Second Sunday After Pentecost
June 11, 2023
When Celebration Circle invited the community of Seekers to share in bringing the word in the sermon today, we offered two questions for reflection, based on the scripture readings for today.
These readings describe some really extreme faith in the face of lost causes. Abraham leaves his home and family and everything he knows, for no reason except faith in the word of God that he hears. In Romans, Chapter 4, Paul contrasts the law with Abraham’s faith, as he was “hoping against hope” that the promise that he would be the father of nations would be fulfilled, in spite of the reality that he and Sarah were past childbearing age. Then from Matthew, Chapter 9, we heard the stories of the synagogue leader who comes to Jesus and says, “My daughter has died,” yet has absolute faith that Jesus can return her to life; and of the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years and yet knew, in faith, that she did not even need to ask for healing, she only needed to touch Jesus’ clothes.
- In this particular time of your life, how are you being called to this level of faith?
- How are we, the community of Seekers, being called to this level of faith?
Liturgist’s note: For each of the following reflections, offered by members of Seekers, there is a brief introduction. Following each reading, the liturgist sounded a bell to introduce a minute of silence.
In our first reflection, Marjory considers how Jesus shows us what call looks like – in his unwavering response of love, beyond all human ideas of right and wrong.
Call comes in many forms. In Genesis, God calls Abraham to leave the familiar and go forth … to be blessed by the journey into an unknown world. In Romans, that call is explained as a response of faith and trust, not obedience to laws and regulation. In Matthew, Jesus shows us what that means: he engages a reviled tax collector; eats with sinners; responds to a distraught father, and blesses an unclean woman for her faith. Jesus demonstrates what it means to leave the familiar realm of clean and careful – to trust that we will discover mercy and blessing out beyond the tribal definition of right and wrong. That’s where the miracles of love actually happen. Do we have the courage to follow that call?
We are joined spiritually with our members who are now at Dayspring on Silent Retreat. Joan reflects on how a tree at Dayspring connects our community in loss, memory, life, and love.
Dayspring, our retreat farm, has continued to be a place of quiet and solace. From the time that it was originally purchased in 1953 until today, it has served many purposes but always as a place for rest and renewal of our spirit. It is a place of faith for many mission groups throughout the wider Church of the Saviour as well as for individuals
who need a day of silence and prayer to regenerate. For Doug and me, Dayspring has become a place of happy and sad memories. We were engaged and married there over 50 years ago, having first shared our news with the Dayspring Potter, Bud Wilkinson. Later, we came together to mourn and celebrate the short life of our first daughter, Jennifer, who at age 2 1/2 had died of a brain tumor after a short illness. At the time, we planted on Dayspring’s hillside a single, skinny twig which we had been faithfully watering in our Adams Morgan apartment. That twig is now a tall maple tree with many branches casting shade on the hillside. Jenny’s Tree is a symbol of God’s faithfulness to be alongside us and others in each of our own journeys of faith, grief, and joys.
Dayspring belongs to all of us as a place to “just be.” A place of quiet to reflect, pray, and discover the joy of being in a place of faith for many.
Fern reflects on the challenges to faith over the course of her long life.
“At this particular time of your life, how are you being called to this level of faith?” The unquestioning kind of faith? I have had numerous experiences in my lifetime which called for faith. Each time at least I knew where I was going. The option of leaving that place was in my control. At this stage I also know what I am headed for – the end of this life – but I have no control over when I will go or what will happen after that. CDC says that at birth life expectancy in this country is about 79 years. I don’t know what to expect at age 90. All I know is that I will make that journey. In the lectionary Biblical stories, people asked God for help. I ask God to walk with me, and I intend to affirm my faith at each step. Currently I am getting rid of things I have no need for, which calls for a lot of relinquishment – never in this life will I need those things. God is helping me with this step, and will unquestionably lead me to the next steps. I need to take only one step at a time. The belief I hold onto is that God will be with me all the way. Lord, I believe. Thank you for leading me now.
Will shares his view of a specific opportunity for faith in the seemingly impossible.
Romans 4:13-17, as translated in the Life Recovery Bible, offered a challenge to my faith. Verse 13: “God’s promise was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God which comes by faith.” Verse 17: “…believed in the God who creates new things out of nothing.” When the building next door to Seekers Church went up for sale my spirit was ignited with all the possibilities for love and service, if Seekers bought the building. It seems like a perfect place to invite people in recovery programs from all walks of life to find hope, safety, and belonging. When I considered the multi-million-dollar cost and absolutely no sense of how to begin having conversations with Seekers about an overwhelming project, I simply smiled and said to myself, “no way.” On the other-hand, when I read this scripture it occurred to me to consider such a project a new level of faith!
Judy reflects on listening in faith for a possible new call for her.
The words of Matthew 9:35 – 10:23 remind me that Jesus gave his disciples advice to fortify them as they went out to spread his Word. He likened them as “sheep going into the midst of wolves”. As I consider becoming an election worker, I’m aware of the danger in working to promote democracy and help those who want to vote. It will require courage, time in training, and time at the polls on my part. Will I move forward?
Finally, Peter takes us back to Abraham’s call to an unknown land, and asks us, to what unknown future might God be leading Seekers?
God calls Abram to leave the land he knows and journey to a place that God has in mind but isn’t ready to reveal … yet. This isn’t the kind of call we look at very often. It isn’t being invited to move to some new place all ready and waiting for us. It isn’t being pushed out by frustration or failure. No, here God is calling Abram to trust God to show the way to a land where God will do a wonder-filled new thing, building a new creation based on the trusted values Abram and his family bring with them. Does that sound like us here at Seekers? Might the Creator be calling us to pack up our core values, like call, and commitment, and community, and shared leadership, and watch where God is leading us? It wouldn’t be the first time for Church of the Saviour!