Collect for Sunday, August 30
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Readings for today can be found here.
Rev. Bambi Willis, Rosemary Arneson, and Barry Holliday have coordinated our service for this morning. The service can be found here: https://youtu.be/UGORqH3cd1U
We will be doing Rite II and you can follow along starting on page 355 in the Book of Common Prayer. The of Common Prayer (BCP) can be found here. The Psalm for this morning is Psalm 105:1-6,23-26,45c found on page 738 in the BCP. The readings are Exodus 3:1-15; Romans 12:9-21; and Matthew 16:21-28.
A Meditation for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Last Sunday, Peter confessed that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And Jesus responds, “ And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,” Now Jesus calls Peter a “stumbling block” after Jesus predicts his passion and Peter says that must not happen.
Is Peter a rock or a stumbling block? Is the church a rock or a stumbling block? I want to say “yes” and “yes.”
Many years ago, I met an older woman named Sarah. Sarah, I learned, as a teenager had been on a field trip with her high school to a Catholic church. As her classmates entered they dipped their fingers into the holy water just outside the sanctuary. Sarah started to do the same until a nun learned that Sarah’s father was a Unitarian and admonished Sarah not to touch the water. Sarah never set foot into a church for the next seventy years.
I met Sarah as she was suffering from dementia. Sarah’s daughter brought Sarah to church one Sunday and Sarah wanted to keep coming back because Sarah loved the music. In time, Sarah asked to be baptized. Sarah’s daughter wondered if her mother would be able to make the correct responses and I assured her all would be well. When I asked Sarah “Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?”
Sarah responded with gusto “Of course, I do!” So, at eighty-five, Sarah was baptized.
The church had been a stumbling block for Sarah but in her later years became the rock that brought her joy and peace in the midst of her failing health.
Sarah came to the Episcopal church because her daughter was an Episcopalian. Sarah could just have easily been baptized a Catholic, a Methodist, a Lutheran, a Baptist or a Presbyterian. We Episcopalians are not the only rocks in town! And we are not immune from becoming stumbling blocks.
I can become a stumbling block if I preach not for the furtherance of a beloved community but for a partisan agenda. We can become stumbling blocks when we stop listening to those who share beliefs different from ours. We can however, become rocks when, in the words of Saint Paul we:
Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Please remember all those on our prayer list this week found here or in the Good News Daily found here.
Rev. Bambi Willis
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Sermon from the Bishop's Chapel
The Rev. Whitney Z. Edwards
Upper School Chaplain, St. Christopher's School, Richmond
The written version can be found here.
The YouTube version can be found here.