I hope this finds you all doing well!! We are continuing to increase the number of online meetings and ministries that we offer. Sundays at 3pm we now have a Zoom online Bible study. Let me know if you are interested in attending.
On a sadder note, the only stained glass window in our sanctuary that had not been vandalized has now been damaged. The police, insurance, and stained-glass people have been notified and we are already on the way to getting it back to normal. In the same way, our lifestyle is slowly on the way to getting back to normal. We just have to remain patient and do all the healthy things that we can in the meantime.
God bless and keep you safe,
SUNDAY, AUGUST 9, 2020
LECTIONARY 19, YEAR A
Elijah finds the presence of God not in earthquake, wind, or fire, but in the sound of sheer silence. When the disciples face a great storm on the sea, they cry out with fear. Jesus says: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Amid the storms of life, we gather to seek the calm presence of Christ that soothes our fears. In comforting words of scripture and in the refreshing bread and cup of the eucharist, God grants us peace and sends us forth to be a sign of God’s presence to others.
Confession and Forgiveness
All may make the sign of the cross, the sign marked at baptism, as the presiding minister begins.
P: Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, whose steadfast love is everlasting, whose faithfulness endures from generation to generation.
P: Trusting in the mercy of God, let us confess our sin.
Silence is kept for reflection.
P: Reconciling God,
C: we confess that we do not trust your abundance, and we deny your presence in our lives. We place our hope in ourselves and rely on our own efforts. We fail to believe that you provide enough for all. We abuse your good creation for our own benefit. We fear difference and do not welcome others as you have welcomed us. We sin in thought, word, and deed. By your grace, forgive us; through your love, renew us; and in your Spirit, lead us; so that we may live and serve you in newness of life. Amen.
P: Beloved of God, by the radical abundance of divine mercy we have peace with God through ☩ Christ Jesus, through whom we have obtained grace upon grace. Our sins are forgiven. Let us live now in hope. For hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Prayer of the Day
P: O God our defender,
C: storms rage around and within us and cause us to be afraid. Rescue your people from despair, deliver your sons and daughters from fear, and preserve us in the faith of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Special Music: “PRECIOUS LORD, TAKE MY HAND”
1. Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light.
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
2. When my way grows drear, precious Lord, linger near,
when my life is almost gone,
hear my cry, hear my call, hold my hand lest I fall.
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
3. When the darkness appears and the night draws near,
and the day is past and gone,
at the river I stand, guide my feet, hold my hand.
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
First Reading: 1 Kings 19:9-18
On Mount Horeb, where God had appeared to Moses with typical signs of God’s presence—earthquake, wind, and fire—Elijah now experienced God in “sheer silence.” God assured Elijah that he is not the only faithful believer. Seven thousand Israelites are still loyal. God instructed Elijah to anoint two men as kings and to anoint Elisha as his own successor.
9At [Horeb, the mount of God,][Elijah] came to a cave, and spent the night there.
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”
11He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. 17Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. 18Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
10Steadfast love and faithfulness have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11Faithfulness shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12The Lord will indeed grant prosperity,
and our land will yield its increase.
13Righteousness shall go before the Lord
and shall prepare for God a pathway.
Second Reading: Romans 10:5-15
A right relationship with God is not something we achieve by heroic efforts. It is a gift received in the proclamation whose content is Jesus Christ. This proclaimed word creates our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence Christian proclamation is an indispensable component of God’s saving actions.
5Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” 6But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say?
“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
14But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
Matthew’s gospel typically portrays Jesus’ disciples as people of “little faith,” who fail despite their best intentions. In this story, Matthew shows how Jesus comes to the disciples when they are in trouble and sustains them in their time of fear and doubt.
22[Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee], while he dismissed the crowds.23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Special Music: “WHEN PEACE LIKE A RIVER” It Is Well with My Soul
1 When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll,
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
it is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well (it is well)
with my soul, (with my soul,)
it is well, it is well with my soul.
2 Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has shed his own blood for my soul. Refrain
3 He lives–oh, the bliss of this glorious thought;
my sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to his cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! Refrain
4 Lord, hasten the day when our faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
the trumpet shall sound and the Lord shall descend;
even so it is well with my soul. Refrain
Text: Horatio G. Spafford, 1828-1888
Prayers of Intercession
P: Confident of your care and helped by the Holy Spirit, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
A brief silence.
P: For your whole church throughout the world. Give courage in the midst of storms, so that we see and hear Jesus calling: “Take heart, it is I: do not be afraid.” May we follow Christ wherever he leads. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: Protecting God, come to our aid as the coronavirus spreads both globally and locally, heal those who are sick, support and protect their families and friends from being infected. Grant us all wisdom and courage as we face this pandemic. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: Loving God, who created us all equal, we lament the ongoing violence in our world and across our country. We lament the loss of lives due to gun violence and racism. We lift up to you the needs of the whole human family for fairness and equality. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: We pray today for teachers who have to work so hard to provide lessons over the internet and other digital ways, and we also pray for students who have to learn and take exams in a way they are not used to. Be with them as they begin this school year. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: For our congregation. You have gathered us here today as your people and we thank you for this gift. We pray for those who are new to this community, for students and teachers preparing for a new school year, and for those struggling with unexpected hardship. Supply us generously with your grace for our life together. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
Here other intercessions may be offered.
P: We give you thanks, O God, for the saints of the whole church from all times and places, and for the saints in our lives and in our community whom you have gathered to yourself. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: In the certain hope that nothing can separate us from your love, we offer these prayers to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
During this time apart, it is still vitally important that we keep contributing financially, as we are able, to further the spread of the Gospel both here and around the world. You may give by auto withdrawal, electronically on the website, by mail, or drop it through the mail slot on the office door. We thank you all for your continued support and partnership in the Gospel. Let us pray:
God of goodness and growth, all creation is yours, and your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. Water and word, wine and bread: these are signs of your abundant grace. Nourish us through these gifts, that we might proclaim your steadfast love in our communities and in the world, through Jesus Christ, our strength and our song.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen.
As you go on your way may Christ go with you. May he go before you to show you the way; May he go behind you to encourage you; Beside you to befriend you; Above you to watch over; Within you to give you peace. In the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. Amen.
Streams Theme Song
See the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply your sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river
ever will their thirst assuage?
Grace which, like the Lord, the giver,
never fails from age to age.
Here is the message for this Sunday. I hope and pray that you all find it to be comforting and supportive during these trying times. We all miss each other and long to be together again. In spite of how it seems, it will happen before you know it!
God bless and keep you safe,
Last year, a pair of designers created a whole different kind of fashion statement when they bought a pair of Nike Air Max 97’s and re-designed them as “Jesus Shoes.” The “Jesus Shoes” came with little golden crucifixes hanging from the laces and pockets of holy water from the Jordan River that have been prayed over by a priest. The designers claim that they made the shoes to mock the idea of shoe companies partnering with celebrities. And who is a bigger celebrity than Jesus?
Daniel Greenberg, one of the designers behind the “Jesus Shoes” said, “We asked ourselves, ‘What would a shoe [collaboration] with Jesus look like?’ Obviously, it should let you walk on water. ‘Well, how can we do that?’ [they asked.] ‘You pump holy water into the pocket of a pair of Air Max 97’s and with that, you get Jesus Shoes —the holiest [collaboration] ever.’” The “Jesus Shoes” sold for $1,425 a pair.
So, I guess we can close up our Bibles and go home now, right? Now that we know the secret to walking on water, we can sing our final hymn and beat the [Baptists] to lunch. Just kidding, of course.
Our text for today is about Peter trying—and ultimately failing—to walk on water. But it’s about so much more than that. Because the most important thing to notice in this morning’s Bible passage is not that Jesus walked on water or that Peter took at least a few baby steps on the Sea of Galilee.
The important thing to notice is that Peter got out of the boat in the first place. Peter trying to walk on water is a perfect image of what it means to become a follower of Christ. It’s the perfect image of what it means to commit your life to him. Notice that all the disciples were in the boat, but only Peter took that step of faith to go to Jesus.
I’m thrilled that you are reading or watching this message today. I pray with all my heart that today’s worship brings us all closer to the Master. That’s what we’re all really looking for even if we are not aware of it. That’s what Peter was looking for too in our Gospel reading.
The first thing we can learn from Peter’s story is to come to Jesus even if we have unanswered questions. If you are holding off on making that decision to follow Jesus until you read that one article or you sit in on that one discussion that answers all your questions about the life of faith, then you will never get out of the boat. It’s never going to happen. Nobody has all the answers.
John C. Wright is a former lawyer and an award-winning science fiction writer. At one time he was also a committed atheist. But one day, in the midst of wrestling with some questions and doubts, he prayed a really honest prayer. Listen to this. I believe you will appreciate it. He prayed, “Dear God, I know . . . that you do not exist. Nonetheless, as a scholar, I am forced to entertain the hypothetical possibility that I am mistaken.” Now there is a scientist with humility and integrity.
John C. Wright went on to ask God to reveal Himself to him in some way. He decided that, if the prayer went unanswered, then he could safely assume God did not exist or at least did not care enough to reveal Himself. If the prayer went unanswered, all he would lose was a little bit of his dignity. If it was answered, all the world would open up to him.
Soon afterwards, God did answer John C. Wright’s prayer. As Wright explains it, “Something from beyond the reach of time and space, more fundamental than reality, reached across the universe and broke into my soul and changed me . . . I was altered down to the root of my being . . . It was like falling in love.”
John C. Wright’s prayer sounds to me like Peter’s failed experiment in water-walking. Wright was not even sure God existed, but he was willing to move forward in spite of his questions. And in that tiny act of faith, John C. Wright met God and found new life. The first thing we can learn from Peter’s story is to come to Jesus even if we have unanswered questions.
The second thing we can learn from Peter’s story is to come to Jesus even if we are in the middle of a storm. Notice that this scene takes place in the middle of a storm. Matthew says the boat was “buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.”
It would be remarkable for Peter to try to walk on the waves if the sea was calm that day, but to do it in the middle of a storm is even more remarkable.
Life has its storms, doesn’t it? How do you respond to a storm? The other eleven disciples took shelter in the boat. Only Peter believed that it was better to brave the storm with Jesus than to stay in the boat without him.
Author and speaker Palmer Chinchen tells of an excursion rafting the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe with his brothers. It was a scary undertaking. The Zambezi River’s huge rapids are fed by the rushing waters of Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world.
As the men prepared to set off into the rapids, their river guide gave them some last-minute instructions that were a bit disconcerting. He began with the words, “When the raft flips . . .” Notice that he did not say, “If the raft flips.” “When the raft flips,” he said, “stay in the rough waters in the middle of the river.”
Why did he instruct them to stay in the rough waters in the middle of the river? Because, he said, the still, stagnant waters on the edge of the river that looked so calm and safe in reality were filled with crocodiles. Wow! I believe that a warning like that would keep me in the middle of the river—or out of the river entirely.
Palmer made the point that God calls the church out beyond our comfort zone of still, stagnant waters. God calls us to follow Him into the churning rapids of the world’s needs, to make a difference with our lives.
Many of us wait to make a decision about how seriously we take the call to follow Jesus. We decide to wait until we’re older. We’ll wait until we have kids. We’ll wait until we get our heads straight. We’ll wait until we’re not so busy. We’ll wait until we feel a little more worthy, or until we get our spiritual act together or until this storm passes. That’s when we’ll make a decision about Jesus. When things aren’t so crazy. When this pandemic is over.
Here’s the problem: there will always be storms. No matter what your friends say, many of them are experiencing their own storms right now. That fact will never change. But if Jesus really is the Son of God, if Jesus really is the way, the truth and the life, then isn’t the purpose of our life found in facing our storms with him? Don’t let unanswered questions stand between you and Jesus. That is what faith is all about. Don’t let the storms of life stand between you and Jesus.
The final thing we can learn then from Peter’s story is to not let anything stand between ourselves and Jesus. Notice that Peter almost made it. He took the first few baby steps of faith. And then he let fear and circumstances overwhelm him.
We cannot stand in judgment of Peter. We do the same thing. We start to get out of the boat but then doubt intercedes. Or we are afraid of looking foolish. Or we let our busy schedule interfere. What would Peter have experienced if he had made it all the way to Jesus? Imagine the abundant life he could have begun experiencing that very moment if he really trusted Jesus. Certainly, he would never have denied Jesus if he had completed that walk right then. Think for a moment. What does Jesus have in store for you if you commit your whole life completely to him? What is holding you back?
Author Vince Vitale tells of sharing his faith with a man named Joe who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Joe was struggling mightily with this diagnosis as you might imagine. Joe confessed to Vince that he had always believed in God, but he did not think his life was good enough to earn his way into heaven, and he was afraid that God would reject him. He believed he could not pay the price of admission.
Vince Vitale writes that he shared with Joe that “the message of Christianity is that what makes us right with God has nothing to do with anything we do or ever could do, but rather with what Jesus has already done—once, and in full, and for all.” He explained that “if we trust in Jesus Christ, we no longer need to fear judgment, because on the cross Jesus has already taken the judgment for everything we have ever done or will ever do wrong.”
When Vince had finished explaining this amazing truth to Joe, Joe bowed his head and prayed to accept Jesus as his Savior. The next day when his family asked him how he was doing, Joe said, “Wonderful! Now I’m actually looking forward to what’s next.”
The change in Joe’s attitude was so remarkable that his family called Vince and asked him to repeat the whole conversation. They wanted to know what could have given their father so much peace and joy in the midst of his pain.
Joe helped Vince with some of the basic questions about our faith. The truth is that Jesus could have answered our every question about God and life and death and suffering. But he didn’t. He could have calmed every storm and prevented his disciples’ fear in the first place. But he didn’t. He could have held Peter’s hand and let him do a little dance across the Sea of Galilee. But he didn’t. He didn’t make it easy for Peter then, and he doesn’t make it easy for us now. There’s a reason for that. Faith requires trust and love requires sacrifice.
Every great relationship is built on trust and love. And that’s what God wants with you—a relationship. God is doing God’s part. He came in the flesh, in the person of Jesus Christ, to show us the quality of his life. Now it’s time for us to do our part. Every faith journey, no matter how rocky, begins with getting out of the boat and walking toward Jesus. Are you ready to take that step, even if it’s a baby step like Peter’s? Jesus is waiting for you. AMEN.
The Book of Common Prayer reminds us that if one is unable to actually consume the consecrated bread and wine due to extreme sickness or disability, the desire is enough for God to grant all the benefits of communion (BCP, p. 457). When being present at a celebration of the Eucharist is absolutely impossible, this act of prayer and meditation can provide the means by which you can associate yourself with the Eucharistic Action and open yourself to God’s grace and blessing.
Blessed be God, + Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.
Let the power of the Holy Spirit come upon me, O Lord, to mercifully cleanse my heart and defend me from all adversities; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle: Revelation 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door I will come in to you and eat with you and you with me.
The Psalm: Psalm 23:5-6
You prepare a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over. Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The Gospel: John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me, you can do nothing.
If time and circumstances permit, confess your faith with the words of the Apostles’ Creed.
In your own words, pray for your own needs, for those on your heart, for the peace of the world, and for the Church.
After offering these intercessions, continue with the
Act of Contrition
O God, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you and for all the wrongs I have done and the good I have not done. Especially I confess….Forgive me for Jesus’ sake, and grant me strength and wisdom to amend my life. Amen.
Act of Reception
In union, blessed Jesus, with the faithful gathered at every altar of your Church where your blessed Body and Blood are offered this day, (and remembering particularly my own parish and those worshiping there) I long to offer you praise and thanksgiving, for creation and all the blessings of this life, for the redemption won for us by your life, death, and resurrection, for the means of grace and the hope of glory.
And particularly for the blessings given me…. I believe that you are truly present in the Holy Sacrament, and, since I cannot at this time receive communion, I pray you to come into my heart. I unite myself with you and embrace you with all my heart, my soul, and my mind. Let nothing separate me from you; let me serve you in this life until, by your grace, I come to your glorious kingdom and unending peace. Amen.
Come Lord Jesus, and dwell in my heart in the fullness of your strength; be my wisdom and guide me in right pathways; conform my life and actions to the image of your holiness; and, in the power of your gracious might, rule over every hostile power that threatens or disturbs the growth of your kingdom, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep my heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ my Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, + the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with me now and always. Amen.
Spiritual Communion is excerpted from Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book.
Permission is given to reproduce this text for use in local worshiping communities.
© 2014 Forward Movement