Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Why will you die?

 10 “And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ 11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways,  for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:10-11)

Is it surprising to hear from the Old Testament God, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live".  It turns out this God is all about second chances, not sudden judgment. And this God is not only warning, but pleading with those on the wrong path. "for why will you die, O house of Israel?"

What a strange expression: "why will you die?" Does anyone will to die, rather than "turn back from your evil ways"? Well, yes, there are the addicted, the self-destructive, the ultimately despairing, but do they really choose to die or have they just lost the will to live?

What about those who want to live, but refuse to do what's good for them? Like you who resist taking a vaccine.  You have a policy, and it doesn't include vaccines.

You've suffered the dangers and the relentless infection of the coronavirus for ten months.  You stay clear of families with the slightest association with the CoVid-19 plague, keeping your kids at home, even for the brief weeks when school was face-to-face.  You wear a kerchief when you are in the stores, even though your glasses keep fogging from your warm breath. Sometimes you convince your kids to keep something over their faces when they play indoors with friends. But you will not trust the vaccine. Why will you die?

You try to keep a tight bubble. You stay away from families rumored to be sick with anything, assuming it was Covid-19. On Thanksgiving it was just immediate family, and no one flew or traveled long distances.  You don't go into a church or a restaurant with close quarters. You can't go to the movies. You are always home by 8 p.m. But you fear a shot that could immunize you from the plague "that rots away." Why will you die?

You kept hearing from the President that the vaccine would save us. Then you hear that a flu shot is about 60% effective. You decide that the corona vaccine is not worth it. Then you hear that Pfizer has produced a vaccine that is 94% effective. They were so quick you are wondering if you can trust their work. Now you are balancing the odds of dying against 94% effectiveness. Why will you die?

They say a drowning person, in a panic, will drag a swimmer down, rather than submit to being saved. Is this the kind of panic you feel when you consider getting the vaccine? Are you resisting the one chance you have for health and relief from CoVid anxiety? Are you being cautious or self-righteously stubborn? Are you taking an enormous risk and resisting a small one?  Why will you die?


Sunday, January 17, 2021

MLK Day of Service

 “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” 1 Peter 4:10 Christ calls us to serve others. This week let us make a concerted effort to reclaim and refocus on Christs’ call for us to minister to the world by serving others in the ways we are able. Consider how might you serve this week.

About MLK Day of Service 

Americans across the country are volunteering both virtually and in-person on MLK Day. Are you ready to serve? Making time to volunteer for the MLK Day of Service is a great way to engage with your community while honoring the legacy of Dr. King. Whether you plan on grabbing a paintbrush, mentoring a young person, or helping to clean up a public space in the next few days, know that what you do makes a world of difference. The upcoming events are an opportunity to re-commit ourselves as citizens by volunteering in service to one another. 

Find out More at MLK Day of Service [www.nationalservice.gov] and MLK Day of Service St. Louis [www.stlouis-mo.gov/live-work/community/mlk-day-of-service.cfm]

Worship for January 17

January 17, 2021 

10:00 am Virtual Service 



Disturb us, O Lord

when we are too well-pleased with ourselves 
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, 
because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, O Lord

when with the abundance of things we possess, 
we have lost our thirst for the water of life 
when, having fallen in love with time, 
we have ceased to dream of eternity 
and in our efforts to build a new earth, 
we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim.

Stir us, O Lord

to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas 
where storms show Thy mastery, 
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes 

and invited the brave to follow. Amen

PRELUDE      I Want to Walk As a Child of the Light      arr. Behnke 





O Lord, you search us and know us. You know when we sit down and when we rise up.

Here I am, heal me.

Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.

Here I am, help me.

We praise you for we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.

Here I am, send me.

† HYMN      “Lift Every Voice and Sing”      Hymnal #339




All-Powerful God, you know us completely, but we still try to hide our lives from you and pretend you cannot see us. You knit us together in our mothers’ womb, but we live as if we are not part of a much bigger family. You bid us to come and follow, but we make selfish plans of our own and get lost in our wanderings. We condemn the speck in our neighbor’s eye while excusing the plank in our own. Forgive us for our hardened hearts, our dim vision, and animosity toward those around us. Show us the better path forward and help us to stay close to your loving presence. (Silent Confession)



The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you. 

SCRIPTURE 1 Samuel 3:1-20 

SERMON “Do Not Disturb” Rev. Dr. Dave Burgess 




Q. What is your only comfort, in life and in death?  


A. That I belong--body and soul, in life and in death--not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that he protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. 




The earth belongs to God, our creator; every good thing is a gift from the Lord. Let us glorify God through the gifts of our lives. Please join me in prayer...


We give you thanks, O God, for every blessing and spiritual gift you pour out upon us. Let the gifts of our lives be a source of blessing in your world, all to the glory of your holy name. Amen.

SPECIAL MUSIC     I Want to Walk As a Child of the Light      Thomerson 



† HYMN “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” Hymnal #69 


† BENEDICTION RESPONSE “Come! Live in the Light” Hymnal #749 

POSTLUDE Fantasia on ‘I Want to Walk‘ Behnk

†You are invited to stand, as you are able. 


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Scripture for January 17

 1 Samuel 3:1-20

The Lord Calls Samuel

Hannah presenting Samuel to Eli,
Jan Victors, 1645

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,[a] and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”

Samuel answered, “Here I am.”

17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”

19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord.

Read full chapter


  1. 1 Samuel 3:13 An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition (see also Septuagint); Masoretic Text sons made themselves contemptible

Friday, January 15, 2021

Daily Prayer January 15

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Daily Readings for Friday, January 15, 2021

New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us the desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. God of all times and places, in Jesus Christ, lifted up on the cross, you opened for us the path to eternal life. Grant that we, being born again of water and the Spirit, may joyfully serve you in newness of life and faithfully walk in your holy ways. God of all joy, fill our souls to overflowing with the fullness of your grace. Lord, remind us of your triumph over the tragedy of the cross, and your victory for us over the powers of sin and death, so that we may reflect your glory as disciples of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

With God's help and love may your lives be blessed and your labors fruitful as you offer yourselves gladly in the service of our common Lord.

(Opening sentences, prayers, and blessings are from the Book of Common Worship. Readings are from the daily lectionary in Daily Prayer. Both are published by Westminster/John Knox Press.)