Worship Service for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Hi everyone,

The worship service for this Sunday, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost is ready to be premiered on July 19, 2020 at 10am. The bulletin for this service can be found here, which will include all the words for the liturgy as well as my sermon. The sermon is also directly under the embedded video below. And don’t forget there is a live chat on Youtube during the premiere. To get there, just tap the banner on top of the video or on the link just under it. May God bless you in your worship and always!

If the video doesn’t work, or if you want to join the live chat, click here.

Holy God, as we listen for your voice, may your Spirit lead our hearts in the way of your everlasting truth and grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

So I want to again welcome myself back from holidays, and while I admit that I still worked here and there throughout, it was a pretty good holiday nonetheless.  I was able to spend more time with my family in the past couple weeks than I did in the last 3 and a half months, so that was nice.  Too bad about the weather though.  And all in all, I do feel quite rested.

I did some reflection on my feeling rested, and I think it didn’t come from what you’d think.  It didn’t come from working less or from sleeping more or doing things that are more life-giving per se, but I think it mostly stemmed from me not being on my computer as much.  And because I’m not staring at a computer monitor as much, I was also not on social media as much.  Honestly lately I haven’t been on social media that much anymore anyway, but on holidays I had even less reason to go on.  

And you know what?  It was nice. 

I’ve read in a number of places of how we should and need to take regular breaks from social media, but I guess I never really felt it to be true because maybe I never really took a substantial enough of a break before to see the benefits.  But having taken this break in the past little while, I can see what those experts mean now.  So I guess they actually earned that title of expert.  However, most of the stuff I read about the “social media fatigue” is from us comparing ourselves to the good image of the lives led by those we follow and thus feeling inadequate because no one can live up to that image, not even those who are posting it.  But my respite came from a different place.

See, the thing is much of my social media usage is for research, I explore different things that would give me the widest and most broad view of things.  And often I would stumble across a topic or a thread that I just don’t agree with.  Perhaps it is around racism.  Perhaps it is around politics.  Perhaps it’s around whether or not we should wear masks.  Whatever the topic or opinion, I found that the more I read, the more angry I would get.  The more I would disagree, the more I shook my head at what I saw as logical and theological fallacies.  The more nonsensical debate and poor reasoning I encountered, the more hate I felt for those on the opposing end.

Yes, hate.

Like, I can’t understand why people would defend racism.  I can’t understand why people would be so angry when asked to just wear a mask for the good of their community.  I can’t understand why people would promote such hate for others… and that ironically caused me to hate on them.

And what I found during my break is that hate takes a lot of energy.

It took energy in me to think of ways I could argue my point but also passive aggressively belittle those whom I’m arguing with.  It took energy to harbour strong feelings against those with whom I disagreed.    It took a great deal of energy to even try to fathom what I saw as sheer stupidity and to understand how anyone could ever veer away from what I understand as truth and right living and then let them know my very strong feelings on the matter.  It was energy that I then didn’t have to spend with my kids.  It was energy that I couldn’t use to be a better husband.  It was energy that robbed me from some of the joys in life, because I was spending so much of it to just hate.

In today’s gospel, Jesus alludes to this and tells us to just let go of that hate.  Today Jesus gives us a parable of wheat and weeds, how a farmer went and planted some wheat and an enemy, for some strange reason thinking that the best way to stick it to the farmer wasn’t to burn the land or trample the seeds or the most hilarious option to replant the seeds to make inappropriate words or images, but this enemy thought to plant weeds in with the wheat.

Mmkay, I guess that’s one way to show the farmer what’s up.  Then as the crop came up with the wheat, the farmhands wanted to separate them.  But the farmer said to leave them all be and just separate them at the harvest.

Now, I’m no farmer by any means, so I can’t say for sure if that is how it should be done.  But it’s always been my understanding that you want to get rid of the weeds as soon as possible, because those annoying little buggers will make it so the crop, the stuff you actually want, won’t grow very well.  At least, that’s how it worked on every single lawn that I’ve ever had the pleasure of mowing. 

But this farmer was like no, let them grow together.  Don’t worry about those weeds, not yet anyway.  In the end, they’ll be taken care of.

As a farmhand, this might be a relief because I don’t know how many of you have pulled weeds before, but if it’s anything like pulling crabgrass, it isn’t really all that fun.  So to be told to not worry about it, well that’s kind of liberating.  That energy could be used elsewhere, maybe like to tend to other crop or helping this crop to grow better or I don’t know, milk a cow or something.

And so I see this as a gift to us as well, in that instead of trying to weed out those we don’t agree with, those who do things differently than us, or those that we just don’t like, we can just let it go and let God deal with it.  Instead of spending all that energy in trying to correct other people, or trying to prove them wrong, or hating on them, we can spend it on loving those who we love and maybe then we can learn to love those we don’t.  Instead of taking it on ourselves to try and figure out who is worthy and who isn’t, who is deserving and who isn’t, who is in and who is out, we can treat everyone like the wheat and let God’s grace do the rest. 

See, this is a gift.  Allowing us to rest from draining task of being right all the time, the debilitating responsibility of putting those who are wrong in their place, the misplaced need to point out the faults of those who we don’t see eye to eye with.  We are relieved from that duty of self-righteousness, a duty that was never ours to begin with.

For our hope rests in our salvation.  Our identity is founded on grace.  Our position as God’s beloved children comes not from our ability to be right and not wrong, or to see right and wrong, or to point out without a doubt what is right and what is wrong, but it comes from God’s love for us as we are, where we are, how we are, flaws and all.

So maybe, just maybe, if we see that love and can accept it, we can then in turn learn how to love others who also haven’t earned it but, by God’s mysterious grace, deserve it.

You see, we have been given the freedom to make mistakes and not feel shame.  We have been given the freedom to be imperfect and to not feel guilty about it.  We have been given the freedom to not hate but be strengthened to love instead.  This is a gift.

So in this season after Pentecost, this season of the church year that we look at and promote church growth, this season in which we look at how the Spirit is at work within us and our community, may we let go of our tendency to be separated and give in to the ability and empowerment to live as an eternal body of Christ, joined with God and each other for the sake of God’s grace, mercy, and love.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.