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- A stunning moment at a dinner party
- Judas' response: "What a waste!"
- Today's Scripture: John 12:1-8
- Abundance of the heart
- It's personal
Gospel: John 12:1-8 (CEB)
12 Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. 3 Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. 4 Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, 5 “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (6 He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.)
7 Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”
THANKS TO OUR GUEST PREACHER Rev. Dr. Marsha Wilfong, a retired Presbyterian Minister whom we all know as a friend of our congregation. Marsha has agreed to respond to requests for pastoral care while Hal is on vacation.
Isaiah 11:1-9 (NRSV)
11 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Matthew 22:1-14 (NRSV)
22 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
“Love, not utility, is the heart of stewardship. Without deep and profound love for the world for which God offered up his only begotten Son, no amount of beating the drum for God and for money will make the least difference.” — from The Steward: A Biblical Symbol Come of Age by Douglas John Hall.
Dr. Hall is one of my favorite theologians. And even though I agree that the foundation of good stewardship is love for God and love for the world, we’re still going to “beat the drum” a little for God and for money at Westminster during October, because that’s what we do and because it’s fun!
Our Stewardship leader this year is Cameron Fast, and the themes he has selected are “It’s Giving that Matters” and “Great Things Are Happening Here.” Cameron leads Westminster’s “digital ministries” so this year’s campaign will be different from the recent past:
Estimate of Giving Cards for 2018 will be distributed by postal service mail early in the month. They may be mailed back to the church or placed in the offering plate any Sunday, and preferably by October 29. Plenty of cards will also be available in the Sanctuary and Church Office, should you need an extra.
Beginning with worship on October 8, each Sunday will feature one of Westminster’s ministries so that you can see that YOUR’S is “giving that matters” and that “great things are happening here.” Sunday-by-Sunday themes; October 8 – Digital Ministries; October 15 – Youth Formation; October 22 – Mandarin Ministries; October 29 – Caring Ministries.
Each Sunday will feature brief video presentations projected on a portable screen in the Sanctuary along with short statements by members and friends of Westminster. Even though it violates a core principle of being Presbyterian, sitting closer to the front will make it easier to recognize faces in the videos!
There will be NO all-church Stewardship Brunch this year, but there will be refreshments served and ministry stories shared after worship on October 15 and October 22.
Four years of faithful and increasing financial support has been critical in halting Westminster’s long decline and even making possible new missional initiatives during this transitional time. Please prayerfully consider your estimate of giving for 2018. “It’s giving that matters and great things are happening here!”
— Hal Murry
OUR GUEST PREACHER , is Dr. Bonnie Sue Lewis. Bonnie Sue has been a professor of mission at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary for 20 years, and a member of Westminster for nearly as long. She has served on the Session, as a Deacon, on the Westminster Foundation, and most recently on the Strategic Planning Task Force. She is a member of the hospitality team, care team, has taught adult education, and was Moderator of John Knox Presbytery in 2012.
Acts 11:1-18 (NLT)
11 Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. 2 But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. 3 “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said.
4 Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. 5 “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. 6 When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. 7 And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’
8 “‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.’
9 “But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ 10 This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven.
11 “Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. 12 The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. 13 He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. 14 He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’
15 “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. 16 Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”
18 When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
OUR GUEST PREACHER , The Rev. Nancy Bickel, served as the Minister of Church Life at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Dubuque for twenty-six years. She and her husband Ken are now retired and enjoy traveling, golfing, gardening, pickle balling, reading, and of course, their grandchildren
Matthew 18:21-35 (NRSV)
21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
23 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him;25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” 29Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’
- Matthew 14: Jesus seeks room to grieve
- Today's Scripture: Matthew 14:22-33
- The debilitating power of fear
- The promise at the heart of our faith