Homily – 18th Sunday in [Extra Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

Dear Friends–this week we are gifted with a fine homily by Pastor Dick Dahl–thank you Dick! We continue in this time of pandemic, unable to be together, physically, but as always, remain together in our hearts and in our prayers for each other. We are still basking “in the glow” of our Zoom liturgy last Sunday and look forward to our next such gathering on Sunday, August 30, 2020! If you weren’t able to be with us last week, we hope you will consider joining us in August.  I am hoping that this finds all of you well–do stay safe!  Peace and love, Pastor Kathy

P.S. If I can be of help or you would just like to chat during this time of pandemic, do call–507-429-3616 or email me, aaorcc2008@gmail.com.

Entrance Antiphon

Loving God, come to my help—quickly give me assistance.  You are the one who helps me and sets me free:  Do not be long in coming.

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

Creator God, gifts without measure flow from your goodness to bring us your peace. Our life is your gift.  Guide our life’s journey, for only your love makes us whole.  Keep us strong in your love. We ask this of you, with the Spirit and in Jesus’ wonderful name, one God, living and loving us forever and ever. Amen


  • Isaiah 55: 1-3
  • Romans 8:35, 37-39
  • Matthew 14: 13-21

Homily–from Dick Dahl

The Church gives us some very uplifting readings today, something we need at this time, one might say that we hunger and thirst for. The first is from the last part of the book of Isaiah and was likely written during or even after the Israelites were in exile in Babylon (modern day Iraq). Instead of warnings, the person writing this in the spirit of Isaiah gives promises and encouragement. “All you who are thirsty, come to the water. Only listen to me, says the Lord, and you will be satisfied. Why spend your money for what is an illusion, what is not bread, for things that do not satisfy. Pay attention and come to me that you may have life.”

Last Sunday we celebrated the life of our sister in Christ Mary from Magdala. Having been cured by Jesus from a severe possession that would likely be seen today as some form of mental illness rather than demons, Mary served him with love and courage, even to the frightening foot of the cross where in the midst of his tormentors she offered him all she could, her presence.

This past Thursday, another faithful follower of Jesus was buried, John Lewis. Instead of suffering from possession by demons or mental illness, John Lewis was born the grandson of slaves and the child of poor sharecroppers in Alabama. What he lacked in material wealth or social status, God more than made up for in the faith and love that deeply took root in his heart, so that he endured, even when again and again he faced brutal beatings from people who viciously hated him, a black man,  for seeking justice, equal rights under the law. What amazes me even more than his courage, is that he endured these humiliations and pain without hating his attackers. Somehow his continuing faith in Jesus gave him this unfailing strength of love. What a gift to us John Lewis has been! He was not a plaster saint. He was one of us, a man who loved to laugh and dance, and simultaneously was an unflagging witness for justice and for love.

Life wasn’t easy for John and he did not expect it to be for anybody else. But he said, “When you see any form of injustice, say something, do something.” “If you love the Beloved Community, move your feet.” If necessary, “make good trouble.” In 1963 he proclaimed, “We cannot stop and we will not be patient.” He was a realist but always optimistic and emphasized, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair; never, ever give up.” The same day John was buried, NASA launched a lander to Mars named “Perseverance.” How fitting.

John was imbued with the same Spirit that moved St. Paul who also experienced beatings, betrayal and imprisonments. Paul gave us the powerful message in the second reading today in his letter to the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us? What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or peril, or the sword? I am convinced that neither; death, nor life, not present things, nor future things, nor any creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The source of such strength is not from us.  It is what Isaiah promised, what kept Saint Paul and John Lewis going.  John wrote, “In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way 0f peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.” This love is offered to us as well. What then can separate us from the love of Christ?

As I said at the beginning we have been given uplifting readings today, so let’s now turn to the Gospel reading from Matthew. It is helpful to first read the eight verses that precede this reading. They describe John the Baptist being arrested, bound and put in prison. John had courageously criticized and condemned the abuses of power in society, spoken truth to power, including to Herod. Like the Isis terrorists in recent years, Herod not only had John killed, but decapitated. When news of this came to Jesus and likely to John’s many followers as well, Jesus went away to this remote and desolate area referred to in the Gospel as a desert, but the crowds followed him, in his and likely their shared grief.

I’m not accustomed to thinking of today’s gospel reading in this context, but what do people feel a need to do when a loved one has died? They come together, and they do so over food, to find healing and support from each other to go on. The Gospel reading describes a enormous mass of people coming to Jesus. To emphasize the size of the crowd, it is described as 5,000 men and perhaps an equal or even greater number of women and children. We don’t know how what is described happened, but let’s take from the account what we can.

His disciples realized it was getting late, they had relatively no food for a crowd of this enormous size, but there was time for people to disperse to neighboring villages. Jesus, however, asked them what they had and then said, “There is no need for them to go away, feed them yourselves.”

On its face this makes no sense. That is, if we focus only on what they had. The disciples could not satisfy the crowds’ hunger until they gave Jesus all they had—a meager five loaves and two fish. It is not the meager resources we have that count, but what Jesus can do with these resources when we give all we have to him.

This reminds me again of John Lewis. What did he have? A Harvard education? No. Wealth? No. Political power? No. He had what God gave him, an abiding love for others that was not some sentimental and weak response. John demonstrated the power of love that Paul told the early Christians in Rome that God gives each of us. And with that gift, the unexpected can and does happen. The sharecroppers’ son became a national hero, a living example of courage and love for friends and foes alike. In a similar way, Jesus’ disciples could not feed the crowds with what they had, yet he told them ‘Feed them yourselves” and somehow they did. The impossible becomes possible when one lets Christ fill his and her heart and guide her and his actions.

Jesus is turning to each of us, as it were, saying, Do what needs to be done, even if it seems impossible, even when it is beyond your comfort zone and your ability. If you trust the Spirit, take one step and then another, and then another. John Lewis quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “We are all complicit when we tolerate injustice.”  He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”  John Lewis tells us, “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

“You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.”

John never believed that what he had done was more than what any ordinary citizen can do if we are willing to persevere. Jesus is calling us and enabling us to do what needs to be done. This is not likely to surrender our bodies to beatings and snarling police dogs, but it is to move our feet, to do what is within our power to do. It is to support candidates for office who advocate for policies of justice—affordable healthcare for all that is not dependent on the amount of money in a person’s bank account. Safety for people seeking asylum from terror, respect for the environment, adequate funding for education, reform of the judicial system that must protect and serve all citizens, not terrorize them. The list goes on, but it involves studying the issues and the candidates, and above all voting. Jesus told his disciples to do what seemed impossible, beyond their resources. But it was accomplished. Jesus is calling us to act at this time, calling us to trust that we are not alone when we take the next steps that the Spirit empowers us to take in the pursuit of justice, justice for all.

John Lewis ended his last message to us: “So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”

Prayers of the Faithful

Response: Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. Loving God, guide our lives, help us to see the folly in chasing after things—help us to live balanced lives, we pray—Response: “Jesus our brother, hear our prayer”
  1. Loving God, be with all your people around our beautiful world—assist all of us to turn from war and conflict and embrace peace, we pray—

Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. Loving God, give each of us health of body, mind and spirit–especially those struggling with life—threatening illnesses—give each one your strength and wonderful gift of peace, we pray—

Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. O God, help us to be true followers of Jesus, the Christ, who modeled for us so well, working for justice for all, guided by love for self and others, we pray—

Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. For our community, All Are One, give us welcoming hearts to be open to all who come to us, and inspire us in new ways to reach out  to those most in need of our ministry, after the model of Jesus and John Lewis, we pray—

Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, the family of John Lewis and all those who have lost due to Covid 19—give them your peace, that they may find their way through their grief, we pray—

Response:  “Jesus, our brother, hear our prayer.”

***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud—then response

***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pausethen response

Let Us Pray

Good and gentle God, our source of all strength and wisdom.  We ask that you would give us peace—filled and loving hearts—the energy to always seek after peace through the gifts of lovingkindness, and justice, founded on mercy.  Help us to remember that our real task in this world as followers of Jesus, our brother, is to love your people and this world.  We especially ask for the strength and courage to, “speak up” when we see injustice in our midst, modeling the exemplary life of our brother, John Lewis. We ask that we might have the perseverance as he did for this great task.   All this we ask of you, Jesus, our Brother and Friend, and with the Spirit, all, one God, living and loving us, forever and ever—AMEN.

Let Us Pray—Again, we are called to “image” Jesus with us at all times and to share that image, which is love with all we encounter.

Prayer after Communion

Jesus our brother, you give us the strength of new life by the knowledge that you are always with us.  Protect us with your love and help us to always follow in your footsteps.  We ask this in your wonderful name, Amen.