Dear Partners in Ministry:
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There
is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you
are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:27-29
In the last few months, I’ve noticed a divide happening in our world, and perhaps that is what mandated isolation will do to the human race. Through the COVID-19 Pandemic and the coinciding sheltering-in-place, safer at home, social distancing tag lines, there was a forced disconnect from anyone outside of your immediate family. What ensued was a lack of community, togetherness, and conversation. Phone calls and emails were the accepted ways of communicating with members of our extended families and our friends. Masks even eliminated our ability to share a simple smile. Smiles that can never be seen by phone and only shared with emoji added to your email. It’s no wonder that we’ve come to find ourselves in contentious days surrounding issues of race and injustice.
As someone who has interacted with people of different races and ethnic backgrounds over the years, I shared some thoughts about repentance last week in light of what was going on in our world and country in the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. When I reflected on those words and prayed about what my repentant response should be, I choose to listen to others, to listen to God’s Word, and
to put our Lord’s great command to “Love one another, even as I have loved you,” front
and center. After all, isn’t that what mission and ministry are all about … being “Sent to Serve.” Sent to serve with the same compassion our Lord saw for people as he walked
the streets in today’s Gospel Lesson [Matthew 9:35-10:8a), we too are able to see brokenness with compassionate eyes. We, too, can listen with an empathic ear, share the promises of God, and allow the Spirit to work through our words and deeds to bring about God-pleasing change, justice, and healing for all who are broken, disenfranchised, or discriminated against regardless of the color of their skin.
On this Second Sunday after Pentecost, I pray that our Lord uses us to bring about peace, justice, reconciliation, and change to this time and place in our history as a nation and as God’s people.
St. Francis of Assisi put the sense of “Sent to Serve” well …
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Blessings, peace, and joy be with you all.
+ Pr. Jim
+ The Second Sunday after Pentecost +
Sent for Service Sunday
Sent for Service is theme for this Second Sunday after Pentecost. In today’s lessons,
Moses tells the Israelites that they are called to be a priestly kingdom and a holy people.
Jesus sends out the disciples as laborers into the harvest. In the waters of baptism, we too
are anointed for ministry, sharing God’s compassion with our needy world. Strengthened through Word and Sacrament, we are sent from worship to proclaim the good news, to heal the sick, to share our bread with the hungry, and to remove all barriers that divide people from each other as we give witness to the love and grace of God through our words and deeds.
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
God of compassion, you have opened the way for us and brought us to
yourself. Pour your love into our hearts, that, overflowing with joy, we
may freely share the blessings of your kingdom and faithfully proclaim
the good news of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Exodus 19:2-8a
[At Sinai God assured Israel, “You shall be my treasured possession,” and commissioned them
to serve as mediating priests for the nations. The people commit themselves completely to God’s will.]
[The people of Israel] set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and
they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while
Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you
shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen
what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to
myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall
be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be
to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to
the people of Israel.”
So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words
that the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that
the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Romans 5:6-17
[We are no longer God’s enemies but have peace with God because we were brought into a right relationship with God through Jesus’ death.]
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person though perhaps for a good person one would dare to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice
in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift of that one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for many.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 9:35-10:8
[The mission of Jesus’ followers is to continue the mission of Jesus himself. Here, he instructs
his first disciples as to how they might proclaim the gospel through their words and deeds.]
Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to
cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed hm.
These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
HOMILY Walking the Streets Text: The Gospel Lesson
by Pastor Jim
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
For the past two weeks, we’ve seen images of news reporters walking the streets of cities throughout our country. We see them interviewing people on the street and video-taping the protests, violence, and looting on the evening news reports that are broadcasted. Having heard this morning’s Gospel Lesson, I have a question for you. What is it that you see and feel when you walk the streets of the community you live in? What’s your take?
Matthew tells us that when Jesus walked the streets, He saw harassed and helpless people and felt compassion. These were the same people … mind you … that the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees moved among as well. But they seem to have looked at people differently when they walked the streets. They appeared to be discriminate … addressing some and not others. Jesus’ words suggest that these leaders looked at the same people He did but reacted with something less than compassion. The “real people” they saw were objects … objects to be burdened with the law … rituals and traditions. They saw people as targets of their own power and audiences for their own brand of piety (Matthew 23).
In the words of today’s text, it must be that compassion makes all the difference in what one sees when “walking the streets.” It was compassion that compelled God to become flesh and blood for us. It was compassion that compelled Him to enter into the whirlwind of life and share it as it has to be experienced by all the children of the earth. It was compassion that He enacted when He preached the Good News and healed every “disease and sickness.” It was with compassion that He still saw people when He completed His walk, and it was with compassion that He continued to serve them and affirm them.
When one really walks the streets and gets in touch with people, one need not see “liars, cheats, thieves, and bums.” Compassion, you see, paints a different picture. Compassion cuts to the quick of snap judgments and stereotypes. It sees through appearances into the heart of things. The stereotype says: “loser” … “bum” … “worthless” … “no good” … but compassion says “shepherd-less sheep.”
With compassion Jesus called the disciples and gave them a task. Prior to that call the disciples themselves were “sheep without a shepherd.” It’s been said that life is a story with a shape. If that’s true … then what most people have isn’t a life. The events that make up their days and lives are all separate and non-related—like reading the articles in this morning’s newspaper … reading this and that … a slice of life here and a slice of news there. Life … like a good story … needs a beginning, a middle and an ending to give it shape. But for many people, there is no middle and no sense of ending.
What gives shape to days and transforms them into life is a task … not just something or other to keep you busy. What gives shape to life is a task and purpose that has value for the future … for one’s self and for others. What Jesus gave His disciples was a task … a purpose that has value for the only future that counts. Jesus gave the disciples His authority as the One who brought the Kingdom of God near. “Tell the people,” Jesus said, “Tell the people the Kingdom of God is near. I give you power to do the works of the Kingdom. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.”
To be called into the work of God is to be given a middle and ending to the story of one’s life. It is to be given the purpose of life itself. It is this gift we come together to celebrate each Sunday—the gift of life remembered and received … the gift of life valued and redeemed … a gift of life and service that we have not only individually, but a gift we have together. We are a people … the people of God gathered around Word and Sacrament … with no other work than the work of God. And we are joined one with another … with the disciples themselves … and with all who share that work in Christ to do God’s good and gracious work.
Compassion, you see, is activity. Compassion does something. It’s not just a warm fuzzy feeling … even though feelings are involved. It’s not a sense of pity … or of pain … or of sorrow. To suffer from indigestion over what is currently going on in our country or over the world’s problems is not compassion. Even to cry ourselves to sleep over another’s sufferings is not yet compassion. Compassion acts. It walks the streets. Compassion calls. Compassion serves.
Compassion also sends. It’s little wonder that Matthew connected the compassionate Jesus to what has been called The Little Commission in contrast to The Great Commission (perhaps better called the Great Permission) on the hill of the Ascension. The compassionate Jesus can’t just sit around and feel sorry for those He saw. Nor can He just sit and wait until they somehow managed to come to Him. He understood their situation as the time of God’s harvest. They need … and are ready for … new life. His compassion acts. He calls His disciples together and sends them into the “fields” … to walk the streets.
And, He sends us into the streets as well [to share the Good News] … to offer people a middle and an ending by announcing the Kingdom is here … in our very midst … in our very lives. His death and resurrection is the guarantee that because He lives, we too, shall live. No one and no-thing can keep our life stories from the glory of that ending in His Name.
What a marvelous task He call us to in our Baptisms … to walk the streets. God has called and chosen us … in this time and place … to look about us … to listen and serve with compassion, so that all might know that they are loved by the One who would be Shepherd to the shepherd-less.
+ 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 community, you bring us together and call us your own. Bless theologians, bishops, pastors, deacons, and teachers who help us grow in faith. Guide your church that we may be a holy people who share your life-giving good news with all the world. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of creation, the whole world is yours. Sustain the world with your renewing care. Inspire us to care for what you have provided so that future generations may enjoy the goodness and blessings of your creation. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of counsel, we have created divisions you will not own. Encourage the leaders of this and every land to seek peace, equality, and unity. Calm our nation with your peace. Bring healing and understanding to the inequities that divide us and help us to see your likeness in one another. 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, Lucinda, 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 companionship, you accompany this body of faith. Encourage young and old alike to use their talents and resources for building up the body of Christ here in this place. As we continue the call process of our parish; set our hearts at ease with the knowledge that it is your Spirit who leads and guides us as we seek to identify the one you have chosen to serve among us as your under-shepherd. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of welcome, your Spirit calls us to reach out to others in our community. Continue to bless our campus ministry outreach to the faculty, staff, and students of SOU. Surprise us daily with unexpected grace as we join the students who worship with us, rejoicing in every blessing you send to us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God of all comfort, your steadfast love and mercy attends all who grieve. Be present in the lives of those who mourn the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Sanctify their tears and strengthen them with your unending care. Lift up their hearts and eyes beyond their sorrow to work for racial understanding and equality for all people regardless of their skin color or ethnicity. 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.