Dear Friends, I am sending this a bit early, as I will be gone this weekend–you can save for Sunday, if you wish.
We continue in this pandemic time, uncertain of what comes next, but trusting that our God is with us and will show us the way. Besides being back to “Extra” Ordinary Time, this is Fathers’ Day and we bless and thank those who have been “fatherly” in their actions to others, whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, or in all these ways. God calls us today, as always, to be our best selves, so the challenge is there my friends–let us go forth!
If I can be of help to any of you, please don’t hesitate to contact me by phone, 507-429-3616, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Have peace, stay safe and well! –Pastor Kathy
God is our strength. In God, we are chosen and we live in safety. Save us O God who share in your life, and give us your blessing—be our shepherd forever.
Let Us Pray
God of the universe, we praise and thank you! You are ever close to us, we rejoice in you. From this world’s uncertainty we look to your covenant. Keep us one in your peace, secure in your love. We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, who with you and the Spirit live and love us, forever and ever, Amen.
- Jeremiah 20: 10-13
- Romans 5: 12-15
- Matthew 10: 26-33
My friends, we have gone through the Easter Season now and all of it has been accomplished through, “distancing,” to protect us from COVID 19. From the last weeks of Lent through the special feasts after Easter wherein we celebrate the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, the greatness of our God, three in one on Trinity Sunday and “the Body of Christ”–all of us—in the world, as Jesus’ representatives, until now.
This has been a hard time, being separated physically, and it has called us to be strong in new ways as we all try and stay safe and well. Our human natures tug at “pushing the envelope” a bit—meeting in smaller family groups, as our family has done and yours too, I have discovered, in talking with you. We have laid our brother, Eric Bartleson to rest with most of you not being able to attend, except vicariously, through my homily.
Those wiser than us, scientists and medical people tell us, to be careful and the wisdom of this counsel has proven itself to be true as we see upticks of infection in areas that either opened too soon and /or didn’t abide by the protections of “distancing,” wearing of masks and good hand-washing. So, for now, our modus operandi will continue as is, but stay tuned for changes! There is the possibility of us getting on ZOOM in the near future and that could be an option for a bit of closure with Eric and our Mary of Magdala celebration.
So my friends, we are once again into Ordinary Time, which I have presented to you in the past as “Extra” Ordinary Time, in that the challenge to live as our best selves, in the footsteps of our brother, Jesus, is always there, whether we have a major time like Lent or Advent or special feast days like Easter or Christmas. And as we return then to Ordinary Time—this week is no exception.
Friends, we can hardly miss the fact this week, through the chosen readings, that we are loved by our God! The prophet Jeremiah begins by stating that, “Our God is with me (us) like a mighty champion” [!] The psalmist prays, “O God, in your great kindness, answer me, with your constant help…in your great mercy, turn toward me…for God hears the cry of the poor.”
This idea that our God loves and truly cares for us is continued today in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul tells them and us, basically, that until humans created “laws,” there was no “sin,” per se. The Scripture reads, “Sin entered the world through humans.” Now, it’s important to remember the definition of, what it is to be human. Simply put; we are imperfect—we don’t always do it right! Now, if you want to call that character trait, “sin,” as do most in the hierarchy of the Church, you can, but it is good to remember that it was not our good God that started that thinking!
When we get “stuck” on the first part that, “sin entered the world through humans,” the second part of Paul’s message gets forgotten; basically that, “grace abounds for all,” meaning that no matter what we may have done, God loves us anyway! For God, the important part is, that we keep trying!—that is what God loves in each of us—our ability to keep working at being our best selves.
So, what am I saying? That we don’t have to be concerned about “sin,” evil in the world? No! Only that we keep it in balance, like everything else. When we concentrate too much on “the bad we may have done,” we can “get stuck” there and not move on, trying once again to do the good that Jesus asks each of us to do in the world. My personal feeling about all the rhetoric of us being a “sinful people” in need of “beating our breasts,” without the accompanying message of “being truly loved by our God,” is about controlling people and nothing more.
We continue on then in Matthew’s gospel where we hear, “Every hair on our head has been counted” by our loving God and we must then be secure in the fact that we are loved! This is the gospel where Jesus is sending the apostles off in twos to “freely give” to others what they have been “freely given”—basically that knowledge that they are loved. He tells them, “Do not fear anything!”
So, my friends, tying all the readings together; I would direct you back to the psalmist who says that our God, “hears the cry of the poor” and the understanding is that our God, in turn, implores one of us to help! We know this to be true through Jesus’ invitation to the apostles in the gospel story today, “Freely you have received, now, freely give!” God wants us to be our best selves—no matter that we are imperfect beings. God wants and knows that we can rise above our imperfections and do the right thing.
The times in which we live—NOW, are calling for the best in each of us. Let us friends, rise to that level! Amen? Amen!
Prayers of the Faithful
Response: “Jesus, hear us.”
- Jesus, thank you for asking us to be “bread” for our world, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear us.”
- O God, let peace reign in our hearts and give us the strength and grace to be people of peace—be with all world governments to always strive for the peace-filled solution, we pray— Response: “Jesus, hear us.”
- Jesus, you ask us to be people of faith and trust—we believe, help our times of unbelief, we pray— Response: “Jesus, hear us.”
- Jesus, in your loving Spirit, let us as members of this community, All Are One, always find room at our table for all your people, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear us.”
- Loving Creator, Savior, Spirit—give us your patience, your strength, your love for our world, we pray— Response: “Jesus, hear us.”
- Loving Jesus, give each person in your body, the Church, what they most need today, we pray— Response: “Jesus, hear us.”
- Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week,—give all who have lost, your peace, that they may find their way through their grief, continue to surround the Bartleson family with your love and care as they grieve, along with us, the passing of Eric, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear us.”
***Let us pray for your particular needs, you may say them out loud—then response
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause—then response
Let Us Pray
O good and loving God, made manifest so wonderfully and beautifully in Jesus, our Savior and Friend, you know what we most need before we ask—do give us what we most need today! Help us to be people of faith, strong in our trust of you and believe that no storm in our lives is too great for you to calm, you who are our Creator, Savior and Spirit God and Friend, we ask all this, in Jesus’ wonderful name, who lives with us and loves us forever and ever—Amen.
Let Us Pray—my friends, the bread of the altar in physical form is kept from us once again, and so, we must remember that Jesus is always with us and has asked us to be “bread” for our world. Let us do that with confidence, with strength and with mercy.
Prayer after Communion
O God, we have been reminded of Jesus’ life and love through the reception of the bread and wine—we ask you to renew Jesus’ life within us through this most wonderful food. Show us your mercy and bring us to eternal life one day—all this we ask of you, our Creator, Jesus, our Savior and the Spirit that lives within us—Amen.