Sunday June 21, 2020
June 21, 2020 Liturgy
Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads and father figures in our lives!
Zoom Bible Study- watching For Such a Time as This
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- Let All Who Are Thirsty Come
Let all who are thirsty come, let all who wish receive, the water of life, freely.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
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.
What does it mean for me to take up my cross and follow Jesus?
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[b]
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Let us pray,
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all of our hearts, be pleasing and acceptable to you, our rock and our redeemer…
In this morning’s Scripture reading Jesus continues to teach his disciples what it means to follow him. Jesus is brutally honest. Faithful proclamation and practice of the gospel will put the disciples in conflict with the world And even with members of our own families. But, faithful discipleship allows us to stand in solidarity with our suffering Savior, and world.
When Jesus says, ‘For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,’ Jesus illustrates one area of our lives where we might feel the cost of discipleship. Here Jesus isn’t calling for a simple rejection of family but a reordering. If we want to follow Jesus, then that has to be our priority. And when we take time away from our families to follow Jesus, that will naturally cause conflict.
As if family drama wasn’t bad enough, Jesus tells us that’s not even the worst of it. Jesus says, ‘whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.’ Take up their cross and follow me’ means that Jesus expects his disciples to participate in his suffering. Jesus names their suffering to free them from fear of experiencing it.
I’ve always appreciated how realistic Jesus is about the threats his disciples will face. Somewhere along the line of Christian history, we’ve misunderstood suffering. We understand it as a sign that we’re doing something wrong. Or that our faith isn’t strong enough. But what Jesus is saying here is that suffering for the sake of the gospel is a sign that we’re doing something right. And if we name the cost of discipleship, we won’t fear it, or allow it to hinder our witness.
So what does it look like to name the cost of discipleship? To name the cost of taking up our crosses and following Jesus. As I was preparing this sermon I was also (finally) organizing some of my pictures from my Central American trip. I found this picture (point to Powerpoint slide) of Monsignor Oscar Romero. I took this picture in El Salvador when we visited his home and chapel.
Romero was a Salvadoran Priest during the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992). Romero served a parish in San Salvador- a poor city being ripped apart by gang violence, civil war, and corruption. During the civil war, the military was targeting civilians to terrorize the opposition. In his final sermon given the day before he died, Fr. Romero called for soldiers to disobey orders to kill civilians. He preached, “In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to the heavens more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God to stop the repression.” The next day Romero was shot by an assassin as he celebrated mass in a hospital chaplain. Those responsible were never brought to justice.
I share this story not to scare you, but to show you just one example of discipleship leading to the cross. When men choose to stand up for what is right instead of what is easy they often meet the same fate Jesus did. We should not be surprised by this, Jesus says. For if those sent are to reflect the life of the sender. The mission itself will be crucifixion. In other words, if we want to follow Jesus, we have to be prepared to share in all parts of Jesus’ story- the exaltation and the humiliation.
Not all of us are going to be called to martyrdom. But we are all called to participate fully in the life of discipleship- at whatever cost that means for each one of us. My reflection question for us all this week is to reflect on what it means for me to take up my cross and follow Jesus.
As I reflected on this question, here are a few ideas I came up with.
Taking up my cross means speaking out against injustice. I can do this from the pulpit. But I can also do this at family gatherings. When my great uncle makes a racist joke. Instead of staying quiet to keep the peace, I can say, no, that’s not funny, that makes me uncomfortable, please stop.
Taking up my cross means wearing a mask in public. Even though it’s hot. Even though the mask makes it harder to breathe. A mask is one way that I can love my neighbors during a global pandemic. I can also keep my distance from individuals and businesses that do not think it’s important to wear one.
Taking up my cross means continuing to work with my coach to modify my diet. It means eating more vegetables and less ice cream. It means figuring out how to do this without making everyone around me miserable. During quarantine, I learned that nutrition is a big part of my overall health. And, in the midst of a global pandemic, I need to do my part to stay healthy. So that I can be helpful in whatever our new normal will look like.
Now as I make these changes in my life, I can already feel the pushback. My great-uncle will tell me to quit being a sensitive liberal millennial, he was only joking. My mother is going to tell me that she wears a mask all day at work, she isn’t wearing one for a quick trip to the gas station. My sister will tell me that going out for ice cream this weekend won’t kill me. And I have to be okay with this. I have to be okay with the criticism and the conflict and the name calling that will come from my family when I make unpopular decisions. This is the cost of discipleship.
I imagine that a few of you are wondering why we do this? Why do we follow Jesus if it only brings suffering and pain? I think we do this because suffering and pain is a part of the human story. Jesus became man and dwells among us to stand in solidarity with human pain and suffering.
Also, we believe that Jesus will return. And when he does return, we hope to recognize him. Discipleship trains us to recognize Jesus when he returns, and he shows us his hands and his feet. Because we will be familiar with his wounds because they will match our own.
Thanks be to God,
In Jesus’ name,
Closing Hymn- The Kingdom of God
The kingdom of God is justice and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, and open in us, the gates of 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.