OT 12 – Second Sunday After Pentecost

June 19, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In 1 Kings 19. 1-15 the prophet Elijah has killed the prophets of Baal; to escape retribution he has fled to the wilderness, where he expects to die. But an angel feeds him and sends him to Mt. Horeb, where he encounters God—not in the earthquake, wind or fire, but in utter silence. God then sends him back to Damascus to get to work.

Psalm 42 is a cry of longing for God. “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul thirsts for you.” Despite all suffering and sorrow, we hope in God, who gives us life.

In Galatians 3.23-39 Paul says the law was a disciplinarian, teaching us right from wrong, but we are justified before God not by our obedience, but by God’s love. Our faith, our trust in God’s grace, is what saves us. There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile—those who follow the law and those who don’t. There aren’t any distinctions at all. We are all God’s children.

In Luke 8.26-39 Jesus goes across the Sea of Galilee to the Gentiles, where he heals a man possessed by evil spirits. He sends the spirits into a herd of pigs (probably kept to feed the Roman Army) who rush into the lake and drown. The people are so upset they make him leave.

Preaching Thoughts

Elijah
         Elijah has fled to the wilderness for escape, but retreat turns into encounter. Sometimes we need to “get away.” But we’re not getting away from God. No such thing. In our retreat we are given the strength, wisdom or power to return to the work of loving the world.
         None of this is Elijah’s doing. It’s all gift. He receives food for strength; he receives a vision of God; he receives instructions. How often, when we’re ready to quit, some angel says, “Here’s what you need to go on.”
         God doesn’t come to Elijah in dramatic special effects. God doesn’t speak to us in that great, booming bass voice of the movies, but in the quiet, in silence, “God’s first language.” If Elijah hears actual words we’re not told of them. Just a tiny, calm voice. God’s “Word” is presence, not words.
         The assurance Elijah might want—protection from the danger he’s in—is not given; only instructions. As if what matters is not our sense of security but our faithfulness to God’s quiet whispers in us; God will take care of our fate.

Galatians
      It’s hard for us to trust that God really, really doesn’t “judge” us, by deciding how good or bad we are. God’s judgment is that we need more love—all of us. No one is actually “better” than anyone else in God’s eyes. Oh, we so desperately want to be better than somebody… (Thank God for Hitler—at least we can say God loves us more than him, right?) Well, no. God does not love him any less than anybody. We’re all God’s children. Of course Hitler was horrible. But it does no good to compare ourselves to others. We are not “justified” by our goodness, but by God’s. Paul invites us to stop comparing and just receive God’s grace and be grateful.

The Gerasene demoniac
         The other side. — What a rich story. Jesus has brought the disciples to the “other side”—of the lake… of the tracks… of the border wall…of the aisle. This is gentile territory. When we confront our shadow side, the parts of ourselves we can’t see or won’t look at, we encounter the demonic—but also healing and miracles!
         The demon recognizes Jesus for who he really is: not just a healer but a destroyer of evil forces. Jesus’ healing isn’t just the cure of individuals: he’s assaulting the cosmic power of evil itself. He demon’s name is “Legion”— not only meaning many, but specifically a platoon of the Roman Army. In the demon Jesus is also confronting the evil of Roman occupation. A large herd of swine would be unlikely to belong to anyone but a large organization to feed lots of people—like the Roman army. When the swine drown in the lake it’s an image of the power of evil being sent back to the waters of the chaos of Creation, back to square one. And, weird as it seems, it’s an image of baptism. Our demons drowned and sent back where they came from. Jesus has performed a cosmic healing.
         When the locals see the formerly tormented man sitting at the feet of Jesus” (that is, learning from him) clothed and in his right mind, they were afraid. We’re threatened when people we’re accustomed to labeling as unfit, unworthy or deserving to be excluded turn out to be real people. They want Jesus to leave. As is often the case, we’re not always comfortable with miracles and healings, both because it disturbs our sense of “everything the way it is,” and also because, like people working for the Roman army, we derive some benefit from our collusion with the structures of oppression. We hate to surrender that, even for the good of others. The demon lives in all of us. Jesus’ instructions to the man to go home is itself a great healing: Jesus restores him to his community, to being accepted and respected.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Eternal God, by your Word you create us.
All: Give us grace to listen to your creating Word.
Loving Christ, you speak your Word and we are healed.
Give us grace to listen to your loving Word.
Holy Spirit, you speak in our hearts in the sound of sheer silence.
Give us grace to listen to your silent Word.
We open the ears of our hearts; and we worship you.


2.
Leader: Holy One, you your Spirit breathes in us.
All: The heart of your love beats in our hearts.
We breathe in the pain of the world.
We breathe out your mercy.
We breathe in the sorrow of the world.
We breathe out your mercy.
You breathe your mercy in us.
Your deep mercy we breathe for the sake of the healing of the world. Amen.

3.
Leader: The thunder of daily news crashes about us.
All: But God, you speak in a still, small voice.
The earthquakes of our lives rattle us.
But your quiet, persistent whisper stays with us us.
The fire of our fears and desires roars within us.
But your gentle silence invites us in.
We still ourselves, that in the quiet we may hear.


4. ( Based on Psalm 42)
Leader: Living God, as the deer longs for flowing water,
so our souls thirst for you.
All: Fountain of life, well up in us and overflow with your grace.
Risen Christ, when shall we come and behold your face?
Here and now, for you are among us!
Holy Spirit, by day you pour out your steadfast love,
and at night your song is with us.
Alleluia! Come, Holy One, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

5.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
Mystery of Love, we worship you.
God, you do not speak to us in earthquake, wind or fire,
but in a still, small voice that whispers.
Help us to listen in stillness.
You are unchanging, but you transform our lives.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

6.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
You heal us of our brokenness and restore us to full living.
You rescue us from our isolation and restore us to community.
You overpower the forces of evil, and establish your dominion on the earth.
Alleluia! We gladly tell of the wondrous things you have done! Alleluia!

7.
Leader: People of God, awaken!
All: We awaken to you, O God, and open our hearts to your presence.
Beloved of God, come!
We gather in your spirit, O Christ, and open our hearts to your love.
Body of Christ, arise!
We cross the threshold into your Realm, O Spirit, and open our hearts to your Word.
Draw us into your mystery, nourish our souls, and send us out again
to be and to proclaim your grace for the world. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God, your Spirit murmurs in our hearts, low and quiet.
Help us listen, beneath the noise of this world,
to hear the still, small voice of your presence. Amen.

2.
Loving and gentle God, amid the shouts in the streets and the voices in our heads, we want to hear your still, calm voice. Speak to us, heal us with your Word, and call us to new life in the name of Christ. Amen.

3.
God of truth, from you no secrets are hid. You hear what is on our minds; you know what is deep within us. We long to know your Word, to hear your voice, to feel your presence. We long to know you as you know us. As we wait in your presence now, speak to us— in scripture, in words, in silence, in song. May your whispering voice come to us and touch our hearts. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, we long for your peace. Voices of power shout at us with words of fear. But in your silent, whispering voice you speak your peace to us. You calm our fears. You heal our wounds. You overcome our demons. Help us to listen in hope, to receive in trust, and to live in faith, by the power of your Spirit. Amen.

5.
God of Truth, the prophet Elijah on the mountain beheld a great wind, and an earthquake, and fire, and finally a soft, murmuring sound. We turn from the rush and roar of the world to listen in the silence for your gentle voice. Open our hearts, so that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God of love, we need you. This world needs you. We are broken.
Spirits of hate and fear haunt us.
Demons of violence and injustice possess us.
We are part of a hurting and hurtful world.
We are horrified by evil and yet we contribute to it,
though we know not how.
Forgive us, for we know not what we do.
Forgive us, heal us and grant us your mercy,
in the name and the Spirit of the crucified and risen Christ.

2.
God of Love,
from our demons deliver us.
From our fear of our demons rescue us.
From the armies of oppression
and the powers of injustice save us.
Restore us to the beloved people you create us to be,
and to the beloved community.
Jesus, we cry out to you.
Heal us, and set us free.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
         We entrust ourselves to God, maker of all that is and all that shall be, Divine Mystery, Heavenly Lover, Eternal Presence.
         We follow Christ, the Word of God made flesh, the Silence of God made real.
In love he taught and healed, cast out demons, and acted with justice and mercy.
He has undermined the power of evil, for he loved in the face of violence; he was crucified by the powers of njustice, and on the third day rose from the dead, and still lives among us, blessing us and calling us to follow.
         We live in the Holy Spirit, God’s love at work in us for others, the Spirit that makes us one Body: one in forgiveness, one in faith, one in ministry to the world.
We go, therefore, nourished by God’s grace, to serve the world in the name of Christ.

2.
       We believe in God, Creator of all, who is not in earthquake, wind or fire, but who is Mystery.
       We trust in Jesus, who is the Christ, who is Love. He taught and healed; he cast out evil and saved the wretched. He heard your word in the poor and the powerless, and in the ordinary things of life. By the forces of violence and oppression he was killed; by God’s grace he was raised again, and lives among us, healing, blessing and speaking God’s Word of love to us.
       We listen to the Holy Sprit, God’s presence in us, who guides and sustains us, who makes of us one body, the Body of Christ. In the power of this Spirit, trusting in the reality of resurrection and the mystery of eternal life, we forgive one another, embrace the outcast, resist evil, listen devoutly for God’s quiet grace, and bless all Creation, for the glory of God. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)


From the raging noises of this world
call us forth to listen
to your still, small voice.
From the voices of the demons in our own heads
shield us, that we may hear
your perfect, loving silence.
Whisper to us, God.
In the silence, be with us.

Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

God we thank you. For you create us in your image,
and call us as your own.
You set us free from all that oppresses,
both the forces of injustice around us
and the voices of shame within.

Even when we act like monsters you see our divine beauty;
you touch us and heal us, and we thank you.
So with all Creation we sing your praise:

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who loved and taught and fed the hungry.
He confronted the powers of evil,
both within us and in our systems and structures.

Those powers killed him, but you raised him from the dead,
confirming his covenant to be with us in blessing always.

     (The Blessing and Covenant)
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     (Memorial Acclamation)

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ,
otherwise the journey would be too much for us.
Pour out your Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
moved by your still, small voice,
healed by your grace,
and sent forth to confront the powers of evil and injustice
in whatever forms they present themselves,
in the name and the spirit of Christ.
     
(Amen.)

____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

1.
Gracious God, we give you our lives, symbolized in these gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. Send us into the world, attentive to your voice, listening for your will, ready to serve for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.2.
Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. Send us out into the world to tell people the wonderful things you have done. Send us out into the hurting places to heal, into the lonely places to bring love. Send us out into the world of war and violence to enact your Reign of gentle peace. Make us one in Christ, and one in ministry to this broken world, in the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have healed us with your miraculous grace; you have spoken to us in your loving whisper; you have fed us for the journey. Send us now in the peace and the power of your love to aid you in the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on title to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)


Listen (Elijah Version) (Tune: The water Is Wide / Gift of Love)

“Not in the earthquake, fire or wind
will you find me, your faithful friend;
but in the silence is my Word:
it is not spoken, but is heard.

“For when you listen and attend
in silence deep, you meet your Friend,
whose voice no words can catch or hold,
and yet whose love is clearly told.

“And listen well with love’s deep art,
to what is in your neighbor’s heart,
for there I dwell, and there I speak;
and there I hide, for you to seek.

“My glory shines in every face
of my beloved human race.
So listen well with wond’ring care:
behold my glory shining there.