Taking the Lead
2nd Sunday of Pentecost, Year A,
14th June, 2020
Romans 5:1-8 CEV / Matthew 9:35-10:8 CEV
Intro/Prelude Shout to the Lord, words and music by Darlene Zschech
Performed by church musician Annie Center,
used under CCLI Streaming License 20261246
Welcome to online worship with Olympic View Community Church.
We welcome all of God’s children to join us in bearing witness to the
radically transforming power of God’s love.
We continue to monitor the COVID19 situation in our area and
we are committed to ensuring the safety of our church members.
Our community has not yet reached a point where it is safe
to worship in-person, so we will continue to gather online,
and continue to explore new options to fellowship virtually.
Part of our tradition is sharing words of peace and welcome with each other
when we gather. Since we can’t greet each other in person
to pass the peace of Christ, let’s instead think of those
we would like to offer peace, whether those in our church family,
or others we can think of who would benefit from the sharing of peace today.
Feel free to say their names aloud, to pray for peace for them,
or simply think a peaceful thought for them silently.
We are blessed this morning to be able to share Annie’s prowess on the strings. Let’s listen to her performance as we think thoughts of peace and fellowship for each other.
Interlude – Sarabande from G Major Cello Suite by J. S. Bach, performed by church musician Annie Center
Let’s take a deep breath, quiet our minds and hearts, as we light a candle to represent
the Spirit among us. (light candle) Let us call ourselves to worship.
Call to Worship
We come from near and far seeking Wisdom.
Knowledge that can’t be gleaned from memes and tweets,
but only through the discernment of community.
We follow our faith today from many locations:
from the comfort of our living rooms to the business of our kitchens,
joining together to explore the mysteries of the Divine.
Together, as pilgrims on a journey we gather.
We share our lives together in fellowship as a family of faith,
answering the shared call of compassionate companionship.
Let us gather together in the real and palpable presence of our Creator.
God of Wisdom,
We come to you as servants,
as those created according to your divine purpose.
Make your presence felt among us this morning.
Guide our reflections, direct our discernment.
Lead us down the paths you would have us travel together.
In these difficult days, the way is not always clear.
Bring your just light to show us the right direction,
keep our course straight into your righteousness.
Help us always to let you navigate and guide us through the storms of this life,
Our first scripture this morning is from Paul’s letter to the Roman church. Let’s listen to these words and think about how we live out our faith as Christians.
Epistle Reading Romans 5:1-8 CEV
Scripture Video Romans 5:1-8 What It Means To Be Acceptable To God Lectionary bible reading
(for credits only) read and posted to YouTube by Douglas Brown,
used under Creative Commons Attribution license
A Time of Prayer
So as we come to our normal time of sharing prayer together from a distance.
I have included those concerns shared from my conversations with some of you,
in our prayer today. If you have items you would like lifted in prayer,
please leave a comment below, or email myself at vicarglenn [at] gmail [dot] com,
and I will make sure to include them next week, as well as send a prayer chain email,
unless directed otherwise.
Joys and Concerns
This morning we share the joy of new opportunities, like haircuts, restaurants, and shopping possibilities.
We embrace the opportunity for more recreation and interaction.
However, we also remember our neighbor, and the threats they still face:
Threats of disease, violence, and discrimination
We also reflect on those among us facing changes in housing, in employment, and health challenges.
We take a moment to remember those who have gone on before us, and the bittersweet recollections of them as we honor their memory.
We also lift up those who are working at finding creative ways to be the church in this new reality. We seek strength and guidance for them.
Let’s join together in prayer, lifting these joys and concerns, and those we keep in our hearts.
Long before the change of name,
before the first signs of new life
showed the beginnings of promises fulfilled,
You asked Abram to make his home among foreigners,
and share the blessing that was to come.
And now, O God, you ask the same faith of us:
The faith to count ourselves among the least,
to find our place alongside the poor and broken;
The faith to trust in your mercy and your promises,
and to share what we have received;
The faith to wait expectantly for your reign of justice and equity,
together with those who most need its gifts.
Teach us to be children of Abram, sharers of the blessings we enjoy:
The blessing of plenty shared with those who have need,
The blessing of healing shared with those who are sick and wounded,
The blessing of joy shared with those who celebrate
and of tears shared with those who grieve,
The blessing of friendship shared with those who are excluded,
and of solidarity with those who fight injustice,
The blessing of peace shared with those in conflict,
and of confrontation shared with those who bring harm;
And in some small way, may our faith and our sharing,
help to bring your promises into being
in our world. Amen.
(for credits only)written by John van de Laar and posted on Sacredise.
This morning, our Gospel reading tells the story of Jesus’ mission and ministry among the people of Judea, and the calling of the disciples to assist and join in that mission.
Gospel Reading Matthew 9:35-10:8 CEV
Gospel Video Matthew 9:35-10:8 – Jesus Has Pity on People | Chooses Twelve Apostles | Gives Instructions
(for credits only)Lectionary bible reading, read and posted to YouTube by Douglas Brown, used under Creative Commons Attribution license
Message – Taking The Lead
This morning’s gospel lesson from Matthew opens with a problem,
a need that was not being met.
Jesus was on the road doing great things.
He was preaching, teaching, and proclaiming the good news
of the kin-dom of heaven in all the cities and villages.
He was curing every disease and sickness
that plagued the people he encountered.
Jesus is setting the model for ministry.
While many people come together seeking Jesus’ assistance,
they do not come together as a community.
They do not come together as a collective;
they gather as a crowd, driven by their individual needs.
In many ways, they embody the heart of the call in Matthew.
Theologian James Bailey writes about this call in his book,
Church as Embodiment of Jesus’ Mission.
He states, “In Matthew’s narrative,
the crowds are depicted as needy in search of food and healing…”
Jesus was answering this call, he was doing great things.
Yet while he was saying what needed to be said and heard,
and solving the needs at hand, he was one man.
He saw the impact he was having,
yet there were so many in need of his message and actions,
he could reach but a fraction in person.
He had compassion for those around him who were harassed and helpless,
yet how could he make a real difference for numbers such as those?
How could he take the lead to get the job done?
In today’s world, he would have no shortage of resources to address this.
There is no shortage of books, seminars, and courses
on how to be an effective leader.
But unlike the works of Stephen Covey and others,
Jesus wasn’t looking for the seven traits
to make him successful in business,
or a super fancy planner to keep himself organized.
His success in leadership was as a servant leader,
one who excelled by how others rose up.
His goal was a 100 percent turnaround.
A lofty bar to aim for.
The sheer size of it made it clear he had some staffing needs.
But there were some very specific job duties entailed in such a position.
James Bailey continues in his reflection on this scene in Matthew
by stating, “…in contrast, the discipleship community
is enabled to move beyond its own needs to be in ministry for others.”
Like Jesus, they need to check their own individual priorities at the door.
This was a job focused on others, on the larger community.
So Jesus takes on his initial group of staff,
and a more disparate group would be difficult to imagine:
fisherman and a tax collector, a radical revolutionary, among others.
They are not ones that would stand out as leadership material
by the standards of the day.
Yet what they did have in common was the commitment to the primary mission,
to proclaim the good news that the kin-dom of heaven has come near,
and to resolve the problems that caused those in need to suffer.
It was a mission all about the needs of others,
so much so that they were to head out
with basically the clothes on their backs,
relying themselves on the generosity of others.
In the verses after the reading today,
Jesus tells them to head out with the very basics,
and warns them that it won’t be an easy walk in the park.
It will be frustrating, with successes, and failures.
But they are to stay focused on the mission.
If they are successful, they should stay and work.
If they aren’t welcomed, they are to shake the dust off and move on.
They also won’t be winning any popularity contests either,
as they will be “sheep in the midst of wolves.”
What they have to say is not going to go over well with those in power,
because it threatens that power, that very way of doing things.
When you say that the least of these
should be treated the same as those at the top,
it won’t be taken well by those who benefit at the expense of others.
But that should not deter the truth they speak,
nor will they lack for speech.
The Spirit will be there to guide them as they face these trials and difficulties.
And we know from history, it didn’t go easy for them.
Yet they stuck to the mission.
They kept saying the things that needed said,
and doing the things that needed done.
They didn’t mince their words,
seeking to craft the right message that wasn’t controversial,
that was the socially acceptable and the proper polite thing to say.
They didn’t hold back because there are “more facets to consider”
when faced with need and and oppression.
They stepped out and stepped in, and took charge and led,
and made a DIFFERENCE.
Like Jesus, they encountered the crowds with individual needs,
and led them to be a community of compassion for others.
They were willing to take the lead, roll up their sleeves, and get to work.
They were willing to recognize the value of the outcasts and downtrodden,
to say that they mattered.
And they were willing to accept the consequences
of acting and speaking out for what was just,
for what the kin-dom of heaven really looks like.
To paraphrase theologian James Bailey further,
“For Matthew, the church exists to identify with needy people.”
The early church strove to meet that expectation.
They were the ones who got out into the slums to work to alleviate poverty,
who risked their own standing to fight for those
who were lacking dignity and respect.
They were the ones who risked their own health to care for the sick.
It was clear the church clearly stood for something,
that they valued those that many did not, that to them,
those people mattered.
The church clearly stood for something then.
Does it still today?
How is the church taking the lead with the outcasts and needy of today?
Sadly, we still live in a world with those who are oppressed,
with those who lead lives of struggle.
With over 12,000 people in King County alone without a home,
with numbers increasing nationwide over the last three years,
what is the body of Christ doing or saying about those in need?
Do homeless people matter?
This week as we are reminded of the anniversary
of the Pulse Nightclub massacre,
two more black trans women were senselessly murdered,
and protections against discrimination in healthcare
were rolled back for the LGTBTQ+ community.
What is being done by the body of Christ for these people in need?
Do they matter?
As we watch the George Floyd protests across the news and in our own city,
we are faced with the fact of systemic discrimination
that makes black Americans
two and a half more likely to be killed by police
than white Americans,
five times more likely to be incarcerated,
twice as likely to be unemployed as white Americans,
and earn on average nearly 25% less than their white counterparts.
How are we as disciples stepping up and helping?
Can we say Black Lives Matter?
These aren’t comfortable topics for many of us to think about
and taking the lead can be troubling to say the least.
But this walk of faith was never promised to be easy, yet as Paul reminds us,
it is through this very faith that we are justified.
There’s a reason we’re told to “count the cost.”
How are we fulfilling our mission as disciples by staying silent,
by taking the path of least resistance?
How does that ease the suffering of the crowds we are sent to?
I say that figuratively, because on any given Sunday morning
we have within our own sanctuary
people who are homeless, people who identify as LGBTQ+,
and people of color.
They need to hear and see that their lives matter, their whole lives,
not just those two hours every Sunday morning.
Affirming their value is about them, not us.
We need to affirm their uniqueness as wonderfully created by God,
and their value as individuals.
All lives do matter, but all lives are not lived in the same circumstances.
The one thing that is certain is that silence and inaction are not an option.
To quote Elie Wiesel, “we must always take sides.
Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
When we watch the news, it seems like the world around us is falling apart.
We see the protests and the anger, the violence and destruction.
It seems like rampant chaos.
The question is, what are we doing about it? How are we taking the lead?
It could be argued that our silence has enabled what we are seeing now.
Elie’s words certainly ring true for those who are fighting to be valued,
Will we take our place in proclaiming
and seeking the just kin-dom of heaven that draws near,
supporting those efforts to free the oppressed and lift the fallen.
Or will we just continue to go along in effective indifference?
We can choose to take the lead,
or continue to follow the crowd as we’ve largely done for far too long.
What does matter to us and how are we showing it?
We need to think about the answer to that question,
and find our way to live it out as the body of Christ,
fulfilling the mission we are called to. Amen.
Call to Serve
The Psalmist writes: I love our God, who heard my cries and prayers!
Let us offer our gifts to God at this time, to support the life and work of the people of God in our community, and around the world.
(for credits only) Posted on Worship Ways, ucc.org
As we continue to seek to be a source of light and love in times such as these, 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 and peace in these difficult days. As we listen to the following familiar hymn, let’s think about what we are called to, and how we will answer God’s call.
A Time for Reflection
Reflection on the Word
Choir of Hexham Abbey – Here I am Lord,
The Choir of Hexam Abbey sing along with the congregation the hymn “Here I am, Lord” by Father Daniel Schutte. Director of Music: Michael Haynes, posted to YouTube by donhenri01 on 2/5/10
The Prayer of Thanksgiving
Holy One, accept these gifts and multiply them
so that the wonder of your love, and justice and peace
may be known throughout the world!
(for credits only) Posted on Worship Ways, ucc.org
God of life
God of hope
God of all
on your love
like eagle’s wings
Then send us
as you love.
(for credits only) written by Terri, and posted on RevGalBlogPals. http://revgalblogpals.blogspot.ca/
As we extinguish this candle, may we keep its light alive, it’s Spirit shining through our own lives, as we seek to find that Spirit at work in the world around us.
Postlude The Wayfaring Stranger, arranged by Lee Evans,
played by church musician Annie Center