Pentecost 4 June 28, 2020 “Welcome”

Prelude: We Have Come into His House and Gathered in His Name,

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.

Reconciling God, 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.

Absolution:  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: Baptized and Set Free, ELW 453,

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:

O God, you direct our lives by your grace, and your words of justice and mercy reshape the world. Mold us into a people who welcome your word and serve one another, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

 Selection of the Faithful: Take My Life That I May Be, ELW 685,


First Reading: Jeremiah 28:5-9

5The prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; 6and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. 7But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”

Psalm: Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18

1Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing;
from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
2For I am persuaded that your steadfast love is established forever;
you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
3“I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
4‘I will establish your line forever,
and preserve your throne for all generations.’ ” 
15Happy are the people who know the festal shout!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of your presence.
16They rejoice daily in your name;
they are jubilant In your righteousness.
17For you are the glory of their strength,
and by your favor our might is exalted.
18Truly, our shield belongs to the Lord;
our king to the Holy One of Israel. 

Second Reading: Romans 6:12-23

12Do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

15What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
20When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Alleluia. (1 Peter 2:9)

Gospel: Matthew 10:40-42

[Jesus said to the twelve:] 40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Children’s Sermon: Zacchaeus Song from his story in Luke 19:1-10. (Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. And as the savior passed him by, he looked up in the tree. And he said, Zacchaeus you come down for I’m going to your house today.)


         Discipleship Part 3! Two weeks ago. Jesus, moved by compassion sends out his disciples and us, two by two. We are his method, the messengers of the news that the kingdom of heaven is near. God is not sitting up in heaven, waiting for us to earn our way to him. We do not go to Him, He came to us in Jesus Christ and has opened the door to relationship. Now as his messengers, you and I extend that invitation of relationship to all people. This is revolutionary to all religions! Last week, we reflected on the implications of being sent. The reality is the kingdom of heaven will clash with the kingdom of this world and we will be caught in the battle. People were created with free will and have choice. As messengers, our responsibility is not to save them, that was done by Christ on the cross, but to faithfully proclaim the truth. God wants to be in relationship with people like you and me. God cares and shares the rules of the game that are different than the rules of this world. Loving the enemy, turning the other cheek, forgiving are just not the answer in the news today. The right thing to do is to pick up our cross, the hard thing, and refuse our inborn self centeredness. WHEW. What more is there to say? The last three verses of this talk are our text for today and talk about the rewards of being a disciple of Jesus.

Verse 40 shares, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” Let me hand you a personal letter from “the boss.” I think we use the phrase, “Don’t kill the messenger.”   The person’s response to the content of the letter is really a reflection of the person’s response to the sender, not to me the carrier. God steps between me and that other person because the message is from God and I am only the messenger. The need to ask for forgiveness is not my words but God’s. I do not think that erases my responsibility as the mail person. Friendly, approachable mail people are far more attractive than grumpy mail people that throw the letter at a person. The truth is we are the messengers. So perhaps the first question facing us today is to ask how our “approach” is working? Are we focusing on getting the message across or are we focused on being liked? Are we focused on ourselves?

Let’s put some flesh on this. The Zacchaeus song we sang is built on Luke 19:1-10 What do we know about Zacchaeus? He was short, the chief tax collector and wealthy. He had little reason to need Jesus and good reason to believe that Jesus would never visit him. Too much past, too much baggage. But he was curious so he climbed a tree just to get a glimpse from afar, from a safe social distance. Zacchaeus is confronted by a moment of truth. Jesus wants to visit him. Zacchaeus has to make a decision about whether he is going to welcome Jesus into his life. The Bible says he “welcomed him gladly.”

As Jesus’ messengers, we represent Jesus and people must decide if they want to welcome us and we have to decide if we are going to share the good news. A moment of truth. My imperfections and the imperfections of the other are not important. Our excuses of being too short, too wealthy, or an outcast don’t matter. The question is the openness of the heart to receive the message of Jesus or share it.

The first part of verse 41 shares, 1Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.” This is a little complicated. The prophets often seem to get a questionable welcome, especially when speaking truth to power. The prophet by definition is “prophesizing,” speaking God’s words and if what they say does not come true, they are killed. Like the disciples they were representatives for God.

I think of the story of the widow of Zarephath. There was drought and she went out to collect wood for her last meal with her son before they would starve to death. She was expecting death. Instead she met Elijah, a prophet from “the other tribe” (for she was Sidonian, living in the Phonecian coast and Elijah was from Israel.) who requested a drink of water and a piece of bread. 1 Kings 17:7-16. This was a moment of truth for the poor widow. How would she welcome the visitor? She had nothing the world would feel is necessary for a proper welcome. She had no husband to entertain him. She lived in poverty and probably had social rules about welcoming strangers. But she did. She shared her little and was rewarded with food to the end of the famine.

The prophets often found themselves in difficult situations but people who helped the prophets were rewarded. Perhaps we can read into this that as hard as it is to be the messenger of God’s words, the outcome for the person who receives the message is blessing.

The second half of verse 41 shares, “and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous”. This verse makes me think of Acts 10, Peter and Cornelius. Let me start by saying that we are only righteous because of Christ. None of us are righteous in and of ourselves, Rom 3:16 All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. As we become part of the body of Christ, his righteousness is credited to us. This a bit of a theological debate about baptism but the base line is that we are not righteous ourselves. We are the recipient, the messenger of righteousness.

Peter and Cornelius are found in Acts 10. Cornelius is a Roman centurion, a god-fearing man living in Caesarea, praying and an angel comes and tells him to invite Peter who is visiting in Joppa. Meanwhile Peter is in Joppa, resting on a housetop, dreaming of a sheet being lowered from heaven full of animals and being commanded to eat. As he ponders the implications of the dream, Cornelius’ messengers arrive and invite Peter to meet with Cornelius. What a beautiful picture of the moment of truth involved in welcoming. Despite racial differences, despite social differences, despite the religious difference, Cornelius opens his house to Peter. He even invites all his own relatives, believing Peter is the true representative of God. Peter, on the other hand, must open his heart and break the social norms of his faith to meet with “a gentile.” This welcoming moment is pivotal in the story of Christianity. Cornelius and his household open their hearts to faith, experience the Holy Spirit, believe and are baptized. Peter returns to Jerusalem and is confronted for his actions. The young church struggles to understand but opens its door to the Gentiles. We are the inheritors, perhaps the reward of this welcome.

So let’s step back and try to get the big picture. As we are sent forth as disciples, representative of God, given a message to deliver to people we encounter, the “welcoming moment” is crucial. I must choose if I will be transparent and represent all God has helped me to be or will I put on my mask to protect me from the potential rejection I anticipate might happen? Likewise the other person must decide his or her welcome, can the person meet me with an open heart? Does welcome depend on my ability to impress you with who I am or is it an openness to heart to truth. I may be too short, have a shoddy past, be poor on the verge of starvation with no resources or I may be endowed with the status and wealth of this world but regardless of my “baggage”, will I open my heart to the message brought by a disciple, a sent one. Good news is like a glass of cold water on a hot summer day.

The reward: the other is blessed and their lives are turned around. Zacchaeus shared his wealth. The widow of Zaraphath and son were saved in the drought. Cornelius and his household believed, were baptized and the Christian church opened its doors to the Gentiles. It is possible we will be rejected, even killed but they do not reject us but He who sent us. They can kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. And ultimately I long to hear when I meet my Lord, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter in to your Father’s delight.” Amen!

Hymn of Day: All Are Welcome, ELW 641,

 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:

Prayers of Intercession

Called into unity with one another and the whole creation, let us pray for our shared world.

God of companionship, encourage our relationships with our siblings in Christ. Bless our conversations. Shape our shared future and give us hearts eager to join in a festal shout of praise. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of abundance, you make your creation thrive and grow to provide all that we need. Inspire us to care for our environment and be attuned to where the earth is crying out. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of mercy, your grace is poured out for all. Inspire authorities, judges, and politicians to act with compassion. Teach us to overcome fear with hope, meet hate with love, and welcome one another as we would welcome you. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of care, accompany all who are in deepest need. Comfort those who are sick, lonely, or abandoned. Strengthen those who are in prison or awaiting trial. Renew the spirits of all who call upon you. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of community, we give thanks for this congregation. Give us passion to embrace your mission and the vision to recognize where you are leading us. Teach us how to live more faithfully with each other. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

 God of love, you gather in your embrace all who have died. Keep us steadfast in our faith and renew our trust in your promise. 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!


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: Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life, ELW 719

Dismissal:  Go in peace. Christ is with you.  Thanks be to God.



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