(Sunday between August 28 and September 3 inclusive)
In the readings for this Sunday, we are told to observe God’s law diligently; do not add to it or subtract from it (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9). The psalmist asks, Who may abide in God’s presence? Those who do what is right (Psalm 15). James tells us that every good gift comes from God; pure religion is to care for others (James 1:17-27). In Mark, a debate about authority and tradition; evil things come from within (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23).
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
1 So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2 You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.
6 You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” 7 For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? 8 And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?
9 But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.
1 O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill?
2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
and speak the truth from their heart;
3 who do not slander with their tongue,
and do no evil to their friends,
nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
but who honor those who fear the Lord;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
5 who do not lend money at interest,
and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
Those who do these things shall never be moved.
17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Call to Worship
Based on Mark 7:6-7
Brothers and sisters,
may we not be like hypocrites
who honor God with their lips,
but whose hearts are far from him.
May we not worship in vain,
but in spirit and in truth.
Let us exalt the Lord together.
Prayer of the Day
Based on Psalm 15
O Lord, we long to abide and dwell with you.
Help us to walk blamelessly, to do what is right,
and to speak the truth from our heart.
Keep us from slandering others with our tongue,
from harming our friends,
and from criticizing our neighbors.
God of all grace, may we despise evil acts,
and honor those who fear the Lord;
Give us the strength to keep our promises
even when it hurts.
May we not lend money with interest,
nor take a bribe against the innocent.
Help us in all these ways, O Lord,
that we may stand firm forever.
Affirmation of Faith
Based on James 1:17-27
We believe that every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift,
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
We believe that in fulfillment of his own purpose
he gave us birth by the word of truth,
so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
We believe we are to be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;
for our anger does not produce God’s righteousness.
We believe that we are to get rid of all the evil in our lives,
and humbly accept the word God has planted in our hearts,
for it has the power to save our souls.
We believe we are to be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
For we believe that when we look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere,
being not hearers who forget but doers who act - we will be blessed in our doing.
We believe that if we think we are religious,
and do not bridle our tongues but deceive our hearts, our religion is worthless.
We believe that religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.