Worship Together Live & In-person
Our Saviour is excited to hold our 2nd live in-person worship on Sunday, June 21 at 10:00 am — Father’s Day — rain or shine!
The worship service will take place outside of Our Saviour’s building on the lawn and parking lot. Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets, or you can stay in the safety of your own car. We will broadcast the service through speakers onto the property through our new FM radio transmitter. Tune your radio to FM station 92.3 — the new “WOSLC”!
For those who prefer to stay safer at home, join us on Facebook live.
Please print your bulletin in advance or plan to view on your smart device.
(We will have a few bulletins printed for those who need one.)
For additional information and guidelines, please visit our Worship Together Live & In-person event.
3rd Sunday after Pentecost: God Makes a Way Out of No Way
This weekend’s lessons seem to mirror what we see in the news–strife and fighting, within families, across racial and religious and cultural divides. All seems lost. However, God sees and hears their cries and ours. God makes a way out of no way, promising light, freedom, and life. Come or log in to share the good news that Jesus tells us to shout to the rooftops!
Saturday 5:30 pm Contemporary Service
Sunday 10:00 am Traditional Worship Service
God Makes a Way Out of No Way
Sermon for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Year A [Lectionary 12]; June 21, 2020
Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine, Martyrs
Genesis 21:8-21; Psalm 69:7-10, 16-18; Romans 6:1b-11; Matthew 10:24-39
Our Saviour Lutheran Church of Warrenton, Virginia. The Rev. Terri Luper Church
Running high on anticipation, Mrs. Myra Thompson put the finishing touches on her Bible study and headed off to lead it at the evening service. But before she would teach, her church would license her to preach. She was on her way to becoming a pastor! What an evening it would be!
She got to church that night, but she never made it home. Instead, she made the news.
It was June 17th, five years ago, when Mrs. Thompson, preacher-to-be, was licensed to preach the Word. After that ceremony, she was leading the Wednesday evening service at the historic African American church known as Mother Emanuel AME Church, in Charleston, South Carolina. A young white man joined them and was warmly received by the group. Together, they all participated in Myra’s Bible Study for 40 minutes.
Once they began to pray, their guest raised a gun, and in the name of white supremacy fired at all the participants, killing nine beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ. Myra was one of them. They have become known as The Emanuel Nine, for the name of the church, “Emanuel, which means, God is with us.”
This is not an easy story to tell. It is an ugly story. It breaks our hearts, as does so much in the news these days. But I must tell this story. I cannot tell a story for all the losses people have suffered lately, whether due to racism, or reactions to racism, the Covid-19 virus, the financial catastrophes, or any other tragedies people are facing now. I can’t tell everyone’s story, but I can tell a bit of her story. I wanted to tell you about Mrs. Myra Thompson and ask you to remember her. Maybe it’s because Myra’s story is five years old that it is a bit easier to tell. Maybe it is because I feel like I recognize her, and I find a bit of myself in her.
I remember when I was first authorized to preach in my Baptist churches in Texas, and later in the Lutheran churches in New York. I can still taste that excitement. Like Myra, I had loved Jesus since childhood and dedicated myself to his service. Like Myra, I taught, served on church committees, and was involved. And although she didn’t meet her husband at seminary, Myra’s husband was a pastor, like mine. I got to the pulpit at a younger age than she did, but we both longed to get to this sacred place. Can you see why, despite so many differences and things that could separate us, I feel a connection to this woman, this Christian, this child of God?
And so, I ask you to help me remember her today, along with the other martyrs who were in the church for Bible study that night. We’ll say their names during the prayers.
Other than the date, you might ask why I bring her story to you this weekend, and of course, it is tied to the Word. Although the world Jesus walked and talked in is wildly different from our own, Jesus spoke a message that we still need to hear: the Christian walk is not easy, and yet, no matter what, God loves us and promises to be with us and show us the way.
In our reading from Matthew today, we hear Jesus speaking about hardships with his closest followers, just as he is about to send them out into the world to spread the good news of God’s love. Going to people who don’t want to hear your message is hard! We know that is true, don’t we? Freedom of speech is one of the tenets the country was built on, but it is not easy. Although some may hear it as such, my “free speech” today isn’t about politics, but about how God loves this beautiful world and all the people God made beautiful in it—that’s us and the members of churches that are different from us, as well as the people who don’t know that God loves them at all. Our good news is for people who vote like us and it is people who tell us we are wrong. Did you hear some of the people Jesus said would be most upset their preaching? Members of their families! Anyone facing the trials of arguing with family—whether over little stuff or the big ones—Jesus hears you! We all need the good news that God loves us all and is with us in the hard stuff.
Jesus also says God counts the hairs on our heads—yes, even those with Covid hair. (I’m not mentioning any names—ahem, Michael Church!) Jesus tells us that we are valuable. That life is valuable. That we are loved.
Our story from the Old Testament shines extra light on the difficult path we are in now. It reminds us of one of our challenging stories in our religious past, how Abraham and Sarah set their slave Hagar free—but a freedom out into the wilderness with nothing but some bread and water. As Hagar and Ishmael wandered in the barren wilderness, her water ran out, and she thought there was no way out. But God heard the cries of her son, and God saw her plight, and God sent an angel to help. They found a well of life and received the promise of a long life and many descendants. God showed Hagar and Ishmael the way out when there seemed no way out—not an easy way, but a way in which they were not alone.
In my days as a pastor in the South Bronx, I learned an expression from the African American community I served: “God makes a way out of no way.” I heard that phrase again as I was looking into the story of the Emanuel Nine and Mrs. Myra Thompson. God makes a way out of no way. When hope seems lost, God is there, leading us, guiding us along the way.
What if the way out of no way starts by learning each other’s stories?
I told Mrs. Thompson’s story to begin to understand her. And when I did, I met someone a little familiar. And, perhaps, when we discover how similar we are, those things that divide us may begin to become less important. Maybe not. I don’t know the answers. I do know it matters to tell this story, today, because it is my step on the way. Together, we grieve. Today, our stories collide. And that is enough for today.
A way out of no way. A perfect message for us today! Sometimes our path forward seems impossible, but with God, nothing is impossible! When we are lost, God shows the way. And that, my friends, is speech worth sharing! Jesus told his disciples to shout that good news from the housetops, or, as my “Hamilton the Musical” ear hears it, “shout it to the rooftops!” Either way the message is the same: don’t be silent. Speak out. Shout out God’s message of love. Let the rooftops hear God’s message of forgiveness and second chances!
Let God hear your questions. Let God show you the way.
“Will this virus change our lives forever?”
Whatever happens, we don’t face it alone.
“Will we ever see an end to the violence and injustice born of power struggles and inequity?”
With God’s help, we will work together toward that day.
Does Father’s Day bring up questions—How to be a good dad? How to live after your father has died or left you alone, or worse? God shows those ways, too.
What questions do you bring to God today? What ways seem like no ways? Bring them, and put them at the foot of the Cross, and God will make a way out of no way, through Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. Amen
Material for this sermon came from multiple resources, including:
Remembering Those Who Have Died
As each name is read, silence is kept. The leader begins with these or similar words.
On this somber day, we trust in the expectation of the resurrection to eternal life, as we remember this day those who died in the Charleston shooting and who now rest from their labors.
Let us pray. O God of grace and glory, we remember with thanksgiving those who have loved and served you on earth, who now rest in your mercy, especially
The Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
The Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney
The Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr.
The Rev. Sharonda Singleton
Keep us in union with all your saints, and bring us with them to the joyous feast of heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Liturgical material © 2017 Augsburg Fortress; used by permission of Augsburg Fortress, #SAS009239. Copyright Acknowledgments (CCLI License # 2800659 and One License # 710443-A) for print and broadcast.