Third Sunday After Pentecost Year A 2020
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Happy Father’s Day! I want to wish all the Father’s in attendance (and all the Father’s joining us on zoom) a Happy Father’s Day. It is a joy that today, on Father’s Day, we can gather in our Father’s House for worship. Later in our worship service, we will have a Litany in celebration of Father’s Day.
Yes… It is good to see you back here in the sanctuary. Did you know that it has been thirteen weeks since we last gathered for “in-person” for worship here at Calvary Lutheran Church? I wish I could say “My, how times fly.” But I would be wrong. This day could not have come soon enough for me.
But now, just when things finally appear to be heading back to normal, we are seeing an uptick in the number of coronavirus cases here in San Angelo, and throughout the State of Texas, and the whole country. And so, as we continue to monitor the workings of the virus it is important to point out that no one knows how the pandemic will affect our worship life together in the upcoming weeks.And that is why the Congregational Council will continue to keep an eye on the latest developments of the coronavirus and take the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of all who come here for worship.
Well, if that is not enough difficult news to hear on Father’s Day, today in our Gospel reading we hear Jesus state: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter – in – law against her mother – in – law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”
Wow!!! What is going on here? Is Jesus having a bad day? Has Jesus gone mad? Did Jesus really mean it when He stated that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword?
And the answer is yes Jesus did mean it when He stated that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For you see Jesus knew that family members will be divided against family members when the hard questions of life in God’s Kingdom was presented to them.
We know this to be true. Just look at the events of the past few months. During the past few months, I have heard much discussion concerning facemasks, and social distancing, and how we should protect ourselves from the virus.
And I have heard many different opinions regarding when we should resume in-person worship here at Calvary Lutheran Church. And as the Pastor I have heard much discussion what in-person worship might look like during a time of pandemic and public health crisis.
Let me tell you this, I have not heard a united voice concerning these matters. And the thoughts and opinions communicated to me concerning our life together has been wide-ranging.
Thankfully, the Congregational Council was able to produce a set of guidelines to assist us in our worship life together so we could meet together - in-person today - in this sanctuary. But the pandemic is not over, and I am sure we will continue to have many different thoughts as to how we should respond to this crisis.
Even so, I am thankful that our discussion has been filled with compassion for each other as we have navigated our way through these troubling times. And that we have taken the appropriate steps (in love for each other) to protect one another from the threat of this dangerous virus.
In our Gospel text today, the Good News of God’s activity in our world continues where we left off last week. And just as compassion has guided our discussion, we were told last week that Jesus too was motivated by compassion as He commissioned His disciples to go and continue His work out in the mission field.
And just like today, the danger to the disciple’s health and well-being was a real threat. In fact, Jesus told His disciples that they might be beaten and rejected as they spread the Good News of God’s Kingdom in this world. That is why Jesus said to them: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
That was last week.
Well, today in our Gospel reading we hear part two of Christ’s message to His disciples. And just like last week, Jesus mixes the good with the bad. But throughout the discourse, we also hear Jesus tell His disciples that each one of them is valuable to God. And we are told that God knows each of His disciples so intimately that God can even make known how many hairs each disciple has on the top of their head.
Further; Jesus also explained to His disciples how valuable they are as He told them that God knows each time a sparrow falls to the ground; and so they should not be afraid, because each one of His disciples is of much more value than many sparrows.
The disciples were also told not to fear those who can kill the body but not the soul. Jesus told them this because Jesus wanted His disciples to know that they need not fear any power here on this earth. Yes, we may lose our life when we follow Jesus, but we will not lose our soul when our future is in God’s hands.
Yes, Jesus loves His disciples. And Jesus loves you and me. And because of His great love, we have been given life.
Last Tuesday at Adult Bible Study we studied chapter 8 of the Book ‘Embracing God’s Future without Forgetting the Past.’ And our Bible verse was 1 Peter 2:9-10. The verse stated “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
At the Bible study we were reminded how God looks upon us. And it was refreshing to hear that even during this time of trouble that we are of tremendous value to God. Peter informs us that each one of us is acceptable, and valuable, and capable of living out God mission in this world.
Peter informs us that God even calls us a chosen race, and that we have been forgiven, and that our sins have been wiped clean and forgotten.
The Bible states that we are God’s handiwork, His masterpiece, His creation. We are His own – we are chosen, we have worth, we are found capable, and we have been forgiven. Therefore, let us rejoice and thank God for all our blessings.
Peter wrote “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
The Good News is that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and that we have received that which we do not deserve. As people of God washed in the waters of Baptism; we now have been given God’s grace, His care, His forgiveness, and His unconditional love. May we (God’s beloved) live confidently and without fear of what tomorrow may bring as we go and face the struggles of this world.
Let us pray: Almighty and Eternal God, you know our problems and weaknesses better that we know ourselves. In your love and by your power help us in our confusion and, in spite of our weakness, make us firm in faith, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.