Worship Service for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost

Hi everyone,

Welcome to worship for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, June 27, 2021! The worship bulletin for this service can be found here. The bulletin of course will have the order of worship, the words of the liturgy, the hymn/page numbers out of the ELW, and the sermon in full. The words of the liturgy and hymns will also be on your screen, and the sermon is included below the video on this post.

If you would like to enhance your at-home worship experience, you can consider having a few things in your space to aid in that. For the Thanksgiving of Baptism, you can have a bowl of water to interact with. For communion, you can have something small to eat and drink. And for the entirety of the service, you can have a lit candle which can be extinguished during the sending hymn. Just a reminder that all of these are optional of course, but only meant to assist you in your worship.

May God’s healing joy and peace shine in and through you and your community as we worship together!

If the video does not work, please try clicking here.

Holy God, your Word has the power to heal, restore, and save.  Open our hearts to your Spirit, and may we accept the truth of your unending love, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

So it looks like we’re nearing the end of the pandemic *fingers crossed (I hope I don’t jinx it).  And I’m pretty sure that I speak for us all in saying that the end couldn’t come soon enough.  Regardless of how you feel about staying at home and having a mysterious new contagious virus as an excuse not to talk to anyone, a lot that has happened over the past 15 and a half months that affected us beyond this pandemic.  Not a lot happened in terms of Marvel movies, mind you, no we still have to wait for a couple weeks to get the first full feature in two years, but other things have happened here in Canada and around the world. 

I mean things around politics both church and state, racial tensions which could even relate to politics in some instances, and of course, there was this pandemic that changed us so much, most apparent in the difference of opinion of how we should or shouldn’t be dealing with it all.  Or at least, how the government should… so basically, politics.  People have been so divided left versus right and dare I say that a lot of the extremists don’t even know what they’re fighting over any more, they just know that they don’t like the other side.  Tempers have been flaring over what the truth really is, and neither side can even budge just a little to make room for graciousness.  Emotions get heated to the point where no one is making rational sense anymore but everyone is just grasping at straws trying to prove their own point as right, no matter how ridiculous it actually sounds.

And as I’ve said many many times over the past 15 and a half months, I’m tired of it.  Sick, even (not the cough cough kind of sick, thank goodness).  But all of this tension, this divide, this great chasm between us all has been seemingly enough to drown out all hope, swallow up all joy, and suck whatever life we had left out of us.

Am I being dramatic?  Maybe.  But I am just fed up with all the fighting.

Can we ever get past this?  Can we ever learn to get along?  Can we ever heal?

If I’m being honest, the future, even after pandemic, is looking bleak.

And this pandemic will hopefully be less than 2 years long.  It took just 2 years for things to fall apart.  It took just 2 years for us to be so unglued.  It took just 2 years of this virus for us to be so divided that anything else is already unrecognisable.

Could you imagine 12 years?  That’s how long the hemorrhaging woman has been hemorrhaging.  That’s how long she’s been apart from society, labelled as “unclean”, and disallowed from having any kind of normal life whatsoever.  Twelve years of isolation, exclusion, and depression.  Twelve years of being told by doctor after doctor, specialist after specialist, basically anyone after anyone, that there is nothing that can be done and that there is no longer any hope.

Yet, she continued with hope.  She had faith.  She believed that healing was within her reach and she continued to do whatever it took to get there.  Even if it meant pressing up against a crowd despite her ritualistic uncleanliness just to be able to touch the cloak of a fabled miracle worker with the chance that she’ll be stoned to death if she were to be caught.

And it worked. 

She was healed.  She was brought back into wholeness.  She was able to live again with her community in peace.

But that isn’t the only story of healing that we get out of today’s gospel lesson.  Let’s not forget about this Jairus guy’s daughter, who was so sick that she actually died before Jesus could even get there.  But when he does, it’s found that she is just sleeping and fully healed and well.

Two people sick, one for 12 years and the other just 12 years old.  Two people touched by Jesus.  Two people healed, restored, and brought into wholeness.

That’s not fair, is it?

As we all know, there have been many many people, both whom we love and those we only have heard about, who have died during this pandemic, either from the coronavirus or otherwise.  There have been many many people who leaned on Jesus and had communities praying for them but to no avail.  There have been many many people who have been left sick, passed away, and unhealed.

Or have they?

As we look at these stories and feel slighted by the unfairness of it all, as in why them and not us, it’s important that we not confuse healing with curing.  See, those who suffered and died through the pandemic and beyond weren’t cured yes, but they were healed.  Their disease or whatever affliction got the best of their bodies, but their souls were saved.  While they are no longer physically with us, they continue to make us whole through their presence in our minds and hearts always.

And that is healing.  Both for them and for us.  Being reminded and knowing that God holds us, welcomes us into God’s eternal kingdom of meaning and purpose, and joins us together with all the saints as the one body of Christ is healing.  And we all need that kind of healing in our lives, sick or not.

Earlier this week, some news dropped of even more unmarked graves of Indigenous people found at the sites of old residential schools, this time it is around 751 bodies.  751.  It is so hard to believe how anyone in good conscience can partake in such atrocities.  It is so tough to hear and read about this pain and suffering caused by our country.  It is nearly impossible to face the systemic racism that has run so deep in who we are as a nation that we just find it easier and more convenient to turn a blind eye to the multitude of families who have lost everything because of the greed of a few.

How do we heal from this?  How can we move forward?  How can we be God’s hands and feet in this situation?

To be honest, I don’t know exactly.  But I do know that it starts with an apology.  And an apology starts with an admission that this was wrong.  I was very sorry and angered and actually embarrassed to hear of a Catholic priest in Mississauga who, in his sermon, said that while the deaths of all these Indigenous people was tragic, that we shouldn’t forget the good that the residential school system did.  Really, bro?  You think that tearing families apart, denying a culture the right to live, and intending to erase a whole people group off the face of the earth just so you can clear your conscience of stealing their land is good?  I can’t even.

It is this kind of attitude that keeps us divided.  It’s kind of selfishness that crushes hope for a decent future.  It’s this kind of self-righteous bigotry and closed-mindedness that prevents any kind of healing and reconciliation from happening. 

You know, I don’t have the definitive answers.  I don’t have a magical road map that tells us step by step how we can get to this healing.  But I do know that it will have to involve grace.  Not Grace as in this congregation per se, but the grace that has been given to us by God, revealed to us and reminding us of how precious life is, how important community is, and how valuable each and every one of us are.  Male or female; adult or child; black, indigenous, person of colour or not; because God has made us worthy by God’s own steadfast love and forgiveness.

And when we hold on to and lift up that truth of our intrinsic value and worth, we might catch a glimpse as to why God has declared us as beloved.  And maybe then we can learn to work together in spite of difference, we can learn to see and respect other perspectives other than our own, we can learn to regard one another with a mutual equality where we fight not for power and wealth but for the good of all humankind.

It won’t be an easy road, but the good news in that we won’t travel this road alone.  But God is with us, showing us the way of love and community, paving the path with grace and forgiveness, and encouraging us with a merciful and healing salvation offered to us all.

So we might not get there tomorrow, but I look forward to the day that we do.  We might not be able to all get along across the political spectrum and other ways that divide us by our differences, but I believe that we will learn the meaning of peace and mutual justice.  We might not be cured of all that ails us, but, in spite of it all, I do have hope that there is a healing of the heart, mind, and soul, found in the unending and eternal grace of God.

In this season after Pentecost as we near the end of this divisive pandemic, let us put down our weapons, tear down our walls, bring down our attitudes of superiority and supremacy and learn to love with God’s grace and mercy that brings us all into healing.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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