Liturgy of the Word for Easter VI, May 17th

Webcast of The Liturgy of the Word for Easter VI
recorded, edited and produced by Christian (Ian) Tulungen

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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

Prelude: Prelude in G Major, Felix Mendelssohn with Steven Young on the St Martin’s Organ

Welcome, The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

Introit: “The Call” George Herbert’s poem set to music by R. Vaughan Williams as part of his Five Mystical Song Cycle. Sung by Gabe Alfieri, St Martin’s Choral Director accompanied by Steven Young, St Martin’s Organist

THE CALL.   

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life :
Such a Way, as gives us breath :
Such a Truth, as ends all strife :
And such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength :
Such a Light, as shows a feast :
Such a Feast, as mends in length :
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart :
Such a Joy, as none can move :
Such a Love, as none can part :
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.

Hymn: 204 “Now the green blade riseth”, 1st and last vv, staff singers with organ

Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Collect for Purity

The Gloria: S280, sung by St Martin’s staff singers, Steve Young, organ

The Collect for the Sixth Sunday after Easter

You can find a link to the readings for the day here

First Reading: Acts 17:22-31 read by Pat Nolan

Psalm 66:7-18, sung by Jacob Chippo, staff tenor

Second Reading: 1Peter 3:13-22 read by David Blake

Gradual Hymn: 390 v1, “Praise the Lord, the Almighty” staff singers

The Gospel: John 14:15-21 proclaimed by Mark+

Gradual Hymn: 390 v2, staff singers

The Sermon: Orphaned? Mark+ (a stand alone recording and text appear below)

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

The Anthem:  “If ye love me, keep my commandment” Thomas Tallis, The Cambridge Singers with John Rutter

Prayers of the People: led by Mark+

The General Thanksgiving (pg 101 BCP)

The Lord’s Prayer

The Peace

Final Hymn: 385 “Many and great O Lord, are thy works”, A Native American Melody sung by the staff singers with organ

Easter Blessing

The Postlude: Allegro Maestoso (Sonata II), F Mendelssohn with Steven Young playing

Stand alone Sermon Recording

Orphaned?

It’s 4:41am on Saturday morning. Covid-19 has changed everything about doing church. It’s not only doing church that has changed. It seems there isn’t one aspect of our former lives that remains unchanged by the arrival of the virus. But it’s the change to doing church that preoccupies me at the present moment.

I note the time -early Saturday morning – because having made numerous false starts on this sermon throughout Friday, in the pre-virus world I would still have a full 24 hours to get it right. However, one of the aspects of doing church that has changed is that Ian, our virtual Sunday Service webcast producer needs my completed product by midday at the latest for editing into the webcast that will go live at 7am tomorrow, the 6th Sunday after Easter.

I’ve italicized doing because there is something odd about it. Doing and its cognates is frequently used today. We ask one another are you done?, when what we really mean is have you finished? Doing-do-done are very American colloquial usages which as a self-respecting speaker of the Queen’s English is a good reason for me not to use them here. A better verb might be being church. It’s more inspirational, somehow. And if nothing else language’s power to inspire us amidst all the chances and changes of this world – to borrow from Archbishop Cranmer’s knack for the inspirational phrase -takes on a greater not lesser importance.

It’s now 5:01am on Saturday morning. Covid-19 has changed everything about doing Church. Much may have changed in the last two months about doing church, yet, the challenge of being church remains unchanged. Being church has always been challenging, if by this we mean being Christian. Changing worldly circumstances do not fundamentally alter the task of being Christian – as the writer of John’s gospel puts it: in the world.  

The World?

As spring finally seems to have secured a late toehold on wintry southern New England, we are all so very conscious of the world burgeoning with the glorious expression of the goodness of the Creator. But as we struggle to come to terms with all that has recently changed for us, we are very aware of this natural world as also a threatening place, always potentially hostile to human flourishing.

Then there’s the world- as in worldliness – the short-sighted politics of the moment, the manipulation of the national need by the rich and powerful for their own ends and the rest of us be damned.

Let’s not overlook the world as a place where challenge provokes human beings to innovate -turning challenges into opportunities for new and imaginative solutions capable of taking us to the next level of our social evolution.

At 5:32am, I must finally get to grips with the text from John 14 as the gospel pre-ordained to be read on the sixth Sunday after Easter.

At the turn of the 1st and 2nd centuries of the common era in Jerusalem a community of Christians had coalesced around the teaching of one who is known as John the Evangelist. This is not John the Beloved Disciple of Jesus (JTBD) for he would have been long dead by this time. John the Evangelist (JTE) is one who as a young man must have known JTBD. Having been profoundly shaped by his teaching, JTE now presents JTBD’s teaching to his community – a community made up from disparate and hard to hold together factions. Jewish followers of Jesus, some out and proud but many still hiding in the Jewish closet; the remnants of John the Baptist’s followers; a large group of Samaritans, and a smattering of Greeks formed the nucleus of what came to be known as the Beloved Community. JTE wrote his gospel for them. This helps go some way to explaining why John’s gospel is so different from the other three gospels. The community for whom John wrote was so very different.

Chapters 14 -17 cover Jesus’ extended farewell to his disciples at the Last Supper. Since Easter we have been working through mostly John’s recording of Jesus’ post resurrection appearances. But now we are coming to the end and our attention focuses on Jesus’ words of farewell in which he prepares his disciples for what was to follow after his death, resurrection, and ascension from this dimension of time and space.

Because of the privacy of the setting and the often-close relationships between the table companions, dinner table conversations can be both intimate and fraught affairs.

14:15-21 offers a rare glimpse into the tender intimacy that can accompany a family conversation around the dinner table – a conversation in which like a 5th grade teacher of a class with a very limited attention span, Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for what is to follow. Of course, at the time they don’t really get him. They have their own dreams. But in time – through the disillusionment and loss of their cherished dreams, they will come back to Jesus’ words with the same dawning understanding as we are doing now.

Jesus, around the Last Supper dinner table shares his vision for the world and their place in it. We note that he speaks to them no longer as servants but calls them friends. Jesus’ vision centers on the love that unites him and the Father together in a unity of being. By extrapolation, this love becomes the template that unities Jesus and his disciples also in a unity of being – not quite the same as Jesus and the Father, but pretty close and certainly a very provocative-inspirational notion. Jesus’ ultimate point is that being his friends, the disciples now also become God’s friends.

Through Jesus we remain God’s friends. For we are those who are challenged to respond to the commandment to love. And as Jesus had earlier demonstrated when he took the towel and washed their feet, the love he speaks about has little to do with the sentiments of liking one another. The kind of love Jesus commands them to practice is the love of service in action.

Being friends of God is fleshed out as Jesus speaks about his imminent departure. He tells them that his going from them will not leave them orphaned, for God will send something else to sustain them; an advocate to support them as they face the challenges of being his inspired followers in the world, living lives of love as service in action.

Grappling with this text at what is now 6:03am on a wet Saturday morning with a pre-recording and editing deadline looming – the word orphaned jumps off the page and smacks me in the face in a way it never has before.

Isn’t being orphaned our experience in these early months of a covid-19 changed world? The metaphor of being orphaned is an experience of being abandoned and left unprotected.

We find ourselves adrift, unprotected in a world that fills us with grief at the loss of so much we took for granted. Of course, there is real grief and worry for so many as they survey the damage to their livelihoods caused by the economic fallout from the virus. There is the grief of helplessness as we watch loved ones succumb to the virus, isolated and separated from us at such a time of dire need for human love and touch. Then there’s the rage at our leaders, who at the federal level have the power to make our situations so much more bearable but lack the will to do so because they remain afflicted with a virus even worse the covid-9 – the virus of political short-termism; a different kind of killer – an affliction of the imagination that eats away at the capacity for courageous and far-sighted leadership.

Much may have changed in the last two months about doing church, yet, the challenge of being church remains unchanged. Being church has always been challenging, if by this we mean, being Christian. Changing worldly circumstances do not fundamentally alter the task of being Christian it in the world.  

At 7:57am and I am more and more convinced of the truth that challenge is also opportunity. That no matter how it feels to us at the moment as we struggle to cope with our sense of loss, being Christian in the world is to show that God has NOT be left us orphaned. We are reminded of Jesus’ words: You may no longer see me, but I continue to live in you through your commitment to live lives of love as service in action. Or to borrow from Archbishop Cranmer once again – we are currently being called to rally together to let the whole world know that things that were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new.

I’m excited by the challenge and prospect before us of being church – being Christian and making a better world!

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

DONATE HERE

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

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