November 13, 2022: Kingdom Work Ethic

Twenty-third Sunday After Pentecost


Slideshow of veterans recognition:

Scripture: Isaiah 65:17-25; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

  • “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” John Innes, based on Melita, by John Dykes; Donna Grubbs, piano; Pauline Olsen, organ
  • “For the Fruits of This Creation,” by Pratt Green and Francis Jackson; Trinity Singers
  • Hymn 698: “God of the Ages,” Daniel C.Roberts and George W. Warren
  • Hymn 377: “It Is Well with My Soul,” by Horatio G. Spafford and Philip P. Bliss
  • “Come and Fill (our hearts with your peace),” from Taize worship service; Pauline Olsen, organ
  • Special Music: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Ein’ Feste Burg),” by Martin Luther; Carlos Xavier, flute, and Donna Grubbs, piano
  • Reading from Scripture: Isaiah 65:17-25; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Linda Gordon
  • Sermon: “Kingdom Work Ethic,” Pastor Desi Larson
  • Hymn: “A Place in the Choir,” by Bill Staines; Betsy Noland, vocal
  • “Old Irish Blessing,” by Jerome Wright
  • “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus,” y George J. Webb; Pauline Olsen, organ

Text of two choral readings

Silence Alive

Silent Father
Silent Son
Silent Holy Spirit
Silent One–I love you.
In the silence of eyes
   I see you.
In the silence of unspoken words
    I hear you.
In the silence of a sudden touch
    I feel you.
In the silence of a flower’s fragrance
    I smell you.
In the silence of bread and wine
   I taste you.
Sensual God, I love you!

I love you in the silence—
   Silent Father
   Silent Son
   Silent Holy Spirit
   Silent 0ne–I love you!

Rev. Harry Wiggett, a priest, poet, and prison chaplain to Nelson Mandela, both on Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prison.

An African Canticle

All you big things, bless the Lord.
Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria,
The Rift Valley and the Serengeti Plain,
Fat baobabs and shady mango trees,
All eucalyptus and tamarind trees,
Bless the Lord.
Praise and extol Him for ever and ever.

All you tiny things, bless the Lord.
Busy black ants and hopping fleas,
Wriggling tadpoles and mosquito larvae,
Flying locusts and water drops,
Pollen dust and tsetse flies,
Millet seeds and dried dagaa,
Bless the Lord.
Praise and extol him for ever and ever.

–Traditional African

Sermon: A Kingdom Work Ethic

Key Scriptures

They shall not labor in vain, (Isaiah 65:23a)

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)

For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right. (2nd Thessalonians 3:11-13)

1) Biblical Work Ethic

  1. Time: Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work – Exodus 20:9
  2. Purpose: The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. – Genesis 2:15
  3. Meaning: Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. – Psalm 127:1

2) Protestant (Calvinist/Puritan) Work Ethic

  1. Max Weber, 1905, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Captalism
  2. Work not “works”
  3. Parable of Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-17)
  4. American History: Captain John Smith, Being “self-made”
  5. Protestant work ethic has been linked to racist ideals. “We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor—both black and white, here and abroad.” Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
  6. Problems with Proof Texting 2nd Thessalonians

3) Kingdom Work Ethic

  1. Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can are the three basic points of John Wesley’s famous sermon entitled, “The Use of Money.” Wesley said that “If Methodists would give all they can, then all would have enough.” It was a plea for generosity and a plea for compassion for the poor and needy
  2. Parable of the Vineyard Master, Matthew 20:1-15 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’

4) A Theology of Work

  1. Work and loving God
  2. Work and loving others

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
— Wendell Berry (born 1934)