Sunday Script Pentecost 12 Who Am I?

Prelude: Jesus, Name Above All Names

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.

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: We All are One in Mission ELW 576, starting at 0:40

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, with all your faithful followers of every age, we praise you, the rock of our life. Be our strong foundation and form us into the body of your Son, that we may gladly minister to all the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Selection of the Faithful: ELW 812 Faith of Our Fathers


First Reading: Isaiah 51:1-6
 1Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness,
  you that seek the LORD.
 Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
  and to the quarry from which you were dug.
 2Look to Abraham your father
  and to Sarah who bore you;
 for he was but one when I called him,
  but I blessed him and made him many.
 3For the LORD will comfort Zion;
  he will comfort all her waste places,
 and will make her wilderness like Eden,
  her desert like the garden of the LORD;
 joy and gladness will be found in her,
  thanksgiving and the voice of song.
 4Listen to me, my people,
  and give heed to me, my nation;
 for a teaching will go out from me,
  and my justice for a light to the peoples.
 5I will bring near my deliverance swiftly,
  my salvation has gone out
  and my arms will rule the peoples;
 the coastlands wait for me,
  and for my arm they hope.
 6Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
  and look at the earth beneath;
 for the heavens will vanish like smoke,
  the earth will wear out like a garment,
  and those who live on it will die like gnats;
 but my salvation will be forever,
  and my deliverance will never be ended.

Psalm: Psalm 138
 1I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart;
  before the gods will sing your praise.
 2I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your steadfast love and faithfulness;
  for you have glorified your name and your word above all things.
 3When I called, you answered me;
  you increased my strength within me.
 4All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O LORD,
  when they have heard the words of your mouth.
 5They will sing of the ways of the LORD,
  that great is the glory of the LORD.
 6The LORD is high, yet cares for the lowly,
  perceiving the haughty from afar.
 7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
  you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
 8You will make good your purpose for me;
  O LORD, your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands.

Second Reading: Romans 12:1-8
1I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Alleluia. (Matt. 16:16)

Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Children’s Sermon: I have told this story before but this is the Peace Corp version. Six blind men in India went to the Raja’s palace for they wanted to know what an elephant was. The first touched the side and thot the beast like a wall, smooth and strong. The second touched the trunk and thot it very similar to a large snake. The third touched the tusk and jumped back thinking it was like a spear. The fourth felt a leg and thot of a very large cow. The fifth touching the ear believed the elephant to be like a giant fan, able to fly over moutains and trees. The sixth, convinced they were being fooled, felt the tail and declared they were holding nothing more than a rope. Their discussion woke the Rajah who told them to put the pieces together to find the whole truth. They were led home by a boy, each putting his hands on the shoulder of the one infront of him. There they shared and discussed what an elephant must be.


Since last week’s text, Jesus has fed 4000+ people with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish, has met the Pharisee and Sadducees’ demand for a sign from heaven and has warned the disciples about their teachings. Jesus now crosses the lake to the other side and engages his followers in a discussion. Our reading today opens with a question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man” is? Jesus is called “Son of Man” 88 times in the New Testament. This pulls us back to Daniel 7:13,14 when Daniel sees a vision and “there before me was one like a son of man” who approaches in the clouds, approaches the Ancient of Days, God, and is given authority and power over all peoples, nations and men of every language. Daniel assigns Messianic identity to the title “Son of Man.” So it could be that Jesus is here claiming the Messianic prophecy and is asking the disciples how they see it.
This reminds me of the recent movie version? Les Miserables movie and Jean Valjean singing, “Who am I?” Can he hide from his past by changing his name, by claiming a new role as factory owner, by living a reformed life? He concludes he must live his true identity, Jean Valjean, 24601, the convict whose soul was redeemed by the priest and the silver candlesticks. Jesus asks the question of his disciples, who do people say I am?
As usual, the answers come close to truth but miss. Is Jesus, John the Baptist raised and who is predicted to come before the Messiah? Is he Elijah who was taken up in a whirlwind and never died and who is to return some day? Maybe like Jeremiah, he is a man in the tradition of the prophets. People today give similar answers. Jesus was a great teacher. Jesus is a fiction of history. I asked someone in Kenya once and he said, the guy living three towns away. People are no more united in one answer to this question than they were centuries ago.
When asked who we are, we often answer the question in terms of the roles we have. I am the mother of…, I am the husband of…, I am the organist at …., Perhaps we identify by our ethnicity, I am an American, especially when confronted by police questioning our legality in the USA. I find it interesting that these days we are identifying our political candidates by color and ethnic heritage. Our ethnic heritage, our geographical identifications, our roles, our relationships are all very important. Coming from the Los Angeles freeway to the desert of Kenya, I politely asked what natural disaster I had to be prepared for. I had done earthquake drills, air raid drills and what since childhood. Everyone looked at me blankly. I was definitely foreign.
The roles I call mine do not get to my core identity. They are the masks I wear in public. Jesus was a healer. He was a teacher. He was from Nazareth. He was the son of Mary. But at the very core of his identity, who was he? He turns to Peter and to us and asks, “And who do you say that I am?” Ole Peter ticks the right box:” the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
For many of us we live with the weight, perhaps the grief of having tried to do everything we knew how at the time to share this truth with our family, friends, and spouses. Some believe but many turn their back and walk away. We blame ourselves. Jesus’ next words confirm that it is God who makes this truth real in lives. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.” Our job is to share the truth as we know it but it is God who reveals the truth to the heart about the identity of Jesus and God chooses the time and place, not us. It is our role to testify and God’s role to reveal, to save.
Secondly, I note that even as Peter confesses the identity of Jesus, he still does not fully understand. There is an irony here. Jesus has not died on the cross yet. Peter does not know Jesus as Savior, but only as the promised Messiah that he thinks will defeat Rome. Many come to the church with a partial understanding of who Jesus is, perhaps warped in some ways, perhaps wrong in some ways, and it is through relationship that we grow to know Jesus more and more and to appreciate the meaning of his role in our lives. Faith is a journey and the church is one of the places this takes place.
Soooo, forgiveness becomes key as we each have blind spots and places where we do not understand fully. We see through a glass dimly. Jesus declares that on this confession, on this beginning of faith of Peter, he Jesus will build his church. I know the Catholics believe that means that Peter himself, was the first Pope, and Protestants believe it to be a more general promise but really it doesn’t matter. Faith is a journey of understanding more and more who Jesus is and who I am in relationship to him.
Interestingly Jesus now shifts to what Lutherans call “The Office of Keys and Confession,” the “Keys of the Kingdom.” There is a whole section in the Small Catechism based on the next verse. What does it mean that we can bind and loose things here on earth and that bound and loosed here affects heaven? This might be good to review. Jesus is giving a very practical explanation of faith. Faith is more than that marvelous moment when we believed or when we were carried to the font or when the reality of God touches our lives. Our faith is also like an electrical current, a power line between us and heaven. Let me try and explain.
“whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven” What does this mean? This is most certainly true? Those words of the catechism ring in my ear. Faith dynamically connects heaven and earth. When we come to the baptismal font, pray over a person, baptize them in the name of God, and anoint them with the cross, we are binding them to the God of the universe. Something sacred happens and Jesus is here saying that our faith, our prayers are answered in heaven. I am not trying to preach baptismal salvation as it is Christ on the cross that saves us through faith but somehow baptism gets the ball rolling. When I pray for my wayward child, grandchild, or my struggling friend, or my sick neighbor, that prayer “binds” God’s hand to the situation. That does not necessarily mean the results will be happy-ever-after but it does activate a spiritual dynamic in the situation. I believe prayer is power!
“whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus expresses this reality when he encourages us to pray, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” When we harbor and cherish hate, bitterness, and spite in our heart, God cannot, well has difficulty, working in the situation because we are unwilling to allow his healing presence, his perspective, his power to be present there in us. We are only focused on getting what we feel is right, not any bigger picture. It is not until the prodigal son “comes to himself” and is willing to go to his father, that restoration happens. The older brother who is so bitter does not experience the banquet but sits outside. The father is willing to work with both but their attitudes, their ability to loosen their attitudes affects the whole story. When you confess your sins, your mistakes, your shortcoming at the alter and the words of absolution are pronounced – you are forgiven. You need not carry that burden any longer. You are free in God’s eyes.
So where are we?
Who is Jesus and who am I? As Lion King said to his son Simba as Simba looked in the pool of water, “Remember who you are! You are more than what you have become.”
Remember who you are. You are more than the roles you play. Jesus is more than the prophecies about him. Our job is to share the truth as we understand it but it is God’s job to work that truth into a person’s soul.
You are more than what you have become! We are all on a journey of faith. We are not perfect nor is the other. But on that little bit that we do understand, God builds his church. We must be gentle with each other because we are all growing and we all have different gifts and need each other. Young Christians are going to stumble and fall. Even old Christians make mistakes. Let us be gentle with each other.
Lastly “become!” We are becoming and we have a power source that is more than the power within us. We have the keys of the kingdom to bind evil and loose good. I would challenge you to take a serious look at your prayer life.
I do not know where you are being challenged this week in the roles you play. People who may not understand you nor grasp your full identity but that does not change the truth that you are a child of God. You may be called upon to remind the other that they too are a creation of God, even with all their imperfections. Who do people say you are? God says you are his and that is the important voice to listen to.

Hymn of Day: ELW 652 Built on a Rock

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
Confident of your care and helped by the Holy Spirit, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
Lord our rock, you are our foundation in Jesus Christ, your Son, whom we confess as the living God. Prepare your church for its mission in bearing witness to Christ, both here at home and throughout the world. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You call forth praises from the far reaches of the universe to the smallest of creatures. Join our songs to theirs, that a spirit of praise and thanksgiving will arouse us to cherish this wondrous home you give us. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord. Direct the leaders of countries, legislators and magistrates, mayors and councils, to walk in your ways. Help leaders regard those in need with mercy and fulfill your loving purposes in the governance of peoples. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Though we walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve us, deliver us, and fulfill your purpose for us. According to your steadfast love, grant healing and wholeness to those who are bereaved, in trouble or adversity, or sick and in need of care. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You call us into this community, in which we, though many, are one in Christ. May we recognize in ourselves and in one another the unique gifts you have given us for the building up of the church for the sake of the world. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You are the everlasting Rock from which we were hewn, and you restore your people to joy and gladness. In blessed memory and hope, we thank you for the lives of our beloved dead. Bring us with them to our heavenly home. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In the certain hope that nothing can separate us from your love, we offer these prayers to you; 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.

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: ELW 588 There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy, starting at 1:35

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

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