+ THE THIRD SUNDAY after PENTECOST +
Do Not Be Afraid Sunday
21 June 2020
Today’s theme “Do Not Be Afraid” continues last Sunday’s theme “Sent for Service” as the disciples are sent out by our Lord in the “Little Commission” (Matthew 9:35ff). Our Lord doesn’t promise that the path and ministry of the disciples will be easy. In the First Lesson, Jeremiah feels the pain of rejection from those who do not want to hear what he has to say. Jesus declares that his words may bring stark division. Even so, we need not be afraid for God accounts for each hair on our heads. Though we may experience rejection, frustration, division, and death, God’s grace and love make us a new creation each day. Marked with the sign of the Cross in Baptism and nourished with the bread of life, we are sent from worship to witness to Christ in the world through our words and deeds. 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
Teach us, good Lord God, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, except that of knowing that we do your will, 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 20:7-13
[Jeremiah accuses God of forcing him into a ministry that only brings him contempt and persecution.
Yet Jeremiah is confident that God will be a strong protector against his enemies and commits his
life into God’s hands.]
O LORD, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak anymore his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary and with holding it in, and I cannot. For I hear many whispering, “Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. “Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him.” But the LORD is with me like a dread warrior; therefore, my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten. O LORD of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause. Sing to the LORD; praise the LORD! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Romans 6:1b-11
[in baptism we were incorporated into the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. We have been
made new in Christ through his death and resurrection to live freed from sin.]
Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it. Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism in death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 10:24-39
[Moved by compassion for the crowds, Jesus has commissioned his twelve disciples to continue his work of preaching and healing. Now he warns them that their ministry will meet with opposition. However, he assured them that they need not fear for the truth will come to light. Life is found in
[Jesus said to the twelve:] “A disciple is not above the teacher, not a slave above the master, it is enough for the disciples to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not be become known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs on your head are all counted. So, do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
The Gospel of our Lord. Praise to You, O Christ.
HOMILY Perils of Discipleship & Vision Text: The Gospel Lesson
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
“I have come to set a man against his father.” I wish these words from today’s Gospel Lesson would have shown up last Sunday or next Sunday instead of Father’s Day. From a father’s perspective, it’s a tough text to consider on this day and even tougher to say: “Happy Father’s Day.”
Of course, the world in which we live is far different from that of the disciples and the Early Church. The reality of The Way, as Jesus first followers were known, was born as a counter cultural movement … even within Judaism. For the first several centuries, Christianity labored in a hostile environment, and enjoyed unprecedented growth in mission. But that wasn’t without its drawbacks.
Though last week we heard about Jesus sending the Twelve out into mission and the dangers of walking the streets of mission fields and opportunities, no one expected to be broad-sided by what came next … the danger of losing primary relationships—your primary identity. Jesus warns that the biggest challenge to mission and ministry will come not from outsiders, but from the disciples’ own families. Even in our self-centered society that seems awfully harsh. But, in the 1st Century it was essential for the survival of The Church. And so, the questions: Do people really have to abandon their families in order to follow the Lord? Are we expected to have the same kind of loyalty today? What is Jesus really doing here?
In Jesus’ day, the primary way people thought of themselves was as part of a group … part of an extended family and household. That may seem strange to us, but then the 1st Century is often misunderstood because we fail to grasp this basic truth. To be separated from one’s family was to be outside the aid and protection the family could provide. For that reason, a person … like the Prodigal Son … would not normally leave home. It was the way the culture of the day had of offering support and protection from one generation to another. It was also a way to keep the next generation in line.
Only with the patronage of another person was it possible for someone to leave home. Jesus promises just that when He says that He will acknowledge before His Father those who acknowledge Him … and deny those who deny Him.
What Jesus is doing is explaining the consequence of following Him. His vision of God’s Kingdom was so radically different than the one held in His day that following it would mean a break with the family. Holding ideas contrary to those of your parents would, after all, mean a break with family and likely get you kicked out. Jesus doesn’t demand that, rather He warns that following Him will probably mean a break with what has … up until now … protected and guided them.
And in this midst of this jarring section, we find the heart of the good news … Have no fear, God loves you … He treasures you and me. God knows the details of our lives … down to the number of hairs on our heads … and considers us of great worth, even when we feel small and insignificant. God encourages us so that when the time comes, we can stand firm in the face of indifference and scorn.
That’s an important word for us living in a post-church age. We, too, may find that following Jesus is an increasingly difficult … counter-cultural thing to do. We may find ourselves shouted down when we stand up for our faith and boldly give witness to our Savior’s Name. We may find that following Jesus leaves us out in the cold in many other ways. To us, as well, Jesus reminds us not to fear even when we feel small and insignificant against the forces of culture and the powers of this world.
One of my favorite movies 12 Angry Men, starring Henry Fonda, shows up every so often on Turner Classic Movies. In it, Fonda played one of twelve impaneled jurists. For the other 11 jurists, the case was a slam-dunk. They all vote guilty. Only Fonda’s character wants to weigh the evidence piece by piece. As new information comes to light in the jury room, one by one the others are convinced by Fonda that reasonable doubt exists. They too decide to vote not guilty. Finally, as the last part of the prosecution’s case is stripped bare, the last jurist concludes that they can’t convict beyond a shadow of a doubt and, all vote not guilty. Even in fiction, it takes great courage to stand alone against tremendous pressure to conform.
Eventually, when all the disciples left Him, Jesus stood alone. He stood alone before the Chief Priests. He stood alone before Herod and Pontius Pilate. Forsaken by all, He hung on a Cross alone before God. Only One who trusts the promises of the Father in Heaven can do such a thing. And, God comes through on Easter Sunday for Jesus and for us. The empty Cross and tomb proclaim our Lord’s power over sin, death, and the power of Satan. In the Cross and empty tomb, we see that Jesus’ way is the way to life … life to the full … now and forever. By the power of the Holy Spirit our Risen Lord calls us to stand together … and sometimes alone … in the face of an increasingly hostile post-church culture. But unlike our Lord, we never stand alone. We have His promise that He will be with us always … even to the ends of the earth. We stand with Him as the vision of God’s Kingdom unfolds … a kingdom that embraces all people as God’s children in Christ … a kingdom that values each person.
It is such a vision … a vision of love and forgiveness and acceptance … that grasps each and every one of us Sunday after Sunday in Word and Sacrament. It is a vision of creation restored … of life as it should be … can be … and will be. But, good people in Christ, it is not a vision for Sunday only. It is a vision that we bear to the world … share with that world … for the 167 remaining hours of the week when we are not in church.
As many have done before me, I find this vision to be exciting enough to give my life for. I find this vision to be something the world craves … a vision that only those who follow Jesus can give. In it we are all invited to something greater than ourselves. In it we are sent to be what God has called us to be: a community of faith that can transform the world. It is then and there, that Jesus’ words echo most true:
Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake
will find it.
Come then … catch the vision … join the mission … experience the truth of our Lord’s words for yourself. God loves us. Our Lord bids us come and see … to go and tell.
+ 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 diverse voices together to form the nations and your Church. Open our hearts and unstop our ears to learn from one another, that differences might not overshadow your will for us, baptismal unity. 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 protection, sustain and keep safe all who work to defend others across the world. Revive and strengthen organizations dedicated to the caring for refugees and migrants while their homelands struggle for peace. 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. In these days of protesting and social unrest calm our nation with the peace that only you can give. Bring healing, understanding, and resolve to the inequities that divide us and help us to see your likeness in one another regardless of the color of our skin. 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 companionship, you accompany this body of faith as we 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 and blessings 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 compassion, you are with us and we are never alone. Bless all fathers and father figures who strive to love and nurture as you do. Comfort all who long to be fathers and all for whom this day is difficult. 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.