13th Sunday of Pentecost, Year A,
30th August, 2020
Romans 12:9-21 CEV / Matthew 16:21-28 CEV
Intro/Prelude – Lord, You Have Come To The Lakeshore,
written by Cesareo Gabarain,
played by church musician Annie Center
Call to Worship/Welcome
Join in the journey, and follow Jesus, The way is not easy, but it is worth it.
Love one another, and serve one another,Because those who lose their lives for
Christ will find it. Seek the Lord and live, seek Christ and know love,
Come, worship God, and know the Spirit is alive in you.
I’m glad to welcome you to online worship with Olympic View Community Church.
We seek to welcome all of God’s children to join us in bearing witness to the
radically transforming power of God’s love.
Part of our tradition is a commitment to share words of peace and welcome with each
other when we gather. This morning, as we listen to our good friend Mike Stern’s song Shadows, let’s think about how we are called to support one another as followers of
Christ, and how we offer God’s shalom to those around us.
Passing the Peace of Christ
Shadows, written and performed by Mike Stern,
used with permission
Join me in a word of prayer.
Loving God, you call us to turn away from our own selfish interests, to take up our cross, and to follow you. To find our lives, may we live them in service of your mission.
As we come before you this morning, give us open hearts and open hands.
Make us eager to hear your voice and seek your guidance.
Open our minds to your ever-present spirit that is always moving within and around us Open our spirits to your nudging and open our lives to your love.
We light a candle today to represent the Spirit burning within us, and among us, guiding our time together. (light candle) Amen.
Our Epistle reading this morning, provides a glimpse of what it means to be a disciple of the risen Christ. As we listen to these words from Romans, let’s think about how we view our own journeys of faith, and how we live out that commitment to follow Christ in our own lives today.
Romans 12:9-21 CEV
Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good.
Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself.
Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord.
Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.
Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home.
Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them.
When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad.
Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.
Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others,
and do your best to live at peace with everyone.
Dear friends, don’t try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, “I am the one to take revenge and pay them back.”
The Scriptures also say,
“If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat.
And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads.”
Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.
Scripture Video – Romans 12:9-21 – Rules For Christian Living
Lectionary bible reading
A Time of Prayer
Today we come together as a community to share together our joys and concerns, and lift them to God in prayer. If you would like to share a specific request to be included in our communal prayer time, please leave a comment in the video below, or email myself at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll make sure to include that request in next week’s service, as well as send a prayer chain email, if you would like.
Joys and Concerns
We can express some joy that Matthew Schultz was discharged from the hospital after treatment was found to reduce his symptoms. However, he still needs our continued prayers as a definitive diagnosis has not yet been found.
We can also express joy that Kathy Edmark was also discharged from the hospital this week, and that her siblings have worked out a care plan for their mother Donna. Let’s continue to keep her sister Jan and her spouse Joe, as well as their father Claire, in our prayers that they continue to heal and recover from the Coronavirus.
Let’s also keep Robert Oberg in our prayers after he suffered a fall this week and received 8 stitches in his hand. May he experience patience and healing.
There is joy in the fact that Betty DeBon has had her stitches removed and her ankle has finally healed. She has also been able to walk a bit more, but still needs prayers for healing for her knee that is still sore.
Let’s bring these concerns and others in our lives to God together in prayer.
Gracious God, In love You created us, and in love You sustain us, day after day. So it is with confidence that we bring our prayers to You, knowing that You hear us, and will respond.
We pray for the world around us, for the many who continue to suffer and call out for help: for those without enough to eat; for those caught up in violence and oppression; for those picking up the pieces after a natural disaster; for those desperate to find work to support their families.
We also pray for family and friends who are suffering: those struggling physically or emotionally, those working to overcome mental illness;those facing challenges at home or at work; those grieving the death of a loved one.
God, You have called us to pray for our enemies; to bless, rather than curse, those who deliberately seek to harm us. We bring their names before You now—those who have hurt us, physically or emotionally; those who have stolen from us,
or cheated us of what was rightfully ours; those who have spread rumors about us,
or turned our friends against us.
We ask You to bless them.
Open our hearts so that we may see them as You see them, and be able to respond to them with Your love.
We pray for Your church around the world, that it would be a living demonstration of Your coming kingdom: offering hospitality to all, ready to help in times of need, showing love to friends and enemies alike, seeking to live in peace with all.
God, we praise You for Your faithful love, and for the mercy You have shown toward us. Open our eyes to recognize Your presence in our lives. Give us grace to hear Your call, and courage to follow without hesitation, knowing that Your way is the only way that leads to life. In the name of Jesus, our Savior, Amen.
Our gospel lesson this morning continues the discussion between Jesus and his disciples from last week concerning the meaning of his role as Messiah. The path laid before Jesus is not what the disciples, particularly Peter, envision. As we listen to these words from Matthew, let’s think about our own conceptions of Jesus, and more importantly, his expectations of us as his disciples today.
Gospel Lesson Matthew 16:21-28 CEV
From then on, Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, “I must go to Jerusalem. There the nation’s leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make me suffer terribly. I will be killed, but three days later I will rise to life.”
Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. He said, “God would never let this happen to you, Lord!”
Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Satan, get away from me! You’re in my way because you think like everyone else and not like God.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples:
If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul? The Son of Man will soon come in the glory of his Father and with his angels to reward all people for what they have done. I promise you that some of those standing here will not die before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom
Scripture Video Matthew 16:21-28
Jesus Speaks Of His Suffering And Death
Lectionary bible reading
Message – Sticker Shock
We’ve all probably experienced it. We go to buy something and when they give us the total, it’s way more than we anticipated. Whether it’s a car or a pair of shoes, and it can catch us cold when the total is far from what we were expecting. Shortly after I moved here from Pennsylvania, just in time for the winter rains, I went to purchase myself a good pair of boots. When they rang it up, I was taken aback by the total. I was used to a state that didn’t tax clothing, and Washington had a little surprise for me that day. Then there’s the story of a dairy farmer that went to buy a new pickup truck. He had seen an ad in the paper about discounts and factory rebates, so he decided to trade in his old clunker. He chose a new model and was ready to write the check for the full amount. The salesman said, “Wait, I haven’t given you the final cost yet.” The farmer said, “Isn’t it the price I saw in the paper?” The salesman said, “No, that’s for the basic model, all the options cost extra.” So after the options were added, the farmer reluctantly wrote a check and drove off in his new pick-up. A few months later the car salesman called the farmer because he wanted to buy a cow for his son’s 4-H project. The farmer assured the car salesman he had several good milk cows for sale for $500. The salesman drove out and selected a cow and took out his checkbook. The farmer said, “Wait. I haven’t given you the final cost yet.” Then he handed the salesman a bill that read: BASIC COW $500, Two-tone exterior $45, Extra stomach $75, Milk storage compartment $60, Straw recycle compartment $120, Four handy spigots @ $10 each $40, Leather upholstery $125, Dual horns $45, Automatic rear fly swatter $38, Natural fertilizer attachment $185, GRAND TOTAL $1233. Whether you’re buying cars or cows, it’s important to get to what we call “the bottom line.”
Our lesson from Matthew gives us an idea of the cost of discipleship. When we think of our faith, what is the “bottom line” of following Jesus? You may go into sticker shock when you discover it. Many people are only interested in the basic model of Christian living. They want just enough Christianity to assure them of salvation and make them feel good about themselves, without intruding on their fun. You don’t find the full cost of discipleship advertised very often these days. Few preachers discuss it because it is unpleasant; it doesn’t fill churches. The prosperity gospel promoted by popular preachers like Joel Olsteen says, “Believe and you will be rich and happy.” Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer gives us the sobering reminder in his classic book, The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to die.”
In our scripture from Matthew today, Peter just doesn’t get what following Jesus is all about either. He doesn’t truly appreciate the final cost. In the section preceding today’s reading, Jesus asks the disciples who they think he is. Peter gets it right by suggesting that he is the long-awaited Messiah. Yet what he thinks and the reality that Jesus presents are two very different things. The prevailing Jewish notion at the time is that the Messiah would be a triumphant ruler who would come with great power and majesty and restore Israel to glory. This is a far cry from the suffering servant image that Jesus presents. In fact, Jesus tells them that he must be shamed and die on the cross in order for his mission to be complete. This is such a shock that Peter naturally protests, and is seriously rebuked by Jesus. But is that rebuke really about Peter’s concern for him and his misunderstanding of what the Messiah really is? Or is it more about how he still can’t seem to get his priorities straight? Jesus all along has been preaching about living a kin-dom life, about ordering one’s life around God’s priorities. Yet here is Peter still focused on this very worldly view of what’s important. For him it’s about the here and now, it’s about the popular conception of a powerful Messiah who comes to set things right, and seeks vengeance on the enemies of the faithful. Peter is still stuck in worldly thinking. In that world, when someone was called “Lord,” that brought to mind rulers and men of power, Caesars and kings. One did not refer to the meek and gentle with such a term. So for him to think of Jesus as his Lord, was to transfer these same images to the rabbi in whom he has placed his trust and respect. But for Jesus, this made Peter part of what he refers to as a “stumbling block.” This path was not an easy one for anyone to follow, to knowingly choose to walk towards torture and death. Yet that was the fate laid out for him.
This interchange is reminiscent of Jesus’ temptation at the hands of Satan, the Adversary, in the wilderness, so it isn’t so out of line for him to refer to Peter by that name. Peter tempts him by suggesting that his fate should not be one of suffering and death. Like Satan, Peter sees him as using his power to seize a more triumphant future. And we know that Jesus struggled with this. He still seeks to find another path as he prays later in the Garden of Gethsemane, and feels forsaken as he hangs on the cross at Golgotha. So Peter’s well-meaning thoughts were like a slap in the face to him, a temptation to stray from the future that had been laid out for him. But more importantly for us, he tells the disciples that their path is not so rosy either. They need to carry their own crosses; their journeys may also end in losing their lives. And they need to be prepared for that to happen. Obsession with self-preservation in this world can have serious consequences. This prescription isn’t just for the first 12 followers. Jesus says if “anyone wants to be my disciple.” That means you and me as well. We need to be prepared to literally give our all to follow Jesus.
But it’s not all about self-sacrifice. Our reading from Romans gives us a list of what it means to follow Jesus: Loving sincerely, hating evil, meekness, zealous in spiritual fervor, and truly caring for one another. But probably the most important, and most difficult, is blessing and caring for those who persecute you, loving and caring for your enemies. We are not to seek revenge, to fight evil with evil, but overcome evil with good. That’s a tough pill to swallow sometimes, isn’t it? But the results can be surprising if we can muster the strength to show caring and kindness to those who would do us harm.
Watchman Nee, a Chinese evangelist, tells of a Christian he once knew in China. He was a rice farmer, and his fields lay high on a mountain. Every day he pumped water into the paddies of new rice. And every morning he returned to find that a neighbor who lived down the hill had opened the dikes surrounding the Christian’s field to let the water fill his own. For a while the Christian ignored the injustice, but at last he became desperate. What should he do? His own rice would die if this continued. How long could it go on? The Christians met, prayed, and came up with this solution. The next day the Christian farmer rose early in the morning and first filled his neighbor’s fields; then he attended to his own. Watchman Nee tells how the neighbor was overcome by a genuine demonstration of a Christian’s love for others. There’s also the story of a little girl, who one morning, dressed in spotless white, with a lovely bouquet of flowers in her hands, passed by a boy who was playing in the dusty street. The sight of this pretty girl stirred the spirit of mischief in the boy’s heart and in no time a handful of dust struck the clean white dress and spattered on her shining shoes. The girl stopped still. Her face flushed pink. Her lips trembled as if she would cry. But instead, a smile broke on her face and taking a flower from her bouquet, she handed it to the boy who stood waiting to see what she was going to do. A more surprised boy no one ever saw or one more heartily ashamed! He hung his head and his cheeks reddened under the tan and freckles. His unkind fun was quite spoiled because in return for a handful of dust someone had handed him a flower. How changed this world would be if everybody, big or small, acted like this little girl! What a relevant story for the times in which we live.
Our world is infused with such anger and bitterness. Social media has become a battleground. Such constant vitriol is so exhausting and demoralizing. What would it look like to offer a flower to those who disagree with us, who put us down for who we are or what we believe? What does it mean to you to take up your own cross? Are you willing to accept the cost of discipleship? Can you respond to hate with love? Too often we try to bargain our way out of thinking about the sacrifices we are asked to make, and turn salvation into a bargain we strike. We say to ourselves that “I’ll do just as much as I have to in order to get my ticket to heaven,” and set limits that we won’t go beyond. Some think that saying the right prayer once and showing up on Sunday is all the effort we need to make. We try to make our faith something easy and attractive. And it is attractive and definitely has its benefits, but not always so easy.
In 1952, when the Betty Crocker company first began selling cake mixes, they offered a product which only needed water, and you would get a perfectly moist cake every time. But it bombed, and they couldn’t understand why. So they commissioned a study and found that people weren’t buying the cake mix because it was too easy–they wanted to feel like they were contributing something to it. So, Betty Crocker changed the formula which required an egg in addition to water and immediately, the mix was a huge success! Many churches make the same mistake when it comes to “packaging” or presenting the gospel. There are many churches who try to make Christianity as easy as possible, because they’re afraid people won’t “buy it” if it seems too hard to live. That’s why people like what they call “prosperity gospel” churches. Churches that proclaim that if you live a good life, and pray for the comforts of life, God will provide you with the wealth and success you seek, and that’s OK because that means God has blessed you. The problem with that marketing scheme? Jesus said, “If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will gain it. What will you gain if you own the whole world but destroy yourself?”
Christ makes it pretty clear that our journey of faith will involve sacrifice, we will have our own crosses to bear. We need to be prepared to literally give it our all. But it’s only gloom and doom if we think about it that way. Too often we think of things in our life as “our crosses to bear” as negatives. We can look at it as wearing on our time and patience, or as an opportunity to live out the gospel. It can be an opportunity to be the face of Christ for somebody, or another reason to get us down. It could be the chance to engage others in demonstrating Christ’s love for each other, or we can let it make us into our own martyr. Not that I’m minimizing the toll our struggles may take, but our perspective can play a big role in how we view the costs we’re called to count. But regardless, we need to be honest that there is a cost to our faith, we do have our own crosses to carry. Whether we cheerfully choose to take that burden on and choose the life at odds with the world, or try to rationalize a different path, our Savior’s expectations of us still remain. May we choose the true path of Christ’s gospel. Amen.
Call to Serve.
If we pay close enough attention, when we look around, all we can see is need. But is that how you think God sees it? I think that as God looks around, God sees need, yes, but God also sees great abundance. God sees all the gifts God has already given us, and God sees opportunity.
As a church, we are invited to look around through the same lens – seeing opportunity, gifts, possibilities around us while acknowledging the deep needs
that surround us.
Each person here has something to give. And, each person has a need. I invite you to prayerfully reach within yourself acknowledging a need you bring Today recognizing that every person around you brings a need, as well. As a church, it is our job, our calling, to join together and meet those needs.
As we continue to seek to be a place of compassion and support to our community, we ask that you give prayerful consideration as to how you may support our efforts. If you would like to make a donation, gifts can still be mailed to our church office, or online donations can be made through the link in the video description. Thanks again for all your support, and may we continue to work together to keep being a place of ministry that seeks to promote the growth of God’s shalom around us. As we listen to this interlude, played by Annie, let’s give some thought how…
A Time for Reflection
Obey My Voice,
written by Sheilagh Nowacki,
played by church musician Annie Center
The Prayer of Thanksgiving
In your Creation, O God, we stand on the holiest of ground.
May these gifts be a blessing to all that you have made.
May needs be seen and met, and may the giving fit the need.
Through Christ, who models infinite giving. Amen.
Abandon the illusion you’re a self-contained individual. Be a part of this wounded world, and find yourself with Christ.
Set aside your own desires, give yourself fully for others; be the hands and heart of Jesus.
Renounce self-protection, accept your brokenness, and reach out for love.
Let go of your own plans. Join in the healing of the world. You will not be alone.
Follow your soul, not your ego. Follow it right into people’s suffering. Follow it right into the heart of God.
Pour yourself out; let the world pour in; then you are one with the Beloved.
As we extinguish this candle, may we carry it’s Spirit-light into the world with us this week, and be the beacon of the Beloved we are called to be. Amen.
Postlude – Now Go Forward, played by church musician Annie Center