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

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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.

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