Liturgy of the Word for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, October 11, 2020

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.

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: Berceuse from 24 pièces, Op. 31, by Louis Vierne (1870-1927), Steven Young, organ

Welcome: The Rev’d Mark Sutherland, Rector

As mentioned in my welcome here is the link to Episcopal Office for Government Relations resources to meet the challenges of the election time.

The Introit: “Forgive our sins as we forgive” (Hymn 674), 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, 4), 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:

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; 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 32:1-14, read by David Blake

Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23, The St. Martin Chapel Consort

Antiphon: Declare the mighty acts of God our Savior.

1 Hallelujah!
   Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
    for his mercy endures for ever.
2 Who can declare the mighty acts of the LORD
    or show forth all his praise?
3 Happy are those who act with justice
    and always do what is right!
4 Remember me, O LORD, with the favor 
   you have for your people,
    and visit me with your saving help;
5 That I may see the prosperity of your elect
   and be glad with the gladness of your people,
    that I may glory with your inheritance.
6 We have sinned as our forebears did;
    we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
19 Israel made a bull-calf at Horeb
    and worshiped a molten image;
20 And so they exchanged their Glory
    for the image of an ox that feeds on grass.
21 They forgot God their Savior,
    who had done great things in Egypt,
22 Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham,
    and fearful things at the Red Sea.
23 So he would have destroyed them,
    had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, 
    to turn away his wrath from consuming them.


The Second Reading: Philippians 4:1-9, read by Sammi Muther

Hymn 578 “O God of love, O King of peace” (v. 1), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 O God of love, O King of peace,
make wars throughout the world to cease;
the wrath of nations now restrain,
give peace, O God, give peace again!

The Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14, proclaimed by Linda+

Hymn 578 (v. 3)

3 Whom shall we trust but thee, O Lord?
Where rest but on thy faithful word?
None ever called on thee in vain,
give peace, O God, give peace again!

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: “O for a Closer Walk with God” by Erik Routley (1917-1982), The St. Martin Chapel Consort

O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest;
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

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 362, “Holy, holy, holy!” The St. Martin Chapel Consort

1 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee:
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.

2 Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

3 Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the sinful human eye thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love, and purity.

4 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.

The Final Blessing

The Postlude:  “Carillon du Longpont” from 24 pièces, Op. 31, by L. Vierne, 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:

Mutual Need

I wrote in the E-News this past week about truth and untruth. I began with Lewis Carroll’s wonderful exchange between Alice and the White Queen about the dynamics of believing in impossible things. As the White Queen tells Alice, believing in impossible things takes some practice. Let those with ears to hear ….

Exodus 32:1-14 recounts the story of the Golden Calf. This is for our society an emblematic story – so much so that the term golden calf has even entered into common speech -used to refer to an alluring temptation or distraction. But is it a true story?

The late and renowned Biblical scholar Marcus Borg noted that the Bible is full of true stories – some of which actually happened. He drew a distinction between truth rooted in historical events and truth as history metaphorized, i.e. stories of events that never happened but nevertheless express a profound truth.

Historical truth and metaphorized truth both share a common feature which is absent in a belief in impossible things. Stories rooted in historical events or metaphorized – both resonate accurately in the reality of our day to day lives. Both address us in the lives we actually are living and offer us something fruitful and meaningful in the face of the challenges and opportunities we face.

Traditionally seen as a story about the sins of idol worship, the Golden Calf story — is at a deeper level – a profound exploration of the tensions within the divine-human encounter. These are tensions concerning the community’s experience of the availability or absence of God. Is God available- able to speak directly to the challenges and opportunities facing a community? At this level – Exodus 32:1-14 speaks directly into our own alienated experience.

Exodus 32:1-14 speaks not only into our own experience but also speaks to God’s suggestibility.

In its projected historical setting, this is a story revealing a mutuality of needs. It’s a story in which God and a community discover each other and find in that discovery that they share the same needs.

Previously – God had been the god of Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, now he’s [sic] the god of Moses. God has yet to fully emerge as god of a whole people – the God of Israel. It’s like the question – who is that man over there? Why that’s no man, that’s my husband, or my father, or my friend. If the Israelites were asked: do you know the Lord God? They would have replied: we don’t know the Lord God personally, but we know a man who does.

If the Israelites were asked: do you know the Lord God? They would have replied: we don’t know the Lord God personally, but we know a man who does.

God has called Moses to meet him on the mountain. Before Moses begins the ascent, God instructs him to tell the Israelites to set camp at the foot of the mountain but not to set foot upon it. Picture the scene. Moses treks up the mountain leaving the people waiting in expectation. They wait and they wait. Each day, the lookouts posted, strain their eyes in the hope of seeing Moses coming home. Day and night the people wait, and wait, and wait, and eventually come reluctantly, to the conclusion that Moses and his god are not coming back.

The Israelites then do what human communities faced with the absence of God have done over time and what we still do today. They look for a substitute. Their request to Aaron – the next best thing to Moses – is instructive. They plead:

Come make us other gods - useful gods - gods who will go before us - because Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt– well we don’t know what’s happened to him and its now clear to us he and his god are not coming back!

This is a story that speaks directly to our most human of needs – the need for an experience of divine intimacy – a god who is accessible to us– a god who is available to hear our concerns – able to protect and comfort us, to give us direction, to strengthen our flagging hope, and give us a sense of purpose.

When God is experienced as absent, we look for substitutes to fill the experience of emptiness left in the gap between us and God. In 21st-century America we try to fill the emptiness with money, or shopping, or a charismatic leader, or even family, or nation, or replacing an absent God with our own narcissistic self-preoccupation.

There is a myriad of golden calves to distract us from the experience of divine absence.

There is a myriad of golden calves to distract us from the experience of divine absence. For many of us today, even when we say we believe in God, God is now remote from us – like the central character in a play who has now left the stage – leaving us center stage – alone and bereft.

This is a story that reveals the truth of our human struggle to find fulfilment and purpose, our need for connection and intimacy and to know ourselves as we really are – relational beings who need relatable images of the unseen God.

But it’s also a story that tells us something about God’s developing needs. The books of the Torah reveal – at least from the human perspective – a God who is far from unchangeable. In fact, God is presented as actually highly suggestible.

The books of the Torah reveal – at least from the human perspective – a God who actually highly suggestible.

In this story we see God coming to realize his [sic] own need for wider relationship. Not for the first time God uses a relationship with a significant human being – this time Moses – in order to become more fully aware of the implications of a tendency to act first and only then to ask questions. When God hears the noise of the Israelite celebration his response is one of roused jealousy with profound genocidal implications.

Moses appeals to God to cool it – by reminding God not to lose sight of the longer and larger objective here in bringing the people out of Egypt. In the process he appeals to God’s past experience with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -who had each played a similar role in moderating and containing God’s hot impulsivity.

The upshot of the action is that God recognizes he [sic] needs to change. After Moses returns to the camp and destroys the idol, God comes down from the mountain top into the camp – to for the first time – dwell among the Israelites. The place of encounter is aptly called the Tent of Meeting. God is now present as a pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day – hovering and when needed – leading the people to the next resting place on their journey.

In the story of the Golden Calf we see God coming to a new realization – the need to become present in the midst of the community of the people.

Throughout succeeding Israelite history God dwells among the people in the Ark of the Covenant that travels about with them before eventually finding a home in the Jerusalem Temple. For Jews today, God remains present through the living tradition of Torah – made real on a daily basis in the practice of the law.

For us, the Christian people of God, God dwells among us through Jesus as the relatable image of the unseen God. The face of Jesus is not simply an historical image, but an image in real time – continually alive in the life of the community through the celebration of the sacraments – the outward and visible signs of God’s inner and spiritual presence.

In a time of pandemic when enforced social distancing easily becomes emotional isolation, our need for the tangible presence of God has never been greater. The question facing us is when it’s no longer safe for worship as a community gathered together – to what extent can God’s sacramental presence be shared virtually? We are going to be working out the implications of that question for the foreseeable future as we struggle to work with God to fashion new versions of the Tent of Meeting. 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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