TWELFTH SUNDAY after PENTECOST
“On This Rock”
GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
660 Frances Lane
Ashland, Oregon 97520
The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor
+ TWELFTH SUNDAY after PENTECOST +
“On This Rock”
THEME of The Day
At any time and in any place, the Christian may ask God to forgive sin that separates one from God and others. At the same time, it is good to remember that to be a Christian is to be united in a community that bears the wounds of sin and human folly. The worshiping assembly—as a community—confessed the truth of its own unloving words, thoughts, and deeds. And throughout the liturgy, it hears and feels and tasted the merciful and forgiving love of God: in the absolution, in the remembrance of Baptism, in receiving the body and blood of Christ, in the words of forgiveness spoken by a friend or family member, in sharing the peace.
These acts of confession and forgiveness in the liturgy are gifts of grace. How, then, might our words and actions extend this grace in daily life?
May God bless your worship this morning.
ORDER of CONFESSION
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“As I live,” says the Lord God, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that
the wicked turn from their ways and live.”
If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins, and
cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We have been called to confess Jesus as the Son of God. How faithfully have we
+ A Brief Silence for Reflection +
Most merciful God, we confess to you our sinfulness, and our helplessness to escape from it. Our lives do not confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. We are wicked; we are doomed to die. We beg your mercy for the sake of Jesus
Christ, your Son. Forgive us, renew us, and let your light shine upon us, so
that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your
holy Name. Amen.
The gates of hell shall not prevail! Jesus Christ was given to die for you; for his sake your sins are forgiven in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our God has turned to us and we shall live.
Thanks be to God!
AN ACT of ADORATION
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, with all your faithful people of every age, we praise you, the rock of our life. Be our strong foundation and form us into the body of your Son that your Name may be known throughout all the earth; 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 Isaiah 51:1-6
[In this text, the prophet appeals to a people who seem apathetic, if not despairing. Isaiah reminds Israel that God’s actions in the past (v.2) are the basis for hope in the future. God’s deliverance will come soon and will never end.]
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD; look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dub. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might multiply him. For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
“Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the people; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.”
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Romans 12:1-8
[Paul offers practical advice to the Christians in Rome, suggesting new ways of relating to God, to the world, one’s self, and to other believers. God’s grace empowers different forms of service among Christians, but all forms of ministry function to build up the body of Christ.]
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies
as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity, the
one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 16:13-20
[At a climactic point in Jesus’ ministry, God reveals to Peter that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and Jesus responds by revealing his vision of The Church that will overcome the very gates of Hades.]
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
HOMILY Binding and Loosing
Text: The Gospel Lesson Pr. Jim
“On This Rock”
Isaiah 51:1-6; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20
Binding & Loosing
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
For those of you who are attending the Zoom service broadcast in the sanctuary, I’d like you to take your set of keys out of your purse or pocket and hold them up for me to see!
Now that you have your set of keys in hand, I’d like you to imagine trading your keys with someone around you. Oh … I almost forgot … along with your keys, give that person your address, phone number, license plate number, and a credit card.
Would you feel a little uneasy? I bet! Because once someone has keys and information, they have access to your life. Keys are incredibly small, but they have incredible power. And you don’t give powerful keys to just anyone!
Today’s gospel is the only place in the New Testament where keys to the Kingdom of heaven are explicitly mentioned. Jesus has just asked the disciples who people say that He is. And they said, “Some say John the Baptist.” [Now, if you’ll remember John the Baptist had recently been beheaded by Herod and people thought Jesus was John the Baptist come back to life—even Herod himself was confused according to the gospel of Mark (Mark 6). Others thought that Jesus was Elijah or Jeremiah, prophets from the Old Testament, whom the Jews believed would appear before the Messiah came.
Then Jesus came directly to the point, “But WHO do you say I am?” The answer Peter gave was and is the cornerstone of The Church for all ages. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” is the confession upon which Jesus builds His Church. There in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus attached a great promise to this confession of faith—that not even the powers of death (hell) shall prevail against it. That’s something that can’t be said about anything else in the world as we know it. Things may come and go … kingdoms rise and fall … but the Church will endure to the end of time and beyond. It will endure because of the keys Jesus gave The Church. With these keys, a binding and loosing takes place that is as valid in heaven as it is on earth. And yet, Jesus dares to entrust the keys to mortals in His Church on earth. A great thing took place in Caesarea Philippi. We are here today because of it.
To appreciate the importance of the keys of the kingdom on this 12th Sunday after Pentecost, I’d like to call to mind a question that I was often asked over the years as a pastor … perhaps you’ve been asked the same question as well: “What’s going on at your church these days?” Pre-COVID days, the natural answer would have been to mention: Worship … Sunday School … Men’s and Women’s Bible studies … Choir … Board meetings … concerts and recitals … and parish dinners. But what if someone more familiar with today’s text—were to ask the question more pointedly: “Is there much binding and loosing going on these days at Grace Lutheran/Ashland?”
That is, after all, the right question to ask. It asks about the one thing that Jesus said of The Church as the recipient of the keys of the Kingdom: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” That’s the one thing our Lord deems essential to life in The Church. And we’re called to be clear about its meaning and to be faithful in carrying it out.
We’re to be clear about its meaning because God’s Kingdom is not primarily a place but His presence … not primarily a place but an activity … His activity. That’s always so easy to forget. When teaching about the Kingdom of heaven, Jesus always likened it to an action—a seed growing … yeast leavening a loaf … a merchant finding a rare pearl. God’s Kingdom … His presence … His activity … has broken into our realm of time and space through our Savior, Jesus Christ. The Church … we need to remember… is not the Kingdom. The Church is the result of God’s activity. Our Lord’s death and resurrection for our sake is the heart of God’s gracious rule that comes to us by the power of the Spirit through Word and Sacrament. It comes through a word that He gives us to speak … to believe … and to act upon. We call that word The Gospel … the good news about our Savior Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Lord. … the good news that is nothing less than the power of God over sin, death, and Satan.
That’s the first key given to The Church … the key that binds us together with cords that cannot be broken. There at Caesarea Philippi our Lord gave new meaning to binding. He looked at Peter and the others and declared that He would build The Church from forgiven sinners such as these. And He still does! In His love we are a people who are gathered together in a family called The Church. We are one in Him and one with one another—one faith, one Lord, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all. We are bound together in Christ as brothers and sisters.
The other key given to The Church is the key that looses—the key that pries us loose from those sins which would destroy not only us but spread untold damage to others. In my studying this week, it was interesting to note that the same word loose used here is the same Greek word used in St. John’s gospel when Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb. “Loose him (free him from his grave clothes) and let him go!” That’s a good image for us to remember as we think about what we need to be loosed from. Dead in our trespasses and sin, we need to be loosed from our lingering unbelief and doubt … our dimness of vision … our reluctance to bear the cross … our lack of love and patience … our slackness in worship … our carelessness in prayer … and our laziness in searching The Scriptures. We come to know our need for forgiveness only as God’s Word reveals our sinfulness … only as God’s Word reveals our sinfulness and leads us to the grace and power of the Gospel that changes our lives.
We, good people, are recipients of the keys of the Kingdom to bear witness to the power of God that frees people from every addiction … every fear that cripples … every unbelief … every idolatry … and every prejudice that demeans or marginalizes another.
On this 12th Sunday after Pentecost, what’s going on at Grace Lutheran these days? Binding and loosing. Got your keys? Don’t forget to take them with you as you step out into a world that is hurting. May we use them to unlock God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness to all people whom we encounter. God grant that this is how we see The Church and experience the power and wonder of being God’s people here in this place called Grace.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life + everlasting. Amen.
PRAYERS of THE CHURCH
With the whole people of God, let us join in prayer for
The Church, the world, and all of God’s creation.
A Brief Pause
Lord our Rock, you are our foundation in Jesus Christ
your Son, whom we confess as the living God. Prepare
your Church for its mission in bearing witness to Christ,
both here at home and throughout the world. Lord, in
your mercy. Hear our prayer.
You call forth praises from the far reaches of the universe to the smallest of creatures. Join our songs to theirs, that a spirit of praise and thanksgiving will arouse us to cherish this wondrous home you give us. Provide needed rains and weather conditions to bring all wildfires under control. Protect all firefighters and first responders as they seek to manage further devastation caused by all of the current burns. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
You call the nations to be glad and sing for joy. Direct the leaders of countries, legislators and magistrates, mayors, and councils, to walk in your ways and build trust with each other. Let your will be made known among nations, now divided by competing interests, contending alliances, and worry. Guide all world leaders to build lasting peace and trust with each other.
In the midst of political upheaval in Belarus, bring peace, justice, and calm to all Belarussians
as they seek a more democratic representation and government. Bridge the chasms that divide us as a nation during these days of protests and civil unrest; bring calm to our anxiousness and bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
You show unexpected mercy, kindness, and generosity. We pray for those who do not have enough, for outcasts and those marginalize in our villages, towns, and cities, and for those who need your healing especially your servants John and Shari who are under doctor’s care, together with those we name in our hearts … brief pause … with your love, comfort and sustain those of our parish who are homebound especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Rusty, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma that they may be assured of your presence through our prayers and acts of service and love. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
You have gathered us in community around Word and Sacrament to be your on-going presence. May we recognize in ourselves and in one another the unique gifts you have given us for the building up of The Church for the sake of the world. Give our congregation such a welcoming heart, that our words and actions may extend your free and abundant hospitality to all whom we encounter. Refresh us with new dreams of being your people in this time and place. As we return to the call process, help us to discern your will for us in seeking an undershepherd to join us in mission and ministry so that in all things your good and gracious will may be done. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of life, you are the everlasting rock from which we were hewn, and you restore your people to joy and gladness. In blessed memory and hope, we give you thanks for all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith and now rest from their labors. Remind us of everything they have said and done in your Name, that strengthened by their examples we may faithfully give witness to your Name until we, too, are gathered together with all your saints in your eternal presence. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Receive our prayers, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
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.