Worship Sunday at 10:30

Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

  Northern Great Lakes SynodEvangelical Lutheran Church in AmericaBethany on Facebook  

Pentecost 11/9

Amos 5:18-24   18 Alas for you who desire the day of the LORD! Why do you want the day of the LORD? It is darkness, not light;  19 as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake.  20 Is not the day of the LORD darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?  21 I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.  22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon.  23 Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps.  24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Psalm 70:1-5  NRS Psalm 70:1 <To the leader. Of David, for the memorial offering.> Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O LORD, make haste to help me!  2 Let those be put to shame and confusion who seek my life. Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who desire to hurt me.  3 Let those who say, "Aha, Aha!" turn back because of their shame.  4 Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!"  5 But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18   13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.  15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.  16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.  18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Matthew 25:1-13  NRS Matthew 25:1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;  4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.  5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.  6 But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'  7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.  8 The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'  9 But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.'  10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.  11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.'  12 But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.'  13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

If our spiritual lives consist of doing things because they are appropriate for us to do as good, church going Christians, well, we’re in trouble. If that’s what we’re doing then our spiritual lives are as empty as some of those lamps in the story. We need more than that for oil to keep going if we’re going to last into the night. Yes, ritual observances are good, but they aren’t the whole picture. Ritual observances done to look good are just that, good looking but empty. Some people go to church every Sunday to worship God. But sometimes people go for reasons that have more to do with looking good, some politicians are a good examples, but they aren’t the only ones.

It is as Jesus said a few chapters ago, “For you tithe mint, dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.” As this is Stewardship Sunday, let me stress this. Tithing on what we have is not bad. It is good, encouraged. It gets the thumbs up from Jesus. He does speak of it as something that we “ought” to practice. So, yay tithing. Giving money is admirable, it just isn’t the whole picture and it can’t take the place of everything else.

Stewardship is more than that. It’s not just money. It’s everything. Stewardship is about care for all that God has given us. God has given us ourselves. Our physical and mental health, our strengths and weaknesses, our intelligence and abilities, every thing that makes us who we are. He has given us family. He has given us friends. He has given us a world full of people. He has given us a planet that sustains us all. How do we care for all that?

Even caring for ourselves isn’t always easy. Sometimes we over indulge ourselves. There are some things in life that are like chocolates, we can indulge in them more than is good for us. But sometimes we can ignore our own needs, either out of a fear of appearing weak or because we are so busy caring for other things or other people.

Caring for family? We certainly care, but we can take them for granted and fail to see their needs. They are the rocks of our existence and we forget that even rocks can be worn away over time. The bonds of familial love are some of the strongest bonds there are, but we test the bonds and wear at them.

Care for friends? I think we all certainly like them. It’s part of the definition of friendship. But sometimes it is easier to have a good time and laugh with them and chose not notice when the smile stops. Sometimes we see what we want to see instead of the whole picture.

Care for everyone else out there in the world? We’ll never meet most of world. It’s hard to know what their needs are, much less how to meet them. Besides their needs are frequently in conflict with my wants and desires are frequently in conflict with their needs and I generally go with me. Buy some new escapist reading or send money to feed someone in Africa, I’ll go with the new book. Sometimes I’m just not up to searching for the fair trade, farmer’s cooperative, non-child labor version of something that is readily available and costs me ninety-nine cents.

Care for the environment, the earth, the sky, the seas and all of the animals contained therein? Have we even agreed on the best way to do that much less done it? Personally I drive an SUV and instead of buying those new low energy bulbs I bought the cheapest bulbs I could find for my apartment.

Managing to be a perfect steward of all that we’ve been given? It’s not going to happen. Most of us aren’t perfect in any respect so expecting us to be perfect in all respects isn’t exactly realistic. So what are we left with then? Despair? Giving up? Saying, “Oh well?” No because we aren’t saved by works and thank goodness for that. We are saved by grace through faith. But just as being saved by faith doesn’t mean there’s no good reason to go to church, our inability to get everything right doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to make a difference.

Today’s gospel text sits in the middle of texts that are all about the second coming, Christ’s anticipated return to the earth. None of us can ever really prepare for that day. When it comes to measuring up, we’re all dependent on grace. We can’t stop that. What we can control is what we have to say when we are asked what we have done with what we have been given. Did we do nothing? Did we squander what we were given? Did we stand idly by? Or did we try to make a difference?

What difference would it make if we poured out ten percent of all that we are? If we gave ten percent of not only our money, but ten percent of our strength, ten percent of our will, ten percent of our minds, ten percent of everything that we are? If we made a difference with ten percent of our actions? If we spent one tenth of our shopping consciously thinking about what we were buying? If we spent one tenth of our time with our families consciously connecting? If we dedicated ten percent of our love to those outside of our circle? If we spent one tenth of our time with ourselves, not in pursuit of things, but in finding out what we need to be our best selves? If we spent ten percent of our time concerned with justice and mercy? What would happen if we gave ten percent of ourselves and everything that we are?

In today’s story it is up to the bridesmaids as to how much time they spend in thoughtful preparation for what, according to custom, was going to be a decently long wait for the bridegroom to show up. All were apparently of sufficient means to buy enough lamp oil to last the night, but what they did with their resources, that was up to them. No one else could make the decision for them. What we do with what we have is also up to us. While there is still time for thoughtful preparation, there is time for us to make a choice.

When the bridegroom arrives what will we have to say?

Vicar Joy Proper


Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor

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one such child in my name
welcomes me, and whoever
welcomes me welcomes
not me
but the
one who
sent me.”


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