Sunday Service for 9th August 2020 – Pentecost 10

Pentecost 10  August 9th  2020

Jesus, Son of God, shows us how to navigate stormy waters

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.       Amen.  Lord, have mercy.

Collect:   Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church.  Open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love, joy, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen

Reading:     I Kings 19:9-18
When Elijah reached Horeb, he came to a cave, and spent the night there.  Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’
He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’

Gospel:    Matthew 14:22-33
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Reflection:   One can feel some sympathy for the disciples:  they had been shocked by the murder of John the Baptist by Herod, asked to feed a huge crowd with five loaves and two small fish, then were bundled into a boat and sent off into a storm. 

Jesus was showing them how to live faithfully in a world that was full of uncertainty, violence and danger.  Our own times are scarcely less dramatic, and we too need to look to the Master to discover how to navigate our journey through this age, and how to meet the challenges which our own lives face us with.

Jesus walked freely and securely on the water, coming to the disciples, calling Peter to him.  The reason he did so was that he knew who he was  – as the disciples proclaimed:  “Truly, you are the Son of God”. This was a direct challenge to the ‘powers that be’ – the Roman Emperors who were beginning to be called ‘Sons of god’.  It marked Jesus out as someone who had an alternative perspective on life, a loving Father in heaven and a divine mission.  The world might swirl about him in chaos and violence, but he could stand secure in its midst and know that he was utterly safe in the hands of his Father.

St Paul calls us ‘citizens of heaven’ (Philippians 3:20-21) to affirm that we, too, have a source of authority and security that is beyond this world.  We do not have to buy into its fear and violence because we know we are secure in the hands of our loving God, whatever is happening to us and around us.  We can – with God’s grace –  navigate the choppy waters of life with the same security and confidence that Jesus had.

Prayers:  From the Presbyterian Church of America:
Gracious and loving God, Creator of all things good and bountiful,
as we move into the unknown experiences of this new day which you have made, be our steady companion and guide, and help us rejoice and be glad, for we know it is a privilege to be alive today, and to have the opportunity to live into being the people you call us to be.

God of hope and healing, you promise that in the midst of suffering,
you will always be present. We pray that all who suffer in any way,
whether through illness, injury, poverty, hunger, homelessness, addiction, violence, or grief, be especially aware of your sustaining presence, and encouraged by your love to persevere.

So many places in our country and throughout the world continue to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic.  Heal those who are ill,
comfort those who mourn, and give wisdom to those who lead.
We ask for your special presence with all medical personnel
and essential workers who are tired, but still working so hard to save lives. Support them and give them strength for this journey.

Help us, God, to heal divisions, build trust, listen and learn from each other, that we may all work together for the common good. In facing conflicts in our own lives, God, we pray that you remove bitterness or resentment from our hearts, and keep us from ever returning evil for evil. Help us instead to overcome evil with love.
   
And when the way before us seems closed, and we do not know what our next step should be, lighten our darkness, Lord: make the path plain before us, and let us walk beside you with trust and confidence and joy.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

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.
Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and set your people free to be his Body in the world.

On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice.

Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done;  on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you. 

Closing prayer:  The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord;  and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always.  Amen.

This hymn is sung at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XUYZoguhEQ

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.