(Rom 6:5-11; Ps 121; Mtt 10:40-42) J G White
Sunday, July 2, 2017, UBC Digby
Romans 6:5-11 Quite a few Sundays this summer will will hear from the book of Romans. I will use some of the verses suggested by the Revised Common Lectionary, a list of readings for each Sunday of the year.
In today’s text, we ponder what it means to be one with God, united in Christ Jesus, as Paul puts it here. It is made clear what we already know. Our existence has life and death in it. So, the story of Jesus is the story of God in life and in death.
I was back to Windsor, where I used to live, on Wednesday. Went to a friend’s deathbead at the Windsor Hospital. She was already unconscious, unresponsive. A woman of great vitality and creativity, in her final chapter. We were close neighbours for seven years, in the same apartment house. She also sat in a pew in front of my pulpit there.
Interestingly, she would talk with me privately about how she disliked most funerals. She actually disliked all the talk about resurrection and eternal life. Did not really believe in the whole ‘life after death’ thing.
I appreciated her honesty; and it did not bother me. To die and then live with Christ is beyond our explaining, and whatever I think about it, or my friend thought about it, it will be what it will be when this life ends, by God’s grace.
These sentences from the book of Romans are also getting at the life and death of various parts our our lives. The beautiful way things not good can die off in our lives, and the great stuff can flourish and grow. That’s what I believe in, here and now, and in the next installment. Let’s hear from Romans chapter 6…
Psalm 121 Unto the Hills
This hymn is a song lyric version of the 121st Psalm. Perhaps it is a rather dull song – music and words – but it is a classic. Of course, it is Canadian content too.
The whole book of Psalms is a book of poetry, poetry intended to be sung. So we sing it. We sing of the hills we look up to. Even our rather short Mount Pleasant, Beaman’s Mountain, and Mount Shubel can be looked upon with joy and awe. The inspiring landscape brings out the awe in us. And the hope. And the wonder – wondering about it all. Wondering about ourselves in this world.
A good friend is a paraglider ‘pilot.’ Like hang-gliding, paragliding takes one up to the crest of a great hill, and then one steps out into the wind and soars in the sky.
My friend, Brian, is a very relaxed, easy-going fellow. His long-time life-partner jokes about him, climbing hills with his wing on his back, waiting for the wind to be right. She says he goes up there to work out his problems. Most of us cannot imagine what problems Brian actually has.
When we have problems to face, we sometimes find our way to the mountains – looking from a valley below, or a lookout on top – and we seek help.
Let us sing Psalm 121, Unto the Hills.
Matthew 10:40-42 In a moment, Evelyn reads from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter ten. Words of welcoming and of rewards.
On Canada Day, we would do well to rejoice in the welcome of our land. The actual land itself was welcoming to the first peoples who got here and called it home. Those people were welcoming – they had to be – to newcomers from Europe through the centuries. We have the daily opportunity to welcome others we meet. Welcome them with the spirit and love of Christ. Welcome the friend and the stranger as we welcome Jesus and the presence of God.
As Jesus said at other moments, we can bless Him when we help people who cross our paths today in all sorts of circumstances. Let’s hear these words recorded in Matthew…
PRAYERS of the People Let us pray. July 2, 2017
God: the Singer of the Song, with our hymns and Psalms and spiritual songs we have prayed today…
We have been not dismayed whatever betide. We pray for those who do feel hopeless and troubled. We pray for the sick and the sorrowing among us. We pray for healing of bodies, of souls, of relationships.
From every race, from every climate, Your people gather… and we have gathered with them, around the Table of Jesus. Bless the Church, in an uncertain age, that we may be a gracious light in the world.
The wonder of springtime and harvest, the sky, the stars, the sun… is before us. With the roaring rain and startling lightening we pray for all who are frightened and traumatized, that they may find healing comfort.
We’d rather have You, Jesus, than anything the world offers today. In an age of buying and selling, of hoarding and stealing, may we be saved from greed and emptiness.
Faithful One, so unchanging, Ageless One, you’re our Rock of peace. O that there could be a solid rock of peace for the refugees of the world to stand upon, in all the places they flee and suffer.
Angels fall before You, prostrate, worshipping. On this Canada weekend, we remember the many peoples who worship in many different ways, praying that we may have the grace to respect and know one another.
Unto the hills around do we lift up our longing eyes.
All the earth makes a joyful noise unto You. Let there be joy for those who are surrounded by hate and violence, little celebrations that bring happiness in hard times.
Make us now Set apart for You, our Master, ready to do Your will. As You taught, may people be transformed from within, and our desires and action become completely that of You, our Holy Source.
We Crown You the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave. We give thanks that this little life of ours can be so magnificent: we give thanks!
God keep our land glorious and free.
And now, we go out to express our citizenship – as citizens of Canada, citizens of humanity, citizens of earth, and citizens of the Heavenly Kindom.
We humbly plead before You, reveal Yourself in us.
In Jesus’ name, AMEN.