Sunday June 28, 2020


Announcements

  • Mt. Nebo Session Meeting June 30, 2020 at the church.

  • Mt. Nebo- Jenifer is on vacation this week. She will return all phone calls/emails when she returns on July 6th.

  • Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Opening Hymn Let Us Build A House (All Are Welcome) (301)

Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live,

A place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive.

Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace;

Here the love of Christ shall end divisions;

All are welcome; all are welcome; all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where prophets speak, and words are strong and true,

Where all God’s children dare to seek to dream God’s reign anew.

Here the cross shall stand as witness and a symbol of God’s grace;

Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus

All are welcome; all are welcome; all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where love is found in water, wine and wheat:

A banquet hall on holy ground, where peace and justice meet.

Here the love of God, through Jesus, is revealed in time and space;

As we share in Christ the feast that frees us:

All are welcome; all are welcome; all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where hands will reach beyond the wood and stone

To heal and strengthen, serve and teach, and live the Word they’ve known.

Here the outcast and the stranger bear the image of God’s face;

Let us bring an end to fear and danger:

All are welcome; all are welcome; all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where all are named, their song and visions heard

And loved and treasured, taught and claimed as words within the Word.

Built of tears and cries and laughter, prayers of faith and songs of grace;

Let this house proclaim from roof to rafter:

All are welcome; all are welcome; all are welcome in this place.

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: (Pastor)

Hear the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Alleluia. Amen.

Apostle’s Creed (Everyone)

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.

Pastoral Prayer

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.

Offertory

How do we welcome people into the kingdom?

Scripture

Matthew 10:40-42

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

“All Are Welcome”

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…

This Sunday is the third Sunday the lectionary devotes to the theme of discipleship. First, Jesus calls the disciples to participate in his mission. To perform the same signs and proclaim the same message that he did. Next, Jesus prepares the disciples for the hostility they will face. The gospel will set son against father and daughter in law against mother in law. In today’s Scripture reading Jesus addresses all those called to support the disciples on their mission. They are to welcome the disciples in the same way they would welcome Jesus.

Today, Jesus teaches us about an important practice of discipleship, hospitality. Hospitality is the act of welcoming others into relationship with Jesus. It can take a variety of forms. Sometimes hospitality is teaching others about Jesus. This can be done formally in Sunday School, or informally over a cup of coffee. Sometimes it is inviting others to church- either virtual or in-person. Lately hospitality has been a lot of discerning other’s needs and finding creative ways to meet those needs. Hospitality can be as simple and as complicated as walking alongside someone going through a difficult time.

I think we often think of hospitality as the things we do to support the people doing the things. When I was in seminary, my mother used to jokingly tell people that her ministry was to go to work so that she could fund mine. But what Jesus is telling us this morning is that the divine mission is just as much about the people working behind the scenes. Providing a thirsty servant, a cool drink of water. As it is about the familiar disciples and prophets who dot the pages of church history.

Oftentimes when I am preparing a sermon, God will use the week to teach me what he hopes I will share with all of you. This week I learned of the role the saints working behind the scenes play in the divine mission. As I worked to reschedule a memorial service postponed by the coronavirus.

First, I spoke with the family to go over the details of the memorial service. I assured the family that I would do everything in my power to give them a nice service, but that the service would likely look a little different then they are used to. I explained the social distancing guidelines we would need to follow to keep everyone safe and healthy. As I spoke with the family, I was so grateful for the long conversation Session had discussing the guidelines. To make sure that everyone was on the same page. That we all knew the guidelines so well we could explain them to someone else. So that the church could walk alongside a family grieving the loss of one of their own.

Next I spoke to the Women’s Association. Where we brainstormed ideas for a socially distanced funeral luncheon. We talked about having fewer people cook, but more people serve. Maybe the menu has to change a little bit depending on who can help and what we can buy. We talked about setting up tables and chairs outside for the family to sit at and eat on. We talked about how we can space people out in Fellowship Hall if it rains. Because grief is hard work, and people need to eat.

Next I called our music director. Where we went over a plan for the memorial service. When the service would be. What type of music we were thinking. How long the service will be. I’m so grateful to have flexible musicians who are willing to rearrange their schedules to help a family create new traditions given the guidelines we must follow.

This is just one example of the saints working behind the scenes to extend hospitality to our community. To these anonymous saints who occupy our churches, Jesus says, you may not be the ones going, but never forget that you too are sent. Never forget that you play just as important of a role in the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ as the ones on the frontlines of ministry. For those of us on the frontlines cannot do our work without your support.

Because all who have been baptized are sent into the world to embody the good news of Jesus Christ wherever they may be, each and every day. In other words, all baptized are on mission. How we respond to the call of our baptism is the work of discipleship.

Our task is to figure out how we can use our gifts and talents to welcome others into the kingdom. To paraphrase Paul in 1 Corinthians. Some are called to organize the funeral. Some are called to make the food. Some are called to play the organ. And some are called to service the air conditioner.

My reflection question for us this week is how can we welcome others into the kingdom? I’m particularly curious about what hospitality looks like in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. I think we are still called to welcome, and to be welcomed by others, though that welcoming looks different than we are used to. We will just have to get a little creative as our usual means of welcome are not available to us.

In my family, summertime is the season of birthdays. My mother and sister have their birthdays in June. My aunt and cousin have their birthdays in July. My other cousin and I have our birthdays in August. Typically, we spend a lot of time together in the summer. We usually have a cookout every month and get a cake for whoever’s birthday falls during that month. Usually we take one cousin to Sandcastle for her birthday and one cousin to Kennywood for his birthday.

But with everything going on, we’ve had to get creative. A small group of us went camping for Emile’s birthday. Last weekend, and even smaller group went floating down the Youghiogheny river for mom’s birthday. My aunt is taking social distancing very seriously as she cares for her elderly parents. So, my sister and I shipped her gift to her via contactless delivery. I think the plan is to take my cousin on a bike ride then watch Hamilton on Disney Plus while we eat pizza and drink pop.

Friends, I share these stories with you this morning because I believe how we treat one another during this pandemic is going to matter more than if we get the virus and have to isolate for two weeks. What I mean by this is that I think hospitality is going to be how we get through our pandemic summer. Sure Summer 2020 is going to look different than any summer we’ve had or will have in our lifetimes. But my hope and my prayer is that when the weight of social distancing becomes too much to bear, we will find creative ways to connect with one another. And that in welcoming one another, we will welcome the love of Jesus into our midst.

Thanks be to God,

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Closing Hymn “For Everyone Born” (769)

For everyone born, a place at the table,

for everyone born, clean water and bread,

a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,

for everyone born, a star overhead,

and God will delight when we are creators

of justice and joy, compassion and peace:

yes, God will delight when we are creators

of justice, justice and joy!

For woman and man, a place at the table,

revising the roles, deciding the share,

with wisdom and grace, dividing the power,

for woman and man, a system that's fair,

and God will delight when we are creators

of justice and joy, compassion and peace:

yes, God will delight when we are creators

of justice, justice and joy!

For young and for old, a place at the table,

a voice to be heard, a part in the song,

the hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled,

for young and for old, the right to belong,

and God will delight when we are creators

of justice and joy, compassion and peace:

yes, God will delight when we are creators

of justice, justice and joy!

For just and unjust, a place at the table,

abuser, abused, with need to forgive,

in anger, in hurt, a mindset of mercy,

for just and unjust, a new way to live,

and God will delight when we are creators

of justice and joy, compassion and peace:

yes, God will delight when we are creators

of justice, justice and joy!

For everyone born, a place at the table,

to live without fear, and simply to be,

to work, to speak out, to witness and worship,

for everyone born, the right to be free,

and God will delight when we are creators

of justice and joy, compassion and peace:

yes, God will delight when we are creators

of justice, justice and joy!

Blessing

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.

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