AUGUST 2, 2020 SUNDAY
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Collect for this Sunday is important for the church to pray. Too often clergy, laity or both cause division and harm. We forget who and whose we are — the Body of Christ. We are the living evidence of his presence in this world. When our values and behaviors are look like the world’s, God help us. From division, discord, lack of compassion, care and love for the other — “protect and govern us.” If we become poor witnesses to God’s miraculous and abundant life and love for this world, Good Lord deliver us.
Each time I step into the pulpit, I wonder about the burdens you carry this week — a potential loss of job, or even a business, for some, in these days, failure that leaves one feeling worthless, a death that leaves one feeling bereft and lost, those who have obstacles put in their way. The Psalmist asks for us, “Does God care? Will God do anything about my situation?” Read Psalm 17 — you and I are not alone. Ask God to listen. Our texts for today take seriously the anguish we feel — and also the divine concern for us. God answers our cries — in time, and in ways that finally are for our good. God’s history is a long one – of suffering love, patience, caring provision. In our present, for what lies ahead, God already has provided. That is the long story of holy scripture.
In Genesis Jacob wrestles with a “man” at Jabbok. At one level it’s a story of our human struggle with/against God, as well as our own inner struggle. We struggle ultimately for grace. The outcome — we may be left with some reminder, as Jacob – some limp, scar or memory that changes us — but also blesses, as for Jacob. God renames Jacob, reminding him, and us – “Jacob” means God rules.
Paul also suffers, with his people of Israel, many rejecting God’s rule in Jesus as the expected Messiah. God has not removed the promise, even if they cannot yet see that. Later in Romans, Paul will affirm Israel’s role as God’s people. God never forgets – keeps promises – and his grace abundantly waits our asking. Paul longs for his people, all people, to know the saving grace of Christ Jesus. May his suffering in longing for the world’s salvation, be ours as well.
In Matthew we read the story of Jesus feeding the multitude, also found in the three gospels. It’s important – God’s mercy is real. We who are now disciples of Jesus, recipients of God’s abundance, are now to distribute the gifts of God’s abundance to the world, especially those hurting, left out, marginalized — those who know more scarcity than abundance — physically and spiritually. In this text we also hear the overtones of the Sacrament, the place God’s people receive the abundance of love – in bread and wine – nourished and strengthened, sent out to live as Jesus – bringing the gift of new, abundant life – resurrection now for those who hunger for God’s mercy and grace.
Take some time before Sunday to do more than skim over the readings. Read, reread aloud, listen. Study – inwardly listen for what God is saying to you. If it’s hard — keep at it. Share the website link, or the YouTube link Mike sends — with someone you could invite to St. Stephen’s. This may be a time people need to know Christ’s love and life for themselves. We also renew It also means our commitment to Christ – and the reign of God within and through us. That is a pretty wonderful and abundant miracle – how God so loves us.Blessings, prayers with you, and God’s peace, Fr. Steve
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost – August 2, 2020
Proper 13 – Year A
Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The same night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
Exaudi, Domine1 Hear my plea of innocence, O Lord; give heed to my cry; * listen to my prayer, which does not come from lying lips. 2 Let my vindication come forth from your presence; * let your eyes be fixed on justice. 3 Weigh my heart, summon me by night, * melt me down; you will find no impurity in me. 4 I give no offense with my mouth as others do; * I have heeded the words of your lips. 5 My footsteps hold fast to the ways of your law; * in your paths my feet shall not stumble. 6 I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; * incline your ear to me and hear my words. 7 Show me your marvelous loving-kindness, * O Savior of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them. 16 But at my vindication I shall see your face; * when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
I am speaking the truth in Christ– I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit– I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.