First United Methodist Church of New Ulm, MN observes “Compassion Sunday” on fifth Sundays throughout the year. Since September has five Sundays, we will be worshiping briefly at 9:30 this week, then heading out to visit the home-bound, cook and freeze meals, make sleeping mats for the homeless out of plastic shopping bags (here’s a link to another First UMC Church that does this down in Grapevine, TX), and kick off our prayer ministry. There might be another project or two I’ve forgotten to mention. The idea is that we put hands and feet to our worship, and worship by doing something for others.
The preaching text for this Sunday is the story of the poor man Lazarus (the only character in the parables of Jesus who actually gets a name!) and the rich man who ignored him until they had both died. You can read Luke 16:19-31 here. I know some of you read this blog only when you missed the sermon on Sunday, and this week you won’t be able to do that, because I’m not going to post it. If you want to hear the homily about “Trading Places” you’ll just have to show up. It won’t make much sense outside the context of Compassion Sunday.
For the other two or three of you who check this blog on a regular basis, enjoy your week off from trying to make sense of my attempts at theological reflection. You’re welcome! But don’t get too comfortable. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get inspired to write a bonus post this week. Among other things, I’ve been thinking a lot about worship lately …
What is essential to worship? Can you truly worship God without things like scripture, prayer, confession, declaring what we believe? I recently observed a Eucharist in which the celebrant skipped over the confession, but offered an assurance of pardon, and it made me wonder … what do you think?