REDEEMER UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
September 5, 2021
Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Invocation: Good morning and welcome!
Generous God, we give thanks to you for your kindness toward us. Thank you for loving us all and calling us all your children. Help us to recognize our kin and to give our lives to peaceful family relationships with all creation. Free us from our self-centeredness and from fear of strangers so that we may meet the Savior in broken humanity – even our own. We pray in the name of Christ. Amen.
Call to Worship
L: Lord, open our hearts this morning to hear your words of compassion.
P: Lord, help us to truly listen to you.
L: Lord, open our spirits this morning to strengthen our faith.
P: Lord, help us to work for you.
L: Lord, make us ready to serve.
P: Lord, make us ready to witness to your healing love. AMEN.
Words of Welcome and Parish News
Prayers of the People
Prayer Focus: Helping Hearts
The New Testament Lesson: James 2: 1-8
2My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? 8You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Message “Distinctions” Rev. Marshall Murphy Jr.
This Scripture lesson brings memories of my childhood through adulthood. Those memories rest in economics. One might be wondering how this text has an association with my childhood. Upon reading and rereading James, I saw how people are impacted in life by economics and biases. As a youth, I remember my mother making our lunches for school. When she went grocery shopping, she would buy many off-brand food items for our school lunches. For example, my bologna didn’t have a first name. The cookies weren’t advertised on television. Also, I remember what stores we went to for school clothes. Who remembers Crowley’s, Montgomery Ward, and Federals? But, here embedded in this Scripture are some lessons that grab our attention. We see the relationship between distinctions and favoritism toward people. This lesson from James deserves close attention. He was speaking to a community many years ago. But this specific treatment toward people is still alive and well. There is an underlying lesson that James is telling the people that this favoritism, partiality, and prejudice cannot take up residency in your hearts. This only leads to biases that cause us to make distinctions on human beings and not see one another as the people and children of God. Have you ever been around people, and they ask what kind of car are you driving? We have to pay special attention to how we can slowly entertain adverse treatment toward people. 2For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,”. These verses are a reminder to watch how you treat humanity as well as; we ought to remember how we should treat the poor. Imagine someone in a particular economic status enters the doors of the church and they feel treated in a way not representative as a Christian. If you have ever been in a soup kitchen and seen the faces of people who don’t need judgment, they need love. How do we make decisions based on biases we have that come from the society? This Scripture today is similar to Matthew: 7: 1-3 7 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s[a] eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?
What we can glean from this lesson today is the treatment for people has to be equitable. It shouldn’t matter about the clothes you wear, the car you drive, or your zip code. We are blessed to know our God meets us where we are at in the journey. Jesus is our advocate no matter what we have or don’t have in life.
We who have been richly blessed are called to share that blessing with the world. Give freely in the joy of serving your neighbor and your God.
Doxology: UMH 95
*Unison Prayer of Dedication:
Bless these gifts given freely, that your justice and mercy may prevail
in a weak and weary world. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Go forth to love one another. Be rich in faith and serve one another
in all joy and humility. And may the power of God our Creator, Christ our Salvation,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us now and forever. Amen.
Recessional (Please remain seated to meditate and reflect on the music)