14 June 2020 is the Second Sunday after Pentecost. Rev. Geoff McKee starts a series based on texts from Genesis.
Today’s story is about the visit of 3 strangers to the elderly Abraham and Sarah – and the ‘hilarious’ news they brought.
Sarah and Abraham may have failed in believing the wonderful, seemingly impossible, news from God but they did not fail in showing hospitality to their guests.
As Geoff explains, in a world of anti-immigrant sentiment, Christians must remember that, if we neglect our fellowship with the stranger, we are in danger of leaving God outside too. Openness to providing hospitality is essential.
Continue reading for all the Scriptures from the Lectionary for this week, prayers, a musical selection and Geoff’s audio sermon.
Genesis 18:1-15 (New International Version)
The Three Visitors
18 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”
6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
The Birth of Isaac
21 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac[a] to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.
Peace and Hope
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Workers Are Few
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
The Spirit of God affirms to our spirit that we are God’s children. He comes to the aid of our weakness.
Romans 8: 16, 26
Lord God, we worship you today in the splendour of your holiness. We acknowledge your love for the world with grateful thanks for all your goodness that sustains the planet. Gracious God, in your good time you appeared to Abraham by his tent, and life was transformed. In your good time you appeared on earth as Jesus came and life was transformed. In your good time you brought our life into being, and it is now our opportunity to be disciples of Jesus in the world today. The direction of our lives has brought us to this place in time. As we reflect on the long history of the people of God and the ministry of Jesus Christ we are aware that millennium after millennium people have attempted to follow You faithfully. We are painfully aware that we stray from the path Jesus invites us to follow. So where we have neglected you or neglected others, where we have prioritised our desires and pushed down the agenda of the needs of those close to us, where we have boasted not in you but selfishly in our own individual achievements…
Forgive us we pray…
In your good time, and through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, breathe new life into us that our daily actions may tell the world that we are pilgrims of the one whom death could not hold down, 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 Thanksgiving and Intercession
In the long summer evenings when light lingers and sunsets have time to deepen from light pink to deep red – we offer you our thanks and praise. We remember and hold before you people in your world where the fading of the light brings not only darkness but sadness and discomfort. May they know your light.
When we share food and laughter and comfort with family, and those whom we love, and also when we are required to eat alone – we offer you our thanks and praise.
We remember and hold before you those who today will share meals tainted with sadness, those who through no choice of their own eat alone, those who are hungry and have little food. Those who have said farewell to a loved one and feel the loneliness of parting.
May they soon know joy and plenty.
When we have been offered hospitality that was generous or unexpected – we have been blessed and we offer you our thanks and praise.
We remember and hold before you refugees and those who are strangers in a foreign land, those for whom exceptional warmth and hospitality would mean so much.
May they know a rich welcome and ongoing support.
When someone who knows us a little, but not well, remembers our names – we offer You our thanks for their care and attentiveness.
We remember and hold before you those who have been forced to change names or those who forget their names – the overseas student in a culture that feels alien, those who have been trafficked, those living with dementia.
May they know liberation and freedom.
And hear us too as we take time to remember and hold before you those suffering illness, those treating them and those who are tired through a sustained giving of time and energy.
Minister to their needs we pray.
Ever creating, ever loving, ever encouraging God, we offer you our deep thanks. Use our gifts, talents and skills in the world so that our lives may tell out your praise and where possible aid those whom we have remembered before you today.
Hear our prayers, through Jesus Christ our loving Saviour 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,
The song “Speak O Lord”, written by Keith and Kirstyn Getty, is very much a favourite in our worship services today. God has always spoken through the ages and this song is about asking God to speak us now so that “the light of Christ might be seen today, in our acts of love and our deeds of faith” (V1) . As we humbly listen to God’s word, we know he will lead us in faith, and powerfully reveal all His plans for us.
Image credit: Photo by Joshua Gresham on Unsplash – Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Rio de janeiro, Brazil