARE? HUMBLE YOURSELF AND ALL WILL BE WELL? SERIOUSLY?
IS JESUS REALLY SERIOUS WHEN HE SAYS YOU SHOULDN’T INVITE PEOPLE OF YOUR SAME SOCIAL STATUS, SAME INTERESTS TO YOUR PARTIES? THAT YOU SHOULDN’T INVITE FRIENDS, OR FAMILY OR NEIGHBORS? IS HE REALLY SERIOUS WHEN HE SAYS DO INVITE THOSE OF LOWER SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL STANDING, THOSE WHOSE PHYSICAL CONDITIONS ARE OBVIOUS, THOSE WHO REALLY WOULDN’T WANT TO COME TO YOUR HOUSE ANYWAY? IS HE REALLY SERIOUS?
AND THE ANSWER IS YES! YES, JESUS REALLY IS SERIOUS BECAUSE, YOU SEE, HE’S IS NOT TALKING ABOUT PROPER ETIQUETTE OR GOOD MANNERS. IF HE WERE, WE’D HAVE TO QUESTION HIS OWN BEHAVIOR. BUT JESUS IS NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT. HE’S TALKING ABOUT THE UPSIDE DOWN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS WORLD’S VALUES – CULTURE VALUES – AND KINGDOM VALUES….GOD’S KINGDOM VALUES - THE KINGDOM INTO WHICH WE WERE BAPTIZED AND THROUGH THOSE WATERS AND BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CALLED TO LIVE AS GOD’S KINGDOM PEOPLE.
THE WORLD VALUES AND TEACHES “ME FIRST.” THE WORLD HOLDS SUCH THINGS AS POWER, GREED, SELF-GRANDIZEMENT AND EXCLUSIVENESS BEFORE US AS WAYS TO EARN STATUS AND FAME AND HAPPINESS. PUT YOURSELF FIRST ABOVE EVERYONE, PUSH YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE, KNOCK OTHERS OUT OF THE WAY, STEP OVER THOSE WHO DON’T COUNT ANYWAY -AND YOU WILL HAVE MADE IT BIG – S0 SAYS THE WORLD. “NOT SO,” SAYS JESUS. “FOR ALL WHO EXALT THEMSELVES WILL BE HUMBLED, AND THOSE WHO HUMBLE THEMSELVES WILL BE EXALTED.”
HERE ARE THE KINGDOM VALUES, JESUS SAYS. HUMILITY, GENTLENESS, KINDNESS, OTHER-CENTERED, AUTHENTICITY, GIVING TO THOSE WHO HAVE LESS, CARING FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER, RESPECTING AND HONORING THE DIGNITY OF ALL, ASSOCIATING WITH THE DESPISED AND REJECTED OF THE EARTH, LOVING NOT JUDGING. ”DO THESE THINGS,” JESUS SAYS, “AND YOU WILL BE BLESSED BECAUSE THEY CANNOT REPAY YOU, FOR YOU WILL BE REPAID AT THE RESURRECTION OF THE RIGHTEOUS.”
QUITE A LIST OF OPPOSITES, IS IT NOT? AND EVEN MORE SO, QUITE A CHALLENGE, TO LIVE AS THE KINGDOM PEOPLE WE ARE. SO, HOW DO WE LEARN TO DO THAT? HOW DO WE, IN OUR WORLD THAT HAS BECOME SO FOCUSED ON “POWER –OVER” THAT ANY THOUGHTS OF “POWER-WITH” HAVE FLOWN OUT THE WINDOW –HOW DO WE DO THAT? HOW DO WE IN A WORLD WHERE WE’VE FORGOTTEN THAT THE FLIP SIDE OF FREEDOM IS RESPONSIBILITY….THAT THOSE WHO HAVE ARE TO TAKE CARE OF THOSE WHO HAVE NOT, HOW DO WE DO THAT? HOW DO WE IN A WORLD THAT HAS BECOME SO POLARIZED TO THE POINT THAT MANY ARE SEEN AS SUB-HUMAN, EVEN SUB-ANIMAL AND THEREFORE TO BE DENIED OF EVEN BASIC HUMAN DIGNITIES – HOW DO WE DO THAT? HOW DO WE QUIT JOCKEYING FOR SEATS OF HONOR? HOW DO WE INVITE THE POOR, THE CRIPPLED, THE LAME, AND THE BLIND TO OUR PARTIES? HOW DO WE DO THAT?
HONESTLY, THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE. WE START HERE – AT THIS TABLE. WE START BY REMEMBERING THAT WE COME TO THIS TABLE EMPTY-HANDED. WE START BY REMEMBERING AND CONFESSING THAT WE ARETHE POOR, THE CRIPPLED, THE LAME, THE BLIND. WE COME EMPTY-HANDED AND WE LEAVE FILLED WITH THE GRACE AND MERCY AND LOVE OF GOD. WE COME AND RECEIVE HERE THE BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS WHO DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE. WE COME TO THIS TABLE…WE DINE HERE…WE RECEIVE FORGIVENESS FOR ALL OUR WORDLY FAILINGS AND THEN WE LEAVE THIS TABLE SENT OUT INTO THE WORLD BLESSING OTHERS – ALL OTHERS – AS WE HAVE BEEN BLESSED.
THAT, DEAR FRIENDS, IS HOW WE START AND HOW WE GROW INTO THE KINGDOM LIVING JESUS IS TEACHING US ABOUT THIS DAY. SO, COME, BE FED, BE BLESSED – AND THEN GO – WITH HUMILITY AND GRACE – TO BE THE HANDS AND FEET, THE HEART AND MIND OF GOD IN THIS BROKEN, HURTING WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE. AMEN.
Wonderful Wednesdays are back and new and improved! On the first and third Wednesdays of each month, you are encouraged to join with others in the fellowship hall for a delicious meal and interesting program. The meal begins at 6:15pm - note the time change - and the program at 7pm. (Adult choir will meet from 5:30-6:30 allowing time for choir members to eat before program starts. Here’s the schedule!
September 4 - What is Oktoberfest?
September 18 - What is a Sanctuary Church?
October 2 - What is LCY?
October 16 - Clean up after Oktoberfest
November 6 - Lutheran Liturgy and Hymnody
November 20 - Hand Middle School Project
December 4 - St. Nicholas Festival Day and Christmas Craft Making
December 18 - Christmas Musical - Hotel Bethlehem
Did you get your STATEMENT in the mail? Sounds so ominous, doesn't it? Don't be scared. It's just to let you know how your giving compares to your pledge. If yours says you're a little behind, you're not alone :). We are nearly $20,000 below our giving plan through the middle of August. The established budget is the amount we need to maintain our ministries and add a full-time pastor.
It's easy to let those offerings slide when we're out of town for vacation or camp, but please remember, we want to be in good financial shape as we prepare to call a new pastor. Don't forget -- you can give online here: http://www.incarnationlutheran.com/giving.html
Congratulations to Aidan DeJames, who received his Eagle Scout badge this week! Aidan is the son of Shawn and Jeff DeJames and a member of Troop 8 at Incarnation. He'll be attending Clemson this fall. Way to go, Aidan!
Your Oktoberfest team is back at it, getting ready for another great festival! Please mark your calendar for Okt 11-13 this year and plan to come out and help us put on a great party!
We’ve got some exciting things to share! This year we’ll have beer and wine tastings with experts, a new band from Chicago called the Euro Express, a piano concert of German songs, new and improved kids area and maybe more!
Sign ups will be available in the Reception Hall soon. For now, save the date and tell your friends!
PS -- please plan to attend the “unload the truck” day on Saturday, Oct. 5.
Our members have been busy this summer! Lutheridge, Lutherock, Music Week, Camp HUGG, Graceworks and more!
Campers off to Lutheridge this week are Aiden DeJames (OAP), Ellis Sowell (Pioneers), McNally Sowell (Nite Owls), Pierson DeJames (OAP), Katie Sawicki (Nite Owls), Emmet Sowell (Fire & Water).
The members of the committee want to thank the council for asking us to participate in the call process for a new pastor at Incarnation Lutheran Church. We are honored, and we accept our role in helping Incarnation move forward together.
Our hope is to keep you informed at each significant step in the process. Please know how much we value all of your ideas and opinions.
Early this year our council, Pastor Jane and Bishop Herman Yoos agreed it was time to start ILC’s call process.
On Feb. 10, the congregation took part in the “Spirit-led Time of Renewal” event, led by Bishop Yoos and Assistant to the Bishop, Eric Wolf. Notes from this meeting were provided to the Congregation in the form of a letter dated Feb 24.
The call committee was formed in April of this year.
For input and questions about the call process, please feel free to discuss with one of our committee members.
ILC Call Committee
Randy Yaussy – Chair
Sarah Sawicki – Secretary
Carrie Wood – Alternate
At a special called congregational meeting on June 23rd, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to approve the recommendation from Church Council to move forward with the proposal of the Building Task Force. This proposal will address water infiltration issues in the sanctuary, add handicapped-accessible bathrooms, replace our current aging organ, move the new instrument to our balcony, and renovate the chancel area of the sanctuary. Pictures and details are posted in the Reception Hall.
With gratitude, the congregation also heard that the Foundation and the Child Development Centers will cover the cost of these renovations, allowing the congregation to put its focus on increasing the budget for a new full-time pastor.
Next steps: renovations will not begin until after Oktoberfest In order to allow for minimum disruption during the festival. The hope is to have all construction completed by Easter 2020.
During the construction, we will probably worship in a variety of creative ways. Depending on the phase of construction, we may be able to continue worship in the sanctuary, move to the Reception hall, worship outdoors, or at nearby Epworth.
The congregation extends its thanks to the members of the Building Task Force for their faithful work over the last year and a half. Stay tuned for updates as we proceed!