Second Sunday After Pentecost Year A 2020
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today, we formally begin a new season of the church year – this morning we start the Season of Pentecost. Today, the lectionary officially marks the beginning of the second half of the church year.
As you may recall, during the first half of the church year, our attention was focused on all the “famous” events in the life of Christ – His birth, His Baptism, His Transformation, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, His Ascension into heaven, and the fulfillment of His promise to send the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
Last Sunday, Trinity Sunday, was the ‘grand finale’ to the first half of the church year. A date in which we celebrated God in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) the Blessed Holy Trinity. Trinity Sunday brought an end to the Festive Season of the Church, a season in which we lifted-up all those big events that indeed deserve our special attention.
On this Second Sunday after Pentecost we now end the ever-changing liturgical colors which went from blue, to green, to purple, and then white. And then from white to red, and then back to white again. We did this because each color had its own meaning and significance.
But now, things settle down a bit. And we do not celebrate another festival in the church lectionary year until Reformation Sunday at the end of October. Therefore, instead of focusing on the big events of Christ’s life, such as His Death and Resurrection and Ascension, we now turn our attention to the ministry of our Lord and Savior which took place between His Baptism by John in the river Jordan and His crucifixion on the cross at Golgotha which lasted approximately three and half years.
One of my professors at seminary referred to the second half of the lectionary year as the “grazing time” time of the church year. A time when we as the flock of Christ graze on His Word and grow in our faith as the Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds to the Redeeming Activity of our Lord and Savior.
And that is why the color is green, (and it stays green most of the season) because green represents the color of grass and other leafy plants that feed and nourish sheep and other animals out in the pasture and fields in this world.
Like sheep out in the pasture, we too will get a chance to nibble on Christ’s teachings and graze upon the green grass which our Lord and Savior leads us too as we follow his activity in our world.
And we will feed upon the Word of life flourishing out in the grassland of Matthew’s Gospel, which will nourish us and sustain us as we continue Christ’s mission to bring the Good News of God’s activity to every tribe, and to every tongue, and to every nation on this earth.
And how will we do this? The answer is simple… we will follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior. Our Gospel text states: “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”
The Gospel of Matthew emphasizes that Jesus moved from place to place. Jesus did not stay in one location. Traveling was an important part of his ministry. Even though Jesus is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, He was/is not the type of King that remained seated on His throne far removed from the day to day activities that we experience in this world.
No… Jesus was/is a traveling King. The Gospel of Matthew points out that Jesus traveled to where His people lived their daily lives, and He taught them, and proclaimed the Gospel to them, and healed every disease and affliction.
And as he did so He was deeply moved and filled with compassion for His people because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
David described the Lord’s compassion this way: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Jesus took care of His people. Jesus fed His flock. Jesus led His people to the green pastures of life where they could thrive and live healthy lives. And Jesus invited His people to participate in His activity and be a part of His ministry.
Scripture informs us that Jesus invites all people, of all time, and all places, to come and graze on the green-green grass of our Father’s home.
Even so, not all is well in the field that we live in. Jesus knew that there would be trouble. Jesus alerted His followers with these words: “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Today we live in a time of trouble. The field of grass called the church has been closed for three months for in-person worship. The coronavirus has interrupted our lives and closed many of the pasture lands that we had been led to by Christ Himself to receive the nourishment that we need.
But now we are about to resume in-person worship. On June 21, 2020 (Next Sunday) Calvary Lutheran Church will open the doors for worship for the first time since March 15, 2020.
As we follow our Lord’s advice to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves, the Church Council has issued guidelines to assist us as we meet in-person for the first time in a long time. The Guidelines are as follows…
Block Off Every Second Pew with Crime Scene Tape
No Shaking Hands
No physical Sharing of the Peace
Offering Plate Placed by Narthex Door
Masks/Gloves for Communion Servers
Masks Highly recommended for All Worshippers
Plenty of Hand Sanitizer in Narthex and Sanctuary
Disposable Cups for Communion
Wafers (Not bread for Communion)
Music but No Singing
No Bulletins (Power Point)
Dismiss by Rows
Continue to Zoom Service
No Coffee/Meals Served at This Time
Even with all these guidelines the sanctuary will be open. And you will be able to come and graze on the Word and receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. And, as we have done for the past eleven weeks, we will continue to zoom our worship services so members who are unable to come and join us can feast on the Word and participate in the life of this congregation.
Yes, we are entering a new Season of the Church. The Season of Pentecost has begun. The color of the church year has changed to green. We now enter a time of grazing, a time to grow in our faith as we are led to fields of green pastures and streams of living water. Amen.
Let us pray: God of all power, you called from death our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Send us as shepherds to rescue the lost, to heal the inured, and to feed one another with knowledge and understanding; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Hymn of the Day: ‘Have No Fear, Little Flock” ELW # 764
Prayer of the Day: God of compassion, you have opened the way for us and brought us to yourself. Pour your love into our hearts, that, overflowing with joy, we may freely share the blessings of your realm and faithfully proclaim the good news of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.