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

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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)

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