Aug 18

13th Sunday after Pentecost [Ordinary 21B] (Year B)

1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43
  • This is a great text to use when reflecting on issues of hospitality, religious diversity, and the sovereignty of God.
  • Solomon gives us a model for prayer that should still be taken seriously today.  Not only does the king pray that God will hear the prayers of the people of Israel in that place, but he also prays that God will hear the prayers of any foreigners who pray in that place.  How often do we pray that God will hear the prayers of those who are different from us?
  • If your congregation has any ecumenical or interfaith partnerships, you may want to bless and honor those relationships today.  If possible, have a shared time of prayer during worship.
  • Images of hands folded in prayer (from a variety of traditions) could help create a dramatic worship display.  Also, you may want to include objects like prayer beads, prayer mats, and/or articles of clothing that are used in the prayer/worship practices of other faith traditions.
Psalm 84
  • There is joy and happiness to be found in following the King of kings.  The psalmist expresses that joy in song, singing words of praise and thanks for the strength God provides and the contentment that is felt.
  • You can use images of people smiling, dancing, laughing, and celebrating in your worship display.
  • God is also described as a “shield” in this text.  If you are exploring this imagery, you may want to include a shield in your display.
Ephesians 6:10-20
  • Using the image of preparing for battle, Paul tells us that we need to dress appropriately for the work we have been called to do.  If we are going to be prepared to face the evil one, then we need to have the right outfit: the armor of God.
  • It is important to remember that – even when we are “wearing” battle armor – we are not being called to battle one another.  We are called to do battle with “the evil one” — this is a spiritual battle, not a physical one.
  • In practically every Christian bookstore I have ever visited, I have found dress-up kits for kids of “the armor of God”.  If you or your church already have one of these, you may want to use it in your worship display.  You could even use it as an interactive part of your time with children during the service.
  • Speaking of those dress-up kits…most of them include “shin guards of peace” (instead of shoes).  This makes the kits more marketable, I’m sure.  However, I would be interested in exploring all the different kinds of shoes that there are – and how they might “make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace”.  If you want to focus on the “shoes of peace”, you could create a worship display that involves a multitude of shoes (everything from sandals to work boots, and everything in between).
John 6:56-69
  • And the Understatement of the Year Award goes to…the disciples, for their reaction to Jesus’ preaching about eating his flesh and drinking his blood: “This teaching is difficult”.  Thank God we can rely on the disciples to do such a great job of stating the obvious…
  • The teachings of Jesus – especially those that make reference to his being the “bread that  came down from heaven” – are difficult.  They require a great deal of trust and faith.  But Jesus doesn’t seem interested in whether or not we fully understand his teachings – he is more interested in nurturing a relationship that is built on that trust and faith.  Remember: the disciples do not respond in that last verse by saying that they totally understand and/or don’t have any questions; they “have come to believe”…
  • Once again, you may want to feature bread in your worship display.  Indeed, if you are celebrating communion, your worship display can easily be based on the communion elements.

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