Proper 18 (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday Moses writes: Choose life and prosperity or death and adversity; obey the Lord (Deuteronomy 30:15–20). The psalmist sings: Those who delight in God’s law will prosper like trees by the water (Deuteronomy 30:15–20). The apostle Paul writes to Philemon about Onesimus: welcome him as a brother (Philemon 1–21). In Luke, Jesus explains the cost of discipleship by speaking of towers and battles (Luke 14:25–33).

Lectionary Readings

Deuteronomy 30:15–20

15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Psalm 1

1 Happy are those
    who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
    or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
    planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
    and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

4 The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

Philemon 1–21

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, 2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God 5 because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. 7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.

8 For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 9 yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. 10 I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. 13 I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. 15 Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

Luke 14:25–33

25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Philemon 3-7

As we join in worship may we receive grace and peace
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

May our love for all the saints and our faith toward the Lord Jesus increase.
May we receive joy and encouragement and may our hearts be refreshed.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Luke 14:25-33; Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 20

Loving Savior,
may we count the cost of being your disciple,
and be willing to give up all of our possessions to follow you.
Fill us, renew us, and grant us the desire
to choose life and abundance today.
Help us to love you, to walk in your ways, 
to observe your commandments, 
and to hold fast to you in all circumstances.
In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Psalm 1:1-3

Brothers and sisters, what do we believe
concerning the blessings of God?

We believe we are blessed when we
do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but our delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law we meditate day and night.

We believe that when we obey God’s ways
we are like trees planted by streams of water,
which bear fruit in its season, 
and whose leaves do not wither.

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