Liturgy of The Word for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, August 23, 2020

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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.

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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. Podcast produced by Christian Tulungen.

The Prelude: Prelude on Converse by John. G. Barr (b. 1938), Steven Young, organ

Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

The Introit: Introit by Iain Quinn (b. 1973), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

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

Hymn 302 “Father, we thank thee who hast planted,” The St. Martin Chapel Consort

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.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S 277, The St. Martin Chapel Consort

The Collect of the Day:

Grant, O Merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The First Reading: Exodus 1:8-2:10, read by Fla Lewis

Psalm 124

Refrain: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

1  If the LORD had not been on our side,
    let Israel now say;
2 If the LORD had not been on our side,
    when enemies rose up against us;
3 Then would they have swallowed us up alive
    in their fierce anger toward us;
4 Then would the waters have overwhelmed us
    and the torrent gone over us;
5 Then would the raging waters
    have gone right over us.
6 Blessed be the LORD!
    he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler;
    the snare is broken, and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the Name of the LORD,
    the maker of heaven and earth.


The Second Reading: Romans 12:1-8, read by Melinda DelCioppio

Hymn 522 “Glorious things of thee are spoken” (v. 1), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes.

The Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20, proclaimed by Mark+

Hymn 522 (v. 4)

4 Blest inhabitants of Zion,
washed in the Redeemer's blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
makes them kings and priests to God.
'Tis his love his people raises
over self to reign as kings:
and as priests, his solemn praises
each for a thank-offering brings.

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: “Come, Ever Gracious Son of God” by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

Come, ever-gracious Son of God, come,
And with Thee bring Thy joyous train.
For Thee we long, and cry for Thee,
With whom eternal peace doth reign.

The Prayers of the People: led by Linda+

The Lord’s Prayer, The St. Martin Chapel Consort

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 343 “Shepherd of Souls” (vv. 1, 4), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless
thy chosen pilgrim flock
with manna in the wilderness,
with water from the rock.

4 Lord, sup with us in love divine,
thy Body and thy Blood,
that living bread, that heavenly wine,
be our immortal food.

The Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Mvmt. III from Concerto in B minor after Vivaldi by Johann G. Walter (1684-1748) , 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:

On the Way to Something New

Charlie Girl hard at work
An exploration of Identity in Matthew 15 & 16
The Rev. Mark Sutherland

In Matthew 16 :13-20 Jesus asks his disciples who do people say the Son of Man is? It’s an interesting posing of the question which is less who am I, and more who do others think I am? Whatever the question meant for Jesus – we are reminded that any question of identity is as much about how others experience us as it is to do with anything we think or feel about ourselves.

Last week we read the story from Matthew 15 in which Jesus leaves Jewish Galilee and crosses the border into the area of modern Lebanon where he encounters a woman from Sidon who confronts him with a request. I say confronts him because her request is a direct challenge to his identity. To add insult to injury, the challenger was not only a Gentile – bad enough – but a woman to boot – something damming according to the attitudes of Jesus’ time.

However, this gentile woman is the first person in the Gospels who addresses Jesus as Lord, Son of David, which is historic code for Jesus the messiah. Recognition of his historic Jewish identity by a Gentile evokes within Jesus a conflict of identity. Here he is for the first time recognized as the Messiah by a gentile woman who asks for his help. We saw him struggling with a dilemma.

If he is the Jewish messiah, what business has Jesus being among Gentiles?

In her very fine exposition of this last week, Linda+ explored the theme of walls segregating who’s in from who’s out. Jesus belongs to those who are inside the wall and this woman – she’s definitely part of those who are outside God’s dispensation – at least according to traditional Jewish thinking. Jesus’ first response is awkward and signals his inner conflict as the collision of expectations within him brings the wall of expectation separating Jew from Gentile, crashing down.

The scene is now set for the exchange between Jesus and Peter in chapter 16 where Jesus is back in Jewish Galilee, among his disciples. Fresh from the explosion of self-understanding that took place in Sidon – he poses the question – so who do the Jews say I am? Only Simon Peter gets it right. You are – Peter says – the Messiah, Son of the living God.

Jesus is no longer Lord, the Son of David – that is the historic messiah – an image loaded with historic expectations of warrior liberator. Peter proclaims that he is none other than Son of the living God.

Son of the living God represents a crucial shift in understanding, i.e. he is no longer a prisoner of exclusive Jewish expectations predicated on the segregation of Jew from Gentile but the agent of the God of living who is constantly evolving in real time.

Jesus’ messiahship is the mark of God speaking in a new way – into the challenges and opportunities of a world in turmoil – a world on its way to becoming something new.

The question of identity is the central question that is very much of the moment for us in the United States.  We are asking ourselves the question: what kind of nation do we see ourselves being? Beneath the blanket of nationhood, comes the deeper more problematic question: who are we as communities of people?  

There are historic answers to that question – some inspiring and some shameful. Our current struggle is to find a contemporary answer to the question of identity– an answer in living time within a world in turmoil on the way to becoming something new.

Matters of identity are simple if we think of ourselves as members of like minded communities – communities where we all look the same, think the same, act the same. And the trend of recent times has been to simplify the questions of identity by increasingly corralling ourselves into communities of likeness. But our society is a patchwork of communities of mixed likeness, within which values, patterns of living, attitudes and world views are sharply contested along lines of race and class, privilege and deprivation, power and powerlessness. In short, our society is a broken society – an expression of a world out of whack (Richard Swanson).

A broken society offers a powerful invitation for unleashing the enormous potential for healing and change.

Of course, at the core of our identity lies the personal question: who am I / who do others see me as? That’s a very difficult question to answer indeed.

If I take myself as an example. I like to think of myself as someone who believes in kindness and compassion, and the maxim moderation in all things. My experience of my own – usually well-hidden vulnerability – leads me to instinctively resonate with Paul’s plea in Romans 12 to not think of myself more highly than I ought to think, but to think with sober judgement according to the measure of faith God has given me.

I try to think about others as well as myself and try to moderate my self-interestedness so as to recognize and make space for other’s self-interests. I have a generous spirit. I am also passionate about many things and often unsure how to correctly channel my passions. In an unjust world I oftentimes fear the intensity of my passionate hatred for injustice.

I can be prickly too, easily bored and frustrated. I can be sharp tongued and withering in judgement. In short, I’m a jumble of seeming contradictions which I seek to smooth-out beneath the practiced cultivation of quiet non anxious presence.

Perhaps there’s enough contrast in this rather simplified self-description for you – those who know me – to be able to verify some elements of my self-description as true to your experience of me.

Each of us is in reality a bundle of mixedness which we struggle daily to hold together within a constructed shell of our persona – a term for the carefully cultivated image we want to hold of ourselves and represent to the world. Lurking beneath that shell of persona is the fear, that if our jumbled-up mixedness is discovered – will others accept and tolerate the fragmentation of our brokenness?

I believe that even Jesus’ sense of identity evolved and developed as he learned from his experience. As Americans we are facing with an unprecedented urgency the question of identity – who are we and who do we aspire to be? I’ve contrasted the collective identity with how the question of identity might operate at the personal level because I believe that the root of the answer to the question who are we as a people lies in each one of us addressing the question: who am I / what kind of person do I aspire to be?

The answer to this question will tell each of us something about our fears and longings as we select the man not simply as the next President, but the man most able to build the qualities of governance that personify the values that we as individuals aspire to – and seek to live out in our own lives. Amen.

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.

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