Welcome to worship for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, landing on June 11, 2023! I know the sound didn’t work last week, but hopefully it’ll be fine this time around. I’m still unsure with what happened but I’ll be sure to double and triple check the settings before we get started.
The worship bulletin can be found here. In the bulletin you’ll find the order of worship and the words of the liturgy, the hymn and page numbers out of the ELW, and the full sermon. The words that you need to know will be on your screen, and the sermon is included on this page after the video.
For a fuller worship experience online, you are encouraged to have a lit candle in your space for the service, which can be extinguished with the altar candles after the sending hymn. And if you’d like to participate in communion, you may do so by having something small to eat and drink ready to be consumed at the appropriate time during the service. Further instruction will be given then.
May God’s steadfast and surprising love fill you with hope and joy, this day and always!
May your Word enter into our hearts, O God, and fill us with the hope in your promises of life, healing, and faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
So, I’ll admit that I haven’t seen my doctor in a looong time. Of course the pandemic didn’t help at all, as with many doctors, mine would only see certain patients and did most of the stuff over the phone. But from even before pandemic, I still didn’t see him very often. Basically something would have to be very wrong or I needed a very specific note for something (like skipping an exam) for me to see my doctor at any time in my life.
And really, things have been fine for me, health-wise. Like, I haven’t died yet so I guess I’m doing pretty good? But thankfully I don’t have any major problems going on (that I know of, at least). Sure, I have your regular ache and pain here and there, and a bit of eczema that I’ve mentioned before, oh and I have this issue with swallowing sometimes when I eat too fast, but hey, all in all I’m still pretty robust and virile even at my aging age.
So I guess I’ve gotten into the habit of just not seeing my doctor. Anything that happens to me, I usually get over in a matter of hours, or a day or two at the most. I’ve never broken a bone, needed stitches, or needed to be hospitalized for any reason whatsoever. I’m not bragging at all (well maybe a little), but I’m just saying that I’ve been pretty lucky in terms of injuries or serious ailments.
I suppose this is a good and a bad thing. Good because I never had to feel that pain that these kinds of injuries and ailments bring, but bad because… well, I feel like I don’t ever need a doctor. I’m too strong for one. It’s like I have a mutant superpower of being healthier and healing faster than your average non-mutant superpowered person. Ok, now I’m totally bragging. But now, when something happens and someone suggests that I should see a doctor, I’m just like “nah, I’m good” because I just can’t be bothered. I’m healthy enough to know that I just don’t need a doctor.
And this isn’t just me either, I know a lot of people that don’t see their doctor for pretty much this same reason. They’re probably not as healthy as I am or share my same superpower, but they still share this same mentality. And it isn’t just with medical doctors either, I mean how many of us would go seek professional help for our mental health? Or seek a nutritionist for our dietary needs? Or even consult a local for directions somewhere?
It seems like many folk, especially those that could be a bit higher on the testosterone scale, just don’t like to ask for or even admit that they need help. We don’t like to have to rely on others. We don’t want to seem… I don’t know… weaker than the rest.
And so we front. We pretend. We put on a mask of strength and confidence and push on like all we ever need is ourselves. We see this all around us, throughout much of history, and certainly in Jesus’ time, when people were still segregated very starkly, between classes, level of education, and especially among Jewish circles, ritualistic cleanliness.
At least, that’s how it was with those Pharisees, lifting themselves up, patting themselves on the back, and looking down on anyone who couldn’t live up to their standard of perfect discipline and understanding. Which, quite frankly, was everyone, including themselves. Not that they would ever admit that though, of course. The goal was pretty straight forward, be righteous and honouring to God and follow very commandment down to the last letter. And the Pharisees appeared to be able to do this quite well.
“Appeared to” being the operative phrase.
And so when they saw Jesus calling Matthew, that tax collecting traitor, and then sitting and eating with what they’d consider as sinners, they would have been baffled that a man professing to have the same status as they do as a religious official, the same education as them as a Rabbi, and their same goal of ritual cleanliness, would throw away his righteousness in such an easily avoidable way like that. It wouldn’t make sense. It would have been mind boggling. It would be so unheard of that there would be no way that they could just stand idly by and watch but instead they would question, doubt, and deny having any affiliation with this man whatsoever. The last thing they would have taken it for would be a learning opportunity.
Jesus responds, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Well, yeah, obviously. We just were talking about how I have no need of a doctor because I’m like in tip top shape. The Pharisees probably understood this in terms of their spiritual discipline and religious knowledge. They don’t need to be taught anything by this dude who eats with sinners.
But that idea doesn’t stop Jesus at all. He’s like, “Go and learn what this means” and he ends off with, “For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Here we’d think that the Pharisees should have been shut up, because they can see that they’re not part of this flock that Jesus is here for. They’re not the ones that Jesus has come for to help and to call into community. They’re not the sinners, but they’re the righteous that he’s talking about.
Then the story takes this weird disjointed turn where Jesus goes and heals a girl and a hemorrhaging woman that we know better from Mark’s gospel.
But this is an interesting way of describing the story on this 2nd Sunday after Pentecost. We have the calling of the disciple Matthew who doesn’t openly renounce his profession as a tax collector, so it’s possible that he still does that as a side hustle. We have the Pharisees being schooled about health and illness. Then we have two people healed from their ailments immediately after.
Healed… not because of anything Jesus really did. But healed through the trust, reliance, and faith in who Jesus is. Pair that with Matthew just following Jesus also out of faith, and we get a better idea of what Jesus is all about.
And what he’s about isn’t around rules, rituals, and disciplines. You know… sacrifice. Rather we see him teaching about compassion, community, and care for our neighbours regardless of where they land on the social hierarchy. You know… mercy. That is what he literally is recorded saying. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
And this is Jesus’ M.O. This is Jesus’ whole ministry. This is what Jesus calls us to. All of us. The sinners, the righteous, the sick, the healthy, even the tax collector and the Pharisees.
See, while I might not go to the doctor as much as I should, that isn’t a reflection on my overall health and strength. It isn’t indicative of what doctors offer and how they can help. It isn’t a problem with them. It’s a problem with me.
And that’s the same thing with the Pharisees. They can’t see past their assumptions around their own health and strength. And with us, we can’t always see our need for God’s grace and the community of Christ. But that isn’t indicative of God’s presence, Christ’s love, or the Spirit’s drawing us together, but it is us not always seeing just how forgiven, how saved, how healed we are.
The little girl was declared sleeping before Jesus even saw her. The woman was healed before it was made known that she was there. Matthew was called before he made any decisions to follow or not. And so we are healed from our sin before we ask for it, called to serve before we commit to it, and saved by grace before we even knew we needed it. Saved solely by God’s expansive and steadfast love and grace, spreading through community and relationship, joining us all together as the one inclusive body of Christ.
Often we are too worried about what others are doing. We are too concerned with how welcoming or not they are or how far we think they’ve drifted from their faith. We are too concerned with who they vote for, what ideals they hold, and even what washroom they feel comfortable using. The thing is we aren’t called to bring those that we disagree with to light, but we are called to treat each other with understanding that they are just as fallen and in need of forgiveness as we are. We are called to see each other as siblings in Christ, anointed as God’s children, and brought into God’s kingdom just as we are. We are called to treat each other with mercy, in that we needn’t point our fingers in detest and anger, but accept others in love and see how they are in their own right and in ways that they might not even recognise or want to admit, are in desperate need of a saviour, just as we are.
And thanks be to God, we all get one. Amen.