Dear Church Family,
Our readings this Sunday are thematically diverse, yet related by God’s power to fulfill promises, to love beyond human expectation and imagination, and to act for our healing and good. The Collect of the Day asks God to keep us in steadfast faith and love, not just for our sake, but through us we may proclaim and live God’s truth. God’s justice is rooted in compassion and love for all. Paul teaches God offers it through our justification by Christ’s death for us. Jesus sends us out with compassion for those in need. The world does not always welcome, and often resists the values of God’s kingdom. Thus we pray for God to keep us from straying. God has faith that we can be his presence for the sake of others.
The stories from Genesis hold up the tenacious faith of Abraham in God to keep his promises. The first part is the arrival of three men — an annunciation. Barren and aging Sarah will have a son. She overhears and laughs. What woman wouldn’t with such news at her age? And then later, the promise, when it looks as if forgotten is kept. The child is named, Isaac, meaning laughter. Abraham maintained faith. The promised child for Sarah is what God needs to bring forth the Jewish people. Remember, three religions claim Abraham as their patriarch. For Sarah – the joy of finally bearing a child for Abraham.
Paul holds Abraham as an early example of God’s justification by faith. Paul’s announcement and teaching of God’s justification for redeeming us is startling and life-changing. Nothing gets in the way of God’s love for you. Only you or I can do that. Grace is God’s gift, freely given. We choose if we accept this gift by faith.
In the Gospel, Matthew names Jesus’ followers. They’re a motley group, not the most worthy or deserving — a tax collector, a zealot, two brothers still controlled by their mother, and a betrayer. In so doing, calling and sending this group on mission, entrusted with the kingdom, Jesus demonstrates his faith in them. For faith to be fulfilled, it is received, welcomed, and transforms us. God doesn’t wait for us to come around. While we are yet sinners, Christ dies for us – not after we clean ourselves up, or “get right” with God. Those called do the part asked of them. Go, proclaim, invite, cure the sick, raise the dead, not a small assignment. Results — leave that in God’s hands. Be wise as a serpent — and as gentle as a dove. Wisdom is one thing. How we use it, gently. We are God’s ambassadors, not our own. That’s a truth we need to remember in these days of fear and division. Many their interpretation of “today’s” news ahead of the “good news.”
Take time and read the text slowly, aloud. Let a word, phrase or thought emerge. Prayerfully reflect on its meaning for you. Then apply the word or phrase to your life. Listen for God’s wisdom to speak to and guide you. Then offer your insights into God’s care, and listen for God’s guidance.
We continue to worship together from our homes again, knowing that in our love and prayers together is the sacrament of God’s life, love and presence.
Blessings and God’s grace to keep you, Fr. Steve
Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6
June 14, 2020 – Year A
Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”
[The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”]
Psalm 116:1, 10-17
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, *
because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
10 How shall I repay the Lord *
for all the good things he has done for me?
11 I will lift up the cup of salvation *
and call upon the Name of the Lord.
12 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *
in the presence of all his people.
13 Precious in the sight of the Lord *
is the death of his servants.
14 O Lord, I am your servant; *
I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;
you have freed me from my bonds.
15 I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and call upon the Name of the Lord.
16 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *
in the presence of all his people,
17 In the courts of the Lord’S house, *
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. [Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”]