17th Sunday After Pentecost
INTRODUCTION TO THE DAY
The parable of Jesus about two sons who don’t do what they say reveals surprises in the reign of God, such as prostitutes and tax collectors going before others into God’s kingdom. In the reading from Ezekiel the people question whether the ways of the Lord are unfair; instead they are to repent and turn to the Lord. Paul urges us to look to Christ as a model of humility, looking to the interests of others above our own. Nourished by the broken bread and shared cup, we offer our lives for the sake of our needy World.
FIRST READING: Ezekiel 18: 1-4, 25-32
Ezekiel challenges those who think they cannot change because of what their parents were and did, or who think they cannot turn from what their parents were and did, or who think they cannot turn from their wicked ways. God insistently invites people to turn and live.
PSALM: Psalm 25: 1-9
SECOND READING: Philippians 2: 1-13
As part of a call for harmony rather than self-seeking, Paul uses a very early Christian hymn that extols the selflessness of Christ in his obedient death on the cross. Christ’s selfless perspective is to be the essential perspective we share as the foundation for Christian accord.
GOSPEL: Matthew 21: 23-32
After driving the moneychangers out of the temple (21:12), Jesus begins teaching there. His authority is questioned by the religious leaders, who are supposed to be in charge of the temple.
RAISING THE REFUGEE CEILING
As we approach the end of the federal government’s fiscal year on Sept. 30, the Administration is considering how many refugees to welcome in 2021. Although refugee admissions have gone down each year of the current administration, we know refugee admissions have not been eliminated due to strong advocacy – particularly from the faith community. Reflections from our summer intern give us background and conclude with an opportunity for us to again respond with impactful advocacy as the calculation is being made.
By Jenn Werth
Summer Intern with ELCA advocacy
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the number of refugees on the African continent has nearly tripled over the past decade, yet the number of refugees the United States admits every year has continually fallen.
As a church dedicated to supporting compassionate survival assistance and vigorous international protection for refugees, it is essential that we hold our country responsible to increase the number of refugees it admits.
Lutherans have a strong history of providing hospitality to refugees resettling 57,000 refugees in the United States post World War II, resettling 50,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos after the fall of Saigon in 1975, and providing sanctuary for refugees endangered by wars in Central America in the 1980s.
Today the ELCA remains active in many ways, including through its AMMPARO program, (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities). AMMPARO helps ensure basic human rights and safety of migrant children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
With such a deep focus on the accompaniment of immigrants and refugees in one small part of the World, it can be easy to lose sight of the international expanse of refugee populations. In 2019 alone, the Lutheran World Federation supported 1.3 million refugees and internally displaced persons, most of whom reside in African countries including but not limited to Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Cameroon.
We as a Church can be a strong voice for both the refugees we work with close to home and the refugees we support from countries across the globe. As it is written in Leviticus 19:34, “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt”.
Immigration, refugee and asylum policies not only can be evaluated against who we are as a Church, but also express our character as a nation. As the United States commits to receiving fewer and fewer refugees every year, dropping from 45,000 in 2018 to 30,000 in 2019 to 18,000 in 2020, our country is not meeting the expectations we as a church have for a generous policy of welcome.
The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) calls on Congress and the current Administration to raise that ceiling to 95,000 refugees. As advocates for generous immigration and refugee policies, we can use our voices to support the efforts to raise our refugee ceiling rather than allow further reduction.
Please keep these people in your prayers: Al Bausch, Dortha Feddern, Michael Koch, Wesley and JoAnne Porter, the family of Doralee Wendel, the family of John Murray, and all those who are suffering from COVID-19. Please remember all of our shut ins and sick. (Also, pray for the families and caretakers of those on the prayer list.)
FUNDS FOR ZION
Please check the bulletin board behind the office door for all of the sign-up sheets for this year. Communion, birthday Sundays, and Worship Assistants/helpers. Thank you so much!
You can also remember special occasions or special people by contributing money that would normally be used for altar flowers. Instead the donation goes to our local food pantry.