I put my trust in your mercy, and my heart is joyful.
Do not let sin exercise dominion…
The Invitatory and Psalter
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Come let us adore him.
Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18
1 Your love, O LORD, for ever will I sing; *
from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
2 For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever; *
you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
3 “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; *
I have sworn an oath to David my servant
4 ‘I will establish your line for ever, *
and preserve your throne for all generations.'”
15 Happy are the people who know the festal shout! *
they walk, O LORD, in the light of your presence.
16 They rejoice daily in your Name; *
they are jubilant in your righteousness.
17 For you are the glory of their strength, *
and by your favor our might is exalted.
18 Truly, the LORD is our ruler; *
The Holy One of Israel is our King.
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Come let us adore him.
The First Lesson: Jeremiah 28:5-9
5 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; 6 and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. 7 But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8 The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Hymn: God of the Prophets Denis Wartman Hymnal 1982 #359
God of the prophets, bless the prophets’ heirs!
Elijah’s mantle o’er Elisha cast:
each age for thine own solemn task prepares,
make each one stronger, nobler than the last.
Anoint them prophets! Teach them thine intent:
to human need their quickened hearts awake;
fill them with power, their lips make eloquent
for righteousness that shall all evil break.
Anoint them priests! help them to intercede
with all thy royal priesthood born of grace;
through them thy Church presents in word and deed
Christ’s one true sacrifice with thankful praise.
Anoint them kings! Yea, kingly kings, O Lord!
Anoint them with the Spirit of thy Son:
theirs not a monarch’s crown or tyrant’s sword;
theirs by the love of Christ a kingdom won.
Make them apostles, heralds of thy cross;
forth may they go to tell all realms thy grace:
inspired of thee, may they count all but loss,
and stand at last with joy before thy face.
The Second Lesson: Romans 6:12-23
12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death,but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Hymn: The Church’s One Foundation Samuel John Stone Hymnal 1982 #525
The Church’s one foundation
is Jesus Christ her Lord;
she is his new creation
by water and the word:
from heaven he came and sought her
to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.
Elect from every nation,
yet one o’er all the earth,
her charter of salvation,
one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy Name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with every grace endued.
Though with a scornful wonder
we see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed;
yet saints their watch are keeping,
their cry goes up, ‘How long?’
and soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.
Mid toil and tribulation,
and tumult of her war
she waits the consummation
of peace for evermore;
till with the vision glorious
her longing eyes are blessed,
and the great Church victorious
shall be the Church at rest.
Yet she on earth hath union
with God, the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion
with those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 10:40-42
40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise be to you, Lord Christ.
Is there anything more satisfying on a hot day than a cup of cold water? On one of those hot humid, sultry summer days that blanket for months each year the valley of the Potomac and its environs, where it hath pleased God to set us to dwell beneath the innumerable stars? – and don’t say “Sweet tea,” “a Coke,” “bourbon,” or “a cold one” just to be cheeky, though I know, and in large part agree. Don’t even say, “ice cream,” “iced coffee” or “a smoothie from Tropical or from Smoothie King,” as scrumpdillyicious and nourishing as they can be. In all those, it’s the sugars, or what was once sugar, the fat (if any), and the flavors that refresh, or do for a while, but then leave you – and you know I’m right about this – thirsty.Thirsty for what? For water. A cup of cold water. Everything else on that list leaves you wanting more of it when you’re done – which is a metaphor, if you think about it, for many things we desire, some of which might not be good for us, and some downright sinful. Water, when you’ve had enough, when you’ve had what you need, does not. Enough really is, in its case, enough. To extend the metaphor, it means that water is a metaphor for what we need – that is, for what gives life, and for what gives it back, i.e. salvation.
Not having enough water is the worst, as far too many people on Earth know. Having too much – that’s also a problem, whether one is drowning or feeling the effects of a flood. But just enough – it’s essential.
Denying anyone such a necessity can never, I hear Jesus saying in this gospel, be okay. Building a society, a city, a civilization that denies it, or allowing a society, a city, or a civilization to decay so that it cannot provide it, can also never be okay, by the same logic. Think of all that has to happen for a cup of cold water – good, clean, fresh, potable, cold water – to be ready-to-hand for you or any of us to give to a child to drink.
First of all, there must be water. We give thanks at baptism for the gift of water, over which the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation, and through which the Lord led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt. Where water is, there is life, even at the bottom of the ocean or in the midst of the ice on comets that whirl around the sun, from worlds unknown to us. In water, we are baptized into Christ’s death and have a share in his resurrection, and the more intense the baptism, the more intense the experience of that passage from a place in which we cannot live and breath into one in which we can.
There once was a time when there was no water, which means there was a time when there was no life. Our faith teaches us that God spoke, and there was light – but still no life as such, not as we know it. The life God has is so utterly different from that that we would experience it, I suspect, primarily as a form of energy, movement, change, attraction and repulsion, the very building blocks of life. Chief among them is the desire to live, to abide, to change one’s environment to make it one in which one can thrive and help others do so as well. God’s mystery, I find, chiefly comes in the idea that God can exist, can be, before there is even light, let alone water, to sustain what is. From nothing, we learn, did God make what is, and let the waters gather above the earth and below it, and in each place teem with life, with change, with hope – and if always with death and decay, also with rebirth and renewal, in the great cycle of life in which water is as essential as air.
Any other time than at the time of creation in which there is no water we call times of drought, and they are times of death. Growing up in western Pennsylvania as I did, makes it hard for me to imagine a place without enough water, where the rains don’t come enough or the wells too often run dry, where the land is parched and the people full of dust and thirst, sensing with every drying of the mouth the doom of their mortality. I didn’t, that is, grow up in west Texas or in Jesus’s land, far less moist and humid than my hometown, however. Like anyone who’s endured drought, the people of Judea and Galilee knew far too well was it was like not to have enough water, or to not be able to get to it easily. Every well they had was like an oasis in the desert, and each lake and river (save for the Dead Sea) could be a source of life as well – for its waters, which cleanse as well as nourish, bathe as well as purify, and often as not teem with fish in season and out, no matter what is going on on land. To block people’s access to them, or to deny them even a cup of water in times of need – which is all the time, given what water is – could not but be wrong.
Second of all, there must be the systems that get the water to us, from a simple village well to a modern city’s water supply. Water, as we know but often take for granted, must be purified in order for us to drink it, or even cook with it or bathe in it. One of the great achievements of human civilization is providing fresh, potable water at the end of tap after tap, fountain after fountain, restroom after restroom, for everyone, and for relatively little cost when all the people share it amongst themselves. Learning how to clean water, and why one must do so, has been vital to this great achievement, and spreading this infrastructure, knowledge, and technology throughout the world is a sine qua non to any place’s and people’s ability to flourish and be free. Every time I look at the tap in my kitchen I realize that, so long as clean water flows through it, I am at as little risk of drought and water-borne illness as possible, and so are all those with whom I dwell. It is a blessing, indeed.
However, just as not every tree yields good fruit, so not every tap yields good water. One need only mention Flint, Michigan, or any locale whose water table such a practice as fracking or under-mining has disturbed to remind ourselves of how complex the systems are that bring water to us, and how susceptible they are to rot, under-investment, mismanagement by virtue of racism and/or classism, or politicized mismanagement, neglect, and abuse. Such things, insofar as they make fresh, clean water less accessible to people, strike me as institutional equivalents to denying a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, and thus to fall under this gospel’s, and our Savior’s, condemnation. Ye who have ears…
Third, there must be systems in place that protect the water and cleanse it from impurities. This is not only a feature of industry, but of the natural world itself. One of my favorite positive stories about water comes from New York City. Like all large cities, and most small ones, it is ever thirsty, ever in need of a constant supply of fresh, clean water, and as it expands, must find more and more sources for it. One important source are all the forests and mountains in upstate New York, from which the water flows south towards the ocean, and hence that rich, deep harbor. As the city’s need for water expanded to need to take from as far as the Adirondacks, the planners wondered how exactly they would clean all this water in time to make it flow as it had to. How many water treatment plants would be needed to clean what fell on and flowed through the forest floor? It looked expensive, perhaps prohibitively so. Then someone worked out that the forest itself cleans the water, in large measure, as roots and microbes and various things within it take from it the nutrients they need, or otherwise fix what would be toxins to us. If they simply let the forest clean the water, and captured it once it had done so, they’d need less industry to do the job, and hence less expense. What God made good can make things good for us, too – whom God also made good. Reminding ourselves how we fit in the cycle of life that God created can sometimes be profoundly reassuring.
Not every water system is so sustainable, and much of the water we use, and even clean, goes to water-heavy agricultural and even industrial uses that scientists say we may not be able to keep running like this forever. From the draining of aquifers to the over-use and damming of rivers, it all can get to be too much, very quickly. For all that, and tragically, too many people around the world still lack a good, clean, nearby water source, even now – and the poorest must often spend hours each day finding enough water even for drinking and cooking. This gospel cries out to us to address those needs in ways that make sense, as well as make a difference, that we might not lose our reward.
Paul’s epistle to the Romans does, too, in its own way. Having been brought from death to life, no longer being slaves to impurity, and no longer letting sin have dominion over our mortal bodies, sounds an awful lot like having been cleansed and purified the way water is. I could stretch this to reflect on how being in the forest purifies my soul the way the ground itself cleans the water, and will do so the next time I’m out there. Paul writes about the condition of having been freed, and now being free, from all that does not belong, so that one can do best what one does when pure: give and sustain life, bring healing, bring comfort, and even – and who, drinking a cup of cold water, does not feel this as well? – joy. We should think of sanctification not so much as Paul does, as enslavement to God – such metaphors simply can’t be sustained in the wake of slavery’s abiding horrors. What he means is, I think better captured by the sense of as splashing in the cool waters flowing from a hydrant or in a swimming pool, or in a lake, a river, or even the sea that is clean enough to swim in. That helps me understand what salvation is really all about. As Jesus said: I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.
Indeed, do we not splash about in water as the very sign of our salvation in the sacrament by which we accept it and even revel in it? What is baptism without the pleasant shock of cold water on the head, or the comfort of being cooled and washed by the river flowing by, and the sense, once immersed, that we could, in fact, die doing this but really will not? And priests squirting squirt guns at little babies’ heads will not quite cut it, friends, despite the comic relief we feel when seeing memes that show this. You got to get in the water, and near the people, to make this sacrament the joy and release that it is meant to be.
Once we can gather again and share our sacraments of baptism and eucharist, both of which require water, let us give especial thanks to God for this gift. As we do so, let us also be mindful of those for whom the gift, which is in fact a necessity, is all too rare. May it never be said of us that we denied a cup of cold water to any little one – or to anyone.
A Statement of Faith, A Song of God’s Love (1 John 4:7-11)
Beloved, let us love one another, *
for love is of God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, *
for God is Love.
In this the love of God was revealed among us, *
that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us *
and sent his Son that sins might be forgiven.
Beloved, since God loved us so much, *
we ought also to love one another.
For if we love one another, God abides in us, *
and God’s love will be perfected in us.
A Collect for 4th Pentecost (Proper 8)
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A Collect for the Reign of Christ
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A Prayer for Peace
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, “Peace I give to you; my peace I leave with you:” Regard not our sins, but the faith of your Church, and give to us the peace and unity of that heavenly city, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, now and for ever. Amen.
A Prayer after St. Alphonsus
O Jesus, you are present to us in the blessed sacrament. We love you above all things, and desire to receive you into our souls. Since we cannot at this time share your sacrament, let your spirit dwell within our hearts. Let us welcome you as one already with us, making us one body and one spirit, never to be parted from you. Amen.
Hymn: Take up your cross Charles William Everest Hymnal 1982 #675
Take up your cross, the Savior said,
if you would my disciple be;
take up your cross with willing heart,
and humbly follow after me.
Take up your cross, let not its weight
fill your weak spirit with alarm;
his strength shall bear your spirit up,
and brace your heart, and nerve your arm.
Take up your cross, heed not the shame,
and let your foolish heart be still;
the Lord for you accepted death
upon a cross, on Calvary’s hill.
Take up your cross, then, in his strength,
and calmly every danger brave:
it guides you to abundant life
and leads to victory o’er the grave.
Take up your cross, and follow Christ,
nor think till death to lay it down;
for only those who bear the cross
may hope to wear the glorious crown.
The Lord bless you and keep you. Amen.The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. Amen.
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Amen.
Hymn: Spirit of the Living God Daniel Iverson, alt.
About Episcopal Worship and this Pentecost Service
The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost is another of the many services in this season that focuses on the teachings of Jesus and the full message of the gospel of salvation. We focus especially on the gift and necessity of water, and how it is a sign, an indicator, and a symbol of that salvation. We also focus on the many kinds of salvation people can experience, from release from bondage to freedom from addiction and healing from disease. May the service be a blessing to you.
We also celebrate all of our 2020 high school graduates today. May your journey henceforth be blessed, and your gifts and talents always welcomed, cultivated, celebrated, and of great benefit to you and to the world which is sorely in need of them.
Christian worship is designed to have the congregation gather for prayer, lessons, the Eucharist, and song. In times of contagion and quarantine, the community may not gather or share the Eucharist. We have adapted this service to the conditions of the time, celebrating Morning Prayer in the Presence of the Reserved Sacrament, honoring God with our daily office prayers, thanksgivings, lessons, canticles, and hymns.
We give thanks this morning for our reader, Kris Taweel and our video compiler and editor, Gabriel Wilkins.
Resources (available for free online)
Book of Common Prayer, www.bcponline.org
Enriching Our Worship 1, https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-1/enrichingourworship1.pdf
Enriching Our Worship 2,
These resources contain the prayers and worship services used in The Episcopal Church and by Episcopalians in their daily devotions.
The Revised Common Lectionary and Daily Office, https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/
This source shows the readings assigned for use in Sunday worship and for daily office use for each day of the year, with links to online biblical texts.
Hymnal 1982: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/EH1982
Hymnal 1940: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/HPEC1940
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
Episcopal News Service: www.episcopalnewsservice.org
The Episcopal Diocese of Washington: www.edow.org
St. Mark’s, Fairland: www.stmarks-silverspring.org
A Prayer in Times of Sickness and Contagion
Heavenly Father, giver of life and health, source of all wisdom and peace: Comfort and relieve your servants who suffer from sickness or fear, give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, and let your grace be with all those who work to protect us from contagion and disease. May we be strengthened against any weakness, sickness, fear, and doubt, and place our confidence in your loving care through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.