Worship Helps for Pentecost 8

Artwork: Parable of the Good Samaritan
Artist: Jan Wijnants

Worship Theme: The believer loves his neighbor.  We have every reason to love him.  We know what we were when God found us; we know the love and mercy he poured out on us.  Christ, the compassion of God, has treated our spiritual wounds and paid for our healing with his own blood. As we have known his goodness, let us do good to all.

Old Testament: Deuteronomy 24:17-22 Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. 19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.

1. In general, how did God command the children of Israel to treat foreigners, orphans and widows?

2. Twice God gives a simple reason for such commands. What is that reason?

Epistle: Romans 12:9-21 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

3. When others mistreat us, what should we not do? Why not? (See 12:19.)

4. What should we do then, according to Paul? (See 12:20-21.)

Gospel: Luke 10:25-37 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27 He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' 36 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" 37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

5. What is the first reason Jesus told this story? (See Luke 10:29a.)

6. Why were the priest and Levite in Jesus’ parable unwilling to help the man victimized by robbers?

7. What is surprising about the Samaritan’s willingness to help this Jewish man, and what do his actions teach us about true Christian love?

1. God commanded the Israelites to treat foreigners, orphans and widows with kindness and generosity.

2. God told the Israelites to be kind and generous to those in need because the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt.

3. We should not take revenge. If someone harms us, revenge is God’s job. He will repay.

4. We should overcome evil with good. Specifically, if our enemy is hungry, we should feed him. If our enemy is thirsty, we should give him something to drink. By doing this, Paul says, we will heap burning coals on our enemy’s head. (This picture seems to mean causing one’s enemy to feel ashamed of his or her conduct in comparison to the kindness shown to him or her.)

5. Jesus told this story first to counteract the way we all want to justify ourselves. We have not kept God’s law!

6. The priest and Levite seem to have been more concerned about their service in the temple, which would bring them honor, than they were concerned about the fulfillment of God’s will, that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Self-love trumped love of others. True God-given faith life reveals itself in sacrificing for others.

7. The Samaritan’s willingness to help would have been a surprising twist to Jesus’ listeners and a slap in the face to many Jews of Jesus’ day. Most Jews looked down on their Samaritan cousins, thinking of them as unreligious, half-breeds. But the Samaritan’s actions model Christ’s own love, which selflessly serves others—even an enemy. (See Matthew 5:43-48.)

Putting your faith into action
The Samaritan was likely headed somewhere that day and had not allowed for a sizable delay. The Samaritan was likely not a man of great wealth and had not included a medical bill and a hotel bill in his monthly budget. But the opportunity to help his neighbor was there, and he seized it. We confess the times we have not used our time and our treasures (and isn’t that really part of the problem—that we think of them as “ours”?) to help our neighbor, and we rejoice in a Savior who always took the time to help us, even being willing to give up the treasures of heaven to do so. May we, mindless of the “extra expense,” live similarly toward our neighbor.

A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 8
The Law was given to people for three reasons: (1) that by the Law outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient people; (2) that people may be led to the knowledge of their sins by the Law; and (3) that after they are regenerate and ‹much of› the flesh still cleaves to them, they might on this account have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life.  A dissension has arisen between a few theologians about the third use of the Law, namely, whether it is to be taught to regenerate Christians. One side has said Yes; the other, No.

1. We believe, teach, and confess that, even though people who are truly believing ‹in Christ› and truly converted to God have been freed and exempted from the curse and coercion of the Law, they are still not without the Law on this account. They have been redeemed by God’s Son in order that they may exercise themselves in the Law day and night.  Even our first parents before the fall did not live without Law. They had God’s Law written into their hearts, because they were created in God’s image.

2. We believe, teach, and confess that the preaching of the Law is to be encouraged diligently.  This applies not only for the unbelieving and impenitent, but also for true believers, who are truly converted, regenerate, and justified through faith. – Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VI, The Third Use of God’s Law (paragraphs 1-3)

Hymns: 459; 348; 518; 519; 773

1  O God, my faithful God, O Fountain ever flowing,
Who good and perfect gifts In mercy are bestowing,
Give me a healthy frame, And may I have within
A conscience free from blame, A soul unhurt by sin.

2  Grant me the strength to do With ready heart and willing
Whatever you command, My calling here fulfilling,
That I do what I should While trusting you to bless
The outcome for my good, For you must give success.

3  Keep me from saying things That later need recalling;
Grant that no idle words May from my lips be falling,
But then, when in my place I must and ought to speak,
My words grant pow’r and grace Lest I offend the weak.

4  Lord, let me win my foes With kindly words and actions,
And let me find good friends For counsel and correction.
Help me, as you have taught, To love both great and small
And by your Spirit’s might To live in peace with all.

Text: Johann Heermann, 1585–1647, abr., adapt.; tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1827–78, alt.


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