+ FOURTH SUNDAY after PENTECOST +
A Cup of Cold Water Sunday
28 June 2020
Without God’s loving presence, we are like a parched and waterless land. In the waters of Baptism, Christ becomes our life-giving spring, quenching our thirst and pouring God’s love into our hearts. In today’s gospel reading, our Lord promised that the disciple who gives a cup of cold water to the little ones serves our Lord himself. Our Baptism leads us to hear Jesus’ words as words concerning our baptismal mission to welcome and serve the little ones of this world—with a gesture as simple as offering a cup of cold water. Our task is to only use each day to show ourselves, our Lord, and all who observe us that welcoming others in the Name of Christ is, after all, worth the effort.
May God bless your worship this morning.
AN ACT of ADORATION
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us adore our heavenly Father, who created us, who sustains us, who loves us
with an everlasting love, and gives us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the
face of Jesus Christ.
We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord.
Let us glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for
our sakes became poor; who became obedient unto death, even death on a cross;
who died and is alive forevermore; who opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers who is seated at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father; who will come again,
as Judge and King.
You are the King of glory, O Christ.
Let us rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, by whom
we are born into the family of God, and made members of the body of Christ, whose witness confirms us, whose wisdom teaches us, whose power enables us to do far
more abundantly than all we ask or think.
All praise to you, O Holy Spirit.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
O God, you direct our lives by your grace, and your words of justice and
mercy reshape our world. Mold us into a people who welcome your Word
and serve one another in love; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Jeremiah 28:5-9
[Through a symbolic action Jeremiah insisted that Judah and all the surrounding nations should submit to the king of Babylon (Jer. 27). Hananiah contradicted the word of Jeremiah, who in reply insisted that Hananiah’s rosy prediction should not be believed until it came true. God confirmed the word of Jeremiah and sentenced the false prophet Hananiah to death (vv. 16-17).]
Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hananiah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD, and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the LORD do so, may the LORD make the words that you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the LORD, and all the exiles. Yet hear this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet come to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Romans 6:12-23
[Paul has told the Roman Christians that in baptism they were not only made right with God through grace but were also made free from the slavery of sin. Thus, he now claims that those who accepted by God as sinners may also be used by God for righteousness.]
Do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No long present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slave of the one who whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 10:40-42
[When Jesus sends his disciples out as missionaries, he warns them of persecution and hardship they will face. He also promises to reward any who aid his followers and support their ministry.]
[Jesus said to the twelve:] “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. The one who welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and who gives even a cup of water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.
The Gospel of our Lord. Praise to You, O Christ.
HOMILY Christ’s Welcome
Text: The Gospel Lesson Pr. Jim
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live.
A place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace;
Here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.
Those words from the first stanza of Marty Haugen’s hymn All are Welcome underscore Jesus’ instruction to His disciples in today’s Gospel Lesson: “If they welcome you, they welcome me.” But why these words from our Lord about welcome? Wasn’t the notion of welcome one that existed as far back as Israel could remember? Being a welcoming people was precisely what God intended them to be as God’s witnesses to the nations. Ah … but the reason Jesus advised the disciples about welcome was because Israel had lost its memory for welcome … forgotten that the way strangers and sojourners came to know God’s graciousness was through the open hands of His people welcoming others and caring for them regardless of their race or the color of their skin.
Jesus’ instruction to His disciples in this 10th chapter of Matthew, which has served as our Gospel Lesson for the past two Sundays, makes a lot of sense for us as God’s people during these days of COVD-19, protests, and civil unrest. But I wonder … I wonder if you noticed something lacking in Jesus’ instruction about welcome. Our Lord totally ignores questions of administration … organization … church offices … liturgy and doctrine. Instead, all attention is riveted to the authority our Lord gives to the Twelve as they are sent out to bear witness to Him and the coming of God’s Kingdom to all people.
That’s huge … huge because all too often too much of our time and energy is placed where Jesus didn’t put it: on organization … who does what when … how to get the money in to support ministry … and all the rest. We’ve a lot to learn from our Lord about the priority He has set for us in welcoming others in His Name. We have a lot to learn because we hear this text in an interim ministry context and in a post-church culture that is less tolerant and welcoming of God’s people. But that’s nothing new. It’s been the story of the world since the Garden of Eden.
What is new is that when the old cycle of building barriers and walls is broken down welcoming takes place—a welcoming that is more than being social or congenial. “Whoever welcomes you welcomes Me” is our Lord’s teaching in which He presents Himself, and through Him the Living God Himself.
But rather than speak with you in the abstract, let me tell you the story of a remarkable Christian by the name of Jean Vanier … the son of a former Governor General of Canada … and at one time a professor of theology at the University of Toronto. On one occasion during a trip to France, Vanier visited with the chaplain of a small residence for handicapped people. That visit was a turning point in Vanier’s life, and it became clear to him that God was calling him to something new. Soon after his visit, he invited two handicapped men to come to live with him in a small town outside of Paris. In time, others joined him until the community grew to over 400 people. Today there are over 80 L’Arche communities throughout the world. L’Arche … the French word for ark … is a living testimony to the welcoming spirit of Christ.
Listen to Vanier’s account of the beginning of his ministry:
What I discover today is every time I see a man or woman with a severe handicap,
the incredible cry that is coming from them, what I would call a primal cry is, “Do
you love me?” “Has my life any value?”
Somewhere this cry touched me. …I discovered an immense world of pain which
I never, never, could have imagined. I had been schooled in the Navy and a world
of efficiency. I’d then been schooled in the world of philosophy and theology …
suddenly to discover hundreds, sometimes thousands of mentally handicapped
people living in pain.
It seemed clear to me that Jesus was asking me to take one or two men and start
living together. …And so, a journey began. I thought I could do good for them, but
then as days and months moved on I began to discover what they were doing for
me … transforming me. I was not the teacher but the learner … and learning quite
When Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes one of these little ones in my name welcomes
me, and whoever welcome me welcomes the Father,” it’s really true! I never knew
this. I mean, I’d read the Gospels, but I didn’t know what it meant and I’m not sure
I really believed it. I’m beginning to realize that if Christians believed in Jesus hidden
In others the world would change.
“If Christians believed in Jesus hidden in others the world would change.” Let that sink in for a moment. Beyond the four walls of our nave … which is the Latin word for ark or ship … beyond the four walls nave walls of an ark called Grace Lutheran Church/Ashland … is a community and world filled with suffering. But the greatest suffering is not that person with a handicap … not the individual who is blind … not the man or woman who is deaf or severely brain damaged … the greatest suffering is a world filled with the lost … the shepherd-less … those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. And the greatest tragedy is that people lock themselves up in houses … even churches … and put up barriers separating themselves from the Christ who comes to them in the naked, the hungry, the sick, the stranger, the prisoner, the lonely, the widowed, and the lost.
This is the whole mystery of The Christ … how He comes to bring peace and welcome … forgiveness and wholeness … to the isolated, lonely, and closed lives that need Him.
At the heart of that lonely isolation is always one thing: guilt. And with that guilt comes the terrible curse of concluding that no one loves me, not even God … that I’m no good and, therefore, worthless. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus came to take away that guilt once and for all. He paid the price with His own life on the Tree of the Cross. In His death and resurrection, He has lifted the yoke of guilt and isolation from all of us in order that we might be free to serve others and give witness to the God who welcomes all of us in His Son.
On this 4th Sunday after Pentecost … in the midst of the call process … we need to remind ourselves of that welcome. We need to remind ourselves of the vision of ministry we mapped out for ourselves … who we are and what we are to be about as God’s people. We are, after all, the living body of Christ … forgiven people who are learning more and more how to welcome one another as Christ first welcomed us. In this body … this welcoming community of faith … everyone and every member has a place … including the newest … the youngest … the oldest … the poorest … the least experienced in the faith … and the stranger or visitor. For at the very heart of this welcoming place is the love of God’s own Son who gave Himself for us. Here in this place His Spirit shapes and molds us through Word and Sacrament to be His on-going presence in the world.
“Welcome one another,” Jesus says, “and so welcome Me and the One who sent Me.” Through the least and the last … the youngest and the oldest … the found and the lost … Jesus is asking us: “Do you love Me?”
Today and every day, let us hear His cry and heed His call as we reach out to welcome Him and build a church. Yes, in the words of the remaining stanzas of Haugen’s hymn …
Let us build a house where prophets speak, and words are strong and true.
Where all God's children dare to seek to dream God's reign anew.
Here the cross shall stand as witness and as symbol of God's grace;
Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus;
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.
Let us pray:
Lord, we welcome You. Continue to mold us and shape us into the welcoming community you would have us be. Amen.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
PRAYERS of THE CHURCH
Called into unity with one another, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all of God’s creation.
God of companionship, encourage our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Bless our conversations with each other. Shape our shared future and fill our hearts with bold witness to serve with compassion, share your love, and spread the gospel. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of abundance, you make your creation thrive and grow to provide all that we need. Inspire us to care for our environment so that future generations may enjoy the goodness and blessings of your creation. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of mercy, your grace is poured out for all. Inspire authorities, judges, politicians to act with compassion. Encourage them to seek peace, equality, and unity across our land so that which divides us may be healed with genuine love for our brothers and sisters of all races and color. Bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of counsel and peace, we have created divisions among races and people that you will not own. Encourage the leaders and citizens of this and every land to seek peace, equality, and unity for all people regardless of race or color. Heal the divide in our relationships with each other. Fill our spirits with genuine love for our sisters and brothers of all races. Bring an end to the violence and social unrest; and bless us with the necessary change and growth that only you can give. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of care, open our eyes to see and attend all who are under doctor’s care especially John, Sarah, and Shari. Bring your healing and strength to them as we lift them up in prayer before you. With your love, surround those who are homebound especially Sharon, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of community, we give thanks for this congregation. Give us passion to embrace your mission and the vision to recognize where you are leading us. Teach us how to live more faithfully with each other. Surprise us daily with unexpected grace and blessings as we join the students of SOU who worship with us, rejoicing in every blessing you send to us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of compassion, you are with us and we are never alone as you lead and guide us by the power of the Spirit. As we prayerfully consider calling Patrick Moore as vicar to join us in the mission and ministry of our parish, help us discern your will for him and for us so that in all things your good and gracious will may be done. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of life, you bring all people to yourself. We give thanks for those who have gone before us with the sign of faith. Stir in us the desire to follow their examples of faithfulness and sustain us in your mission until the day you bear us up to join the saints in light. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Receive our prayers, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray …
Our Father who art in heaven;
hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those
who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace. Amen.
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