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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: “Prière a Notre Dame” (Suite gothique) by Leon Boëllmann (1862-1897), Steven Young, organ
Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector
Introit: “O frondens virga” by Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), 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 307 “Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor” (vv. 1, 5), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ
1 Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor, first-begotten from the dead. Thou alone, our strong defender, liftest up thy people’s head. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Jesus, true and living bread! Jesus, true and living bread! 5 Life-imparting heavenly Manna, smitten Rock with streaming side, heaven and earth with loud hosanna worship thee, the Lamb who died. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Risen, ascended, glorified! Risen, ascended, glorified!
Collect for Purity
The Gloria S 277, The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ
The Collect of the Day:
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; 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 45:1-15, read by Marty Flaherty
Refrain: How good and pleasant it is when breathren live together in unity! 1 Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity! 2 It is like fine oil upon the head that runs down upon the beard, 3 Upon the beard of Aaron, and runs down upon the collar of his robe. 4 It is like the dew of Hermon that falls upon the hills of Zion. 5 For there the LORD has ordained the blessing: life for evermore. Refrain
Second Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32, read by Amy Esposito
Hymn 690 “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah” (v. 1-2), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ
1 Guide me, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrim though this barren land; I am weak, but thou art mighty; hold me with thy powerful hand; bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me now and evermore, feed me now and evermore. 2 Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow; let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through; strong deliverer, strong deliverer. be thou still my strength and shield, be thou still my strength and shield.
The Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33, proclaimed by Mark+
Hymn 390 (v. 3)
3 When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside; death of death, and hell's destruction, land me safe on Canaan's side; songs of praises, songs of praises, I will ever give to thee, I will ever give to thee.
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: “Gaelic Blessing” by John Rutter (b. 1945), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, organ
Deep peace of the running wave to you. Deep peace of the flowing air to you. Deep peace of the quiet earth to you. Deep peace of the shining stars to you. Deep peace of the gentle night to you. Moon and stars pour their healing light on you. Deep peace of Christ, of Christ the light of the world to you. Deep peace of Christ to you.
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.
Hymn 537 “Christ for the world we sing” (vv. 1, 4), The St. Martin’s Chapel Consort with Steven Young, 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.
The Postlude: “Menuet gothique” (Suite gothique) by Boëllmann , 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. Linda Mackie Griggs
In 1914 Robert Frost wrote:
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
what I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
At the risk of ‘Frost-splaining’ to a bunch of New Englanders, the beauty of the poem, “Mending Wall” is the way it speaks a universal truth about insiders and outsiders. Human beings have always seemed to find ways to “other” one another—even to go so far as to question each other’s worthiness to stand on this earth.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
Perhaps. But that “something” isn’t human nature at its most broken. Sadly, at our worst, we’re all about walls. Somebody always has to be Out. Because, apparently, somebody always has to be In.
And we tend to establish rules that govern which is which. Those rules are the walls that we build based on our assumptions, right or wrong—rules of behavior, of physical characteristics, or even of our opinions. We have come to litmus-test each other seemingly on everything, even to the point, for example, that we have turned a face mask into a political value judgment rather than an objective health measure.
We’re walling ourselves to death, if we’re not careful.
In the verses just prior to our Gospel passage this morning, the Temple authorities criticized Jesus’ disciples for not washing their hands before they ate. While we can definitely identify with concern for hand washing as a matter of hygiene (especially now,) Jesus zeroed in on the more pressing point, which was that the authorities had let their purity codes become a purity wall.
The Pharisees weren’t evil—they were completely sincere—they believed that adherence to the Law brought them closer to God’s promise. But Jesus was frustrated that they had substituted external cleanliness for internal godliness; they had lost perspective of what true spiritual health looks like. Purity codes had become a substitute for right relationship with one’s neighbor.
“. . . what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft…. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”
Jesus, ever the outsider on the side of the outsiders, vividly reminded his hearers of the spirit that undergirds the letter of Jewish law, taking aim at the purity wall with a verbal sledgehammer about sewers that makes Sunday school kids stifle a giggle. Crude, yes, but it makes the point, doesn’t it?
But then something strange happened.
Jesus turned right around and modeled the exclusive behavior that he had just criticized in the Pharisees.
First, he entered the Gentile neighborhoods of Tyre and Sidon, where he was immediately approached by what Matthew calls, “a Canaanite woman.”
Which is interesting. Canaanites had lived in that area in the past, but by this time the Canaanites were long gone by centuries.
So why would Matthew call her Canaanite?
Hold that thought.
Let us digress to Egypt, where we see Joseph in a tearful reunion with the brothers who had faked his death and sold him into slavery. The story of Joseph and his brothers serves an important function in the history of Israel. It acts as an etiology—an explanation of how things came to be—of why the Israelites of the Exodus had come to be in Egypt in the first place.
“Hurry and bring my father down here.”
It’s all right there in Joseph’s command to his brothers. Jacob, also known as Israel, and his sons who would be the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, relocated to Egypt . . .
. . . from . . . Canaan.
Almost everything about the Patriarchs is about Inside and Outside. Jacob’s family was not Canaanite, but his family had lived there as aliens—Outsiders—for a generation. They were outsiders in Canaan, who became outsiders in Egypt. And generations later they would be oppressed slaves who God would liberate through Moses. They would wander in the Wilderness for forty years and then enter the Land of God’s Promise…
. . . Canaan.
They would be Outsiders once again. But in a brutal chapter of Israel’s history as recorded in the book of Joshua they would effectively exterminate the Canaanites and take possession of their land. Because God had promised that Israel would be the Insiders–and the Canaanites would be Outsiders–in the worst possible way: By genocide.
Now, let us return to Jesus.
Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”
Matthew wants us to know that the one who approached Jesus was part of the remnant of Israel’s attempt to eliminate those who were Outside of God’s Promise. She was an Outsider of historic and traumatic proportions. And she called him—what?
“. . . Lord, Son of David . . . ”
Son of David. Have mercy. Heal my daughter of a demon.
And this is where it gets strange. Jesus, the outsider on the side of outsiders, ignored her. He treated her as an Outsider. And his disciples reinforced him—“send her away.” She’s shouting. She’s rude. She isn’t one of us.
This seems particularly harsh considering what we know about Jesus and his compassion for the marginalized. But it’s important to understand Matthew’s overall dual projects in writing his Gospel. First, he wanted to reassure his Jewish readers of God’s Promise to them that they were God’s People. This is why the imagery that Matthew often used portrayed Jesus as the New Moses. In first rebuffing the woman, then in cavalierly saying that he was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel, and finally by calling her a dog, Jesus starkly attended to Matthew’s first priority, even as he had just chastised the Pharisees for their wall-building. It was all of a piece in reassuring the Jewish community of God’s deep desire for right relationship with them.
But that wasn’t the end of it. The second objective of Matthew’s project was to expand God’s promise to the Gentiles. At the end of his Gospel, in The Great Commission, Jesus will say, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” This is crux of it: Jesus, the New Moses, came to liberate all people. No more Insiders. No more Outsiders. No more walls.
So in this encounter, when the Canaanite woman kept hammering at the multi-layered wall of religion, ethnicity, gender, and propriety—this moment when she finally broke through to Jesus with her persistent faith, not only in his identity as Messiah but in her own worthiness as part of God’s Promise; this was the pivotal moment of Jesus’ conversion. Where his ingrained assumptions about her worth and worthiness were shattered.
“Woman, great is your faith!”
And her daughter was healed instantly. Not at the moment when she acknowledged Jesus’ identity, but when she asserted her own.
“I am not an Outsider.”
And down comes the wall.
Biblical scholar Richard Swanson writes: “…this [is] a scene of historic repentance: the Canaanites are shown to be capable of real faithfulness, and as such, should not have been slaughtered…[T]he argument for that slaughter ([that Canaanites will lead Israel] away from true faithfulness) is revealed to be false, at best mistaken, and more likely ignorant and inexcusable.”
This was, in Swanson’s words, a moment of remembrance—a convicting moment that turned everything inside out for Jesus and his mission. Inside. Out. When Jesus—even Jesus—received the gift of an opportunity for repentance, he made good use of it. He—even Jesus—responded by expanding his worldview and perspective in such a way that his Great Commission would change the world.
When we think about the walls that we have built—are building–and how we have found more and more ways to alienate each other, Insiders versus Outsiders, might we find hope in this encounter?
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.
With God’s help, may we take down the walls around and between us, and become part of the mending of the world.
If you are not a regular St. Martin’s supporter, we invite you to
Thank you for supporting our ministry during this period of physical distancing.