Prelude: Spirit of God Descend Upon My Soul, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymKxTkrRNBA
(Or “ Be Not Afraid by Catholic Artists at Home” copy into address line and YouTube will pull it up.)
Call to Worship
Blessed be the holy Trinity, +one God, whose steadfast love is everlasting, whose faithfulness endures from generation to generation. Amen
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, whose steadfast love is everlasting, whose faithfulness endures from generation to generation. Amen.
Trusting in the mercy of God, let us confess our sin.
we confess that we do not trust your abundance, and we deny your presence in our lives. We place our hope in ourselves and rely on our own efforts. We fail to believe that you provide enough for all. We abuse your good creation for our own benefit. We fear difference and do not welcome others as you have welcomed us. We sin in thought, word, and deed. By your grace, forgive us; through your love, renew us; and in your Spirit, lead us; so that we may live and serve you in newness of life. Amen.
Beloved of God, by the radical abundance of divine mercy we have peace with God through ☩ Christ Jesus, through whom we have obtained grace upon grace. Our sins are forgiven. Let us live now in hope. For hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Gathering Hymn: Lift High the Cross, ELW 660 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C59j6p6iOZ4
Greetings: The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you.
Have mercy on us, Lord, and hear our solemn prayer. We come to hear your living word; it saves us from despair.
Have mercy on us, Christ, and wash away our sin. Pour out your grace and make us whole that new life may begin.
Have mercy on us, Lord, make sun and shame depart. Renew us with your saving pow’r, create in us new hearts!
Prayer of the Day:
Teach us, good Lord God, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, except that of knowing that we do your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Selection of the Faithful: I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry, ELW 732. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj2KClYMD2w
HEARING GOD’S WORD
First Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-13
7O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. 8For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 9If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. 0For I hear many whispering:
“Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. “Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him.”
11But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten. 12O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause. 13Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.
Psalm: Psalm 69:7-10 [11-15] 16-18
7Surely, for your sake I have suffered reproach,
and shame has covered my face.
8I have become a stranger to my own kindred,
an alien to my mother’s children.
9Zeal for your house has eaten me up;
the scorn of those who scorn you has fallen upon me.
10I humbled myself with fasting,
but that was turned to my reproach.
11I put on sackcloth also,
and became a byword among them.
12Those who sit at the gate murmur against me,
and the drunkards make songs about me.
13But as for me, this is my prayer to you, at the time you have set, O Lord: “In your great mercy, O God, answer me with your unfailing help.
14Save me from the mire; do not let me sink; let me be rescued from those who hate me and out of the deep waters.
15Let not the torrent of waters wash over me, neither let the deep swallow me up; do not let the pit shut its mouth upon me.
16Answer me, O Lord, for your love is kind; in your great compassion, turn to me.
17Hide not your face from your servant; be swift and answer me, for I am in distress.
18Draw near to me and redeem me; because of my enemies deliver me.
Second Reading: Romans 6:1b-11
1bShould we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Alleluia. Jesus says,
The Spirit of the Lord will testify on my behalf,* and you also are to testify.
Alleluia. (John 15:26, 27)
Gospel: Matthew 10:24-39
[Jesus said to the twelve:] 24“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign those of his household!
26“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
Children’s Sermon: Following in the footsteps of the master.
Shawn and Greg hair cut – I want to look just like….
Nicole wanting a marriage like parents. – I want a marriage just like….
“He’s just like his father!” people used to say as they saw our son walking around school. Our first son attended the same boarding school his father had attended and my husband’s cousins were now on staff plus some oldies-but-goodies staff. Shawn was tall, lanky, gentle of spirit, a nice guy if I do say so myself. “Just like his father!”
Let’s pray: Lord may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you.
Last week Jesus commissioned the apostles as he compassionately looked at people and saw they were like sheep without a shepherd. He sent them as laborers for the harvest was ripe and gave instructions. He ended talking about the misunderstandings and persecution they would probably encounter. Today’s text continues and Jesus starts talking about how his followers will be expected to be “just like” their master.
Remember, this is before the cross, before the crowds turned on Jesus. To this point, the disciples were workers for the Messiah, arguing who would sit at his right and left hand in the new kingdom, when everything was made right. It’s kinda like before your first baby and the Lamaze teacher tries to convince you that you will experience labor, not pain, just breathe right. It all sounds so easy. The disciples are at the top of the wave expecting power, not persecution. Their candidate is going to win the election and they will all be on his cabinet! Work yes but the glory is worth it.
“So have no fear of them..”. How did fear enter this conversation? Who is them, the crowds are cheering? Jesus is asking us to stop sitting in the audience, cheering for the next American Idol, but to walk up on the stage and face the audience! We are no longer taking a class in college about teaching but entering the classroom, not to observe but to be responsible for lives. We are no longer dreaming about being in-love and getting married but saying, I do. Going from being an encourager to being responsible is a big step and I would suspect if we admitted it, nerve challenging, yes – fearful. Fear full. How do we manage that fear?
My first “real” job was as a probation officer at Los Palmas School for Girls in Los Angeles, CA. It was a closed setting where they put girls they thought they could save in cottages, did family therapy, daily group therapy, and I was the cottage supervisor. Me and my chain of keys with a can opener on it was all I had. Me, fresh out of college with one course in Deviant Behavior, green around the gills facing perhaps 20 teenage girls who had been around the block more than once. We worked with Glaser’s Reality Therapy: Realism, Responsibility, and Right and Wrong. I think Jesus gave similar words of advise.
First, Jesus challenges his disciples to be realistic. There is going to be opposition. Jesus cuts straight to the core. Do not fear those who can kill the body, the opposition, but fear those who can destroy the body and soul in hell. Ultimately our lives are in God’s hands and it is the Evil One we fear.
“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12)
I know poverty is no fun. I lived in a famine relief camp and watched people starving but I also know that those people shared their nothing with me, laughed with me, prayed with me, and remembered me when sugar came to the shops. The real enemy was that little voice whispering in my ear – God doesn’t love you, your family in the US has forgotten you, you are incompetent, run, run, run. Our battle today may be with laws we disagree about but changing laws only moves the line in the sand, I think the bigger battle is with the ignorance and selfishness of my own heart. Jesus reminds us that we need only fear for our souls but then reassures us. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. The reality is you are valued by God and He is in control.
Let’s put a positive spin on this. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear functioning negatively drives us from God but fear functioning in a healthy way drives us to God and motivates us. We are afraid of Covid and so we shelter and find new ways to feed ourselves spiritually. We fear downing and so we teach our children to swim. We fear hunger in the winter so plant crops in the spring. Fear itself is not bad but the agent of fear is to be recognized. Others can kill our bodies but they cannot kill our faith, cannot steal our souls. We are valued.
Secondly, Jesus asks us to be clear about our RESPONSIBILITY. The kingdom of heaven works differently than the kingdom of this world. These two kingdoms will clash because they have different values. Satan is the father of lies and God is the way, the truth and the light. Conflict and divisions are inevitable, not because we have done something wrong. In our “I’m ok – you’re ok” world, conflict and lack of tolerance is really frowned on. This is a hard saying. I read the words in today’s text, “I have not come to bring peace but the sword” and I cringe. I want to be liked and I am a #1 conflict avoider. Anger and disagreement are “ugly” and potentially dangerous – FEAR! Not only is faith, potentially dangerous to our bodies, death, but it is also emotionally compromising. He reminds the disciples that their responsibility is not to convert others but as disciples they and we are called to be honest about the hope that is within us. We are representatives, not saviors.
The truth spoken in love can produce conflict and tension. As parents, as teachers, as citizens we know this. It is no fun to not allow vulgarity in our homes, allow stealing in our streets, or allow abuse in its many forms. Stands for God’s truth bring conflict and tension. Jesus affirms this and in so saying acknowledges that our responsibility is to faithfully represent him, not save the world. That is God’s job to do His way. He is working in the other person, unseen to us. We are not God, only His representative. Our responsibility is to represent him.
Thirdly, RIGHT AND WRONG. After I have clarified that I am fighting evil, not my friend, when I have clarified that I am faithfully owning what is my responsibility, then I also must ask the question of what is the right and wrong thing to do. I think we see that in the challenge to pick up our cross. I’m not sure he is referring to crucifixion as much as it is doing the hard thing that is ours to do. Learning to walk involves many stumbles and scrapped knees. Becoming proficient does not come from watching TV, but from hours of practice and mistakes. What is the right thing to do in a given situation? Do that which is right at the moment. Practice the piano! Make the dinner! Don’t gossip. Forgive. As I do what I know is right for me to do, I gradually begin to develop talent, spiritual muscles, well at least competency, dare I say life opens up. Few of us are born saints. The school of hard knocks molds us as we submit to our master, our teacher. Perhaps this is found in Jesus reminder that, 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it,” as we take up our cross. As I choose to submit my will, my desires, my days to God’s way, it may feel like I am loosing my life but in that process I discover real life.
So how can I summarize this difficult passage? As followers of Christ, we are called to become more and more like Christ. We will make mistakes and be misunderstood and experience tension and rejection, even in our homes. As we stand for God’s kingdom though we will find life and life more abundant begins to open up. God is active and working in ways we cannot see or anticipate. He will acknowledge us to God. Our responsibility is to be faithful to the truth that has been revealed in Christ. It is not easy but it is life giving. Thank you Lord!
Hymn of the Day: Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus, ELW 802 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMsXV_3vujg
The Apostle’s Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of s ins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Or you can listen to the Creed in vocal form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuDI-sk2nJU
Prayers of Intercession:
Called into unity with one another and the whole creation, let us pray for our shared world.
Expansive God, you bring diverse voices together to form your church. Open our hearts and unstop our ears to learn from one another, that differences might not overshadow our baptismal unity. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Providing God, your creation shows us that life comes from death. Renew the places where our land, air, and waterways have been ill for too long. Direct the work of all who care for birds and their habitats. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Protecting God, sustain and keep safe all who work to defend others across the world. Revive and strengthen organizations dedicated to caring for refugees and migrants while their homelands struggle for peace. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Loving God, you promise to be with all who are persecuted for your sake. Guide all who speak your word of justice and console any who are tormented or targeted for being who they are. Hear us, O God.Your mercy is great.
Compassionate God, you are with us and we are never alone. Bless all fathers and father figures who strive to love and nurture as you do. Comfort all who long to be fathers and all for whom this day is difficult. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Reigning God, you bless us with guides and caretakers in the faith. As we give thanks for those who have died increase our care for one another until we walk with them in newness of life. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.
Receive these prayers, O God, and those too deep for words; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Peace: If you are worship with someone else, turn and share, “The peace of Christ be with you always.” Response, “And also with you.” You might use your finger to mark you children or loved one with a cross on their forehead. If you are practicing social distancing, put your palms together blessing of them. Peace!
SHARING GOD’S MEAL
Offering Prayer: God of goodness and growth, all creation is yours, and your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. Water and word, wine and bread: these are signs of your abundant grace. Nourish us through these gifts, that we might proclaim your steadfast love in our communities and in the world, through Jesus Christ, our strength and our song. Amen.
The Great Thanksgiving:
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We left them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Communion: I invite you to talk a little piece of bread and eat it. Christ is as close to you as the bread in your mouth and stomach. Always remember. Now take a sip of your drink. Christ is as close to you as the blood in your body, strengthening you. Always remember.
Prayer after Communion: God of the welcome table, in this meal we have feasted on your goodness and have been united by your presence among us. Empower us to go forth sustained by these gifts so that we may share your neighborly love with all, through Jesus Christ, the giver of abundant life. Amen.
Blessing: Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. God, the creator, ☩ Jesus, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the comforter, bless you and keep you in eternal love. Amen.
Sending Hymn: I Love to Tell the Story, ELW 661 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onJLwQS8dR0
Dismissal: Go in peace. Christ is with you. Thanks be to God.