A digital version of this week’s bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

 

CONFESSION & FORGIVENESS

Gathering Song           “For the Beauty of the Earth”         red book # 879

GREETING

KYRIE                                               red book # 157

CANTICLE OF PRAISE                                red book # 167

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

JEREMIAH 15:15-21

PSALM 26:1-8

ROMANS 12:9-21

MATTHEW 16:21-28

SERMON                                                       Pastor Chris Halverson

Dear Siblings in Christ,

It is worth reflecting on what I’ve said up until now, before we move on to a new subject:

Remember, we are infected and used by that parasite Sin.

Remember, that we are saved by that unstoppable love and promise of God revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

Remember, that we continue to try and clog up God’s mercy, and yet God continues all the more to hold us in the mysterious works of His grace.

 

I remind you of this, because it speaks to the seriousness of our actions, and also, the gentle / power of God’s actions.

Just as the cultural and religious practices I wrote to you of can muddy the clear love of God for all people

—our actions may also show it forth more clearly… a mirror can be scuffed or shiny—what it is reflecting doesn’t change.

We’re all made in the image of God, reflecting God’s love

—I hope we as a community might be as reflective of that love as possible.

 

Some might jump out of their seats at this statement—they might ask, is that Paul I hear? Because, you see, I often get a bad rap.

There is a whole genre of screed—a whole way of talking about me—that I find hurtful, and for that matter, only works if you’ve not actually read what I’ve written.

There are people who point out that I never knew the Christ before the resurrection. This is clearly true, but what follows is less so.

They then go on to say, okay, maybe Paul’s fine at talking about what Christ has done for us on the cross and in the empty tomb—that he’s saved us.

But, they add, he never knew the Jesus who Mary and Peter and Matthew, and all the Disciples, knew. So, they say with smug satisfaction, he never knew Jesus, his teachings, or his commands, and therefore his witness is invalid and untrue. He doesn’t get to tell people about Christ.

And to be fair to them, the Creeds of the Church that followed several centuries after me, did focus on death and resurrection, seemingly without a focus on Jesus’ teachings.

“Born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate”—skips 30 crucial years, right?

That said, if we take seriously our confession “Jesus is our Lord” it seems obvious that we ought to ask, what does my Lord require?

 

-I will admit I am one who was late born, I did not have the opportunity to know Jesus before the resurrection, but I would add that the same can be said of you, yet Jesus still speaks in his Church today!

-I would add, that if you see Christ’s death and resurrection as a small thing, you may need to take time to consider them again.

-I would add, that if you don’t see the freedom won by Christ for us as having ethical implications for your life, you need to look more deeply in your heart and more squarely at your neighbor’s needs.

-Finally, it is worth stating that I did spend time with the disciples. Some even suggest the church that produced the Gospel of Matthew was my home congregation—which would explain all the fixation on strained community life in that Gospel—after all, wherever I go, it seems Christian Community gets all stirred up!

 

But perhaps I need no other defense of my Apostleship and my knowledge of Jesus’ teachings, save my own words to the Romans, and to you today

—if you are feeling ambitious, read Matthew 5-7 and Romans 12-15 together… it will be eye opening.

All I’m saying today, is the same thing Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, my words earnestly expound upon Jesus’ Beatitudes—those blessings he called forth on that majestic mountain!

My words just happen to be pointed to a particular congregation. I’m just helping them, and you, reflect God’s love together!

 

This deep love from God, which you all reflect… I hope it is genuine. I hope it is as real as the love we see between siblings or best friends or lovers.

I hope you take yourselves seriously. You bear the image of God—don’t sell yourself short, and don’t let anyone else sell you out either.

I hope you consider regularly how you can shine that light, which is already there, to the whole world!

I hope you consider how you can honor that image in others, remind them of how beloved they are, no matter who they are!

Remind them through hospitality, charity, patience, prayer, and hope—through all these, God’s love might be reflected to the whole world.

 

What I’m calling you to is hard thing for all of us, whether we’re beginners in belief or have trusted God for a good long time, yet it helps people see what God is doing in Christ Jesus our Lord!

You will be persecuted, in those situations do not curse those who persecute you, but bless them—as Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for my name’s sake.”

You will come across folk in all kinds of moods, rejoice with the joyous, cry with the mourners. Didn’t Jesus say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Live together in harmony, don’t be haughty, know the limits of your wisdom and make your home with the lowly—after all didn’t Jesus says, “blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Do not repay evil with evil—that just makes more evil, our Lord did instruct us, “if you are struck, turn the other cheek.”

Live peacefully with everyone, for Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers.”

Love not only each other, not only the stranger, but even those who hate you and spitefully misuse you.

Love as completely as God loves—for in so doing God’s love, mercy, and grace are known to all.

Live with the assumption that the goal of life is the redemption of all of us—after all, evil isn’t to be destroyed, it is to be redeemed!

HYMN of the DAY               “Lift High the Cross”             red book # 660

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY                 “A New Commandment”                 blue book # 664

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

 

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS                   “Lamb of God”

Also, blue book # 748, blue book # 699

Sending

BLESSING

SENDING SONG                  “Jesus, Still Lead On”             red book # 624

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE

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