Sunday, July 5, 2020 Pentecost 5

Prelude: Freely, Freely,

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: ELW 876, Let the Whole Creation Cry,

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: You are great, O God, and greatly to be praised. You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. Grant that we may believe in you, call upon you, know you, and serve you, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 Selection of the Faithful: ELW 742, What a Friend we have in Jesus,


First Reading: Zechariah 9:9-12

9Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war-horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.

Psalm: Psalm 145:8-14

8The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9Lord, you are good to all,
and your compassion is over all your works. 
10All your works shall praise you, O Lord,
and your faithful ones shall bless you.
11They shall tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your power,
12that all people may know of your power
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages.
You, Lord, are faithful in all your words, and loving in all your    works.
14The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up those who are bowed down. 

Second Reading: Romans 7:15-25a

15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25aThanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Blessed are you, Lord of heav’n and earth;you have revealed these things to infants. Alleluia. (Matt. 11:25)

Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

[Jesus spoke to the crowd saying:] 16“To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
17‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
25At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 Children’s Sermon: How the zebra got his stripes.

At the beginning of the world, all the animals looked the same. They all had four legs, one tail, and had brown fur. One day the King of the Plains looked down from his cloud and realized how dull and boring his world was because all the animals were brown. His wife, the Queen of the Wind who was used to constant change suggested he ask the animals their wish for size, shape, color. He thought the idea excellent so he called the animals together.

“I want a long neck,” said the giraffe. So it became.

“I want an enormous nose,” said the elephant. So it became.

“I want sharp claws and huge teeth,” roared the lion. Wish granted.

All day long the king worked granting wishes. Finally he came to his last brown animal. “Who are you and what would you like?” asked the King.  Zebra identified himself and was not sure if he wanted to be black or white. He asked to be white, and it was so. But then he said, “No, wait, I want to be black.” The king changed him to black. Zebra waited and said, “No, wait, I want to be white.” The king was exasperated. He changed the zebra to black and white stripes and left. Even today zebra is unique because of his stripes.


         Last week we finished Jesus’ instructions to his disciples as he sent them out into the field ripe for harvest. We next read that John the Baptist has already been seized by Herod and put in prison, but not yet beheaded. John sends his disciples to Jesus to ask Jesus if Jesus is the one predicted, the Messiah. Jesus points to his fulfillment of prophecy found in Isaiah 61:1,2. Jesus further clarifies that the John, people went out to see in the wilderness, by the Jordon River, was preparing the way for him, Jesus to arrive. Jesus then goes into our text today. Instead of looking at the life of the disciple, he now turns to the people he is talking to.   He asks, and could be asking us today, To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another.” We are no longer sheep without a shepherd but children in a marketplace.

         I shopped in the markets of Kenya for 25 years. Let’s unpack that image! But before you place the “marketplace” in Africa, let us identify it in our world. Farmers markets are similar here only we choose to go there and have alternative but in Kenya, that’s where food was. I believe we now talk about choosing health care as “the marketplace.” Buying a new car? Which used car dealer will you go to? Allright, how about life insurance or bank or even grocery store. We are overwhelmed with choice in the United States and can identify with this image. We are like children in the marketplace. Do I hear “Amen” or do I hear, sighhhhh.

The marketplace in Kenya, is not like Krogers with a whole row of cereals to choose from but more like a farmer’s market. It is a place of diversity, capitalism, and bargaining. Perhaps the vendors paid a price to rent a stall in the market but inside they compete with all the other sellers of their item – personally. Gunny sacks of corn, or mangoes, of rice from around the world, spices of all colors and aromas. Each vendor held out a delectable example of their item, might give some to my children, called me generically “mzungu”- white person, or “mama” – mother, trying to attract my attention. Of course their item was the best quality and the best price and often a “bakshish” a bonus was thrown in to bring me back again. Vendors sought to establish relationship.

I suspect Jesus’ generation and our generation approach faith in a similar manner. I stand and engage sellers but I am asking in my heart what is in this for me? A miracle? A healing? A good entertaining sermon? A fantastic choir? Perhaps a financial handout for the needy. Jesus says, “we played the flute for you but you did not dance.” The truth is that all the sales pitches the church might give meet an audience that is shopping, that is skeptical. We cannot depend on our “entertainment, our dance” value nor should we be surprised when we are rejected, when people don’t want to dance. The shopper, the seeker, is looking but the choice of item is a decision of their heart. Something must happen in the soul of the shopper that helps them decide to invest. I I would call it the work of the Holy Spirit. Children enjoy the diversity, the liveliness of the market, the handouts but they are not serious shoppers.

So if we are children in the marketplace, Jesus is questioning not only if we are being entertained by church but if we even have the finances, the ability to buy, the maturity to buy. Children are insolated by family, by youth, by financial poverty. We are insolated by our wealth, by the fear of making a wrong choice or commitment, by the over whelming process of choice available in our culture now. Do we want social justice focus, miracles, Bible teaching…you notice all these thoughts focus on what I get, not what I have to give, to invest. What brings you to the marketplace of faith today? Do you come as a child or are you serious about wanting to invest in God and looking for a place to do it?

The flip of the coin of attracting people in the faith marketplace by our dancing, our “programs,” is the focus on the message, Jesus continues “we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ In my generation, the message of Christianity has shifted. In the 60-70s in Los Angeles we took the Luther League to Maranatha Chapel in the tent at the ocean to hear crusades. We even went to Billy Graham crusades. There was the call to repentance and a changed life. There was a message of mourning. Now we focus on a message of a God of love, of acceptance of all people, of interfaith conversation, of tolerance. We want faith that promises health, wealth and prosperity, faith with 0% interest, faith that is comfortable.

I am not saying one is right and one is wrong but I am saying there has been a shift of focus and in this context Jesus is warning us about the potential shallowness of people and institutions. We want to jump to a faith that works for us and skip past the lamenting over our sins part and the hard work of developing relationship. I think Jesus is warning that programs and techniques we use to attract people and the messages we preach must be centered on faith in the Holy Spirit’s work in our generation. No matter what we do or what we say, people will criticize. So our focus and self worth must be centered on God.

Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Vindicated. Even as prophets were only known to be from God when the words they predicted came true. We cannot gauge our success by the responses of people but must stayed grounded in our relationship to God and trust in Him to bring results. Vindication happens after faith has proven justified. Tough stuff. To step out in faith and trust God is not easy, “try it you’ll like it” is the motto today. Read Hebrews 11:18 at the end of the people who lived by faith chapter:

“the world was not worthy of them. ..These were all  commended for their faith yet none of them received what had been promised. God   had planned something better for us so that only together with us should they be made perfect.”

Next, our text today skips a few verses and concludes with Jesus’ gratefulness that faith is not the result of education, wealth or power. Faith is a revelation from Jesus. Yesterday we celebrated the 4th of July and patted ourselves on the back that we live in a country where freedom of religion and freedom to worship is part of our fundamental beliefs. We may argue today about justice and ethnic inequalities but these inequalities have not stopped faith. We may wear masks today and socially distance or we may choose to shelter by our TV, our radio, our computer. The marketplace of freedom allows the message of faith to be broadcast. Today we actually may feel exhausted trying to figure out which church best fits us or how to help our church “dance” more attractively. Jesus closes with one of the greatest promises in the Bible,

          28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy   burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and    learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will  find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is     light.”

The zebra could not decide if he wanted to be white with black stripes or black with white stripes and ended up with a bit of each. Jesus invites those of us dancing in the “white zone” and those of us mourning in the “dark zone” to come to him, not to a doctrine or a theology. He calls us to a personal relationship that brings peace. The zebra is beautiful. You never see a skinny zebra. As we work together with all our gifts and come to Jesus, we are beautiful too and free to appreciate each others uniqueness. Thank you, Lord!

Hymn of Day: ELW 611, I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say,

 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 sins, 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.

We pray for the church. Sustain us as we share your word. Embrace us as we struggle to find our common ground. Lift up leaders with powerful and prophetic voices. Free us from stagnant faith. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

We pray for the well-being of creation. Protect the air, water, and land from abuse and pollution. Free us from apathy in our care of creation and direct us toward sustainable living. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

We pray for the nations. Guide leaders in developing just policies and guide difficult conversations. Free us from patriotism that hinders relationship-building. Lead us to expansive love for our neighbor. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

We pray for all in need. For all who are tired, feeling despair, sick, or oppressed. Take their yoke upon you and ease their burdens. Give your consolation and free us from all that keeps us bound. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

We pray for this congregation. Bless pastors, deacons, and congregational leaders. Energize our garden ministry volunteers, church administrators, and those who maintain our building. May we be a blessing through our Day Care. Shine in this place that we might notice the ways your love transforms our lives. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

 We give thanks for those who have died in faith. Welcome them into your eternal rest and comfort us in our grief until we are joined with them in new 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!


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. AmenThe 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: ELW 726, Light Dawns on a Weary World

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

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