Janeen Smith, Pastor ~ 26418 Mountain Highway E, Spanaway, WA ~ 253-847-8801

Bethany Lutheran Church

Pastor's Message

Sept. 15, 2021

Bethany Friends,
I’m not sure if I’m chasing autumn or its chasing me but I am surely enjoying the approach of the season. I hope you are doing the same and that every day brings an awareness of the blessings that God brings anew to you and yours.

Here are the scripture readings for Sunday, September 19 and some thoughts for reflection on each:

First Reading: Jeremiah 11:18-20

18It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew;
then you showed me their evil deeds.
19But I was like a gentle lamb
led to the slaughter.
And I did not know it was against me
that they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
so that his name will no longer be remembered!”
20But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously,
who try the heart and the mind,
let me see your retribution upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

Reflection thoughts: Jeremiah is speaking a very unpopular word to the people and his word (and he) are rejected.  He maintains his trust in the Lord even when he feels like a lamb led to slaughter. Have you ever taken an unpopular stand because it was the right thing to do and lost friends, a job, or status? What sustained your spirit in those moments?

Psalm 54

1Save me, O God, by your name;
in your might, defend my cause.
2Hear my prayer, O God;
give ear to the words of my mouth.
3For strangers have risen up against me, and the ruthless have sought my life,
those who have no regard for God.
4Behold, God is my helper;
it is the Lord who sustains my life. 
5Render evil to those who spy on me;
in your faithfulness, destroy them.
6I will offer you a freewill sacrifice
and praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7For you have rescued me from every trouble,
and my eye looks down on my enemies. 

Reflection thoughts: Consider when God has been YOUR helper and sustained your life. How do you give praise in response?

Second Reading: James 3:13--4:3, 7-8a

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.4:

 1Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8aDraw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

Reflection thoughts: Part of James’ reproach of the church to which he writes has to do with how they pray. Do we pray with ourselves in mind to gain from our intercessions or do we intercede for things that are consistent with God’s desire for life and wholeness for humanity and all creation? Are we selfish or seeking to be selfless?

Gospel Reading: Mark 9:30-37

30[Jesus and the disciples went on] and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
 33Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Reflection thoughts: This is Jesus’ second prediction of his passion in Mark’s gospel. He is persistent in his teaching of what it means to follow him and here he brings a visual example to bear to support his words. Do we understand? Or do we still, just as the first disciples, strive for worldly greatness?

Here is a triumphant hymn for today – Lift High the Cross - https://youtu.be/ephp3TVkPVY - sing, sing, sing!

God be with you,
Pastor Janeen