Second Sunday after Pentecost

Readings for 14 June 2020

 

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 9:35 – 10:8 Jesus sends out the Twelvebible

‍35‍ Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  ‍36‍ When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  ‍37‍ Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  ‍38‍ Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

10   He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

‍2‍ These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John;  ‍3‍ Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;  ‍4‍ Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

‍5‍ These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.  ‍6‍ Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.  ‍7‍ As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’  ‍8‍ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.[1]

 

Second Reading:  Romans 5:1-8 Christ died for the ungodly

‍‍‍ 5    Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  ‍2‍ through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  ‍3‍ Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  ‍4‍ perseverance, character; and character, hope.  ‍5‍ And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

‍6‍ You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  ‍7‍ Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  ‍8‍ But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

[2]

[1]The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Mt 9:35-10:8). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2]The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ro 5:1). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[1]The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Mt 9:35-10:8). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[1]The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ro 5:1). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

                              Sermon for 14 June 2020

The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

As we worship God with our eyes, hearts, minds and spirits, God invites us into his presence, and we share the words of the Psalmist  “Shout praises to the Lord, everyone on this earth. Be joyful and sing as you come to worship the Lord!  You know the Lord is God!  He created us, and we belong to him; we are his people”.

I welcome everyone as we join our hearts together in our forced isolation, and offer a warm welcome to all who are visiting our webpage at St Peter’s in Port Macquarie. 

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Let’s join in a word of prayer:
O God our Loving Father, we ask that your presence and strength be felt in the lives of all who are eager know you, love you, trust you, and care for each other.  May we show your compassion and kindness to those who touch our lives, even as we are confronted by fear, hatred, confusion and violence erupting against the inequalities and injustice of this broken world.  You invite us to continue our journey to eternity, as You lead us to keep our destiny in view, and as You call us to invite others to join us in the journey.  May your love be a constant source of guidance and comfort.  O God our Gracious heavenly Father, hear our prayer for the sake of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

It occurs to me, that during this current isolation, topped off by the recent outcry  against injustice and inequality of the world order, we might be wondering how we can ever made a difference.  During a Get Real conference that I attended some years ago here in New South Wales, I was confronted with a new definition of mission that I have held onto during my ministry.  Well, at least a definition I had not considered before that time.   As Christians we have a common destiny – a common destination.  Eternity with our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Where our names are recorded in the book of life.  And right beside each of our names, I visualise a gold star, with faith written in the heart of it.  A golden star placed there beside our name when we were baptised.  A golden star that will not be tarnished, even as we recognise our failures and shortcomings, living in a broken world.  That golden star is polished every time we rely on our faith in Christ Jesus to carry us through.

Life for a Christian is a journey together with others, keeping the destination in view.    In all that we do, we keep heading toward this common destination.   What we commonly call ‘Mission’ is simply inviting others to join the journey.   Mission is simple, when we have our destination clearly in view, and we have the support of others who are with us on the journey.  We live our faith, and show our compassion wherever we are, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.  But mission becomes impossible drudgery when we feel alone and our vision becomes confused by all that happens around us in this broken world.

Today’s  reading from Romans is a vivid portrayal of the essential pattern of God’s relationship to people.  First we are loved. ‘God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.’

Through God’s love, we are gifted and blessed. ‘Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand’.

Then we are invited to respond to that love.  To enter into that loving relationship where even more blessings are promised. ‘We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.’

 And finally, we are called to persevere even during the tough times to witness God’s love to others. ‘we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  ‍ perseverance, character; and character, hope.  ‍And hope does not disappoint us’.

By showing God’s love for us, we witness that God loves each of us and want’s to bless our lives. ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’.  As Jesus said, in Matthew 10:32 ‘“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven”’.  (The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Mt 10:32))

God entered humanity in Christ Jesus – and he died for us upon the cross so that we might be set right with Him.   Jesus invites us to follow in his path, assisted by his presence – so that we might indeed be made whole – and others with us. And we respond by placing our trust in him.

Gift; Blessing, Call, Response.   

It is circular, and it is constant until we reach our destination at heaven’s gate, but notice the order of things.  Freely says Jesus you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8).  Gift, blessing, call, response.

We are loved – first and foremost we are loved. There is nothing that we have to do to earn it. There are no great feats to accomplish before God fulfills his promise to make us his children, by faith in his Son our Lord Jesus Christ.  Before God blesses us with the presence of his Holy Spirit to encourage and uplift our spirits with his word and his sacrament.

Only after we have received his love is there any hint of a demand.  We are invited after the love is shown – to love in return, to love and be loved.  Obedience is our joyful response to God’s gracious gift of his love.  And what does obedience demand?  Once Jesus was asked  what we must do to be saved. ‘They asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Jn 6:28–29))

As the Gospel reading for today tells us, when Jesus journeyed through his life in humanity, ‘he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’.  No one can say that God does not know what we go through in our journey through this life.  And ‘Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness’. Jesus blessed many with a gift of healing, of learning, of wholeness.  The only response to such a blessing is to trust in the giver of the gift.  God the Son, Jesus Christ.

Only after blessing those who followed with the gift of wholeness, did  Jesus call a few to action.  His disciples.  Again from the Gospel, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

We are often called to pray for special things.  We are given a strong intuition to pray, and we are given a desire to take these things to God in prayer.  But we are also prepared in prayer for God to respond to our needs.  Given the will to join in, to participate in the solution, and sometimes to lead.  God gives us this gift by his Holy Spirit.  He blesses us with the ability to respond, and then He calls us to put our response into action.

When Jesus asked the Disciples to pray, He already knew what the response to this prayer would be.  He had been preparing the disciples to respond to God’s answer to the call for workers in the harvest.

He taught them first, He showed them his own example, He gave them the will to respond, and He empowered them with spiritual authority.  Jesus gave them some final instructions, and sent them on  their way.  Fully prepared to respond to God’s call.

Gift, blessing, call, response.  As Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give”.

This call to the Disciples was both a call to action and a prophecy.  A prophecy relating to every Christian, of every time and place.  A call to pray for God to send workers into the harvest.  A call to be ready to be sent as workers into the harvest. 

A call to keep our destination firmly in our mind, to journey together through life, and to invite others to join us in the journey. 

We are called to be disciples.  And disciples have met opposition while responding to the call to mission in every age.  Some with open hostility, some with subtle condemnation, and still others with indifference.  But the good news of Jesus Christ has not been silenced in 2000 years, and will be heard above the commotion around us in our broken world. 

We may not have been given the same authority ‘to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness’, but be assured that as Paul writes in his letter to the Romans:  ‘God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.’  And God will sustain us to be his witnesses in our generation, no matter what the conditions of life will be in our broken world.  Witnesses by our simple words of faith, by our actions of compassion, and by our attitudes of faith-filled living.

Gift, blessing, call, response.   As we consider these, may the grace and peace of our Triune God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.   AMEN.

Rev David Thompson.

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