Sunday Guided Tour -  Third Sunday after Pentecost  / Indigenous Day of Prayer  - June 21, 20120

        Here is the link to this weeks worship service 

        Read the text below at your leisure or follow along with Rev. Jim McKnight and and Rick Young, Music Director.

 

 https://youtu.be/bYDtQD3Myiw

 

        You can also access this at Facebook : Friends of TrinityUnitedChurchThorold.

A Sunday Guided Tour  on Father's Day   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                     

 

 

 

 

 

Good morning, everyone, and Happy Father’s Day.  I have it on good authority that this is our 13th on-line service, and I can hardly believe it that we’ve come this far.  It’s been quite a stretch.  It’s been quite a stretch, in any number of ways.   Next Sunday, our hope is that we can celebrate Communion together, even though we will be physically apart.  But for today, we’re here as one in Spirit, to ponder and to pray, to hear the words of Gospel and of scripture, and so be refreshed.  

 

I invite you to join with me as we begin today’s service with prayer:

        God of love and hope, of healing and encouragement and promise, we come again together in your Spirit, all as         one.  We pray you guide us in our hope and understanding, that we may be encouraged in the faith, and live to           walk with you the way of justice and of peace throughout your gift of days.  We pray in Jesus’ name, for Jesus’             sake.  Amen.

 

This Is God’s Wondrous World.  Hymn #296 

One of the intriguing things for me about this Sunday, this Father’s Day Sunday, is that it is designated additionally as Indigenous Day of Prayer.  I suspect that any connection we might make between the two occasions is hardly evident, at least at first.  On reflection, though, I think there is one, (certainly at least one), one that is of particular significance.  Both are cognizant of the identity and place of father, and both assign to father a role as teacher.  It is an assignation familiar to our Christian faith, as well.   

 

In Proverbs, Chapter 1 (verse 8)(NIV) we read: "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching." 

 

I’ll grant you, the direction is more parental than paternal, but the father still is in there, and the motif is a constant in the Bible.  So for this morning, we can examine what the Gospel maybe tells us of the father.

 

The designated readings for today are all posted on the website.  They are several, and different, and include a portion of the testimonial of Chief Seattle, which is often referred to as the Magna Carta of environmental hope.  I would ask that you please take a moment to read that selection particularly.  

Today, though, in our Guided Tour, I am going to focus specifically on the reading from the Gospel.  The reading comes from the Gospel of Christ according to Matthew (Matthew 10:24-39; (New International Version), and as we prepare to hear it, I ask you to please join with me in our Prayer for Illumination.  Let us pray:

 

Gracious Holy Spirit, create in us an understanding and a depth, that all we see and hear might find fulfillment in our lives, for Jesus’ sake.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

[Rick:]

According to the gospel-writer Matthew, Jesus says:

24    “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. 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.’

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.

 

Dear Weaver of Our Lives’ Design.  Hymn #623

I have to tell you, on its face, the reading from St. Matthew is distressing.  At the very least, it is confusing  -  it seems so inconsistent with the life and witness that is Jesus.  In the Gospel, Jesus comes across as compassionate and caring, healing and inclusive, undemanding, completely understanding of our human ways and failings.  

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” says Jesus in John’s gospel (John 10:10; RSV); I have come that you may have life, and have it in abundance.”

 

And then, again, in John 14 (verse 27; RSV):  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

 

These sayings are certainly at odds with what Matthew tells us Jesus says:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

 

And the same verse then continues:

“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—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”

 

These words clearly are at odds with what we read as well in Matthew’s gospel.  In Matthew 12 (Matthew 12:46-50; RSV) the gospel writer tells us:  While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.  But he replied to the man who [had been speaking with] him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”  And stretching out his hand toward the people, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  In his own words, Jesus affirms the value and the place of mother, sister, brother; and, especially, of Father; and contradicts the dismissive inclination assigned to him in what we hear today.

 

And there’s more.  Matthew quotes Jesus as saying:  

“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.  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.”

 

These words assigned to Jesus seem so much out-of-character with the Jesus that we’ve come to know throughout the Gospel.  We get a sense of who this Jesus is and how he thinks about relationship and family when we hear the story of his meeting with a widowed mother in the town of Nain 

(Luke 7:11-15; RSV):

 

Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him.  As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out.  He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town.  When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still.  And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”  The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”

 

Jesus raised a man to life because he was his mother’s only son; a widowed mother, on whom Jesus had compassion.  And today, we hear, in dire contradiction, words assigned to Jesus, saying:  “I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’  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.”

 

This seems so out-of-character for this Jesus whom we’ve come to know before; this Jesus who was discovered in the Temple by his parents who had been frantic missing him; this same Jesus about whom we are told:  “He went down to Nazareth with his parents and was obedient to them”; this Jesus, whom the gospel-writer says: “grew physically and became wiser; people liked him, and he pleased God.”

 

Ministry of Music  -  Morning Has Broken

What are the teachings that are Jesus, and the scriptures?  What are the teachings of the verses that are Matthew’s that we hear today?  What are the teachings of the Father?  What are the teachings that are ours on this Indigenous Day of Prayer?

 

The Bible tells us (Luke 1:1-2a):  One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”  And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say:

‘Father’.  In actual fact, of course, Jesus didn’t answer saying “Father”.   Jesus didn’t speak in English.  He spoke in Aramaic.  The word he actually said was, “Abba”, which in truth is best translated, “Daddy”.  Of course, Christian translators though the generations would never give us “Daddy” in translation. It would surely be considered too undignified.  But there are many who would argue it would really be the more accurate translation.  

 

Of more significance, however, is the realization that when Jesus was asked by his disciples to teach them to pray, the first word Jesus offered in response was “Abba”!  Many students of the faith would say, for Jesus, the Abba he was thinking of was Joseph:  the father who honoured his betrothal to his mother to preserve her reputation, and their love; the father who would save Jesus’ life by leaving hearth and home and income to escape to Egypt, to keep his family safe; the father who would bring them back when the coast was clear; the father who would tutor Jesus in his occupation so his son could support the family after he had died  -  until he reached the age of thirty, and his brother could take over.  The teachings of the father were the teachings of the son; and from there, the son could know his God, and speak of God as “Abba”.

 

The Commandment tells us (Exodus 20:12; RSV):

“Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

 

The Father tells us (Matthew 3:17; KJV):

[You are] my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

And then there are the teachings of the verses that we hear today in Matthew.  What do we make of them?  What do we understand?    How can we understand?  Especially the contradictions that they pose to our understanding of the Jesus of the Gospel?  

And in truth, the key is Matthew.

It’s Matthew  -  in his time and circumstance.  

It’s Matthew  -  in his response to his community of Christians in their hiding. It’s Matthew  -  in his response to his community of Christians as they suffer.  Matthew’s community of faith exists in hiding; they meet in secret.  The emperor had declared their faith illegal, and the faithful fear for their very lives!  The gospel-writer’s words reflect this dire reality when he says:

26 “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.”  

 

Matthew’s community of faith is secret; Matthew’s community of faith is suffering  -     suffering suspicion and oppression by the Romans; suffering loss of support from their prior faith tradition and from the families they were leaving; suffering lack of respect for the New Way that was the subject of their teaching.  

 

In the tradition of his time, Matthew puts his words on Jesus’ lips;

he assigns his own words, his teachings as a leader of “The Way”, to the authority of Jesus  -  the risen Christ  -  who for Matthew’s early Christians, held complete authority!         

 

Matthew is desperate that his community hold on  -  hold on to the promise of faith in Christ for life, and life to come.  He dares not let his community surrender, or relinquish the beliefs that they’ve embraced.  For Matthew, such surrender would be death, because the end of time was nigh upon them.  His words reveal the place and time from which he speaks.

 

In the experience of his time and generation, Matthew actually sees family members turning against one another.  He sees Christian convert family members and in-laws breaking up, and leaving one another.  For Matthew, it’s a desperate hardship and an agonizing loss, and to the faithful he avows their experienced reality by putting his assurance on the lips of Jesus, whom he has say to them:

 

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—36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”

 

For Matthew, the means justifies the end.  And the end, for Matthew, is salvation.  In fact, the words he uses don’t originate with Jesus.  Rather, they originate from the Book of the Prophet Micah (Micah 7:6), where we read:

For a son dishonours his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies are the members of his own household. 

 

Matthew is conveying to his faith community the notion that Christ predicted the hardship they experience.  For Christ to have predicted it would be a source of confidence in Christ.  And it’s Matthew’s absolute confidence that allows him to assure his suffering people that their faith is worth it: 

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.

 

As we have recognized before, the image of the cross (as it exists for Christian people) would have no meaning whatsoever in Jesus’ generation .. unless the image was invoked after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  The words of Matthew that we hear this morning are not Jesus’ words, but Matthew’s.  And their purpose is assurance.  Their purpose is the Gospel.  And their purpose is for life and life for all, and life to come.

 

39 Whoever finds their life will lose it,     and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.  This is a Gospel promise and a strong assurance given by Matthew to his people; they speak a deep conviction and a living faith;

they are the gospel-writer’s words for us today.

 

O Sacred Head. Hymn #145

Today, we hear the teachings that are Jesus, and the scriptures.  We hear the teachings of the verses that are Matthew’s amidst the crises of his day and his community of faith.  We hear the teachings of the Father.  And so, as friends who hear of teachings as the birthright of a father, we might ask:  What is a teaching of the fathers, of the elders, we might hear on this Indigenous Day of Prayer?  

And in response, we allow ourselves to hear a prayer.  The prayer has been given by Yellow Hawk, a Native American chief.  This is what we hear.

 

        O Great Spirit, Whose voice I hear in the winds

        and whose breath gives life to all the world,

        hear me, I come before you, one of your children.

        I am small and weak. I need your strength and wisdom.

        Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes

        ever behold the red and purple sunset.

        Make my hands respect the things you have made,

        my ears sharp to hear your voice.

        Make me wise so that I may know

        the things you have taught my people,

        the lesson you have hidden in every leaf and rock.

        I seek strength not to be superior to my brothers,

        but to be able to fight my greatest enemy, myself.

        Make me ever ready to come to you

        with clean hands and straight eyes,

        so when life fades as a fading sunset,

        my spirit may come to you without shame.

 

This is the prayer of a father. It is a prayer for the fathers: for the leaders and strong of today.  It is a prayer in the vein and spirit of the one who begins his prayer, “Abba.”  It’s the promise and trust that is the Gospel.  And we give our thanks.

 

Let All Things Now LivingHymn # 242

Commissioning and Benediction:  (from “Walk Worthy”)

 

        Grace and peace to you from God our Father

        and the Risen Lord, Christ Jesus.

        Go in peace.

        Give your hearts to God.

        Live always bearing fruit for him.

        Be strengthened by his might 

        to ever walk worthy of the Risen Lord.

        Amen.

 

Postlude  -  Amazing Grace (beginning with chimes) 

  Bible Readings for June 21, 2020

Genesis 21:8-21 (New International Version)

The story of Hagar and Ishmael

8     The child Isaac grew and was weaned, and on the day he was weaned Abraham held a great feast.

9      But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking,

10    and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the         inheritance with my son Isaac.”

11     The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.

12     But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman.  Listen to whatever Sarah             tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

13     I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

14    Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar.  He set them on             her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy.  She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of                           Beersheba.

15     When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes.

16    Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.”

        And as she sat there, she began to sob.

17     God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the                     matter, Hagar?  Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.

18    Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

19    Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.  So she went and filled the skin with water and

        gave the boy a drink.

20    God was with the boy as he grew up.  He lived in the desert and became an archer.

21    While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

  

For Indigenous Day of Prayer:

A Litany Prayer  -  Chief Seattle

One:  Every part of the earth is sacred,

All:     every shining pine needle, every sandy shore.

           every mist in the dark woods,

           every clearing and humming insect is holy.

           The rocky crest, the juices of the meadow,

           the beasts and all the people,

           all belong to the same family.

One:  Teach your children that the earth is our mother;

All:     whatever befalls the earth

           befalls the children of the earth.

           The water’s murmur

           is the voice of our father’s father,

           we are part of the earth,

          and the earth is part of us.

One:  The rivers are our brothers; they quench our thirst.

All:    The perfumed flowers are our sisters.

One:  The air is precious,

          for all of us share the same breath.

All:     The wind that gave our grandparents breath

           also receives their last sigh.

One:  The wind gave our children the spirit of life.

All:     This we know: the earth does not belong to us;

           we belong to the earth.

One:  This we know: all things are connected,

           like the blood which unites one family.

All:     All things are connected.

           Our God is the same God, 

          whose compassion is equal for all.

One:   For we did not weave the web of life:

           we are merely a strand in it.

All:     Whatever we do to the web,

            we do to ourselves.

One:   Let us give thanks for the web in the circle

           that connects us.

All:     Thanks be to God, the God of all.

 

Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17  (Voices United)

         Turn your ear to me, O God

         Response:  In the day of my trouble I call unto you for you will answer me.

 

        Turn your ear to me, O God, and answer me,

        for I am poor and in misery.

        Preserve my life for I am faithful;

        save your servant for I trust in you.

       Be merciful to me, my lord, for I call to you all day long.

       Gladden the heart of your servant,

        for to you I lift up my soul.  

        For you, my lord, are good and forgiving,

        and great in mercy to all who call on you.

        Give heed, O God, to my prayer,

        and listen to my cry of supplication.  R

 

        Among the gods there is none like you, my lord,

        nor can the deeds of any be compared to yours.

         All the nations you have made shall come

        and bow before you.

        They shall glorify your name, my lord,

        for you are great and do marvellous things;

        you alone are God.  R

 

        Turn to me then, and have mercy;

        give your strength to your servant.

        Save your handmaiden's child;

        give me a sign of your favour!

        Then those who hate me will see and be ashamed,

        for you, God, have helped and comforted me.  R

 

 

Romans 6:1b-11  (New International Version)

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

1       Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

2      By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

3      Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

4      We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the         dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5      For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a                             resurrection like his.

6      For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,               that we should no longer be slaves to sin—

7      because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

8      Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

9      For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery

        over him.

10    The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11     In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 

 

Matthew 10: 24-39 (New International Version)

Discipleship, and Matthew

24    “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. 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."

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.

 

 

 

 

Pastoral Morning Prayer  

                     

Loving God, we thank you for the faith and courage, the passion and delight of those first Christians who embraced the Gospel, the Good News, for their lives, as they had themselves been first embraced.  We thank you for the value and the meaning and the worth they found in every human life, and for their timeless promise to declare it to the world, for Jesus’ sake.  We pray your promise captures us today, and we thank you for the subtle ways it has, and holds us, and helps us live it out in ways we never might have guessed.  And in the Spirit that is ours, from every generation and for all to come, we bring our prayers, and pray our prayers for others.

 

We pray for the global human family and for ourselves as we begin to emerge from the confines and divisions of pandemic.  Help us to care for one another, and watch out for one another, and hold ourselves in line while, step-by-step, we walk together untried pathways into unknown days ahead.  Help us to remember the words of one who told us, “I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light, that I might tread safely into the unknown.’  And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God; that shall be to you better than light, and safer than the known way.’”

 

We pray today for fathers and their children.  We pray that they might find delight and wisdom in each other and grow close in grace and understanding as their years unfold.  Help fathers know their children don’t remember their successes, but rather their commitments and their passions and their quirks.  Dear God, help fathers be good fathers, and every one a strong and caring treasure to their children.

 

And on this Indigenous Day of Prayer, we pray not only for Indigenous peoples of our home and native land, but with Indigenous peoples, as we share the words of Yellow Hawk, who prays: Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.  Make my hands respect the things you have made, my ears sharp to hear your voice.  Make me wise so that I may know the things you have taught my people, the lesson you have hidden in every leaf and rock.  I seek strength not to be superior to my brothers [and sisters], but to be able to fight my greatest enemy, myself.  Gracious Saviour, hear our prayers: spoken ones and silent ones, and ones just barely formed; and help us know your answer. 

 

Dear Lord, we pray for peace; and all in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Trinity United Church Thorold 

905-227-4644  /  tuc@vaxxine.ca