Sunday June 14, 2020
Glenshaw Valley Deacons Meeting- June 18, 2020 via Zoom
Mt. Nebo Session Meeting June 30, 2020 at the church.
Call to Worship
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; 3 be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all day long. 4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Opening Hymn- Confitemini Domino
Confitemini domino quo ni am bonus
Confitemini domino alleluia
Come and fill our hearts with your peace
You alone o Lord are holy
Come and fill our hearts with your peace
Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, in your gracious presence we confess our sin and the sin of this world. Although Christ is among us as our peace, we are a people divided against ourselves as we cling to the values of a broken world. The profit and pleasures we pursue lay waste the land and pollute the seas. The fears and jealousies that we harbor set neighbor against neighbor and nation against nation. We abuse your good gifts of imagination and freedom, or intellect and reason, and have turned them into bonds of oppression.
Lord, have mercy upon us; heal and forgive us. Set us free to serve you in the world as agents of your reconciling love in Jesus Christ.
Words of Assurance:
Hear the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Alleluia. Amen.
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 again 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.
Almighty God, in Jesus Christ you taught us to pray, and to offer our petitions to you in his name. Guide us by your Holy Spirit, that our prayers for others may serve your will and show your steadfast love; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord:
Let us pray for the world.
Let us pray for the church.
Let us pray for those who govern us.
Let us pray for world leaders.
Let us pray for the sick.
God of compassion, bless us and those we love, our friends and families that, drawing close to you, though we are apart, we may be drawn closer to each other, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Who is Jesus?
How am I following Jesus in my own life?
The Workers Are Few
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Sermon “Freely Give”
Let us pray,
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations, or all of our hearts, be pleasing and acceptable to you, our rock and our redeemer…
We are entering into the season known as Ordinary Time this morning. You’ll notice in our sanctuary that this new season is symbolized with the color green. That’s why my stole and the worship banners are green. Ordinary Time is the time between Pentecost and Advent. This means we will be in Ordinary Time from June through December. During Ordinary Time, we will focus a lot on discipleship, and the unfolding of the new creation. We will reflect together upon Who is Jesus? How do we follow Jesus in our own lives? What does this new creation look like? What is my role in it?
Last week, on Trinity Sunday, we celebrated our faith in God: Father, Son, and Spirit. We proclaimed that Jesus is God, fully divine, and fully human. We also proclaimed that Jesus is equal in power and in importance to God the Father and God the Spirit. This week, we learn about Jesus’ ministry. What he did during his time on earth. Matthew tells us that Jesus ‘taught in their synagogues, proclaimed good news, and healed every sickness.’ During Jesus’ ministry of teaching and healing, Jesus performed miracles, taught in parables, trained disciples, and prayed to the Father.
After he summarizes his ministry, Jesus instructs the twelve disciples to ‘go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.’ Jesus sends out the twelve to perform his own works. The very works that have informed his ministry from the beginning. Preach the good news. Heal the sick. Offer hope to the hopeless. Aide those in need. Give power to the powerless.
Jesus gives the 12 clear instructions. But once sent, they are on their own to interpret his instructions and apply them to their current contexts. This work of interpretation is called discernment. This is the work of discipleship. They must assess the response of the cities they visit. They must determine whether to stay or move along. They must figure out how to preach the good news in a way that the city can hear it.
I’m so sorry guys. I think what Matthew is telling us here, is that there is no five-step guide for how to share the good news with others. We won’t find one because how we respond to the call of discipleship will depend on our context- who we are, and who we are trying to reach.
Let me give you an example.
Next week I’m going to meet with a couple for pre-marital counseling. They are a lovely local couple that plans to marry in October. Fingers crossed that they will be able to marry in our sanctuary this fall, and not over Zoom. Our next session is called, “Things Couples Fight About.” Which is really my talk about sex, kids, and money.
What I love about this talk, is that it always ends up being a different talk depending on the couple. If the couple is young, and they are both from conservative families, we have to spend most of our time talking about sex- what it is, and how our faith informs our sexual ethics. If the couple is in their thirties, and have been living together for a while, we spend most of our time talking about what they imagine their family life will look like. If the couple is older, maybe it’s a second marriage, we spend a lot of time talking about if and how they are going to merge their finances.
In order to have this talk, I have to discern where a couple is in their relationship and in their faith journey. It doesn’t make sense to talk to two broke 23-year old’s about their retirement plans. Just like it doesn’t make sense to talk to a 56-year-old and a 62-year-old about if they’re ready to start a family. Just like it doesn’t make sense to talk to a 29 year old and a 30 year old, who are already living together, how they are going to divide household chores and finances. If I don’t figure out where a couple is in their relationship and in their faith journey, I risk them thinking that their faith and the church has nothing to offer them as they begin a new life together.
The reason I chose these three topics is because the Bible does not give five easy steps for how to navigate human sexuality, or when to start a family, or whether or not you should add someone to your 401k. But Scripture does have a lot to say about love, generosity, gentleness, and compassion. Tools that, once developed, help us navigate the things couples fight about. My goal in these sessions is not so much to tell couples what I think they should do. But help them discern how their faith informs their life choices. So that when a couple encounters hardship, they can discern how to move forward together.
Friends, I know that in the midst of uncertain times, we’re all hungry for “5 Rules to Live By During a Pandemic.” We want someone to tell us what to do, because we’re exhausted from the effort it takes to live through uncertain times. I worry that now that we’re on the other side of the coronavirus curve, we will forget all that we learned over the last couple months about how our faith informs our actions in the world. All that we learned about resilience, generosity, compassion, and forgiveness- I don’t want those lessons to be lost when things return to normal.
This virus has shaken loose all that was hanging by a thread in our society, and that’s a good thing. It’s good for us to work with Jesus to discern our role in the unfolding of a new creation. Instead, my hope, and my prayer is that we will take all of the hard lessons we learned over the last several months and use them to help us share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.
Like the 12, our mission is clear. How we respond to that mission will teach the world everything it needs to know about the God we worship.
Thanks be to God,
In Jesus’ name,
Closing Hymn- “Jesus Remember Me”
Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom
Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom
You go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you. Wherever you are, God has put you there. God has a plan and a purpose to you being there. Christ who dwells in you has something he wants to do, through you, wherever you are. Believe this and go in his grace and love and power, Amen.