Liturgy of The Word for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, August 9, 2020

If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter we invite you to

DONATE HERE.

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

A note about the structure of this webpage:

This page is set up to enable you to participate in the Liturgy of The Word, during which you will hear the sermon in its natural liturgical context; or you can scroll down the page to hear the stand-alone sermon webcast accompanied by the written text.

You can also view our return to eucharistic worship by clicking here.


Order of Service for the Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here. Podcast was recorded, edited, and produced by Christian Tulungen.

Prelude: Praeludium in D, BuxWV 139, by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), Steven Young, organ

Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “Bread of the World” (Hymn 301) by Heber/Bourgeois, Amanda Neves, soloist

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Hymn 388 “O worship the King” (vv. 1, 5), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 O worship the King, all glorious above!
O gratefully sing his power and his love!
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

5 Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail;
thy mercies how tender! how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend! 

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S 273, The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

The Collect of the Day:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28, read by David Blake

Psalm 85:8-13

Refrain: Show us your mercy, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.

8 I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,
    for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
    and to those who turn their hearts to him.
9 Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,
    that his glory may dwell in our land.
Refrain
10 Mercy and truth have met together;
    righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11 Truth shall spring up from the earth,
    and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Refrain
12 The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,
    and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness shall go before him,
    and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.
Refrain

Second Reading: Romans 10:5-15, read by Laura Bartsch

Hymn 390 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (v. 1), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation;
O my soul, praise Him, for he is thy health and salvation:
Join the great throng, psaltery, organ, and song,
Sounding in glad adoration.

The Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33, proclaimed by Mark+

Hymn 390 (v. 4)

4 Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath breath join with Abraham's seed to adore him!
Let the "Amen" sum all our praises again
Now as we worship before him.

The Sermon: Linda+  A stand-alone sermon recording and full text also appear below on this page.

The Nicene Creed: We recite together. Please note italicized inclusive language changes.

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified
    and has spoken through the Prophets.

    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “Over My Head,” Black-America spiritual (arr. Clayton White), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Over my head, I hear music in the air. There must be a God somewhere.
Over my head, I see trouble in the air. There must be a God somewhere.
Over my head, I feel glory in the air. There must be a God somewhere.

Prayers of the People: led by Linda+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants
give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable
love in the redemption of the world
by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace,
and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such
an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts
we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you in
holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Hymn 414 “God, my King, thy might confessing” (vv. 1, 2, 6), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 God, my king, thy might confessing,
ever will I bless thy name;
day by day thy throne addressing,
still will I thy praise proclaim.

2 Honor great our God befitteth;
who his majesty can reach?
Age to age his works transmitteth;
age to age his pow'r shall teach.

6 All thy works, O Lord, shall bless thee,
thee shall all thy saints adore.
King supreme shall they confess thee,
and proclaim thy sovereign pow'r.

Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Fantasie über “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho,”  by Jürgen Borstelmann (b. 1963), Steven Young, organ

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #M-400498. All rights reserved.


Stand-Alone Sermon Podcast:

Taking the Third Step

The Rev. Linda Mackie Griggs

“You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I ’d like to begin with an oldie but goodie; what might be called a parable for hurricane season: Once there was a big storm coming, and the whole community frantically began to prepare. One man, when offered a ride to evacuate inland, told his friends that he was going to ride it out, saying he had faith that God would look after him.  So the wind blew and the rain came, and it began to flood. Some folks came by with a boat and, seeing the man on his front porch looking at the rising water, offered to take him to safety, but he said he had faith that God would save him. And the wind continued to blow and the waters rose still higher until he was up on his roof, and a helicopter came and hovered over his house, lowering a ladder for him to climb up. But he said no, thank you kindly, but he had faith that God would save him. So eventually the storm abated, the water receded, and the man’s neighbors came to his flooded house and found that he had drowned. But his soul had travelled to the afterlife, where he met God face-to-face and said, accusingly, “God! What happened? I had faith that you’d save me, but I ended up drowning!” And God said, “Child, I sent you a ride inland, a boat and a helicopter, what were you waiting for?”

Do we laugh in recognition? Do we see in this silly man our own misunderstanding of faith? Do we see, in his overly specific expectation of what God’s help would look like, our own blindness to God’s saving grace right in front of our noses, if only we would—have faith? 

What does it mean to have faith?

Today’s Gospel passage is one of the most familiar in the New Testament. It is also one of the ones that we think we know: Big storm, Jesus walking on water, Peter jumping out and taking a couple of steps, falling beneath the waves and then saved by Jesus, who tells him he just didn’t have enough faith. So the lesson is that we need to have more faith. Right? But like the man in the hurricane, we might benefit from another look at what we think we see.

Let’s look at the story with fresh eyes, as though we’ve never heard it before. Lay aside all assumptions and begin, not with what we think about faith, but what we know—about fear.

Peter had “little faith.” Just enough to challenge Jesus, enough to get out of the boat, and enough to take a couple of steps on the water.

We surely know, either literally or metaphorically, what it’s like to feel like we’re in a very tiny boat in a very big storm, buffeted by wind and waves, rocking back and forth, to and fro, water splashing over the gunwales, hard to keep our balance. Even for those who–like the disciples who were fishermen—have sea legs for tempestuous times, this is a frightening moment—a storm of day-to-day bad news washing over us, over and over.

For the occupants of the boat it was hard enough just to stay on their feet, so the mysterious appearance of Jesus coming toward them on the water was a new kind of assault. We minimize their terror because think we know the story, but consider the fundamental existential fear that comes from living in unsettled times—when the baseline emotional state for most people is that of deep anxiety. Consider now the disciples, confronted with the possibility that the one person who they had followed, trusted, and given their lives to, wasn’t even real. What a horrifying punch in the gut.

. . . [T]hey were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.

But not Peter. He was the only one with just the right amount of—chutzpah—to actually challenge his Teacher.

“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

And Jesus took Peter up on it: “Come,” he says.

And Peter had just enough—chutzpah—to do it. 

Would you? Sit on the gunwale of a rocking boat, lift your legs over, brush the windblown hair out of your eyes, take a deep breath—and stand up?

Stand with Peter for a moment, perhaps ankle deep, lifting one foot and then the other. Does it take your breath away? Feel for a moment the amazement. The joy.

The power.

The power of your small self, accomplishing the seemingly impossible.

And then the wind, a little loss of balance, a gust of the reality of the challenge you have accepted, and it’s all over; you’re in over your head.

“Lord, save me!”

We think we know the story. We think we hear accusation in Jesus’ voice, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

But that’s not how Matthew says that Jesus describes faith. Jesus says in a later chapter that faith the size of a tiny mustard seed can move mountains; that the Dream of God itself is to be imaged in the power of that same mustard seed to grow like crazy into a bountiful shelter for God’s creatures.

Little, for Jesus, isn’t a problem.

Peter had “little faith.” Just enough to challenge Jesus, enough to get out of the boat, and enough to take a couple of steps on the water.

We think we know the story. But what did Jesus first say to the terrified occupants of the storm-tossed boat? Did he mention faith? No.

He said, Do. Not. Be. Afraid.

Here’s another oldie but goodie: The opposite of faith isn’t doubt; it’s fear.

Was Peter afraid he would sink below the waves?

Or was he afraid that he wouldn’t?

Might he have been suddenly overwhelmed by a lightning flash understanding of what it would mean to cross the water to Jesus and stand with him? The sudden understanding of what it would truly mean to realize his full power and potential as a follower of Jesus and partner in the inbreaking Dream of God?

Getting out of the boat, and taking the first and second steps, are part of having faith. The tougher challenge lies in the third and fourth steps, which is being faithful.

Oh, Peter, you of plenty of faith.

Getting out of the boat, and taking the first and second steps, are part of having faith. The tougher challenge lies in the third and fourth steps, which is being faithful.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in The Cost of Discipleship, puts it in terms of obedience.  He writes, “The road to faith passes through obedience to the call of Jesus. Unless a definite step is demanded, the call vanishes into thin air, and if [people] imagine that they can follow Jesus without taking this step, they are deluding themselves…”

Strong words from a man who knew the risk and cost of being faithful.

Bonhoeffer jumps us past what I think is the useless question of the precise quantity of faith we need, and takes us into the much more fruitful territory of how to live out the faith that we have; to ask ourselves what is calling to our deepest and truest selves, challenging us, as individuals, communities, and as a church, to have the courage, not just to have faith, but to be faithful. To act faithfully.

What calls us? What holds us back? Is it fear of failure, or of success? What could this storm-tossed world look like if we took, not just the first and second steps, but the third and fourth, living joyfully into Jesus’ invitation, wherever it may lead?

Take a deep breath.

Jesus says, “Come.”


If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter, we invite you to

DONATE HERE.

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

Liturgy of The Word for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, August 2, 2020

If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter we invite you to

DONATE HERE.

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

A note about the structure of this webpage:

This page is set up to enable you to participate in the Liturgy of The Word, during which you will hear the sermon in its natural liturgical context or you can scroll down the page to hear the stand alone sermon webcast accompanied by the written text.

You can also view our return to eucharistic worship by clicking here.


Order of Service for the Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here. Liturgy of the Word podcast was recorded, edited, and produced by Christian Tulungen.

Prelude: Praeludium in C, BuxWV 137, by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), Steven Young, organ

Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “Sound Forth the Trumpet in Zion” by Thomas Morley (c1557-1602), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Hymn 48 “O day of radiant gladness” (vv. 1, 4), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 O day of radiant gladness, O day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright;
this day the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
sing "Holy, holy, holy" to the great God Triune.
 
4 That light our hope sustaining, we walk the pilgrim way,
at length our rest attaining, our endless Sabbath day.
We sing to thee our praises, O Father, Spirit, Son;
the Church her voice upraises to thee, blest Three in One.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S 280, The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

The Collect of the Day:

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Genesis 32:22-31, read by Sarosh Fenn

Psalm 17:1-7, 16

Refrain: Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings.

1 Hear my plea of innocence, O LORD; give heed to my cry;
   listen to my prayer, which does not come from lying lips.
2 Let my vindication come forth from your presence;
    let your eyes be fixed on justice.
3 Weigh my heart, summon me by night,
    melt me down; you will find no impurity in me.
4 I give no offense with my mouth as others do;
    I have heeded the words of your lips.
5 My footsteps hold fast to the ways of your law;
    in your paths my feet shall not stumble.
6 I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me;
    incline your ear to me and hear my words.
7 Show me your marvelous loving-kindness,
    O Savior of those who take refuge at your right hand
    from those who rise up against them.
16 But at my vindication I shall see your face;
    when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings.

Second Reading: Romans 9:1-5, read by Joshua Maria Garcia

Hymn 578 “O God of love, O King of peace” (v. 1), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 O God of love, O King of peace,
Make wars throughout the world to cease;
Violent acts, O God, restrain;
Give peace, O God, give peace again!

The Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21, proclaimed by Mark+

Hymn 578 (v. 3)

3 Whom shall we trust but you, O Lord?
Where rest but on your faithful word?
None ever called on you in vain;
Give peace, O God, give peace again!

The Sermon: Linda+  A stand-alone sermon recording and full text also appear below on this page.

The Nicene Creed: We recite together. Please note italicized inclusive language changes.

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified
    and has spoken through the Prophets.

    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “Ave verum corpus” by Josquin des Prez (c1450-1521), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Hail, true Body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffering in sacrifice on the cross for humankind.

Prayers of the People: led by Mark+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants
give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable
love in the redemption of the world
by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace,
and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such
an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts
we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you in
holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Hymn 302 “Father, we thank thee who hast planted,” The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Father, we thank Thee who hast planted
Thy holy Name within our hearts.
Knowledge and faith and life immortal
Jesus Thy Son to us imparts.
Thou, Lord, didst make all for Thy pleasure,
didst give man food for all his days,
giving in Christ the Bread eternal;
Thine is the pow'r, be Thine the praise.

2 Watch o'er Thy church, O Lord, in mercy,
save it from evil, guard it still.
Perfect it in Thy love, unite it,
cleansed and conformed unto Thy will.
As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,
was in this broken bread made one,
so from all lands Thy church be gathered
into Thy kingdom by Thy Son.

Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Rondeau (Sinfonies de fanfare) by Jean Joseph Mouret (1682-1738), Steven Young, organ

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #M-400498. All rights reserved.


Stand-Alone Sermon Podcast:

A Table in the Wilderness

The Rev. Linda Griggs

My husband’s Uncle Roy died a few years ago, and the scattered extended family gathered in Hartsville, South Carolina. There was a memorial service at the funeral home, followed by a reception at a local Methodist Church. Now how it came to be there is interesting. Because Roy didn’t belong to the Methodist Church. He’d been raised Catholic, spent 17 years as a Baptist deacon, and he and Aunt Jerri had been going to the Episcopal Church for years. But Jerri had been a Methodist when she was younger, and there were a couple of church members who lived across the street from where Roy’s parents had lived for a long time. And that was enough–enough for the Methodist women to put on their aprons and mobilize to serve a bunch of grieving outsiders (including Yankees) who converged on Hartsville to remember and mourn Uncle Roy. And what a feast it was. Home-fried chicken. Cornbread. Green beans and lima beans. Homemade ham biscuits. Pound cake and banana pudding if you had room, and coffee, lemonade and sweet tea (the only kind.)  And in response to the profuse thanks from the family, the ladies simply responded, “It’s our ministry.”

It’s been seven years, and that story of Roy’s funeral is still told among our family with reverence, and even a tear or two. It’s pretty special when compassion, a little teamwork, and some home cooking come together in such a way that it touches the heart. When the ordinary takes on the aura of the sacred like that, the feeding becomes a kind of Eucharist.

You give them something to eat.

Today’s story of the feeding of the multitude is the only one of Jesus’ miracles to be included in all of the canonical Gospels. All four Evangelists found profound meaning in this layered episode of feeding–this intersection between hunger and abundance, need and blessing, desire and action.

When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd…

After Jesus had learned of the brutal murder of John the Baptist, he withdrew to grieve. But no kindly church ladies came along with baskets of fried chicken and banana pudding. Nor was he to find rest; the crowd followed him—they didn’t care how far they had to go, they just kept walking until they found him, out in the middle of desolate deserted nowhere. They brought nothing for the journey but their hunger for healing, comfort and good news. And in spite of his grief Jesus had compassion on them. So he went to work. It was his ministry.

The hour grew late, stomachs began to grumble, and the disciples wanted to send the people away to find their own dinner. Isn’t that the way it is sometimes; when confronted with a big problem, it is easiest to just try to make it go away to fend for itself. Don’t get too close; don’t get involved. But that’s not Jesus. Jesus, instead of sending the problem away, brought it closer.

You give them something to eat.

As many times as I’ve read and heard this passage I’ve never until recently noticed the grass. In three out of the four Gospel accounts Jesus receives the bread and the fish, and then has everyone sit down in the grass. Not on the ground. Not in the dirt, or on a rock. In every translation I checked, it says grass—the Greek chortos—grass, herbage, hay, or provender. Maybe not a lush lawn of Kentucky fescue, but neither is it arid and infertile. It makes you wonder.

The disciples wanted to send the people away to find their own dinner . . . Jesus, instead of sending the problem away, brought it closer.

Matthew tells us this is a desolate, deserted place. We equate it with the Wilderness where the Israelites wandered and complained, or where Jesus was famished and  tempted after his Baptism. Yet Matthew also implies that it is pasture where animals graze. Perhaps it’s both– an ironic intersection of wilderness and growth. Of hunger and abundance. Need and fulfillment.

We have nothing but five loaves and two fish.

Nothing. But…

We can spend all the time in the world asking how or whether Jesus actually multiplied the loaves and the fish. But we might instead consider that this story is inviting us, today, to see two things in relationship: the hungry multitude nestled in the grass, the abundant compassion of God in the form of bread, and at the intersection of the two, we see Jesus. Blessing, and inviting and challenging us.

Jesus didn’t distribute the food. His disciples fed the multitudes from the prodigious bounty that God provided.

You give them something to eat.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes shows us how we as children of God are bound to each another and creation by both our need to be fed and our potential for compassion and generosity in feeding one another. Jesus didn’t distribute the food. His disciples fed the multitudes from the prodigious bounty that God provided.

And we are called to do the same. Especially now.

Nearly eleven percent of our neighbors in this country say that their households don’t have enough to eat. The Census Bureau reports that more than 25% have missed housing payments—rent or mortgage. People are choosing between food and medication more than ever. Oh, and the children: Over 20% of children face food insecurity at some point during the year. The pandemic has closed schools and summer camps that are sources of physical as well as intellectual nourishment.

And as of this writing the folks in Washington are ready to let vital unemployment benefits to 30 million unemployed children of God lapse rather than risk giving some of them too much money. More than they deserve. Too much of what can be made available for everyone in need if our priorities were straight.

Jesus, send them away to fend for themselves.

But Jesus says no.

Jesus assures us that it is safe to look at the world through the eyes of compassion instead of political expediency. Through eyes of abundance instead of scarcity.

Jesus has us all sitting in the grass—we just can’t collectively seem to see what that means. Jesus assures us that it is safe to look at the world through the eyes of compassion instead of political expediency. Through eyes of abundance instead of scarcity.

There’s a table grace that I learned a few years ago:

Lord, to those who have hunger, give bread; to those who have bread, give a hunger for justice.

What is our ministry to our neighbors who hunger? What shape can our hunger for justice take in this moment?

Listen to the vision of Isaiah:

“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. …Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.”

The prophet envisions a heavenly banquet. Every time we feed each other, whether it’s food pantry volunteers making take-out meals, Methodist ladies serving fried chicken to out of town strangers, or citizens protesting and flooding legislators’ inboxes with demands for economic and social justice—every time we draw closer to another in compassion and generosity, we participate in a foretaste of the heavenly banquet—a table set for Creation since the beginning of time. We just need to open our eyes to where we are sitting. 


If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter, we invite you to

DONATE HERE.

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

Liturgy of The Word for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, July 26th, 2020.

If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter we invite you to

DONATE HERE.

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

A note about the structure of this webpage:

This page is set up to enable you to participate in the Liturgy of The Word, during which you will hear the sermon in its natural liturgical context or you can scroll down the page to hear the stand alone sermon webcast accompanied by the written text.

You can also view our return to eucharistic worship by clicking here.


Order of Service for the Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here. Liturgy of the Word podcast recorded, edited, and produced by Christian Tulungen.

Prelude: “Prière” from 24 pièces en style libre by Jean Langlais (1908-1992), Steven Young, organ

Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector.

Introit: “If ye love me” by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Hymn 388 “O worship the King” (vv. 1, 5), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 O worship the King, all glorious above!
O gratefully sing his power and his love!
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.
 
4 Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail;
thy mercies how tender! how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S 280, St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

The Collect of the Day:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom
nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon
us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so
pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Genesis 29:15-28, read by Marty Flaherty

Psalm 119:129-136

Refrain: Steady my footsteps in your word.

129 Your decrees are wonderful;
therefore I obey them with all my heart.
130 When your word goes forth it gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant;
I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me in mercy,
as you always do to those who love your Name.
133 Steady my footsteps in your word;
let no iniquity have dominion over me.
134 Rescue me from those who oppress me,
and I will keep your commandments.
135 Let your countenance shine upon your servant
and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.

Steady my footsteps in your word.

Second Reading: Romans 8:26-39, read by Ian Tulungen

Gradual Hymn 488 “Be thou my vision” (vv. 1, 2), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
all else be nought to me, save that thou art--
thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
 
2 Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father; thine own may I be;
thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.

The Gospel: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52, proclaimed by Linda+

Gradual Hymn 488 (v. 3)

3 High King of heaven, when victory is won,
may I reach heaven's joys, bright heaven's Sun!
Heart of my heart, whatever befall,
still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

The Sermon: Mark+  A stand-alone sermon recording and full text also appear below on this page.

The Nicene Creed: We recite together. Please note italicized inclusive language changes.

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified
    and has spoken through the Prophets.

    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “Blest are they whose spirits long” by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759, arr. Hopson), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Blest are they whose spirits long, whose trust is in the Lord, and on whose lips is praise unending. They shall mount up like eagles, lofty on high. They, too, shall walk and not be weary.

Prayers of the People: led by Linda+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants
give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable
love in the redemption of the world
by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace,
and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such
an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts
we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you in
holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Hymn Hymn 635 “If thou but trust in God,” St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 If thou but trust in God to guide thee,
and hope in him through all thy ways,
he'll give thee strength whate'er betide thee,
and bear thee through the evil days,
who trusts in God’s unchanging love
builds on a rock that nought can move.

2 Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving;
so do thine own part faithfully,
and trust his word, though undeserving
thou yet shalt find it true for thee;
God never yet forsook in need
the soul that trusted him indeed.

Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Fugue (excerpt) from Sonata XI, Op. 148 by Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901), Steven Young, organ

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #M-400498. All rights reserved.


Stand-alone Sermon podcast

The Rev. Mark Sutherland

Listening For

I keep wondering if I should be worrying more about the future of the Church and in particular the future of our parish? Since the 3rd Sunday in Lent this March when in the face of an escalating public health crisis I took the decision to stop in-person worship – everything about being Church has changed. Since then, we have been on a steep social and virtual media learning curve. We’ve been learning how to be a virtual church – using virtual tools that are now thankfully, available to us at a time of greatest need.

Signing in – logging on -whether it be to a medium like Zoom – something completely new to most of us – or recalibrating our brains to think of the St Martin’s website rather than our red doors as the portal through which we enter into an experience of weekly worship – the challenge has not only been a technical one. Having logged-on or signed-in –we negotiate our way through the digital red doors where our expectations of what it feels like to be a church are challenged by new frustrations but also new discoveries.

Once through our digital red doors we are presented with the challenges of operating in digital meetings, groups, and fellowships where if too many people speak up at once no one gets to hear what is said. Once logged on to the Sunday morning Liturgy of the Word – both a different and yet familiar experience of the Sunday morning worship – how do we orient to an experience of corporate worship when there’s only ourselves and whoever else may be in the room listening along with us; when no matter how distracted we might have felt sitting in the pews, no matter how much our minds used to wander, the temptation of multi-tasking while participating in virtual worship is something quite other?

New questions arise. What is the correct body posture for virtual worship? Should I sit upright, alternating between standing, sitting, maybe kneeling, or is it ok to slouch in the armchair or even remain in bed? Should I bother to get dressed or is worshiping in my PJ’s acceptable to God?

Episcopalian brains have been conditioned by the centrality of the Eucharist as our principal experience of worship. Eucharist is a form of worship that demands not only presence but more importantly, communal participation. It’s hard to feel engaged when the visual cues are not the priest at the altar and the people around us – but the webpage on the screen in front of us and the sounds of worship reduced to an audio experience of worship pre-recorded by others. Adjusting to these changes requires a deeper and more careful listening – a creative use of imagination –capacities we may not have engaged much when worshiping in the past.

Sacramental worship is the outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace? The movement from outward action to inward grace is a journey that has always been taken in the imagination – the experience of creative and deep listening.

One way I suggest approaching the Sunday webcast of the Liturgy of the Word is not to participate in the structure of the service as if you were in church, but to close your eyes and simply let the experience speak through your senses and imagination. Worship – whether virtual or in-person remains for us not only the time we enter into the conversation God wishes us to have, but an invitation to listen more deeply to the needs of a world – to use Paul’s language in Romans 8 – to listen amidst the labor pains for the hope that heralds rebirth.

Br. Keith Nelson SSJE asked in a posting this week:

Are you listening? I hear you, even as I type this, and I know that you are. Somehow, I hear us, gathered in our listening. It is the sound of a single heart learning, re-learning to listen to the Word, and to the world. 

The upheaval of our world in the wake of Covid-19 presents us with a demand to reimagine ourselves as a people – a society – a nation – a community – and to my point this morning – as a church. The upending of old familiarities and comfortable certainties demands a revitalizing of a capacity to listen with imagination.

Of the need for such listening Br. Keith writes:

I am listening more deeply, more intently, and with a greater sense of urgency, than I have ever listened. I am listening to the lonely cry out for human touch and the holy cry out for sacraments shared. I am listening to words of joy and lament from the masked mouths of strangers and friends alike. I am listening to Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native American people cry out afresh an old, old song of unspeakable trauma, yet refulgent with hope. I am listening to slow-motion sounds of collapse as political maneuvers falter and fail. I am listening to ice melting beneath the paws of the polar bear. I am listening to the inhalation and exhalation of breath, rhythmically reminding me that every moment is precious, and none is a given. I am listening to the heart of God beneath it all. 

The Apostle Paul, in our continued reading from Romans 8 – building on his description of nature and humanity groaning in labor pains (see last week’s entry Labor Pains) awaiting new birth speaks of:

the Spirit help[ing] us in our weakness: [speaking to us through our imaginative listening] for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words – and God, who searches the heart, knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for [energizes and inspires to action] the saints according to the will of God.

Paul proclaims that no amount of hardship and suffering, no degree of uncertainty and fear can separate us from the love of God in Christ:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, … nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, height, or depth – not anything in all of creation will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In facing up to new ways of worshiping together, new ways of being church, we are those whom Jesus in Matthew 13 identifies- as scribes trained for the kingdom of heaven? The scribal person spec. calls for skills to fashion new responses from the rich storehouse of old experience.

We are learning to listen in new ways. Along with the familiar fearful questions: how long will we endure present sufferings – Paul’s things present); how will we manage the anxiety of growing fearfulness – Paul’s things to come? – we begin to hear another quality of voice sounding deep within us saying: thank you! We hear a voice that reminds us that this crisis is what we’ve been waiting for.

For some time, many of us have been waiting with a growing apprehension – waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop – that is, waiting for what we know has been coming. This crisis is nothing short of a rude awakening to our dangerous complicities with multifaceted social and environmental injustice and oppression, corruption and greed. Paradoxically it comes as a relief when God calls us out and tells it how it is. Through our imaginative awareness – our deeper listening – in the amidst of our present suffering and future fear we are also learning to hear – thank you – as we listen with increased longing for the God of unchangeable power to change our hearts so that we can let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new!

As we question what it now means to be a people of God – to be the church – in a world that has precipitously shifted on its axis our listening takes on new urgency.

If you’re hearing what I’m hearing, maybe we’re listening to the Church becoming more. In this place “within listening distance of the silence we call God” (R.S. Thomas) and within shouting distance of one another, we are finding something precious: a deep church. Br. Keith Nelson, SSJE.

A deep church is a woke community – with a courage to imagine what it’s been told cannot be. A deep church is a woken community charged for action. Amen.


If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter, we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

Liturgy of The Word for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, July 19th, 2020

If you are not a regular St Martin’s supporter we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

A note about the structure of this webpage

This page is set up to enable you to participate in the Liturgy of The Word, during which you will hear the sermon in its natural liturgical context. Or you can scroll down the page to hear the stand alone sermon webcast accompanied by the written text.


Order of Service for the Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.

Prelude: Pastorale, Op. 33, No. 5 by Aloÿs Claussmann (1850-1926), Steven Young, organ

Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit by Ian Quinn (b. 1973), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Hymn 423 “Immortal, invisible” (vv. 1, 4), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, your great Name we praise.
 
4 Thou reignest in glory, thou rulest in light,
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
all laud we would render: O help us to see
'tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S 280, St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ.

The Collect of the Day

First Reading:

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19, St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Refrain: In your mercy, you show your strength, O God.

Your care, O God, encompasses all creation!
      Nor is there any god besides you.
To whom do you need to prove
      that your judgments are just?
For your righteousness comes from your strength,
      and your dominion makes way for your mercy;
for you show your might when mortals doubt your sovereignty;
      you rebuke those who treat it with contempt.

In your mercy, you show your strength, O God.

Although you rule in boundless power,
      you administer justice with mildness;
you govern us with great forbearance
      though you are free to act without constraint.
You have taught your people by such deeds
      that all who would be righteous must be kind.
You have filled your children with good hope
      by stirring them to repent for their sins.

In your mercy, you show your strength, O God.

Second Reading:

Gradual Hymn 593 “Lord, make us servants” (vv. 1, 2), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Lord, make us servants of your peace:
Where there is hate, may we sow love;
Where there is hurt, may we forgive;
Where there is strife, may we make one.
 
2 Where all is doubt, may we sow faith;
Where all is gloom, may we sow hope;
Where all is night, may we sow light;
Where all is tears, may we sow joy.

The Gospel: proclaimed by +

Gradual Hymn 593 (vv. 4, 5)

4 May we not look for love's return,
But seek to love unselfishly,
For in our giving we receive,
And in forgiving are forgiven.
 
5 Dying, we live, and are reborn
Through death's dark night to endless day;
Lord, make us servants of your peace,
To wake at last in heaven's light.

The Sermon: Mark+  A stand-alone sermon recording and full text also appear below on this page.

The Nicene Creed: We recite together. Please note italicized inclusive language changes.

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified
    and has spoken through the Prophets.

    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “I Love You, O My God Most High” by David Hogan (1949-1996), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

I love You, oh my God most high,
For first Your love has captured me;
I seek no other liberty;
Bound by Your love, I shall be free.
 
All mine is Yours; say but the word,
Say what You will, it shall be done;
I know Your love, most gracious Lord, I
know You seek my good alone.

May memory no thought suggest,
But shall to Your pure glory tend,
May understanding find no rest,
Except in You, its only end.

Apart from You, nothing can be,
So grant me this, my only wish,
To love You, Lord, eternally,
You give me all in giving this.

Prayers of the People: led by +

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants
give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable
love in the redemption of the world
by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace,
and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such
an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts
we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you in
holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Hymn 665 “All my hope on God is founded” (vv. 1, 5), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew,
me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown, he alone
calls my heart to be his own.
 
5 Still from earth to God eternal
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ, his Son.
Christ doth call one and all:
ye who follow shall not fall.

Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Pasticcio (Organbook) by Jean Langlais (1908-1992), Steven Young, organ

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #M-400498. All rights reserved.


Stand alone sermon podcast and text

Labor Pains

For two weeks Matthew’s gospel has given us Jesus’ ecological teaching delivered through farming parables drawing on the themes and images of sowing, harvesting, seed, and soil. In Seeds, I last week referred to God’s depiction of the virtuous cycle of sustainability.

Speaking through Matthew this Sunday Jesus continues to expand his ecological teaching with a further parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds) – reminding us that pull up the weeds too soon and you will only damage the wheat growing alongside them.

Each Sunday through the assigned readings we catch a glimpse of the conversation God is seeking for us to have as a community. The shape of this conversation most often emerges through the relationship between the OT and gospel readings. Last week, I explored how a conversation on the virtuous cycle of sustainability emerges out of the juxtaposition of Isaiah 55 with Matthew 13.

Often times, the NT reading seems to hang freely in the wind, outside the broad sweep the OT and gospel call and response. I find it helpful to view the NT reading as a side commentary that explores the practical implications for Christian living flowing from the wider conversation with God.

Accompanying Matthew – over these past several weeks we have heard the Apostle Paul speaking to the small and struggling house churches in Rome, sometime in the early years of the Emperor Nero’s reign – so somewhere between 56-58AD. I want to delve below the surface of Paul’s words today.

Paul’s words relate to the broader theme of sustainability by pointing in the direction of the concrete responsibilities the virtuous cycle of sustainability places on the way we live as Christian people.

As modern readers and listeners, we often find Paul’s writing style impenetrable and his language and concepts foreign to us. For instance, centuries of narrow and puritanical interpretation have obscured the richness of his concept of the flesh – reducing it to an impoverished condemnation of sex and sexual desires.

Set in his context, Paul shared the Jewish transgenerational expectation of the ultimate fulfilment of God’s promise to renew the face of the creation. The thorny question for the Jews, for Paul, and now for us concerns timing. When will God’s promise come to fulfilment?

In Romans 8 when Paul speaks of the whole of the creation, he is specifically referring to one aspect of it, i.e. nature or the natural world of land, sea, and sky. According to Genesis God did not create nature but ordered it from the swirling matter of the abyss. God then created nature’s inhabitants: vegetation, insect, bird, and marine life; animals and human beings. Thus, Paul makes a clear distinction between the natural world and the human world when he writes:

we know the whole of creation (nature) has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the nature, but we ourselves (created beings), who have the first fruits of the spirit groan inwardly while we wait for the adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

In the phrase: the whole creation groaning in labor pains, Paul astonishes us with the evocative imagery and power of his language.

Paul understands human beings to be pulled in two directions. We are stretched in a tension between being heirs of the spirit and debtors to the flesh. Spirit and flesh are a favorite oppositional for Paul. By spirit he is referring to the new life of our yearning to be more fully the people God made us to be – i.e. heirs of the spirit or children of God. By the flesh he is referring to the old life of our tendency to willfully go our own way -resulting in our bondage to futility.

Our attachment to futility, i.e. the dead end values of a world we create for ourselves – a world corrupted by human oppression, violence, and greed – not only has damaged us by trapping us in bondage to futility, but has damaged nature itself, as together human beings and nature both lie in bondage to death and decay.

Yet, in painting so dire a picture of the status quo – the existing state of affairs, especially regarding the environment and our social and political lives of suffering and futility, Paul boldly proclaims:

I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is about to be revealed to us.

What’s really exciting about this new line of argument is that even though human activity has desecrated and degraded nature – subjecting it to futility, the glory to be revealed is not just something God will show to us. It also results from our active participation with God as we claim full possession of our inheritance as the children of God. Then:

nature itself will [also] be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain [with us] the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

For Paul, humanity and nature stand or fall together.

Thus, Paul does not consider the suffering of the present time – the whole creation’s groaning in labor pains – to be anything other than the sign of the eventual glorious liberation of the whole of the creation from the death pangs of human created futility.

Casting patriarchal taboo aside, Paul draws on women’s experience of childbirth as a metaphor for the rebirth of a new creation – that like a physical birth the rebirthing of creation is preceded by the pains of suffering. Rebirth is God’s work and God alone will bring it to completion, yet, an integral part of God’s process requires us -led by the Spirit of God – to grow away from our own willful attachments – towards our true destiny in the final act in God’s three act drama of creation.

The Jewish transgenerational expectation of the fulfilment of God’s promise was not that God will discard the present creation and make a new one – but that God will renew the face of the earth, i.e. liberate the present created order into the fullness of God’s original intentions. To live the life of the spirit is to actively participate – in real time – in the ongoing process of liberation by loving that which God from the outset has loved in declaring the whole of the creation to be good.

Sanctification is not a future goal but a present time process by which God transforms us to act now – as if we are already made complete – as when the creation is finally glorified.  Since God’s promise is to repair the damage imposed on nature by the actions of a violent and greedy humanity – trapped in a futility of its own creating, we must now reflect the divine solidarity with nature. We Christians must dedicate ourselves to the repair in real time of our damage of the natural world – because being the stewards of creation is one of the essential attributes of our becoming the children of God.

Future hope drives our actions in the present. In this way that which is to come is already realized in us through the actions we take.

Sanctification is not a future goal but a present time process by which God transforms us to act now – as we will act when the creation is finally glorified.

Ecology defines the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. We need to foster not only an ecological approach to nature but redouble our efforts to address a sound ecology of society. There is and inextricable independency between the ecology of human society and the ecology of nature. Nature and Society – desecration of one is desecration of both. Repair of one is repair of both.

Today we face into multiple crises linking environment, economy, pandemic, and the social evils of poverty and racism – all forming a multifaceted whole. Two quotations from articles in the NYTimes seem appropo in conclusion.

Nicholas Kristof’s wrote in: Interrupt this Gloom to Offer Hope

Perhaps today’s national pain, fear and loss can also be a source of hope: We may be so desperate, our failures so manifest, our grief so raw, that the United States can once more, as during the Great Depression, embrace long-needed changes that would have been impossible in cheerier times.

But the final word must come from a tweet from John Lewis who sadly left us Friday night.

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.

I rather think St Paul would agree. So to all would-be children of God – time to roll up our sleeves, no?


If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter, we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

Liturgy of The Word for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost (July 12th, 2020)

If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter, we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

Order of Service for the Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.

Prelude: Prelude from Suite No. IV in E flat by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Consuelo Sherba, viola

Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “Lord of Life and King of Glory” by Michelangelo Grancini (1605-1669), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Hymn 512 “Come Gracious Spirit” (vv. 1, 4), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Come, gracious Spirit, heavenly Dove,
with light and comfort from above;
be thou our guardian, thou our guide
o'er every thought and step preside.
 
4 Lead us to heaven, that we may share
fullness of joy for ever there;
lead us to God, our final rest,
to be with him forever blest.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S 280, St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ.

The Collect of the Day

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-13 read by David Blake

Psalm 119:105-112, St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Refrain: Your word is a lantern to my feet, O Lord, and a light upon my path.
 
105 Your word is a lantern to my feet
and a light upon my path.
106 I have sworn and am determined
to keep your righteous judgments.
107 I am deeply troubled;
preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.
108 Accept, O LORD, the willing tribute of my lips,
and teach me your judgments.
 
Your word is a lantern to my feet, O Lord, and a light upon my path.
 
109 My life is always in my hand,
yet I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a trap for me,
but I have not strayed from your commandments.
111 Your decrees are my inheritance forever;
truly, they are the joy of my heart.
112 I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes
for ever and to the end.
 
Your word is a lantern to my feet, O Lord, and a light upon my path.

Second Reading: Romans 8:1-11, read by Pat Nolan

Gradual Hymn 48 “O day of radiant gladness” (v. 1), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 O day of radiant gladness, O day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright;
this day the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
sing "Holy, holy, holy" to the great God Triune.

The Gospel: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, proclaimed by Linda+

Gradual Hymn 48 “O day of radiant gladness” (v. 4)

4 That light our hope sustaining, we walk the pilgrim way,
at length our rest attaining, our endless Sabbath day.
We sing to thee our praises, O Father, Spirit, Son;
the Church her voice upraises to thee, blest Three in One.

The Sermon: Mark+  A stand-alone sermon recording and full text also appear below on this page.

The Nicene Creed: We recite together. Please note italicized inclusive language changes.

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified
        and has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “Ave verum” by Edward Elgar (1857-1934), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Ave, verum corpus
natum de Maria Virgine,
Vere passum immolatum
in Cruce pro homine,
Cujus latus perforatum
unda fluxit sanguine,
Esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.

Hail, true body
born of the Virgin Mary,
Who truly suffered, sacrificed
on the Cross for man,
Whose pierced side overflowed
with water and blood,
Be for us a foretaste
In the test of death.

Prayers of the People: led by Mark+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants 
give you humble thanks 
for all your goodness and loving-kindness 
to us and to all whom you have made. 
We bless you for our creation, preservation, 
and all the blessings of this life; 
but above all for your immeasurable 
love in the redemption of the world 
by our Lord Jesus Christ; 
for the means of grace, 
and for the hope of glory. 
And, we pray, give us such 
an awareness of your mercies, 
that with truly thankful hearts 
we may show forth your praise, 
not only with our lips, but in our lives, 
by giving up our selves to your service, 
and by walking before you in 
holiness and righteousness all our days; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, 
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Hymn 505 “O Spirit of Life” (vv. 1, 3, 4), St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God,
in ev'ry need thou bring us aid,
proceeding forth from heaven's throne,
from God, the Father and the Son;
O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God.
 
3 O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God,
make us to love your sacred word;
the holy flame of love impart,
that charity may warm each heart;
O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God.
 
4 O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God,
enlighten us by that same word;
teach us to know God's radiant love,
lead us to Christ who reigns above;
O Spirit of life, O Spirit of God.

Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Courante from Suite No. IV in E flat by J. S. Bach, Consuelo Sherba, viola

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #M-400498. All rights reserved.


Mark’s+ stand alone sermon podcast and text

Seeds

Prior to modernity, most people lived in agricultural societies. Accordingly, the Bible abounds with spiritual metaphors from agrarian life – in particular the spiritual metaphors of planting and harvesting. In the readings for Pentecost 6 from Matthew 13 and Isaiah 55 it comes as small surprise that each employs the spiritual metaphors of planting and harvesting – or sowing and reaping.

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that the readings each Sunday provide a platform for God to invite us into conversation. In discerning the nature of this conversation, we look, in the first instance, for clues in the relationship between Gospel and O.T. readings. On Pentecost 6 it’s hard not to miss the connections that lead us to conclude that the conversation God invites to have concerns sustainability.

Isaiah pictures the fruitfulness of God’s word – the seed – that goes forth from God’s mouth to accomplish a tangible harvest of environmentally friendly fruitfulness: the rain and snow do not evaporate before watering the earth – bringing forth a wild and extravagant fruitfulness that gives both seed for sowing and bread for eating. From seed – to bread – to seed -for future bread – the virtuous cycle of fruitful environmental sustainability stares us in the face.

This Isaiah, for he is the third prophet by this name, draws upon a powerful relationship between ecology and spirituality when he proclaims: the very mountains and the hills shall burst into song and the trees of the field shall clap their hands. The word of God’s mouth returns to God through a full-throated affirmation of divine fruitfulness – the product of a profound harmony between divine and human endeavor, in sync with the natural world.

Whatever the harvest produced by modern humanity’s intensive industrial farming methods it is not a rich harvest as God anticipates. We plough the land with chemicals, planting to produce a harvest -the abundance of which needs to be measured against the cost of environmental desecration and ecological degradation. The trees of the Amazon rainforest can hardly be pictured as clapping their hands in the face of slash and burn practices that strip the land for planting – land that after its first harvest – lying nakedly exposed to the elements of nature that no longer water the earth bringing forth fruitfulness but erode the leach the soil which quickly loses it fertility without further chemically enhanced help.

The conversation with God that emerges from Isaiah 55, challenges our current agricultural practices of land management and factory farming – practices that destroy the harmony of the natural order through the forces unleashed by greed driven, human endeavor.

In Matthew 13 we find the image of the sower – a farmer or farm hand who squanders his precious seed -recklessly scattering – seemingly heedless to the fact that much of it will land among rocks and weeds – marginal land inhospitable for a rich harvest.  

Following on from Isaiah 55, Matthew 13 pictures the seed being scattered as a metaphor for God’s word that goes out from God’s mouth. It’s perplexing that God seems not to mind the inefficiency of seed wasted by being scattered among rocks and weeds. Yet, maybe in this perplexing disregard God’s rich purpose is still accomplished in ways beyond our limited imagining.

The focus on the seed of God’s word having been scattered far and wide – now shifts to the nature of the soil in which the seed takes root – a metaphor for people who with varying capacities for fruitfulness respond to God’s word in different ways.

Matthew’s parable of the sower directs us to a conversation with God about the fruitfulness of our own lives. Fruitful lives embody sustainability.  In nature sustainability means planting seed that bears a harvest abundant enough to ensure we have bread to eat- but just as importantly, seed for further sowing. From planting to harvest – seed to bread for today – to seed for tomorrow’s bread we see the clear outlines of what I am calling the virtuous cycle of fruitful environmental sustainability.

It’s not enough that we find our fruitfulness in self-contentment, self-fulfillment. Our fruitfulness must be directed towards agitating for a much wider systemic fruitfulness in the life of our society. This agitation for changes in the direction of a greater systemic fruitfulness benefiting the many and not just the few is now a matter of some urgency in these stressful days of society-wide challenge and opportunity.

To live fruitfully requires three things: the capacity to be receptive, the openness that comes with understanding, and quality of action. Receiving refers to a life-long attention to nourishing the rich soil of our life so that the seed sown in us sprouts a rich harvest of understanding. However, understanding is not about our mental comprehension. Matthew elsewhere reminds us to be doers of the word and not simply passive hearers. Understanding derives from the rain and snow of God’s grace watering the fruit of our lives of action.

Action becomes visible when we participate with God in the bringing about of God’s rich purpose in the world – a purpose manifest in the virtuous cycle of sustainability.

Sustainable agriculture that provides for our daily bread – i.e. bread for eating -while taking care to ensure we have seed for the bread of tomorrow is a rich metaphor for our conservation of earth’s precious resources. However, humans are also social creatures and sustainability applies as much to our societal structures as to our agricultural practices.

Sustainable society is one in which justice rains down like dew from heaven –creating and protecting social environments within which individuals and communities are able to flourish and produce a harvest of unimaginable diversity and variety.

The parable of the sower is finally a parable about a risk-taking God who also expects us to be risk taking people. God the sower scatters the seed of the word willy-nilly – scandalously heedless of where the precious seed will land – a far cry from today’s profit driven efficiencies. Yet, the seed that lands among infertile rock is far from wasted. It becomes food for the birds who through their digestion cycle carry and deposit the seed in new and surprising places beyond the range of a single sower’s planting.  

Like the farmer in Matthew’s parable of the sower, if we risk scattering far and wide without regard for efficiency or short term profit – we will most likely be surprised by the unexpected results. If there was ever a time for us to be bold and to take risks with sowing tomorrow’s seed – it’s now. The challenge of risk is none other than the rich soil of opportunity.


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Liturgy of The Word for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, July 5th

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DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

Order of Service for the

Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.

Liturgy of the Word, recorded, edited and produced by Christian Tulungen

Prelude:  Sonata 2: Four Variations on the National Anthem by Eugene Thayer (1838-1889) with Steven Young on the St Martin’s Organ

Welcome, The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: By Ian Quinn (b. 1973)  sung by members of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; And blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Hymn: 414 “God, my King, thy might confessing” (vv. 1, 2, 6), Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

 1 God, my king, thy might confessing, 
ever will I bless thy Name; 
day by day thy throne addressing, 
still will I thy praise proclaim. 

2 Honor great our God befitteth; 
who his majesty can reach? 
Age to age his works transmitteth;
 age to age his pow'r shall teach. 

6 All thy works, O Lord, shall bless thee, 
thee shall all thy saints adore. 
King supreme shall they confess thee, 
and proclaim thy sovereign pow'r. 

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S277, St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young accompanying

The Collect of the Day

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments
by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your
Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole
heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Zechariah 9:9-12, read by Sammi Muther

Psalm 145:8-15 sung by members of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

Refrain:“I will exalt you, o God my King, and bless your name for ever and ever.”
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is loving to everyone
and his compassion is over all his works.
Refrain
All your works praise you, O Lord,
and your faithful servants bless you.
They make known the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your power;
That the peoples may know of your power
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Refrain 
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;
your dominion endures throughout all ages.
The Lord is faithful in all his words
and merciful in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all those who fall;
he lifts up those who are bowed down.
Refrain

Second Reading: Romans 7:15-25, read by Melinda DelCioppio

Gradual Hymn: 302 “Father, we thank thee” (v. 1) sung St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Father, we thank thee who hast planted
thy holy Name within our hearts.
Knowledge and faith and life immortal
Jesus thy Son to us imparts.
Thou, Lord, didst make all for thy pleasure,
didst give man food for all his days,
giving in Christ the Bread eternal;
thine is the pow'r, be thine the praise.

The Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19,25-30 proclaimed by Mark+

Gradual Hymn: 302 “Father, we thank thee” (v. 2)

2 Watch o'er thy church, O Lord, in mercy,
save it from evil, guard it still,
perfect it in thy love, unite it,
cleansed and conformed unto thy will.
As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,
was in this broken bread made one,
so from all lands thy church be gathered
into thy kingdom by thy Son.

The Sermon: Linda+  (a stand alone sermon recording and text also appear below on this page)

The Nicene Creed:  -(we recite together. Please note italicised inclusive language changes)

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified
    and has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “Praise and Honor” by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750; arr. Robinson), sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young at the organ

“Praise and honor be to the one on high above us. Let all praise him, and adore him. Praise and honor be to him on high. Let all praise and honor him for all that he has given. Honor, glory and all praise to him who gives his love to us.”

Prayers of the People: led by Mark+ ( Please note that since recording we add Jane Hartman’s daughter Jess, her husband Tom, grandson Jack, and granddaughter Liv following a serious road accident in Northern Minnesota. Liv has undergone emergency surgery for damage to her right arm. Jane is member of the office staff)

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants 
give you humble thanks 
for all your goodness and loving-kindness 
to us and to all whom you have made. 
We bless you for our creation, preservation, 
and all the blessings of this life; 
but above all for your immeasurable 
love in the redemption of the world 
by our Lord Jesus Christ; 
for the means of grace, 
and for the hope of glory. 
And, we pray, give us such 
an awareness of your mercies, 
that with truly thankful hearts 
we may show forth your praise, 
not only with our lips, but in our lives, 
by giving up our selves to your service, 
and by walking before you in 
holiness and righteousness all our days; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, 
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Final Hymn: 516 “Come down, O Love divine” (vv. 1, 3) sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with organ

1 Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

3 And so the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace,
till Love create a place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.

Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Sonata 2: Final Variation on the National Anthem (Thayer)  Steven Young on St Martin’s organ

“Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #M-400498. All rights reserved.”

Linda’s+ stand alone sermon recording

Body Language

Many years ago (more than I care to count,) my sister and I went together to see the then-brand-new Tony-Award winning musical, 1776. It was unique for the time—no one had ever written a musical about America’s eighteenth-century colonial founders before. What a concept, right?

Even years later, I remember most vividly a particular song sung by the convention delegate from South Carolina to the delegates from New England. John Rutledge skewers the hypocrisy of criticizing the South for promoting slavery, noting that the North’s hands were anything but clean. He sings:

Molasses to Rum to Slaves 
Oh, what a beautiful waltz 
You dance with us, we dance with you 
In Molasses and Run and Slaves

This bitter takedown of the Triangle Trade lays bare the irony of crafting a declaration that, in spite of Thomas Jefferson’s desire to include a mention of slavery (which, given what we now know of Jefferson, is ironic in itself), ultimately omits the issue altogether. 

Where might we be if that argument had turned out differently? We’ll never know.

The founders of our country, grounded in Enlightenment principles and philosophy, pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the cause of independence from England. To freedom. It was bold and courageous, and we rightly celebrate it. But we cannot ignore the fact that the stain of slavery was all over that Declaration, as eloquent and brave and right as it was in so many respects.

Good, flawed, people, with good intentions, do good things. But not always.

Who sail the ships out of Boston
Laden with Bibles and Rum
Who drinks a toast To the Ivory Coast
"Hail Africa, the slavers have come"
New England with Bibles and rum.

“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”

On this Fourth of July weekend, how does Paul speak to us as a country, a society, and a culture two hundred and forty-four years after our Declaration of Independence, in a time when it is abundantly clear that not all of our citizens can claim equal privilege as a result of that same Declaration?

Paul’s epistle to the Christians at Rome was his longest, and probably the most recent of the letters that we are certain that he wrote. Some scholars have referred to it as his theological “last will and testament”—his reflection on his understanding of the Good News of Jesus Christ as he seeks to encourage and instruct his diverse flock of Jewish and Gentile Christians during the reign of Emperor Nero. Paul writes in classic Greek rhetorical style, using the pronoun “I” as a “speech in character” device to connote humanity (specifically fallen humanity) in general, and often transitioning to new arguments with a leading question, like “Did what is good [that is, the law] bring death to me?” followed by an emphatic, “By no means!”

It is this exchange that introduces the passage that we hear today. And it is also this exchange that cautions us that what we may think the passage means, is probably not what it actually means.

A twenty-first century Christian reader focused chiefly on personal salvation may hear this as an individual’s struggle with temptation, and the proposition that the Law of Moses holds the bar for ethical behavior so high that no one can meet its standards. It is only through Christ that we can resist temptation and live a righteous life worthy of eternal salvation—hence the triumphant cry at the end, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

This is a common reading, but it falls short. This is not just about willpower. And here’s why: First of all, it runs the risk of being anti-Jewish. Paul was born and raised a Jew– blameless as to the law, as he put it in his letter to the Philippians. Further, a close reading of Romans and an understanding of its historical context reveal that, rather than denigrating Jews, Paul sought to settle disagreements about religious practices and to calm the waters between Jewish and Gentile members of his flock during a time of simmering anti-Jewish feeling in the wider community, especially among the Roman aristocracy. So, far from denigrating the Jewish faith in this letter, Paul was going to great lengths to honor it, saying that “the law is holy and the commandment is holy, and just and good.”

Ultimately though, a deeper reading of this passage rests on theology. Paul is not talking about a God whose chief concern for humankind is for us to resist sin for the sake of personal salvation as much as he is speaking much more broadly of a God whose ultimate yearning is for the reconciliation and healing of a broken world. Paul speaks of a God whose gift of the Law—Torah—is a gift that both illuminates sin and guides humanity in our daily individual and collective struggles to reconcile the many facets of our identity as children of Creation—our heads, our hearts, our wants, our needs. Or, as Paul puts it, our flesh and our mind. And Paul’s point is that this struggle is one where we all too frequently come up short.

“For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”

Paul may not have realized it at the time, but recent research indicates that he may have been on to something. What in his time was reasoned as the classic Greek binary that the body is inherently bad and the mind is inherently good might now be observed as the verifiable reality that historical trauma is handed down in our bodies century by century, generation to generation.

Resmaa Menakem, a therapist who specializes in racialized trauma and healing writes in his book, My Grandmother’s Hands, that both European white bodies and African black bodies carry tremendous burdens of historical trauma. White bodies suffered from war, plague, and violent religious persecution for hundreds of years, going back to the time of the Crusades, before fleeing to the New World. They brought their trauma with them and ultimately transferred the festering wounds of their own oppression onto black bodies, first by enslaving them and then by keeping them oppressed until today when, even after slow incremental progress on civil rights, we still engage in the insane argument over whether it’s appropriate to say that Black Lives Matter.

Our broken common life is evidence that, rather than doing the challenging work of accepting and healing the painful wounds of historical trauma, we have simply, as a society, black and white alike, denied, avoided and inflicted our trauma upon each other and our children in a continuing downward cycle of fear and mistrust of The Other. Our “lizard brain” instinct for safety and security acts more quickly than our “thinking brain”, and thus when a black man sees flashing lights in his rearview mirror he automatically wonders if he’ll make it home alive.

And thus a white couple in St. Louis gets itchy trigger fingers when a nonviolent protest comes through their neighborhood.

For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Menakem writes, “An African American elder said to me recently, ‘There is a root to the trauma tree, and what we see now is the fruit.’ That tree, which was planted roughly fifteen centuries ago, now casts a shadow across our entire nation. Today, many of us still feed each other its bitter, poisonous fruit.”

You dance with us, we dance with you
In Molasses, and Rum and Slaves.

Wretched ones that we are. Are we fated to a continuing hopeless downward spiral of fear and mistrust? By no means! Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, to the God whose chief yearning for us is for our participation in repairing our broken world; our healing is not just on us.

It’s not solely about our persistence; it’s about God’s persistence. Yes, we do need to educate ourselves, and to engage in practices that equip us, beginning with our bodies–because that is where trauma is first experienced—that equip us to sense–not just think–that we and every one of God’s children are deserving of love and trust.

It’s a huge challenge and a long journey. Centuries of trauma can’t be healed in a weekend or with a couple of webinars. But God calls us to begin now. And God is not going to let us off the hook.  Amen.

Listen here to “Molasses to Rum” from the musical 1776

If you are not a regular St Martin’s supporter we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

Liturgy of the Word for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost, June 28th

If you are not a regular St Martin’s supporter we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

Order of Service

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.

Pre-recorded webcast of the Liturgy of the Word for Pentecost IV

Prelude:  Variations on “Coronation” by Robert J. Powell (b. 1932) with Steven Young on the St Martin’s Organ

Welcome, The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “Come Ever-Gracious Son of God” by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) sung by members of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; And blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Hymn: 518 “Christ is made the sure foundation” (vv. 1, 4), Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

 1 Christ is made the sure foundation, 
Christ the head and cornerstone, 
chosen of the Lord, and precious, 
binding all the Church in one; 
holy Zion's help for ever, 
and her confidence alone.  

4 Here vouchsafe to all thy servants 
what they ask of thee to gain; 
what they gain from thee, for ever 
with the blessèd to retain, 
and hereafter in thy glory 
evermore with thee to reign.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S277, St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young accompanying

The Collect of the Day

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Jeremiah 28:5-9 read by David Blake

Psalm 13 sung by members of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

Refrain: I will put my trust in your mercy.
1 How long, O LORD? will you forget me for ever?
    how long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long shall I have perplexity in my mind, and grief in my heart, day after day?
    how long shall my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look upon me and answer me, O LORD my God;
    give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;
4 Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him,"
    and my foes rejoice that I have fallen.
5 But I put my trust in your mercy;
    my heart is joyful because of your saving help.
6 I will sing to the LORD, for he has dealt with me richly;
    I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High.
Refrain.

Second Reading: Romans 6:12-23, read by Pat Nolan

Gradual Hymn: Hymn 359 “God of the prophets” (v. 1,2) sung St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 God of the prophets, bless the prophets' heirs!
Elijah's mantle o'er Elisha cast:
each age for thine own solemn task prepares,
make each one stronger, nobler than the last.
 
2 Anoint them prophets! Teach them thine intent:
to human need their quickened hearts awake;
fill them with power, their lips make eloquent
for righteousness that shall all evil break.

The Gospel: Matthew 10:40-42 proclaimed by Linda+

Gradual Hymn: Hymn 359 “God of the prophets” (v. 5

5 Make them apostles, heralds of thy cross;
forth may they go to tell all realms thy grace:
inspired of thee, may they count all but loss,
and stand at last with joy before thy face

The Sermon: Mark+  (a stand alone sermon recording and text also appear below on this page)

The Nicene Creed:  -(we recite together)

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
    She has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “A Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester” by L. J. White (n.d.) , sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young at the organ

O holy Jesus, most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly and follow thee more nearly. Amen.

Prayers of the People: led by Linda+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants 
give you humble thanks 
for all your goodness and loving-kindness 
to us and to all whom you have made. 
We bless you for our creation, preservation, 
and all the blessings of this life; 
but above all for your immeasurable 
love in the redemption of the world 
by our Lord Jesus Christ; 
for the means of grace, 
and for the hope of glory. 
And, we pray, give us such 
an awareness of your mercies, 
that with truly thankful hearts 
we may show forth your praise, 
not only with our lips, but in our lives, 
by giving up our selves to your service, 
and by walking before you in 
holiness and righteousness all our days; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, 
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Final Hymn: “The God of Abraham praise” (vv. 1, 4) sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with organ

1 The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love;
the Lord, the great I AM, by earth and heaven confessed:
we bow and bless the sacred Name for ever blest.
 
5 The whole triumphant host give thanks to God on high;
“Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” they ever cry;
hail, Abraham’s Lord divine! With heaven our songs we raise;
all might and majesty are thine, and endless praise.

Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Trumpet Tune by Martha Sobaje (b. 1948) Steven Young on St Martin’s organ

“Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #M-400498. All rights reserved.”

Mark’s+ stand alone sermon podcast and text

By Babylon’s Rivers

I love history as I know do many of you. History is the great teacher if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear. Much of the Old Testament is Israel’s history book. But from our point of view, it’s a particular kind of history; a history of the ups and downs in the relationship between God and a chosen people; the relationship between human and divine.

We too, are also a people in relationship with the divine, the God of Israel and the God and father of Jesus. In that respect biblical history is our history also. The times and places may change between then and now, but the context for human experience – lived out in relation to the divine presence of God in the world – remains either alarmingly or reassuringly the same. God invites, we sometimes respond, but mostly we go our own way until the disaster forces us back – crying to God for deliverance from the consequences of our own follies.

The prophet Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry to Judah about 627 BC and ended it about 570 BC. His career spanned the period of political turmoil that culminated in Judah’s final defeat by the Babylonians (587 BC) and with it the destruction of Jerusalem, the burning of the temple, and the exile of the significant parts of Judah’s religious and civic leadership. The nation lay broken.

In chapter 28 we find Jeremiah arguing that true prophets have always delivered the hard message of God’s truth as a mirror held up to reveal the real state of things in contrast to the convenient and comfortable message of God’s peace lulling people into believing that all continued to be well. With a hint of sarcasm he chides Hananiah: when we see the peace you prophecy then it will be known the Lord has truly sent a prophet.

The disputation between Jeremiah and his fellow prophet Hananiah can be roughly dated approximately seven years after the exile has begun. Jeremiah and his opponents who are still in Jerusalem offering alternative versions of what God is doing. Hananiah, perhaps to inspire a sense of revolt against Babylon, has prophesied the exiles return in two years. With the full restoration of the temple, God will once again grant peace to the nation. Jeremiah represents the minority opinion – revealing the feel-good message of make Israel great again for the dangerous and ultimately futile distraction for what it was.

Like the profusion of today’s political pundits and religious commentators, at any one-time Israel always had many prophets – whose messages competed for public attention. A common mistake we make is to view the work of Israel’s prophets as predictors of the future. This is a misleading notion. In reality they were less predictors of the future and more promoters of God’s agenda in the politico-spiritual crises facing the nation the present time. They tried to call attention to what God wanted and what God was doing.

Because all prophets claimed to be delivering God’s message, it was always difficult to tell whose message was the true one.  Because we are no strangers to competing truth narratives peddled by today’s politicians – amplified by media pundits and social commentators of all persuasions, the situation outlined in Jeremiah 28 rings with an uncanny familiarity. The point of biblical history is to remind us that there is nothing new under the sun; as it was then, so it is now.

We are hearing at the moment the message America is broken. This is a particularly painful message to hear because it’s a negation of all we want to believe. From the far extremes of right and left and just about every position in between, we hear a similar message: America is broken. However, there is no consensus on what it is that is broken and how to fix it.

Israel had been utterly broken leaving the Jews two possible responses – acceptance or denial of reality. The denial faction led the prophet Hananiah sought to distract public attention with a set of alternative facts that predicted the immanent decline of Babylonian power to be followed by a full restoration of Israel – pretty much as it had been before Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem and temple. We know about the wishful thinking of denial in high places – there’s no need to worry, the virus is beaten and we will open up the country to be the best and even better than ever best – the best nation in the history of the whole world!

Hananiah and his cohort circled Jeremiah like gloating vultures, mocking his message of doom and gloom as unpatriotic. They took him to court, they had him imprisoned – all in an attempt to silence him. Jeremiah’s message was – listen up people, the nation really is broken, and this situation is not going to be easily fixed any time soon. For Jeremiah knew that the only true fix was repentance leading to root and branch reform. He also knew that a true fix would take time. He was correct, it took 70 years before the exiles returned.

Sometimes it’s the unpatriotic message that contains the only real seeds of hope.

Sometimes it’s the unpatriotic message that contains the only real seeds of hope. Jeremiah encouraged the exiles in Babylon to build houses, to marry and have children, to serve the city to which they had been exiled, and to get on with rebuilding their lives in as foreigners in strange place. In other words, there was no alternative to getting on with life in changed circumstances and accept of the unpalatable reality: Judah was broken.

Gradually the exiles heard Jeremiah’s message of hope. The community settled down by the rivers of Babylon and while they wept when they remembered Zion, they actually got on with the kind of root and branch religious and cultural reform that laid the foundations that enabled the Jews to survive as a community into modern times.

At the local level –within the maelstrom of the crisis, the prophet’s message sounds dire – some might even say unpatriotic. But crisis -when correctly viewed against the backdrop of God’s intention and purpose for the world – becomes opportunity.

But crisis -when correctly viewed against the backdrop of God’s intention and purpose for the world – becomes opportunity.

The Coronavirus aside, there is nothing in America that is broken which cannot -given courage, hope-filled vision, and perseverance – be fixed. We trust that given time even the virus itself will eventually be neutralized as the eradication of plague, smallpox, polio, measles, AIDS, etc shows.

A modern-day Jeremiah would counsel us to take the crisis of brokenness seriously – not as a counsel of despair – but as the rallying point for the unleashing of the creativity and ingenuity that Americans excel at. The modern-day Jeremiah, a he or she, would counsel us to overcome our sense of helplessness and fear; to give up the illusion of seeing things as we want them to be and begin to see things as they really are. He or she would redirect our attention to the unleashing of American knowhow, the spirit of our creative and bold innovation, our courageous and incurable hopefulness. A modern-day Jeremiah would encourage us to believe that the glaring stain of racism is not stronger than our inherent sense of natural justice, and that when accepted with repentance crisis is reframed as opportunity. Speaking metaphorically, he or she would encourage us to build houses, marry and have children, and serve as agents for the evolution of justice in our society, and the repair of the creation.

By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept when remembered Zion. There on the trees along the water’s edge we hung up our harps – and then we got on with the task of fashioning a new future for ourselves in which all our people can flourish.

The Liturgy of the Word for Pentecost III, June 21st

If you are not a regular St Martin’s supporter we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

Order of Service

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.

Liturgy of the Word webcast recorded, edited and produced by Christian Tulungen

Prelude:  Meditation, Op. 39, No 2. Karl Hoyer (1891-1936) with Steven Young on the St Martin’s Organ

Welcome, The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “Praise be the Lord” by Dr. Maurice Greene (1695-1755) sung by members of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

Praise be the Lord daily,  Ev’n the God who helpeth us,  And poureth His benefits upon us.

Hymn: 372,, “Praise to the living God!”(vv. 1, 4) St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Praise to the living God!
All praised be his Name
who was, and is, and is to be,
for ay the same.
The one eternal God
ere aught that now appears:
the first, the last, beyond all thought
his timeless years!
 
4 Eternal life hath he
implanted in the soul;
his love shall be our strength and stay
while ages roll.
Praise to the living God!
All praised be his Name
who was, and is, and is to be,
for aye the same.

The Greeting: Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; And blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and for ever.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S277, St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young accompanying

The Collect of the Day

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your
holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom
you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-13, read by Fla Lewis

Psalm 69:8-11, 18-20  sung by members of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

Refrain: Zeal for your house has eaten me up; the scorn of those who scorn you has fallen upon me.
 
8 I have become a stranger to my own kindred,
an alien to my mother's children.
 
9 Zeal for your house has eaten me up;
the scorn of those who scorn you has fallen upon me.
 
10 I humbled myself with fasting,
but that was turned to my reproach.
 
11 I put on sack-cloth also,
and became a byword among them.
 
12 Those who sit at the gate murmur against me,
and the drunkards make songs about me.
 
18 "Hide not your face from your servant; *
be swift and answer me, for I am in distress.
 
19 Draw near to me and redeem me; *
because of my enemies deliver me.
 
20 You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor;
my adversaries are all in your sight.

Second Reading: Romans 6:1-11, read by meg LoPresti

Gradual Hymn: 296, “We know that Christ is raised” (V1,2) sung St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 We know that Christ is raised and dies no more.
Embraced by death, he broke its fearful hold
and our despair he turned to blazing joy. Alleluia!
 
2 We share by water in his saving death.
Reborn we share with him in Easter life
as living members of a living Christ. Alleluia!

The Gospel: Matthew 10:24-39 proclaimed by Linda+

Gradual Hymn: 296 “We know that Christ is raised” (v 3-4)

3 The Father’s splendor clothes the Son with life.
The Spirit’s power shakes the Church of God.
Baptized we live with God the Three in One. Alleluia!
 
4 A new creation comes to life and grows
as Christ’s new body takes on flesh and blood.
The universe restored and whole will sing: Alleluia!

The Sermon: Mark+  (a stand alone sermon recording and text also appear below on this page)

The Nicene Creed:  -(we recite together)

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven: 
by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son she is worshiped and glorified.
    She has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Anthem: “It Is a Precious Thing” by Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813) Sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young at the organ

It is a precious thing when the heart 
is fixed and trusteth in God,
Through the mercy of God 
and our Savior Jesus Christ.
 
My heart is resting, 
O my Savior, in thy loving care, 
my trust is every stayed on Thee.
O hear my earnest prayer that ever faithful I may be, 
and ever do Thy will.
O grant this in Thy mercy still, 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers of the People: led by Linda+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving 

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we your unworthy servants 
give you humble thanks 
for all your goodness and loving-kindness 
to us and to all whom you have made. 
We bless you for our creation, preservation, 
and all the blessings of this life; 
but above all for your immeasurable 
love in the redemption of the world 
by our Lord Jesus Christ; 
for the means of grace, 
and for the hope of glory. 
And, we pray, give us such 
an awareness of your mercies, 
that with truly thankful hearts 
we may show forth your praise, 
not only with our lips, but in our lives, 
by giving up our selves to your service, 
and by walking before you in 
holiness and righteousness all our days; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, 
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

The Peace

Final Hymn: 537, “Christ for the world we sing” (1, 4) sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with organ

1 Christ for the world we sing!
The world to Christ we bring with loving zeal;
the poor and them that mourn,
the faint and overborne,
sin-sick and sorrow-worn, whom Christ doth heal.
 
4 Christ for the world we sing!
The world to Christ we bring with joyful song;
the newborn souls, whose days,
reclaimed from error's ways,
inspired with hope and praise, to Christ belong

Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Poco vivace (from Op. 9) by Hermann Schroeder (1904-1984) with Steven Young on St Martin’s organ

It’s a Choice

Mark’s+ stand alone sermon cast

This year the third Sunday after Pentecost is Father’s Day. This is a day on which to show appreciation for our earthly fathers.

Many of us are able to love our fathers and to want to show gratitude for all we have received from them. Not all of us will be so fortunate. Some of us may have had or still have fathers towards whom we have a complex mix of emotions. We can love or hate our fathers – hopefully most of us have experience of loving or at least non abusive fathers embodied by the men who played such a huge role for good or not so good in our childhood lives.

Father’s Day can take on a Hallmark Card sentimentality.  Yet, underneath Father’s Day runs the significant theme of Fatherhood. Fatherhood is the principle of emotional containment and protection. If mother is the primary focus for the newborn and developing infant, then father is the provider of a protective emotional environment that allows mother and infant to bond securely. In Eastern philosophy fatherhood is the Yang energy – the energy of creativity that is balanced by the counterpoint of Yin energy – the energy of receptivity.

As Westerners, we live increasingly into a post gendered world in which the archetypal energies of Yin and Yang – of feminine and masculine – are no longer exclusively associated with gender -with Yang being male and Yin being female. For us the principle of fatherhood alongside that of motherhood can be expressed by both men and women given the appropriate relational context.

I hope for many of us this Father’s Day will be an opportunity to celebrate our human fathers. Yet, it’s ironic the Gospel for Father’s Day contains these words of Jesus:

For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother…. And one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

Jesus’ paints a picture of conflict between the different members of a family and by extended implication, conflict between the members of society. The passage concludes with this dire warning:

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Love is the abiding principle by which Christians should let their life choices be guided. If the social expression of love is justice, then at an interpersonal level the expression of love will take the form of loyalty.

I’ve spoken over last weeks about justice being God’s issue. Justice is the barometer by which we can judge the quality of a society. The quality of our interpersonal relationships can be measured by the expressions of love, but more generally it’s not possible to love everyone quite in the way the world love suggests. As justice is the societal expression of love. Loyalty is the more objective expression of love – by which to measure the quality of our interpersonal relationships.

Reflecting on Matthew’s presentation of Jesus’ words in chapter 10, I read them as hinting at the importance of loyalty. Jesus is asking us to examine where we place our loyalty? His words invite us to yet again examine the stories that often inadvertently and with astonishing subtlety, claim us; stories that without our noticing divert our loyalty away from a primary focus on God and the way of love.

In our world so much that is important is presented to us as a set of binary choices. A world split between the crude binary choices of this party or that party, this world view or that world view, either freedom or servitude, rights or obligations. Ours is a world in which the slogan black lives matter is heard by some as only black lives matter and is countered by all lives matter – with the intension of watering down or belittling the urgency of the call for racial justice. On the Sunday after the commemoration of Juneteenth, this should give us all pause for thought.

Is Jesus asking us to make another binary choice; a for Jesus or an against Jesus choice? This cannot be so for such a request smacks too much of the world as we know it and detest it for the way it enslaves our thinking. For Christians, Jesus is not a choice. But the manner of the choosing – how we chose Jesus – is what ultimate matters.

In a world in which we are all increasingly enslaved to partisan rhetoric, Jesus’ request to choose him can play into the hands of those who want to make him an object of partisan choice – like everything else.

We see how turning Jesus into a partisan choice of – for or against – works out. Those who are most vociferously in favor of Jesus often paint a picture of him as someone firmly under their control. Someone who is in lock step with their social world view – Jesus my buddy as well as my savior. They paint a picture of a Jesus who approves of racism – cause after all he’s said so in the Bible; a Jesus who hates homosexuals as much as they do cause after all – he’s said so in the Bible; a Jesus who believes a woman’s place is in the home under the firm thumb of her husband – because hasn’t he said so in the Bible? It’s sobering to recall that Jesus omits to speak on any of these issues.

Whereas those who most vociferously reject Jesus do so primarily as an expression of their rejection of this kind of Jesus acclaimed by the most partisan Christians. For them the whole of Christianity is something to be ejected from contributing to the civic debate of the public square.

Then there are those who don’t outwardly reject Jesus but who proclaim a kind of wishy-washy Jesus. Jesus the lover of little children and champion of doormats – Jesus who always counsels turn the other cheek as a response to abuse. At the most, they portray a Jesus who always seeks to avoid causing offence by asking too much of us. Theirs is a Jesus who wants us never to upset the apple cart by talking religion and politics in polite social settings.

Is this not also a stereotyping of Jesus as worthy of criticism as the partisan image of him? Again, it’s sobering to recall that Jesus speaks most often about social and economic justice and in doing so he projects himself into the heat of controversy in a way that the proponents of wishy-washy- Jesus assiduously avoid emulating.

Jesus continues:

Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

My reading of this text leads me to think that it’s not Jesus who is threatening to bring the sword – as in – I am going to bring violence to the world as part of my doing God’s will. This is an image of Jesus that many of his more militant followers willingly embrace. Yet, this reading flies in the face of everything else Jesus said and did. The point here is that Jesus does not cause division – but that division will inevitably follow from our response to the challenge of his teaching. Jesus, in other words, knows who he is and what he’s come to do, and the likely consequences of being and doing so.  

Jesus’ radical teaching of the way of love is not a gentle, hippie-like creed, but a hard and confrontative message that calls us to be God’s champions of societal justice and prize interpersonal loyalty. It’s a message that like paint stripper, dissolves away the veneer of our self-deception and the easy peace we make with ourselves to avoid the experience of discontent.

We cannot speak of racial oppression of black and brown people without addressing white guilt. We need to become highly discontented with white privilege and the subtle guilt it instills in most of us who are white. Discontent is the first stage in the agitation required to confront our complicities. Our complicity with attitudes and systems that perpetuate the oppression of our sisters and brothers, whether it be on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Our complicity in an unjust society that apportions access to justice and healthcare on the basis of buying power.

To gain life by following Jesus is to love him and to be loyal to his message by putting his proclamation that the kingdom of God is already here – into action.  It’s not a matter of us making crude binary choices for this or for that. Simply following Jesus brings its own rejections.

To lose life is to ignore his message, and thereby remain complicit with the way the values of this world are set up in outright denial of the expectations of God’s kingdom.

On Father’s Day – when we celebrate not only our human fathers but honor the protective principle of fatherhood, this is a timely message.

In 2020, the significance of Juneteenth emerges from the neglect of white history. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, though highly symbolic was in effect only a partial beginning. It freed some slaves and paved the way for the 13th Amendment that freed all slaves. Yet, are we not all still growing into the promise of a freedom for both white and black Americans from the curse of racism?

A Confession
Dear God, we reach out to You to express our wrong. But we pray for more than conviction. We pray, O Lord, for change. Change the easy peace we make with ourselves into discontent because of the oppression of others. Change our tendency to defend ourselves into the freedom that comes from being forgiven and empowered through your love. Change our need for disguises, excuses, and images into the ability to be honest with ourselves and open with one another. Change our inclination to judge others into a desire to serve and uplift others. And most of all, Lord, change our routine worship and work into genuine encounter with you and our better selves so that our lives will be changed for the good of all into a joyful community of justice and peace. In Jesus' Precious Name. Amen
From the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri (Kansas City)

Liturgy of the Word for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, June 14th

If you are not a regular St Martin’s supporter we invite you to

DONATE HERE

Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.

Webcast Liturgy of the Word for Pentecost II recorded, edited, and produced by Christian Tulunger

Prelude:  Allegro (Concerto in B minor),  Johann G. Walther with Steven Young on the St Martin’s Organ

Welcome, The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “O frondens virga” by Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) sung by members of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

O blooming branch, you stand upright in your nobility, 
as breaks the dawn on high: 
rejoice now and be glad, 
and deign to free us, frail and weakened, 
from the wicked habits of our age; 
stretch forth your hand 
to lift us up aright.

Hymn:686, “Come, thou fount of every blessing”(vv. 1, 3) St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it
mount of God's redeeming love.
 
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee:
prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above

Greeting: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and for ever.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S277, St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young accompanying

The Collect of the Day

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast
faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim
your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with
compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now
and for ever. Amen.

First Reading: Exodus 19:2-8, read by Laura Bartsch

Psalm 100 sung by members of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

Refrain: Come before God’s presence with a song.   
1 Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness and come before his presence with a song.               
2 Know this: The LORD himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.   
3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and call upon his Name.               
4 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Second ReadingRomans 5:1-8 read by Samantha Muther

Gradual Hymn: 583, “Fairest Lord Jesus” (V1,2) sung St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

 Fairest Lord Jesus,
ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish,
Thee will I honor,
thou, my soul's glory, joy, and crown.
 
Fair are the meadows,
fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.

The Gospel: Matthew 9:35-10:8 proclaimed by Linda+

Gradual Hymn: 583, “Fairest Lord Jesus” (v 3)

 Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight, and all the twinkling starry host: Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer than all the angels heaven can boast.

The Sermon: Mark+  (a stand alone sermon recording and text appears below)

The Nicene Creed: (pg 358 BCP) -(we recite together)

The Anthem: “Lord, I Lift My Soul to You” by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759, arr. Hopson) Sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young at the organ

Lord, I life my soul to you;
My trust is ever in your word.
O, make me know all your ways.
 
Lord, I claim your boundless love;
Your deeds are known from days of old.
You guide the humble in peace, truth, and light.
 
Those who revere the Lord live in joy.
Peace shall be upon their way;
The Lord will be their constant hope;
The Lord is ever their guide and stay.

Prayers of the People: led by Linda+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving (pg 101 BCP)

The Peace

Final Hymn: 377, “All people that on earth do dwell”  sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with organ

All people that on earth do dwell,
sing to the LORD with cheerful voice.
Serve him with joy, his praises tell,
come now before him and rejoice!
 
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
To God whom heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Final Blessing

The Postlude: Prelude in D minor, Opus 7a, Richard Bartmuss with Steven Young on St Martin’s organ

New Beginnings

Stand alone sermon podcast

We now enter the second half of the Christian Year. We refer to this period as the Sundays after Pentecost or Ordinary Time, meaning that period outside the great cycles of Christmas, Lent, and Easter. We sometimes refer to this as the green season because the liturgical color of hangings, frontals, and vestments shifts to green.

On a more personal note Al and I moved home this last week. We have enjoyed being the curators of a 200-year-old house with an extensive and labor-intensive garden, but enough is enough, and having made considerable improvements to the house we felt it time to hand on to the next curators of this beautiful example of a Rustic New England Colonial.  

Beginning Ordinary Time and moving to a new house may seem to be only tangentially connected. Yet, for me, they both represent new beginnings – and it’s about new beginnings I want to speak.

Each Sunday the Ecumenical three-year lectionary appoints three texts and a psalm – not of our own choosing. This means that each Sunday we receive an invitation from God through the appointed readings to engage in a conversation of God’s choosing and not ours. Otherwise we would tend to only self-select readings that support us in the comfortable conversation we always prefer to have with ourselves.

In the readings appointed for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, God seems to invite us into a conversation about new beginnings. Excluding the psalm, which is more of a liturgical text, we normally find the clearest and most obvious connections lying between the Old Testament and Gospel readings. Jesus’ teaching found in the Gospels either affirms or challenges the Old Testament theme. The function of the New Testament reading is to act as a kind of side-ways commentary on the nature of living the Christian life. Thus, its content sits in a less direct relationship with the more narrative oriented readings on either side of it.

So, let me begin with Exodus and Matthew, before going onto Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Exodus, chapter 19 opens with Israel’s arrival at the foot of Mt Sinai. Israel’s arrival at Sinai constitutes a new beginning. It’s here that we glimpse the beginning of the slow and painful transformation of Israel from a loose and chaotic collection of kinship units into a nation. However, it’s not nationhood like that of other peoples. It’s a nationhood specifically defined by the centrality of Israel’s relationship with God – enshrined in a constitution known as the Covenant.  

It’s a new beginning, but what is a beginning if not to set out on a road where each obstacle along the way invites two possible responses -either a challenge to be daunted by or an opportunity through which to grow. In response to God’s invitation the Israelites -with one heart and one voice respond – yes, everything that the Lord has spoken we will do. Oh, that life was so simple.

The point about Israel’s constitution as a priestly kingdom and a holy nation is that in return for God’s love and protection the people are expected to follow a particular way of life guided by the laws and ordinances that will lay the foundations for a unique experiment in a society based on principles of social justice.

In Matthew 9:35 we find Jesus teaching and preaching about the good news of the kingdom. This is not just any good news of any kingdom but the good news of God’s kingdom – rooted in Israel’s foundation experience recorded in the book of Exodus. In his selection of the 12 disciples we find the echo to the 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus, at this stage of his ministry, draws a tight connection between the work of the 12 disciples and the reclaiming of the lost among the 12 tribes of Israel. He instructs them to go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.

When we read Matthew, we need to bear in mind that his is the Gospel most concerned with Jewishness and the renewal of the covenant between God and Israel. For Matthew the covenant made through Moses is being renewed through Jesus, who for him is the new Moses, come not to abolish but to perfect the Law given by God to Israel.

The direct connection between Matthew 9 and Exodus 19 lies in the notion of a new beginning. By sending out the disciples, Jesus is inaugurating a new beginning with the disciples instructed to share their peace – their shalom with those in any house they enter.

The concept of shalom is the sharing of peace. But sharing requires reciprocity and so Jesus tells his disciples – where their shalom is not received, they are to shake the dust from their feet and move on – for not only are the laborers of the harvest too few in number, but there is no time to be lost in staying where you are not received.

Hence the wider commission to go to all nations with which Matthew concludes his gospel in chapter 28 is foreshadowed here by the failure of many in Israel to receive Jesus’ shalom.

The challenges along the road for any people as they grope towards nationhood hinge on the caliber or deficit of leadership. Jesus, drawing on the image of God as shepherd of his people – imagery which abounds throughout Exodus and the Old Testament – gives voice to what he finds. He finds not a priestly kingdom and a holy nation, but a people harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd – a people failed by their leaders – a condition arousing in him the deepest compassion.

The conversation God is inviting us into through the relationship between Exodus 19 and Matthew 9 concerns the nature of a new beginning. We find we have awoken to a new world in which the failure of leadership confronts us like a bucket of ice-cold water thrown in our faces. With few exceptions, across the world the cliché of the emperor’s new clothes exposes the nakedness of populist leaders. Nature is a great leveler. The illusion of the populist leader’s appeal with its crude manipulation of a people’s discontent lies naked and exposed before the ravages of nature’s onslaught.

In today’s America the picture is reassuringly mixed. Jesus’ description of a people harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd describes our experience as we witness the disarray of presidential leadership. Yet, at state and local levels, leaders are stepping up, offering imaginative and courageous responses that address the needs of the common weal – a society defined as a commonwealth.

At a time when we are exposed and helpless before the Coronavirus onslaught, millions are rallying to the call for racial and economic justice. In the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, the energy for new beginnings is powerfully astir.

If the Sunday lectionary enables the conversation God is calling us to have with ourselves, the connective outlines of that conversation can usually be found in the dialectic tensions between the Old Testament and Gospel texts. Between them sits the New Testament text which I have described as a kind of side-ways commentary on the nature of living the Christian life.

On the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, through the dialogue between the Exodus and Matthew texts, God is inspiring us to recommitment to the divine vision of a just and equitable society. For justice is not simply a political or an economic issue – it’s a God issue – and God is calling us to address the hunger in our society for justice and equality, and thereby to make yet again, a new beginning.

Into this conversation Paul’s letter to the Romans defines the Christian response in amidst the uncertainties of new beginnings. Confronting the widespread suffering of his Roman Christian readers, Paul reminds them that in the face of their tremendous suffering it is the centrality of character that matters. He writes: Suffering produces endurance, and endurance builds character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Historically, as a people we bear many sins. We are currently being reminded that the blot of slavery and its legacy of racism is a sin that keeps on revisiting us until we have the courage to finally atone for its evils.

Yet, historically speaking, the relatively short experiment known as the American Republic has built a unique national character forged through endurance and convinced by hope. Where we find ourselves – amidst the dislocation and tumult of the present time – is simply the place to commit ourselves to making a new beginning, empowered by the qualities of Christian character inspired by God’s Holy Spirit.

But what is a new beginning if not to set out on a road where each obstacle along the way invites two possible responses -either a challenge to be daunted by or an opportunity through which to grow. In response to God’s invitation, infused with the qualities of our Christian character may we echo the Israelites cry and with one heart and one voice respond – yes, everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.

Liturgy of the Word for Trinity Sunday, June,7th

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Liturgy of the Word for Trinity Sunday
Recorded, edited, and produced by Christian Tulungen

Order of Service

The Liturgy of the Word begins on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer or online Eucharist Rt II here.

Prelude:  Sarabande (Suite for Organ), Gerald Near with Steven Young on the St Martin’s Organ

Welcome, The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “I Will at All Times Bless the Lord”, F. Handel (1685-1759), Soprano, Lori Istok, St Martin’s Chapel Consort

I will at all times bless the Lord,
My voice shall sing his praise.
I sought the Lord, God heard my prayer.
Let all exalt God’s name.
O taste and see the Lord is good!
In God is lasting hope, in God is joy,
My voice shall sing God’s praise.
I sought the Lord, God heard my prayer.
Let all exalt God’s name.

Hymn:48, “O day of radiant gladness” (vv. 1, 4), St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 O day of radiant gladness, O day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright;
this day the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
sing "Holy, holy, holy" to the great God Triune.
4 That light our hope sustaining, we walk the pilgrim way, at length our rest attaining, our endless Sabbath Day. We sing to thee our praises, O Father, Spirit, Son; the Church her voice upraises to thee, blest Three in One.

Greeting: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and for ever.

Collect for Purity

The The Gloria S277, St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young accompanying

The Collect for Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us
your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to
acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the
power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep
us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to
see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with
the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:4 read by Beth Toolan

Canticle: 2 (Pg 49 BCP) sung by members of the St Martin’s Chapel Consort

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, read by David Whitman

Gradual Hymn: 362, Holy, holy, holy! vv1-2, sung St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ

1 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

2 Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

The Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20 proclaimed by Mark+

Gradual Hymn: 362, Holy, holy, holy! vv1-2, vv3-4

3 Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee
perfect in pow'r, in love, and purity.

4 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

The Sermon: Linda+  (a stand alone sermon recording and text appears below)

The Nicene Creed: (pg 358 BCP) -(we recite together)

The Anthem:  “Let all things now living” txt/arr. Katherine Kennicott Davis, 1892-1980, Sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young at the organ

Let all things now living To God the Creator triumphantly raise, Who fashioned and made us, Protected and stayed us, Who guides us and leads to the end of our days. God’s banners fly o’er us; God’s light goes before us, A pillar of fire shining forth in the night, Till shadows have vanished And darkness is banished, A forward we travel from light into light.   His law he enforces The stars in their courses, The sun in his orbit obediently shine. The hills and the mountains, The rivers and fountains, The deep of the ocean proclaim Him divine. We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing; With glad adoration and song let us raise, Till all things now living Unite in thanksgiving To god in the highest, Hosanna and praise!

Prayers of the People: led by Mark+

The Lord’s Prayer

The General Thanksgiving (pg 101 BCP)

The Peace

Final Hymn: 368, “Holy Father, great Creator vv1,4 sung by the St Martin’s Chapel Consort with organ

1 Holy Father, great Creator,
source of mercy, love, and peace,
look upon the Mediator,
clothe us with his righteousness;
heavenly Father, heavenly Father,
through the Savior hear and bless.
  
4 God the Lord, through every nation
let thy wondrous mercies shine.
In the song of thy salvation
every tongue and race combine.
Great Jehovah, great Jehovah,
form our hearts and make them thine.

Trinity Blessing

The Postlude: Final (Suite for Organ), Gerald Near with Steven Young on St Martin’s organ

Stand alone podcast of Linda’s+ sermon

Invitation to the Dance

May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.

In the beginning, God. In the beginning, God; pouring forth God’s Self, divine into the material—the first incarnation—the holy spark infused into every atom, every particle of stardust. In the beginning, God; loving Creation into being; light and dark, day and night, sun moon and stars commencing their eternal dance; sea and land ebbing and flowing with the tides; plants and all creatures brought forth into their own rhythms of birth, death and renewal.

In the beginning, God; breathing life into God’s first human children:  “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.”

and indeed, it all was very good.

What does it mean to be made in the image of God?  What does it mean to be created in the image of the loving, outpouring, life-giving source of All That Is?

Early Church theologians wrote of Perichoresis—an articulation of the way the three divine Persons dwell within and between one another in perpetual fellowship and intimacy.

In the beginning was Relationship.

Humankind was created in relationship. We were born into relationship. We were baptized into relationship—in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit–and welcomed into the Household of God.

The fourth century Cappadocian Fathers of the Eastern Church used the metaphor of a flow of love and communion between coequal, coeternal, yet separate Persons of the Trinity. Picture them endlessly giving and endlessly receiving, subject-to-subject, I to Thou, again and again and again. The movement is not hierarchical, it is circular; one part does not dominate the others at any point. Richard Rohr calls this a Divine Dance and cites the beautiful icon by Andrei Rublev—the figures perpetually gesturing and gazing lovingly toward one another.

We’re part of the Divine Dance. And on this Trinity Sunday of 2020 there is a lot riding on how we understand this reality—this image in which we were created– and how seriously we take its challenge and invitation.

The Holy Trinity is a paradigm, a template, for Beloved Community; a community of love, generosity, creativity and healing. To be in God’s image is to be in community. There is no true community where there is no mutual respect, trust, compassion and justice. There is no community in the person who is unaware of their own vulnerability, dependence upon and responsibility for the well being of others. If we envision being in the image of God as being a mirror of God’s self then a community without mutual respect, trust, compassion and justice is like a broken mirror—skewed, fractured, incomplete, with shards that slice, leaving deep scars.

Where to begin with how this image of fracture and wounding reflects our own communities now? Where to begin when stories of violence, injustice and hubris pummel us faster than we can take them in and process them? Where to begin when a parishioner sends me a cartoon of a white policeman smiling down at a small Black child, asking, “So, young man, what do you want to be when you grow up?” and the child looks up, raising his hands in the air, and says, “Alive.”

Where to begin?

In the beginning, 1619. The year the first enslaved children of God came to our shores. It is our country’s original sin, with a four-century legacy of cruelty, bigotry and system-spanning injustices that have continued long after Emancipation; Jim Crow laws, lynchings, housing and employment discrimination, mass incarceration, voter suppression, health care disparities, especially in the context of COVID-19, and name after name after name of Black men and women victims of police brutality.  “I can’t breathe”.

God’s image is broken in pieces.

I keep hearing these words from James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

We need to look in the mirror and see where we have fallen short of the image of God. We need to confront, and be confronted by, the reality that the edifice of white privilege has been built upon the backs of our Black brothers and sisters. We need to repent our country’s blindness to the worth and dignity of Black children of God, and, in the words of the Center for Reconciliation, the sinful pattern of “treating Black lives and Black bodies as criminal, disposable, and outside of the human family. “

The voices of protest and anguish in our streets are calling us to get back in step with the Divine Dance; to remember who and whose we all are.

Not everyone has forgotten. Even among the chaos we see people joining the dance—sometimes literally. In Flint Michigan, the Genesee County Sheriff laid down his baton and helmet and joined the march. At a Newark protest law enforcement officers joined the crowd kneeling in a moment of silence. As the gathering gradually transformed into a community dance party, a police officer joined in. In Minneapolis Ruhel Islam, a Bangladeshi immigrant, heard that his restaurant was on fire in the protests, and said, “Let the buildings burn. Justice needs to be served.” Standing amid the ruins he said, “We can rebuild a building. But we cannot give [George Floyd] back to his family.” And then he and his daughter went to work in the Interfaith Garden that they had planted nearby. Tending to the cilantro and bean plants, he said, “I’m going to plant in the garden and pray for everyone.”

We can remember the Dance. We can march in our holy anger at injustice. We can step forward to learn the name and story of our neighbors. (We may be wearing masks, but that doesn’t stop us from looking people in the eye and seeing the spark of the Divine.) Moving harmoniously, acknowledging each other subject to subject, I to Thou, we can draw the circle wider and wider until all of God’s children are part of the flow of mutual respect, trust, compassion and justice.

“Let us make humankind in our image.”

What does it mean to be made in the image of the Trinitarian God in this shattered time?

It is to hear the invitation to the Dance. It is to know that we have been baptized into a faith that has called us into this moment; to be a community of love and compassion; to be agents of holy listening, truth-telling and reconciliation.

It is to become what we believe.

May we dance in the name of the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love-Sharer, Amen.

If you are not a regular St Martin’s supporter we invite you to

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Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing

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