Contributed by Seth Moland-Kovash, All Saints Lutheran Church Palatine, IL

Warm-up Question

When you envision your own wedding someday, what is the most important thing that comes to your mind?

What’s Really Important?

Weddings are big business. From the flowers to the photographers, from the dance hall to the caterer, big bucks are spent on wedding celebrations. The average cost of a wedding from start to finish is over $20,000… and that’s the average. Some cost a great deal more than that.

 A recent article highlights a trend in our rough economy toward spending less on weddings, especially focusing on one couple who had their wedding in a bowling alley. Some who throw offbeat wedding celebrations, either in bowling alleys or with a baked potato bar instead of a five-course dinner, run into problems with friends or family members who expect a more traditional wedding celebration.

 Traditions versus your own tastes? Big money versus trying to save some pennies? What is most important about a wedding? Where are the priorities?

Discussion Questions

  • What is the most important thing about a wedding?
  • Which wedding traditions help to emphasize the most important thing? Which might get in the way?
  • How can couples bring the best of themselves and their own tastes into a wedding celebration?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, August 22, 2010 (Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost)

Isaiah 58:9b-14

Hebrews 12:4-24

Luke 13:10-17

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Jesus met a woman who needed something. She had been crippled, bent over and unable to stand up straight for 18 long years. For Jesus, there was no question to be asked. This woman needed something and he could provide it. So he healed her.

The problem is that, in healing her (and how and when he healed her), Jesus ran up against expectations and traditions. Expectations and traditions that were not all wrong in and of themselves. Jesus got into trouble with the leader of the synagogue and others because it was on the Sabbath day that Jesus healed this woman.

When Jesus argued that he was right to heal this woman on the Sabbath, he didn’t necessarily say that all rules about keeping the Sabbath were wrong. He didn’t say that those in the synagogue were wrong to rest on the Sabbath. He just asked questions about priorities: “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?”

If the lives of your ox or donkey are so important that you’ll get up from your Sabbath rest to give them water, why isn’t this woman’s life at least as important? Where are the priorities, Jesus asked. What’s most important?

Discussion Questions

  • How did Jesus decide that he could heal this woman on the Sabbath? What made it OK for him to break the Sabbath rules and traditions?
  • How do you decide which religious traditions are worth keeping today and which we might get rid of?

Activity Suggestion

Talk with the President of your church council. Ask her or him about the priorities for the congregation? What’s most important? What are good things that it would be OK to sacrifice if need be to meet the priorities?

Closing Prayer

Good and gracious God, we thank you for the witness that you give us of love and healing that breaks boundaries. Help us to keep our priorities always on your love and your grace.  Amen.