Worship Resources for July 2, 2023—Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Revised Common Lectionary: Genesis 22:1-14 and Psalm 13; Jeremiah 28:5-9 and Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42

Narrative Lectionary: 2 Peter 1:1-11 (Matthew 13:44-46)

Our first selection of the Hebrew Scriptures in this season after Pentecost follows the ancestors of the faith in Genesis and Exodus. In Genesis 22, Abraham is instructed by God to offer up Isaac, his only child, the son promised by God, as a sacrifice. Though Abraham had another son Ishmael through Hagar, Hagar and Ishmael were sent away. Though God had promises for Hagar and Ishmael, God’s covenant would be with Abraham’s descendants—yet Abraham was told by God to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham did not hold back Isaac. But just before he was about to kill him, the angel of the Lord called out for Abraham to stop and provided a ram instead. While some interpretations of this story suggest that God tested Abraham and this is a story about faithfulness to God, other scholars believe this is a story showing that God was different than the other gods of Abraham’s time—this God did not desire child sacrifice. It is a disturbing story in our scriptures, one that we must wrestle with in understanding historical and cultural context, in light of the abuse of children in religious institutions over the years.

Psalm 13 is a song of trusting in God. The psalmist is facing their enemies and feels defeated, but they trust in God’s steadfast love and mercy. They will continue to praise God because they know God is faithful.

In the second selection of the Hebrew scriptures, Jeremiah 28:5-9, Hananiah the prophet had been preaching peace to the priests and people of Jerusalem. They did not want to believe that destruction was imminent. Jeremiah agreeed this would be a great message, only the prophets of the past warned of war and destruction and no one listened to them, but their words were true. If Hananiah is not proclaiming what God has spoken, it will not come to pass.

Psalm 81:1-4, 15-18 is a song praising God for the covenant and God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Those who know how to worship God are blessed, for God is their protector and strength.

The Epistle reading continues it series in Romans 6:12-23. Sin no longer has a hold on us because we are under grace, but we still should not sin. Instead, we should live as people obedient to Christ instead of the ways of this world. We are now obedient to the teachings in our heart, for we have been set free from the ways of this world. Paul uses the image of slavery, and that sin has a hold on people the way the system of slavery did, but sin and death have no hold on the faithful for they have been freed. The ways of this world—sin—leads to death, but the way of Christ leads to eternal life.

Jesus was completing a set of instructions to the disciples before he sent them out. Matthew 10:40-42 contains a brief conclusion on hospitality, in that whoever shows a disciple hospitality has shown Christ hospitality. When we welcome one another, we welcome Christ, and therefore God, into our lives. When we show hospitality to the most vulnerable in our society, we are welcoming Christ.

The Narrative Lectionary begins a brief series on 2 Peter, beginning with verses 1-11. Both 1 and 2 Peter are considered pseudepigraphal and not written by the apostle, and 2 Peter may have been written as late as 150 C.E. 2 Peter is written to encourage the followers of Jesus, now at least a full century if not more after his death and resurrection. The beginning of this letter tells of how Jesus, through his divine power, has given the believers everything they need to know to live a godly life. The writer speaks of escaping this world’s power for the power of God, for the world wants to corrupt, but God desires for us to live. The believer does best to witness to a faithful life by living into goodness, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. The author states that their lives will confirm their call and election into the reign of God.

The supplementary verses of Matthew 13:44-46 contain two parables: the parable of the treasure in the field and the great pearl. In other words, the life that God offers through Jesus is worth giving up everything else in the world, for the reign of God is a greater treasure than these.

How do we live faithfully today? We live into God’s reign on earth as it is in heaven. We love one another, practice hospitality to one another as if it is Jesus the guest we are welcoming into our homes and lives. We witness through our lives by practicing goodness and godliness, self-control and love, as well as endurance in this world that will try to get us down. God helped Abraham break the terrible cycle of child sacrifice that was common in his lifetime. Jeremiah stayed true to what God had spoken to him despite it not being a very popular message—for the prophets and leaders of his time wanted to hold on to the wealth and power they had instead of listening to God. Paul writes of breaking free from the system of sin in this world through Jesus Christ, who sets us free. We are called to live differently. The world today sets us in competition with each other, to consume more and have more. We worry about not having what others have, or holding on to our possessions and wealth so tightly that we forget Jesus called us to welcome one another and give at least the basic needs to the most vulnerable in our society. We are called to live differently, and our lives witness that the reign of Christ is real, important, and eternal.

Call to Worship
We proclaim God’s faithfulness in our lives,
For God’s steadfast love endures forever.
God has been faithful to our ancestors, and God is faithful to us,
For God’s steadfast love endures forever.
God has made a new covenant with us through Jesus Christ,
For God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Live into the joy of God’s love in your life and worship God,
For God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
We confess to You, O Holy One, that our ways are not Your ways. We have sought the world’s wealth and possessions. We have sought to build capital and establish security for ourselves and our families. We have not worked to help the most vulnerable. We have allowed water to become polluted, food to become scarce, housing for the poor to be eliminated. We have neglected the most in need among us and therefore we have neglected You, Jesus our Savior. You came to us as vulnerable as any of us, but we have ignored You in neglecting the vulnerable among us. Forgive us and call us into accountability. Call us back to the work You have given us to do, to welcome one another, practice kindness and compassion, and to do justice by caring for those who are considered the least among us. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, and we hope to participate in it, but we know we cannot if we ignore You in this world, among Your children in need. In Your name we pray. Amen.

You are God’s beloved child, made in God’s image. When we return to God, we know God’s love and God’s ways. We set out to do right, and at times need our direction corrected, but God’s love will never fail. Know God’s love and seek forgiveness, restoration, and healing in this world. Do your part to build and plant and grow the seeds of righteousness, faithfulness, and love, and know God’s mercy in your life. Go with this good news of God’s love and forgiveness.

Sun of Righteousness, You rise over us with healing in Your wings. We praise You and call upon You to help us live into the life You desire for us—a life where we show mutual love and care, build up one another, and tend to one another’s needs. The world is burning around us with neglect and hardship and strife, but You offer us a different way to live and to care for the earth and one another. May we listen to Your voice calling us into that Way, that Truth, and that Life that is abundant, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.