Liturgy of the Word for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, September 27, 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.

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. Podcasts produced by Christian Tulungen.

The Prelude: Prelude on Rhosymedre by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), 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 309 “O Food to pilgrims given,” (vv. 1, 3), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 O Food to pilgrims given,
O Bread of life from heaven,
O Manna from on high!
We hunger; Lord, supply us,
nor thy delights deny us,
whose hearts to thee draw nigh.

3 O Jesus, by thee bidden,
we here adore thee, hidden
in forms of bread and wine.
Grant when the veil is risen,
we may behold, in heaven,
thy countenance divine.

Collect for Purity

The Gloria S 279, The St. Martin Chapel Consort

The Collect of the Day:

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; 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 17:1-7, read by Marty Flaherty

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16, The St. Martin Chapel Consort

Refrain: Our forefathers have told us of the power of the Lord, and the wonderful works he has done.

1 Hear my teaching, O my people; *
    incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable; *
    I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.
3 That which we have heard and known,
    and what our forefathers have told us, *
    we will not hide from their children.
4 We will recount to generations to come
    the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the LORD, *
    and the wonderful works he has done.
12 He worked marvels in the sight of their forefathers, *
    in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He split open the sea and let them pass through; *
    he made the waters stand up like walls.
14 He led them with a cloud by day, *
    and all the night through with a glow of fire.
15 He split the hard rocks in the wilderness *
    and gave them drink as from the great deep.
16 He brought streams out of the cliff, *
    and the waters gushed out like rivers.

Refrain

The Second Reading: Philippians 2:1-13, read by Amy Esposito

Hymn 690 “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah” (v. 1), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim through 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.

The Gospel: Matthew 21:23-32, proclaimed by Linda+

Hymn 690 (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: 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: Benedictus by Franz Schubert (1797-1828), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

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 686, “Come, thou fount of every blessing” (vv. 1, 3), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 Come, thou fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace!
Streams of mercy never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! O fix me on it,
mount of God's unchanging love.

3 Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee;
prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, oh, take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

The Final Blessing

The Postlude:  Postlude by Norberto Guinaldo (b. 1937), 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:

Christ-mindedness

Common Mind in Action -[My title] from the Murals at Coit Tower by artists of the Diego Rivera School, 1934, San Francisco

Despite our huge polarization as a society, that we are living through tumultuous days is perhaps the one of the things we can all agree on. Another is the question on all our lips – can we survive the days leading up to November 3rd and at the same time maintain our sanity? Following the President’s dark and veiled warnings about election fraud the prospect opening up for all of us is the realization that November 3rd may not put paid to our state of heightened anxiety.

The dilemma we face is that we have become a society so deeply divided on the picture of the change we want to see. Christians of all persuasions believe the Christ of Faith is on their side. Even non-Christians and secularists take Jesus teaching in the gospels to be the inspiration for why they are in the right.

In the epistle for this week Paul encourages the Philippians to:

work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you!

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is most probably a compilation of a series of letters written over time and brought together by him some ten years after his first momentous visit to Philippi. Writing probably from his prison cell in Rome and facing a sentence of death, Paul encourages them to:

let the mindset of Christ be yours as you draw your life from him by letting him live in you.

What does this mean?

Paul warns the Philippians to proceed with fear and trembling. Be careful about the attitudes you hold, the choices you make, and the actions you take, and esp. the reactions you express. Consider the what if –two little big words – what if, you’re wrong?

Our attitudes form and inform the choices we make, the actions we take, and the reactions we express. To a very large extent our attitudes are based on life experience. When our attitudes are influenced by misleading information, driven by inflated fears stoked up by malignant forces – then our choices, our actions and our reactions will follow suit. We need to be increasingly aware of how vulnerable we all are to malignant forces that sow discord and exploit us through the unregulated saturation of social media that now colonises even the most private spaces in our personal lives.

Paul’s warning to approach the most important aspect of our life [my paraphrase] with fear and trembling is an encouragement for us to pause and lower the I-me quotient in order to make room for the Christ of faith through the power of the Holy Spirit to be at work in us.

What are the characteristics of Christ-mindness? It’s helpful to listen to an unusual Bible translation to surprize us out of the way we only half hear words that have become too familiar. Paul’s warning takes on greater forcefulness in the less familiar cadences of The Message’s idiomatic translation of Philippians 2:1-13 this way:

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Here’s the answer to my question. These are the qualities that characterise the mindset of Christ or what I’m calling Christ-mindedness.

Paul’s words then soar to the height of poetic eloquence in his moving hymn to Christ which begins:

Though in the form of God Jesus did not regard equality with God something to be exploited, but emptied himself – and being born in human form – humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.

Here in Jesus’ self-emptying of ego we find the best description of what Christ-mind looks like in action.

Many of us believe that living the Christian life is to live our lives with the inspiration of the Jesus’ example before our eyes. This is a fine way to live but it’s actually not what being a Christian is about. Many non-Christians are inspired by the pre-Easter Jesus and fold his influence into their lives.  

Paul encourages us in his letter to Philippi to take a bigger step than this. For to be Christian is to live not simply inspired by the historical example of the man Jesus of Nazareth – the prophet of God’s justice. It is not enough to carefully work out our salvation with our own discernment and astuteness – which smacks too much of progressing under our own steam and not through God’s grace. Paul is asking a simple question: who is in the driving seat?

Paul and the early Christian communities he writes to – experience the power of the Christ of Faith who turns all our worlds upside down. Our power to change the world flows from our shared experience of the mind of Christ so that it’s no longer me, us, we who are in the driving seat but God working in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christ mindedness is not a state of emulation or imitation, a kind of pretending to be Jesus. It’s allowing the working of the Holy Spirit to de-center our preoccupation with me, mine, and I in the service of a larger truth working for good beyond that which we are able to see.

It’s very hard to empty myself of myself. It’s even harder to do so without the reassurance that another who threatens me by the attitudes she holds, the choices he advocate, the actions he or she takes – will do likewise and empty him or herself- so that together we may discover that our differences are simply the product of different life experience dressed up as ideology. Christ-mindedness is the antidote to all ideology.

Currently so much about religion recast as some kind of ideology seems to be getting in the way.

Christ-mindedness emerges within and between us when we recognize that the other is not the enemy. I’m not saying there are no bad actors or movements that are evil in nature and effect. I’m just pointing out that generally speaking the other – normally defined as someone different from me – who holds a different worldview from mine – is not by default my enemy. We share the same desires to love and be loved, the same need to console and be consoled, the same love of family, community, and country; the same need for encouragement and empathy to contain the fears that push us to protect ourselves through self or group assertion and dominance.

To become empty of the highly self-protectionist part of our minds – is very hard and risky and I am not sure I can do it – at least not on my own.

Paul reminds us that if we approach the task of ultimate meaning and purpose with hesitancy – not assuming we are right – with fear and trembling – then God – inspirited within us – does the heavy lifting, A question is do we have the will to relinquish self-serving and passionately held certainties and projected fears to make room for the Christ of faith to take the wheel?


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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