Beginning this week and continuing through the season of Pentecost, the Faith@Home newsletter will present both Tracks of the Lectionary. For those not familiar, beginning with the second Sunday of Pentecost, the Lectionary suggests one of two Tracks to follow: the first is considered “semi-continuous” and expands the Old Testament lesson so the reader learns a fuller story; for the second Track, the Old Testament lesson is intended to complement the lesson from the Gospel. The epistle and the gospel are the same for both tracks.
It’s interesting that action-reward looms large in the scripture for Proper 8 (Pentecost 4 this year). Often, when Jesus speaks, his words are clear and easy to understand; this is no exception. But it’s also interesting how well Jesus understands humanity, that humans are very often concerned about their reward. And “righteous” behavior will receive “righteous” reward. The concept is echoed in both Old Testament readings. From Genesis (Track 1), Abraham trusted that God would provide, even when God gave Abraham a horrid task to complete. From Jeremiah (Track 2) tells us that the prophesy of peace becomes a reality then we will know the reward of God. And Paul adds the exclamation point by adding that the gift is eternal life. So let us come together as one body, the righteous.
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Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
From sermon4kids.com: “Abraham had faith in God and trusted Him completely—and God provided the lamb—just as Abraham had told Isaac that He would. When we put our trust in God, He always provides.”
Scripture: June 28, 2020—Jeremiah 28:5-9 [T2]; Psalm 89:1-4,15-18 [T2]; Romans 6:12-23; and Matthew 10:40-42. Illuminating the scripture, an image and audio journey. Track 1 lesson and psalm are Genesis 22:1-14 and Psalm 13.
Collect: Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: The life and witness of the prophet Jeremiah remind us that in challenging times we often choose denial and despair and resort to easy answers. How can we more faithfully discern God’s will during times of trial in our life, nation, or church? At the expense of comfort, ease, and half-truths, to whom or to what do you turn for the courage to choose justice, hope, and truth, and what is the reward that you seek?
Saint Focus: It’s a difficult choice of which saint bio to expand upon this week. Aren’t you curious about what an “ecumenist” (Isabel Florence Hapgood) even is? And then there’s Peter and Paul as well as Harriet Beecher Stowe. But my choice is James Weldon Johnson. At Easter Vigil at SSSJ, we hear the Creation story as recorded by James Weldon Johnson in his book God’s Trombones. But who was he? He was many things, but poet and writer are what he is renown for. Here’s a song adapted from one of his poems: Since you went away. And just last week, the lyrics of the closing hymn at SSSJ last week, “Lift every voice and sing” are by James Weldon Johnson. He was an activist, having helped to found and manage the NAACP. Be sure to follow the link below for more details. [most from the Calendar of the church year according to the Episcopal Church.]
This week, the saints under consideration were :
- 25; James Weldon Johnson, Poet, 1938
- 26; [Isabel Florence Hapgood], Ecumenist, 1929
- 27; Cornelius Hill, Priest, 1907
- 28; Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. 202
- 29; Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles
- Jul 1; Pauli Murray, Priest, 1985; AND Harriet Beecher Stowe, Writer and Prophetic Witness, 1896
Eye Candy: “Reward for the Righteous” by David Baruch Volk; “Jesus welcomes all” (early 21st century), a mural in the Sudan photographed by “Amy the Nurse”; “Sacrifice of Isaac” (521-547), a mosaic from the Basilica di S Vitale in Italy
Ear Worm: “There’s a spirit in the air” by Brian Wren; “O Master, let me walk with thee“, hymn in beautiful a capella harmony; “Bring me a little water, Sylvie“, sung by women in United States Navy Band (go listen)
Old Gaelic Rune
I saw a stranger yestereen:
I put food in the eating place,
drink in the drinking place,
music in the listening place;
and in the blessed name of the Triune
he blessed myself and my house,
my cattle and my dear ones,
and the lark said in her song
often, often, often,
goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise
often, often, often,
goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise
presented as a song
image is hoard of gold coins from Epidaurus, 3rd Century BC, at Numismatic Museum of Athens. (Wikimedia Commons).
Consider Paul’s words from Romans 6—contrast the slavery of sin vs. slavery in Christ. What’s the difference? Can you think of examples of both? In what ways is it more difficult to be a slave to Christ rather than a slave to self (i.e., to sin). In what ways is it easier? Share. [based on “Trust, Obey, and Get the Lead Out” from The Stewardship of Life Institute
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Today we continue reading from the Gospel according to Matthew. This passage follows Jesus’ commissioning the disciples to go out and preach and his warning of the opposition they will encounter. Today he concludes this section describing those who accept their message. Matthew is speaking here of us and of all who have accepted the message and who have received the reward of our faith.
Track 1: Abraham’s greatest test of faith now comes as God tells him to sacrifice the child he and his wife had awaited for so long. Abraham sets out to obey but God intervenes, spares the child, and renews the promise to Abraham’s descendants, including us.
Track 2: The first reading finds Jeremiah countering false prophets who give a message of peace even though the time of judgment and war is a hand. Jeremiah says to see if what the prophets says comes true. In fact, Jeremiah’s message turned out to be the true message.
The reading from Romans today carries on Paul’s discussion of the result of baptism. We are dead to sin but we still have the choice between sin and grace. The choice is to be controlled by sin or by God. One receives only death from sin but from God comes sanctification, growing into the image of God in which we were created.
We gather as people who find our life in Christ rather than in the conventions of the world. Our action in worship is a contradiction of the world’s standards. Our life as we go forth from worship is to show forth our new way of existing by ministry to the poor and neglected that God saves all who turn to God in faith. We are to live in accordance with God’s kingdom, even when that reality is hard to find in the world around us.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.