June 22, 2020
Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #641]
The readings for Sunday, June 28, 2020, the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
The very brief Gospel reading for this coming Fourth Sunday after Pentecost is a conclusion to a long section which began back in the previous chapter. Over the last two weeks you've read of Jesus calling his disciples and giving them instructions before sending them out into the mission field.
To recap, Jesus told them to go ahead of him to all the villages and towns, and to do all the things he was doing. Then, he warned them about what to expect. Some people may not welcome you. Some people may be hostile. In fact, your own family may not accept your missionary work, but don't worry. God, who cares for the sparrows, will care for you.
Six times in this short reading Jesus uses the word, "welcome." And it is important to note that what Jesus is talking about is not about welcoming but about being welcomed. In other words, we aren't in control of other people's reactions. That is always the primary risk in any relationship. When it comes to sharing the Good News, we are vulnerable to being rejected, or received, never knowing in advance which response we will get.
The world rejected the prophets, mistreating and even killing them. I would encourage you to study closely the book of the prophet Jeremiah, our first reading.
In similar fashion, the disciples were not always welcomed. Now we who follow those first disciples take our place on the road in response to Jesus' sending us out to proclaim the message that Jesus is Lord, bringing those dead in despair and sin to life in the kingdom of God the Father.
We cannot say what reception, what sort of welcome, we may get.
When the Gospel according to Matthew was written, there was a great deal of conflict between the followers of Jesus and religious and governmental authorities. The assigned readings over these weeks after Pentecost are being read at the same time that our nation has been steeped in protest over police brutality and injustice to certain segments of society, namely African-Americans and people of color. How have you heard them in light of what has been happening, and what connection have you made, if any?
God sends prophets, disciples, and messengers to reveal to the world a different way, a better way to live in harmony with one another, to show us a way of life where justice, equality, and peace prevail; and where racism has no ranking. As God sent the prophets of old, God will continue to send prophetic voices into our midst.
As followers of Jesus today, those messengers are us. How will you respond to the call?
I mentioned last week that I plan to use this space to introduce other voices that can speak to matters of racial justice more effectively than I can. I am still working on that and will hopefully present a guest columnist next week. I apologize for the delay.
My electronic meeting schedule this week is as follows:
Monday :        Staff meeting

Assembly Planning Committee
Tuesday:         Bishops of Color Check-in
Wednesday:   Conference meeting with Cleveland East, Cleveland West,
Canton-Massillon Rostered Ministers
Thursday:        Ecumenical/Interfaith Committee

Conference of Bishops Weekly Check-in

Synod Council Executive Committee
For our closing prayer I am borrowing from one of the resources on our Northeastern Ohio Synod website's Racial Justice Page. This is a new page on our website that we will continue to build on. I thank Administrative Assistant Marilyn Matevia for her work on curating this page.
Prayer for Racial Justice
Save us, O God, from ourselves,
from racism often cloaked in pious words,
from the machinations of white supremacy hidden in calls for civility,
from micro aggressions thinly veiled in arrogance,
from apologies when they don't give way to action,
from forgiveness without facing the truth,
from reconciliation without reparation.
Deliver us, O God, from expecting siblings of color to continue to bear this emotional work, which is not theirs to do.
Grateful for the long arc that bends toward justice, we pray:
Grant us wisdom,
give us courage for the facing of these days,
by the power of the Spirit,
all for the sake of the kin-dom that we share in Christ Jesus.
+Bishop Abraham Allende