Homily – 21st Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

Dear Friends,

We continue in [Extra] Ordinary Time–which, as you know by now, is my new title for an extended time in the Church Year, that by nature of the Scriptures, “served up” for us to consider, is usually, anything but “ordinary.” This past week, we were also “served up” by route of the Democratic National Convention quite a bit to reflect on.  Regardless of your views politically, the honest person has to admit that there was much there to give hope and healing, along with challenge in their virtual gathering of the nation. We are in the midst of several crises in our beloved country and our Scriptures for this week are instructive–may they bring you peace and healing–love to you all, Pastor Kathy

P.S. Please never hesitate to call or email if I can be of help to you.  507-429-3616 or aaorcc2008@gmail.com

Entrance Prayer

Good and gentle God, listen to us, hear our prayer and answer us. Be with us, who trust in you. We call to you all day long, have mercy on us O God.

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

Creator God, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world.  In our desire for what you promise, make us one in mind and heart. We ask this through Jesus our brother and your son, who lives and loves us with your Spirit, one God, forever and ever, Amen.


  • Isaiah 22: 15, 19-23
  • Romans 11: 33-36
  • Matthew 16: 13-20


My friends, this week our brother, Jesus, asks us to answer a question whose answer declares what we truly believe—“Who do you say that I am?” It is one of those questions that we don’t want to answer too quickly, because the answer we give lays out then so clearly how we must act going forward.

If we can answer in faith, and with certitude, as did Peter in today’s gospel from Matthew, “You are the Messiah, the First-born of the Living God,” we then must move into our world with the same love, compassion and mercy that Jesus did in his.  We can no longer sit on the sidelines waiting for someone else to do the work of the kin-dom that our brother Jesus began among us.

In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks those wonderful words, “Whatever you declare bound or loosed on earth, will be declared bound or loosed in heaven.”  I have always thought that these words were strictly intended for Peter and for those, by extension, who would be called to lead the People of God, i.e., the pope, bishops and priests.  But now, upon further reflection; I believe that Jesus meant those words, ultimately, for each of us who commit our lives to follow in his footsteps.

Last week, I said that Christianity is really an “experiment in loving,” when all is said and done.  Each of us lives our lives—in Church and State, through a series of laws, rules and regulations meant to guide our lives in doing not only what is good for us, but ultimately, good for all—in other words, our life, our living in this world, can never be, just about us—not if we are going to claim to be Christians—followers of our brother Jesus!

Most mature humans—Christians and those who follow other belief systems know and believe this tenet—that the decisions we make in how we live our lives can’t be just about us—we must always, always consider the other!  Thus, my caution to answer the question Jesus asks, in today’s gospel, who we say he is, carefully…

So when the law by which we direct our actions, falls short of the most noble thing to do, whether in Church or State, love must take over, because love is the higher action—it is ultimately what we humans were created for.  Laws are needed in Church and State to keep order when people wouldn’t necessarily act for the good of all without them. The beauty and perhaps the curse of our human natures is that we are capable of great, great good, but equally of great evil and our history upon this earth has proven the truth of this. Laws about driving at safe speeds, or while under the influence of drugs, have come to be, for the most part, accepted and enforced.  Now in this time of pandemic, it would seem that perhaps a national law to wear a mask when in public is needed to keep everyone safe.

Love calls us to be our best selves, asking—always asking, how is love being served here?—if the law doesn’t adequately answer the need, or ultimately serve love, then change is needed!

If we believe Jesus’ words, his actions, and have committed ourselves through our confirmations; then we must respond to the words of hatred and anger, to the actions of lovelessness from the current administration in Washington designed to appeal to the worst in us, instead of the best, and not remain, passive, or silent.  People cannot go hungry in our world without our response.

Our women and girls must be raised to know that they are equal to the men and boys with whom they share the planet and be given every chance to excel.  Women and men, and especially now, at last, our black sisters and brothers must be accepted—and we must all proclaim, with full hearts that indeed, BLACK LIVES DO MATTER!

The days of inequality, racist attitudes, lack of equal pay for equal work, simply must stop!—as so many in our country spoke so eloquently of this past week at the Democratic National Convention—“We are better than that!”  Remember Jesus’ words, “Look at the fruits.”  And friends, I must say once again that I always try, as your spiritual leader—not to advocate for one political candidate over another, but as many said this past week; we have moved beyond the tenets of one party over another and are now, “fighting for the soul of our country.” While I can’t tell you how to vote; I can and always will lift up to the light, the good and put down that which isn’t worthy of us as humans or Christians.

Our faith and hope in a country that respects each person for their own particular gifts, must be open to all striving to find who they are as persons, being good listeners of other’s stories and respecting their truth.  These last four years in our nation, the powers that be in our country have given us such a lack of truth and we are simply “famished” from that lack of truth.

We as a nation must lead with our hearts when we are asked to share our country with immigrants seeking a life that is better, free from war and conflict.  We must embrace the differences we see in our world and uplift all races, cultures and religions, realizing that the differences are what make us great! “Love is love,” as my friend, Paul Alexander sings of it, so beautifully—no matter where or how we find it!

I think it is fair to say that most people in our great country long to uphold the higher values of truth over lying, goodness over exclusivity, love over hate, peace and safety over instigated violence and reckless rhetoric and this great democratic country of ours gives us the opportunity on a regular basis to choose someone to lead us who exhibits the best of these qualities.  Again, Jesus always said, “You will know them by their fruits…”

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution giving women (0f course not all) the right to vote—black women would have to strive even longer to realize this right.  And even today, the right to vote is being tampered with for some in our country.  So, it behooves all women, especially on this 100th anniversary to affirm the struggles of our great grandmothers to obtain this right and to exercise it!  Of course the same challenge goes out to the men to never squander this right. And to all of us then; we must exercise this right to choose who is best for all the people in our country!

My friends, our Scriptures for this week definitely show us the way—in fact help us and give us permission to find a new way if need be. The message comes through loud and clear that we have a God who totally loves us—no exceptions!  The prophet Isaiah speaks these words, “He will care for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”  Of course, Isaiah is speaking of the man, Eliakim whom, through the hand of God, would be raised up to care for the people.

Isaiah goes on, “When he opens, no one will shut—when he shuts, no one will open.”  These words are reflective of similar ones of our brother Jesus, in today’s gospel from Matthew, “Whatever you declare bound or loosed on earth will be so…in heaven too!”

The psalmist—in 138 today continues speaking of our God, “You care for the lonely…Adonai, your love is constant forever…”

And finally Paul, in his letter to the Romans proclaims, “How unsearchable [are] the ways of our God [!]” –almost as if to say, “our ways are not God’s ways,”—especially when we stay too much, “in our heads,” forgetting the law to love which Jesus proclaimed as the grounding of the two great commandments—to love God and  your neighbor as yourself.

We have spoken in the past few weeks about our God’s gift of life to each of us which is comprised of the spiritual and the human and of how we each in our own lives will need to strive—to be our best—warring with our human egos to choose those actions that are not just about ourselves, but about all others that we share our beautiful world with.

We have heard these themes throughout this past week within the Democratic National Convention and I don’t know about you, but I found myself smiling a great deal and even sensed a beginning of healing as I listened to the hope, challenge and love expressed there—coming from across the country in this virtual presentation.  I heard, as many of you did, of people seeking to lead our country, speaking most personally about how their parents called forth the best in them,

showing by example how they should be in their world.  There was none of the lying, mean, angry and demeaning rhetoric that we have been exposed to in the past four years.  I think some in this country feel, unfortunately, that to be a person of strength, to fight off our adversaries, demands a mean, bullying demeanor, when really, the opposite is true.  Strength of character and an understanding and compassionate heart can co-exist, and very effectively, for that matter.

We, as a country, are now faced with problems that only those who are true leaders, can change—only those who care inclusively for the people of this country and all of their needs—can ultimately heal.

We have been told that this year’s voting, amid four major crises: a world pandemic with the highest numbers for infections and deaths in our country, economic numbers for joblessness as bad as during the Great Depression, the uncovering to the light of day our systemic sin of racism  and the reality of global warming which Mother Nature is showing us only too clearly through greater and more frequent wild fires and storms of greater proportions and frequency is truly about “the soul of our country.”

Those of us who claim to follow our brother Jesus must clearly choose, based “on the fruits” who will best lead and care for our country.  This is an awesome challenge and must not be taken lightly!

But, more than anything—exercise your right to vote, especially if you are a woman.  Learn the issues, know what each candidate stands for and will defend.  Additionally, vote early, as soon as you can as the current occupant in the White House is trying to sabotage your precious right through defunding the post office—needed especially in this time of pandemic to allow people to vote safely, from their homes.

In conclusion, my challenge to you and to me—is to be your best selves, check “the fruits” for yourself, but also for all others in our country and even in our world—vote like your lives depend on it, because I believe they do!  Amen? Amen!

Prayers of the Faithful

Response:   “Jesus, our light and love, be with us.”

  1. For our community, All Are One, continue to send your Spirit upon us to enable us to be an inclusive community, open and welcoming to all, we pray—

Response: “Jesus, our light and love, be with us.”

2. For each of us here and for our entire Church, help us to respond with love and care          to each and every person we meet, each and every day, we pray—

Response: “Jesus, our light and love, be with us.”

3. For all who are suffering here today or in our wider community, be it in body, mind or   spirit, we pray—

Response: “Jesus, our light and love, be with us.”

4. For those who are suffering across our country from the ravages 0f nature, may they        know our God’s comfort as they grieve losses brought on by these powerful forces and      help us to do those things that will protect our earth, we pray—

Response:  “Jesus, our light and love, be with us.”

5For our world and its people, that each of us might attempt to “get out of the boat” to make a difference in this world—to end war and conflict, to end world hunger, to end abuse of any kind, realizing that how we live our lives does affect the rest of those who share this planet, we pray—

Response: “Jesus, our light and love, be with us.”

6Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, due to Covid 19 and in all other ways—give them your peace, be with those our friends and relatives who are newly bereaved to find their way through their grief, we pray—

Response: “Jesus, our light and love, be with us.”

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

***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause, then 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 mercy, truth and justice.  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 ask that we might have the strength for this great task. We ask all this of you, Jesus, our light and love, and with your Spirit, One God, living and loving us forever and ever—AMEN.

Let Us Pray—Again, we are without the physical bread—the body of Christ in this pandemic time.  Let us remember of how Jesus is always with us and let us strive to share his presence with our world.

Prayer after Communion 

Loving Jesus, may your presence within us bring to us and to others the healing power of your love.  May it guide and direct our efforts to love your world completely. We ask this in your wonderful name, you who are God and who lives with us and loves us, forever and ever—Amen.