JULY 26, 2020 EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dear Church Family,
One more Sunday of parables with Matthew’s series, “Teachings of Jesus.” In parables, common daily life meets imagination, and potentially opens you into a spiritual reality — God’s kingdom which lies hidden within. As in the Collect, we pass through temporal things, so that what is eternal may be planted and grow within each of us — through us, to bring God’s beauty and love to the world.
In Genesis, Jacob’s story continues. Deceit continues to play a role in Jacob’s life. The deceiver gets deceived by his future father-in-law. Jacob goes to bed thinking he’s married his love, Rachael, only to awaken beside her less than older sister Leah. Then Jacob learns, the older daughter must marry first. Jacob and father Laban get to spend more time together – another seven years. Jacob endures — and the story will become even more interesting. Not a lot of God’s hand in this story — but not to worry.
The Psalm addresses a community that loses touch with God. Their memories of God’s works are awakened — both in God’s actions for them, and judgments to call them to repent. As you read and reflect on the Psalm, what memories draw you more closely to God right now? Works of love and salvation, as well as remembering through times you “forget” the Lord. Has God wooed you back?
Romans 8 continues the theme of the Psalmist. We are weak. We fail. Yet that’s not where God leaves you. Through the Holy Spirit, God waits, listens, hears your prayers — just as God heard the cries of Israel in their past. Paul reminds us of several aspects of God’s actions for us — whatever is going on, personally and in the world. Somehow all things work together for good. Those who believe and trust it is so, do so as they realize God’s everlasting love. And one of my favorite verses — nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord — except our neglect of God, taking God for granted, saying we know Jesus, yet our lives don’t show it. Even in these times — if you and I go missing, God is faithful and when you remember how you are loved by God, you’re no longer apart. In Christ we are always held in the Father’s love and life. You are one who knows.
Matthew’s six parables — God’s kingdom, what Matthew calls the kingdom of “heaven.” Jesus uses paradoxical images. Those who have get more. Those who lack spiritual awareness, miss what they’ve been given. Some people hear only a story. Others hear much more. Insiders come close. The inner circle knows the secrets. Where do you long to be? The heart of God’s kingdom is Jesus — the new that infuses the old. The one who lovingly helps us sort through what’s good and bad in us — and knows how to help us deal with it all. Listen closely.
We have been hoping to have a sign on the church lawn soon that invites people to go our website, linking them to our Sunday morning worship. Each Friday the readings and comments for Sunday are posted, the Daily Gospel which Clea faithfully emails. This would be a good time to invite friends to check us out. Laurie Austen administers and posts updates on the website. Thank you, again, Laurie. Our web address: ststephenserwin.org. And Sr. Warden, Mike Wells, records, edits and produces the worship for Sunday mornings, sends the Youtube link. Share this information with others as well.
Take time before Sunday, to read, read aloud, read and listen to what God is saying as you read the texts, mark and inwardly digest them. We stay in relationship with God, by asking — expecting — reading — meditating and listening – and thanking.Blessed be God, who’ll never separate His love from you, and who holds us all, even when we forget his ways — Fr. Steve
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 11
July 26, 2020 – Year A
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.
Psalm 105:1-11, 45b
The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that 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 our Lord.
Jesus put before the crowds another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”