For 21 June 2020, the Third Sunday after Pentecost. Rev. Geoff McKee’s main Scripture comes again from Genesis.
It’s the story of Hagar and Ishmael.
Hagar was Abraham’s concubine and the mother of his son, Ishmael. Bought as a slave, in Egypt, she served as a maid to Abraham’s (at that time) childless wife, Sarah, who gave her to Abraham to provide an heir.
By the time of ‘today’s’ events, Sarah had given birth to a son, Isaac (as we discussed last week).
The story is not a happy one for Hagar and Ishmael, on the face of it. The lessons for us include our capacity to endure and persevere, as well as our ability to express feelings of hardship.
The Scriptures this week are Genesis 21:8-21 (Hagar and Ishnael), Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17,
Romans 6:1b-11, and Matthew 10:24-39, all set out below. There are prayers and a musical selection. Rev. McKee’s sermon is presented in audio format.
Genesis 21:8-21 (New International Version)
Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.
A prayer of David.
1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
6 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Call to Worship
God cares for us completely
and calls for our total commitment.
Christ gave his life that we might live
and calls us to give our lives to him.
Through Christ we have died to sin;
in Christ we are fully alive to God.
Come, let us worship God.
Holy One, incarnate One, dynamic One, God who is Trinity, we lift our voices in praise and thanksgiving
for the life in Christ Jesus that we receive from you.
You have shown that your mercy overcomes sin and evil and brings relief from oppression. We thank you for your steadfast love that keeps covenant with your people. In Christ we know the depth of your care for all that you create.
We invite the Holy Spirit to help us so that we can praise you eternally in the name of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
God of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac – God of Hagar and Ishmael, who gave us your Son, Jesus Christ the crucified, help us confess and truly repent of our sins.
We turn against one another; we fail to care for the weak and poor among us. We pay no heed to the cries of the powerless; we seek our own advantage. Your Son emptied himself upon a Roman cross and revealed your eternal, self-giving love. Forgive us, merciful God. Wipe sin from our lives and let us find ourselves wholly in Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
God of the covenant, your compassion reaches beyond the mere making and keeping of promises. Teach us to listen to one another with your heart, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Intercession
God of our ancestors, you are the God of our future. You showed mercy to Hagar and Ishmael in the desert, just as you answered Sarah’s laughter with Isaac’s birth.
We pray that you heal the deathly divisions between all peoples of the earth today. We pray that the church of Jesus Christ will be so filled with the Holy Spirit, so committed to the head of the church that we will have Christ’s mind among us.
May the sword of the Word pierce our hearts and give us compassion for a suffering world. We pray for world leaders and diplomats who seek to make peace among nations. May their success be measured in generations who live free from fear of war. We pray for medical professionals committed to healing, especially those in areas of poverty or violence, as the struggle continues to quell the threat of COVID-19. May they be guided and guarded by the Spirit who lifts up the brokenhearted and raises the dead.
We pray for teachers, school staff and administrators working to prepare a safe place for pupils returning in the late summer and autumn. We pray for students, especially those in high-risk communities. May they find strength in you to reach beyond themselves and so embrace the future with the hope that you are holding for them.
We pray for your promised kingdom to come, when all wars will cease, and there will be no disease; when courageous faith, hope, and love cast out hatred and poverty.
All this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Redeemer, and friend who taught us to pray…
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
NOTE: Prayers of Intercession reprinted by permission of Westminster John Knox Press from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion. Copyright 2014
From the breaking of the dawn (Every promise of your word) by Keith and Kirsten Getty.
There’s one clear message that this song highlights and it’s knowing that, no matter what we have to face in life, we can always stand firm and trust and believe in every promise of God’s word.
“Not forsaken, not alone,
for the Comforter has come,
and I stand on every promise of your word”