The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

August 30, 2020

 

SERVICE OF THE WORD

This service offers the congregation a form of worship that focuses on the proclamation of God’s Word.  Believers respond to this divine gift with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.  The service begins on page 38 in the front of the hymnal.

 

M:       We worship today in the name of our Triune God— God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

 

C:        Amen

Confession of Sins

 

M:       We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve Him as His dear children.  But we have disobeyed Him and deserve only His wrath and punishment.  Therefore, let us confess our sins to Him and plead for His mercy.

C:        Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth.  In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child.  But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray:  Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love.  Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.

M:       God, our heavenly Father has forgiven all your sins.  By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt forever.  You are His own dear child.  May God give you strength to live according to His will.

C:        Amen.

Prayer and Praise

 

M:       In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.

 

 

C:        Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.  Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Your faithfulness continues forever.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.

 

PRAYER OF THE DAY

M:       Let us pray.

 

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift of grace that we come into your presence and offer true and faithful service.  Grant that our worship on earth may always be pleasing to you and in the life to come give us the fulfillment of what you have promised;  we ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

C:     Amen

The Word

 

FIRST LESSON – Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

God will call people from all nations to share in the salvation given by His grace.

 

This is what the LORD says:  “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.  And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.  Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”  The Sovereign LORD declares—he who gathers the exiles of Israel:  “I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.”  (NIV1984)

 

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 133-134

 

How good and pleasant it is

when brothers live together in unity!

For there the LORD bestows His blessing,

even life forevermore.

Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD

who minister in the house of the LORD.

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary

and praise the LORD.

May the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth,

bless you from Zion.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son

                        and to the Holy Spirit,

            as it was in the beginning,

                        is now, and will be forever.  Amen

 

 

SECOND LESSON – Romans 11:13-15, 28-32eba

God’s mercy reaches out to all, Jews and Gentiles alike.

 

I am talking to you Gentiles.  Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.  For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.  Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.  For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.   (NIV1984)

 

 

VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia, the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Alleluia.  (Hebrews 4:12)

 

CAlleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is

       the Christ, the Son of God.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

 

GOSPEL LESSON – Matthew 15:21-28 (Sermon Text)

Jesus displays compassionate love as He heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman.

 

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!  My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”  Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  The woman came and knelt before him.  “Lord, help me!” she said.  He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”  Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.”  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.  (NIV1984)

 

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

 

SERMON  What’s Your Christian EQ?

 

 Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

Ever since the early 1900’s when a French psychologist developed a test to assess school children, people have become increasingly familiar with the term “IQ”— which stands for “Intelligence Quotient.”  A person’s IQ consists of a number that is obtained from a standardized intelligence test.  The higher a person’s IQ is the greater their ability to “learn, understand and implement knowledge, logical reasoning and abstract thinking.”  A higher IQ generally ensures success in school as well as success in areas of life that require logical reasoning.

 

Ever since 1995 when a psychologist by the  name of Daniel Goleman wrote a book titled, “Emotional Intelligence,” the term “EQ” — which stands for “Emotional Quotient” has also come into play.  A person’s EQ, which is also obtained in a standardized test, measures “the ability of a person to identify, express and control his/her thoughts and actions, understand other people and rightly interpret their situation, make right and quick decisions, cope with pressures and crises and so on.”  In short, while your IQ determines your competencies and individual capacities, your EQ determines how you interact with and treat the people in your life.  And while your IQ cannot be altered your EQ can be both learned and improved.

 

The reason I bring up IQ and EQ this morning is because I think they apply very well to our sermon text for today.  Our IQ will help us to understand the facts of what is recorded for us here.  Our EQ will help us to understand why God the Holy Spirit made sure that this event was written down and preserved for us.  We have two goals before us today.  First let’s focus on the facts of this event— facts that are very straight-forward and easy to understand.  Then let’s focus on these inspired words of our God in a way that leads us to ask ourselves the question:  What’s Your Christian EQ?

 

Let’s begin by reviewing the facts.  Jesus had just condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy saying to them, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men” (Matthew 15:18, 19).  Looking for some privacy Mathew tells us in the opening verse of our text, “Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.”  Jesus’ quest for privacy, however, was short-lived.  A woman came to Jesus, begging Him for help.  This was not just any woman, however.  This woman was a Canaanite— one of the ancient enemies of God’s people.  Nor was she just any Canaanite woman.  She was a Mom— a Mom whose daughter was “suffering terribly from demon-possession.”  Why did she come to Jesus for help?  Because she believed that Jesus is the Promised Messiah!  We hear the faith that lived in her heart when she cries out to Jesus, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  (See Matthew 12:23; 20:30; 21:9; 22:41-45).  Through the power of the Holy Spirit working in her heart through the revealed Word of God, this woman believed that as the Messiah Jesus could and would help her!

 

But at first, it seemed as though Jesus was not interested in helping her.  Jesus simply ignored her request and just kept on walking.  Jesus’ silence neither quiets nor satisfies this woman.  She keeps on following Jesus— to the point that Jesus’ disciples “came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’”  Finally, Jesus gives her His reason for not helping her.  “I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel,” He tells her.  Still convinced that Jesus could and would help her, she moves past the disciples, kneels before her Lord, and cries out as only the Mom of an afflicted child can, “Lord, help me!”  Jesus now makes sure that she grasps the historic distinction between Jew and Gentile as well as her own lowly position in God’s economy.  Jesus says to her, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

 

This Canaanite mother understands exactly what Jesus is saying, doesn’t she.  In a masterful heartfelt response, a response that reveals the depth of her faith in Jesus her Messiah, she humbly agrees with Jesus.  She does not argue that her needs are somehow an exception.  She does not claim that she has the slightest right to enjoy “the children’s” blessings.  She does not complain that Jesus is being unduly harsh with her.  She simply asks Jesus to “help” her— confessing that she is entitled to nothing, yet confident that by sheer grace she might receive a leftover “crumb” of God’s goodness and mercy.  Jesus then promptly praises her for having a “great faith” and immediately grants her request.  Matthew tells us, “Her daughter was healed from that very hour.”

 

The “easy” application of this text to our lives today is this:  We were once this Canaanite woman!  Before God the Holy Spirit created the gift of saving faith in our hearts we were one of the Almighty’s “ancient enemies”!  We had no right to ask God for anything— not His help, not His grace, not His mercy!  Paul reminds us of this truth when he writes these words to the Gentiles living in Ephesus, “At that time (before they were brought to faith in Jesus) you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

 

And now?  Now because of the grace and the mercy and the power of God, the Holy Spirit has created the gift of saving faith in our hearts!  Now because of the grace and the mercy and the power of God, we are among the “children” who are sitting at the Lord’s banquet “table” enjoying countless undeserved blessings!  Now because of the grace and the mercy and the power of God, we have every right to confidently approach the throne of the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth and ask for His “help” in any and every situation we encounter in life!  That, my friends, is the “easy” application of this text to our lives today.

 

A more “difficult” application of this text brings our Christian EQ into the discussion.  We either know people or we see people who are in a situation that is very much like the situation of this Canaanite woman.  Because of their ethnic background, because of their social status, because of the language that they speak or the color of their skin, our old sinful nature prompts us to borrow the words of the disciples and say, “Send (them) away, for (they) keep crying out after us.”  Call it prejudice, call it racism, call it whatever you want— just don’t call it Christian.

 

By the grace of God our Christian EQ enables us to remember that since we were once in the same situation that they are in now, we need to exercise the faith which God has created in our heart, reach out to them and share with them the “help” that only our gracious and merciful God can give to them.  If we honestly do not have the opportunity to reach out to them on a one-to-one basis, we can most certainly reach out to them through our Synod.  Whether it’s helping to train future pastors and teachers or supporting the missionaries we have already sent out or by supporting the social service arm of our Synod, the opportunities that we have to reach out and “help” others far surpasses our personal individual resources.

 

This aspect of our Christian EQ dovetails beautifully with the other two Scripture lessons we heard this morning.  (Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Romans 11:13-15, 28-32)  In our Old Testament lesson the Lord said to us through His servant Isaiah, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”  In our Epistle lesson the Apostle Paul said to both the Roman Christians as well as to us, “I am talking to you Gentiles.  Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.”  Over and over again the Scriptures very clearly explain to us exactly what the Son of God meant when He said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

 

So, my friends, what is your Christian EQ?  Hopefully, by the grace and power of God, your Emotional Quotient when it comes to sharing the message of the cross of Jesus Christ with others is very high!  But if it could be higher, remember that unlike your IQ your EQ can be “improved.”  How can you improve your Christian EQ?  It starts with striving to have the faith of the Canaanite woman here in our text— a faith which Jesus Himself praises as a “great faith.”  Feed your faith on a regular basis with the spiritual food God has so freely given to you— His holy Word and His holy Supper.  Stay focused on the cross (Pointing to the cross) so that you never lose sight of the fact that before God the Holy Spirit created the gift of saving faith in your heart you too were one of the Almighty’s “ancient enemies,” someone who was “without hope and without God in the world.”  And then, take to heart the Scriptural truth that the “help” which God has so freely and so graciously given to you is the “help” that He (Pointing to the cross) wants you to share with others!

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen

 

APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.  From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

 

OFFERING

During this time of uncertainty we still want to bring our thank offerings to our dear Lord and Savior.  We ask that you continue to set your offerings aside so that when we are able to come together again in God’s House we will be able to place our offerings on His altar.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH

 

Heavenly Father, whose will it is that everyone hear the glorious message of the Gospel, believe it and be saved, send us forth as laborers into your harvest field to proclaim our Savior to others.  And even as you open our mouths to witness Christ, open also the hearts of others to welcome Him by faith.  As Lord of the harvest, provide your church with pastors, teachers, missionaries and laypeople to lead the great force of Christian witnesses in preaching the living Christ to a dying world.

 

Dearest Jesus, who wants us to preach the Gospel to every person regardless of their ethnic background or their social status, give us boldness to witness your name and salvation in the course of our daily lives.  Inspire our love for lost and wandering souls with the love that you have for us, the love which compelled you to die on the cross for the entire human race.

 

Holy Spirit, sanctify us and make us ready to do whatever is good, especially that good work of sharing the Gospel message with others.  Open our eyes to opportunities to witness Christ and give us a sense of urgency to work in the Father’s harvest field while it is yet the day of salvation, before the night of judgment comes when no one can work.  Move us to give abundantly of our possessions so that, as partners with other Christians, we will be able to send forth missionaries into the farthest regions of the earth.

 

C:        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 forever and ever.  Amen.

 

M:       O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people.  Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

C:        Amen.

 

M:       Brothers and sisters, go in peace.  Live in harmony with one another.  Serve the Lord with gladness.

The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.  The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.

 

C:        Amen.