Friday, June 23, 2017

Paying the Price: Reflections on Matthew 10.24-39 (RCL Proper 12A, 25 June 2017)

Paying the Price
Reflections on Matthew 10.24-39

RCL Proper 12A
25 June 2017

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

Matthew 10.24-39

                  10.24 [Jesus said,] “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25 it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

                  26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.  27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.  28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him 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 apart from your Father.  30 And even the hairs of your head are all counted.  31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

                  32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

                  34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.  37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

            On the 23rd of June 1987 Paula, David and I entered Canada at the Peace Arch border crossing and began our life here.  Within a year we found ourselves caught up in the throes of a federal election campaign that pitted John Turner against Brian Mulroney.  For newcomers to Canada it was a fascinating short course on the political differences between the US and Canada.
           
            You may remember this campaign as the so-called ‘free trade’ campaign.  Mulroney was committed to a free trade agreement between the US and Canada, while Turner and Ed Broadbent were critical of the proposal.  I remember a cartoon in which a bald eagle was shown swooping down on a beaver with talons poised for the kill.

            It was during one debate that John Turner made a comment that has remained with me ever since.  Mulroney was touting the benefits of a free trade agreement with the US by arguing it would lower costs for Canadian industry and prices for Canadian consumers.  Turner pugnaciously responded, ‘If there’s a price to be paid for being a Canadian, I’m willing to pay it!’  Turner lost.  Mulroney won.  NAFTA came into being.

            Today’s gospel is not an easy one to hear because it asks each one of us this question:  Are you willing to pay the price for being a follower of Jesus?  For people living in a country such as Canada, paying the price for being a follower of Jesus is not an issue we tend to think about often.  But there is a price.

            With the rise of the so-called ‘new atheist’ movement and the growth of religious fundamentalism in all of the major religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, it is now possible for reasonable and intelligent people to question whether religious faith is a force for good or a force for evil.  Are we willing to raise our voices to challenge such simplistic caricatures and talk about how our life of discipleship is committed to the common good of all God’s creatures and the whole of creation?

            Then there are the people who say that religious faith is fine so long as it stays behind closed doors and does not dare to speak in public forums.  Religious leaders who dare to make public statements about public affairs are often criticized.  Within the last month the leader of the Liberal Democratic party in the United Kingdom was forced to resign because some of his religious beliefs were not in keeping with his party’s platform.  Do we dare contradict this view of religious faith and proclaim to others that our faith, our commitment to being disciples of Jesus, informs who we are outside the confines of our homes and places of worship?

            When Jesus talks about his disciples finding themselves at odds with members of their own families, I know that there are members of this congregation who know this all too well.  Some members of our own family think Paula and me are a bit odd.  When one member of my family learned that I was going to prepare for ordination, this person said to my mother, ‘Why, Jane?  He did so well in school and now has a good teaching job.’  I have lost friends because of positions I have taken on various issues in the life of the church.

            When Jesus talks about taking up the cross, he is not talking about minor inconveniences and nuisances.  His audience knew what crucifixion looked like and may have even had members of their own extended families executed by the Romans in this fashion.  He is talking about laying one’s life on the line, spiritually and emotionally if not physically.

            These are not easy questions to ponder, especially as we move into the summer months when our minds turn to other matters.  But perhaps this is precisely the time of year when we all need to consider whether we are prepared to pay the price for being disciples of Jesus.  Each one of us will face this question in ways that are unique to our lives.  Perhaps our commitment to the stewardship of God’s creation will lead us to make decisions that add complexity at the cost of convenience.  Perhaps a conversation among family and friends will lead us to confess that we are disciples of Jesus and that our faith does influence how we live and, most dangerously, how we vote.  Perhaps a public encounter with racism or religious bigotry will test our courage to make a stand for God’s love for all of us, gay and straight, Christian and non-Christian, women and men.

            I hope that when those moments come, and they will, God will grant us the courage to say, ‘If there’s a price to pay for being a disciple of Jesus,  I’m willing to pay it.’



Monday, June 19, 2017

An Ordo for Pentecost 3 (RCL Proper 12A, 25 June 2017)

Please note that Saint Faith's is using the complementary series for the First Reading and the Psalm.  This is a departure from the current practice of The Anglican Church of Canada which uses the semi-continuous series for the First Reading and the Psalm.

The Third Sunday after Pentecost
25 June 2017

The Gathering of the Community

Gathering Music

Announcements

Opening Hymn

‘Now There Is No Male or Female’  Common Praise #36

Introductory Responses

Blessed be the holy and undivided Trinity:
the Author of creation,
the Word of redemption,
and the Spirit of wisdom,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

The Presider chants the biddings and the Community responds. [i]

In peace, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear and have mercy.
Lord, hear and have mercy.

For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear and have mercy.
Lord, hear and have mercy.

For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the church of God,
and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear and have mercy.
Lord, hear and have mercy.

For this holy house, and for all who offer here their worship and praise,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear and have mercy.
Lord, hear and have mercy.

Help, save, comfort and defend us, gracious Lord.
Lord, hear and have mercy.
Lord, hear and have mercy.


The Collect of the Day

Let us pray.

O God our defender,
storms rage about us and cause us to be afraid.
Rescue your people from despair,
deliver your sons and daughter from fear,
and preserve us all from unbelief;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and ever.  Amen. [ii]

The Proclamation of the Word

The First Reading

A reading from the prophet Jeremiah (20.7-13).

            20.7 O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed.  I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me.  8 For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, “Violence and destruction!”  For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long.  9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.  10 For I hear many whispering:  “Terror is all around!  Denounce him!  Let us denounce him!”  All my close friends are watching for me to stumble.  “Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him.”  11 But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail.  They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed.  Their eternal dishonour will never be forgotten.  12 O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.

            13 Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord!  For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hands of evildoers.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

The Psalm

Psalm 69.7-18 from Songs for the Holy One.

Refrain (sung twice):  Holy One, when our spirits fail, help us remember your faithful love.

Passion for your house consumes me;
            insults hurled at you fall on me.
I weep and fast;
            for this, too, I am insulted.
I dress in sackcloth,
            become a laughing-stock to them!
Idlers gossip about me;
            drunkards sing ribald songs.

Refrain:  Holy One, when our spirits fail, help us remember your faithful love.

At the proper time
            I lift up my prayer to you.
O God, in the abundance of your faithful love,
            respond with your constant succour.
Rescue me from the swamp;
            do not let me sink.
Save me from those who hate me,
            and from the watery depths.
Do not let the raging floods overwhelm me,
            nor the ocean deeps swallow me,
            nor the mouth of the Pit close over me.

Refrain:  Holy One, when our spirits fail, help us remember your faithful love.

Answer me, O Holy One!
            How wonderful is your loving-kindness!
            In your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Hide not your face from your servant.
            I am desperate.  Answer me quickly!
Come to me!  Rescue me from death!
            Ransom me from my enemies!

Refrain:  Holy One, when our spirits fail, help us remember your faithful love.

The Second Reading

A reading from Paul’s Letter to the Romans (6.1b-11).

6.1b Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?  2 By no means!  How can we who died to sin go on living in it?  3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

            5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.  7 For whoever has died is freed from sin.  8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn before the Gospel

‘I Bind unto Myself Today’  Common Praise 436 v. 5 (line 1)

The Gospel

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew (10.24-39).
Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

            10.24 [Jesus said,] “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25 it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

            26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.  27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.  28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him 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 apart from your Father.  30 And even the hairs of your head are all counted.  31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

            32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

            34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.  37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

The Gospel of Christ.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Hymn after the Gospel

‘I Bind unto Myself Today’  Common Praise 436 v. 5 (line 2)

The Homily

An Affirmation of Faith

Let us affirm our faith in the good news of God in Christ.

Christ is the image of the invisible God,
the one who is first over all creation.

All things were created by him:
both in the heavens and on the earth,
the things that are visible
and the things that are invisible.

Whether they are thrones or powers,
or rulers or authorities,
all things were created through him and for him.

Christ existed before all things,
and all things are held together in him.

He is the head of the body, the church,
who is the beginning,
the one who is firstborn from among the dead
so that he might occupy the first place in everything.

Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him,
and he reconciled all things to himself through him —
whether things on earth or in the heavens. [iii]

The Prayers of the Community

Intercessions, Petitions and Thanksgivings

The Exchange of the Peace

May the peace of Christ be always with you.
And also with you.

The Holy Communion

Offertory Hymn

‘How Firm a Foundation’  Common Praise #527

Prayer over the Gifts

Let us pray.

Eternal God,
you have made our Saviour Jesus Christ
the head of all creation.
Receive all we offer you this day
and renew us in his risen life,
in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen. [iv]

The Thanksgiving at the Table

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We give you thanks and praise, almighty God, for the gift of a world full of wonder, and for our life which comes from you.  By your power you sustain the universe.
Glory to you for ever and ever.

You created us to love you with all our heart, and to love each other as ourselves, but we rebel against you by the evil that we do.

In Jesus, your Servant, you bring healing to our world and gather us into one great family.  Therefore, with all who serve you on earth and in heaven, we praise your wonderful name, as we sing,

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.  Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest. [v]

We give you thanks and praise, loving Creator, because in sending Jesus, your Beloved, to us you showed us how much you love us.  He cares for the poor and the hungry.  He suffers with the sick and the rejected.

Betrayed and forsaken, he did not strike back but overcame hatred with love.  On the cross he defeated the power of sin and death.  By raising him from the dead you show us the power of your love to bring new life to all your people.
Glory to you for ever and ever.

On the night before he gave up his life for us, Jesus, at supper with his friends, took bread, gave thanks to you, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “Take this, all of you, and eat it:  this is my body which is given for you.”

After supper, Jesus took the cup of wine, said the blessing, gave it to his friends, and said, “Drink this, all of you:  this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which is shed for you and for all people.  Do this in memory of me.”
Glory to you for ever and ever.

Gracious God, with this bread and wine we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, and we offer ourselves to you in him.

Send your Holy Spirit on us and on these gifts, so that we may know the presence of Jesus in the breaking of bread, and share in the life of the family of your children.
Glory to you for ever and ever.

Giver of life, you call us to be your servants; fill us with the courage and love of Jesus, so that all the world may gather in joy at the table of your kingdom.

We sing your praise, God our Creator, through Jesus, our Lord, in the power of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
Glory to you for ever and ever.  Amen. [vi]

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, let us pray,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen.

The Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ.
We, being many, are one body,
for we all share in the one bread.

These are the gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.

Communion

The Hymn after Communion

‘All Shall Be Well’  Common Praise #222

The Sending Forth of the Community

Prayer after Communion

Let us pray.

Almighty God,
guide and protect your people
who share in this sacred mystery,
and keep us always in your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. [vii]

Glory to God,
whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

Closing Hymn

‘You, Lord, Are Both Lamb and Shepherd’  Common Praise #630

Dismissal

The Deacon sends the Community forth with an appropriate Dismissal.




[i] Introductory Litany from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 98-99 with  Litany Tone 5 in The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 916.

[ii] The Book of Alternative Service (1985), 363.

[iii] Colossians 1.16-20a (Common English Bible) arranged for liturgical use by the Rev’d Dr Richard Geoffrey Leggett.

[iv] The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 364.

[v] Common Praise (1995), #719.

[vi] The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 204-206 alt.

[vii] The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 364.