St. Andrew Presbyterian Church
Bulletin and SermonTo View the Zoom Recording Click HereSERVICE FOR THE LORD’S DAY
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
SEPTEMBER 6, 2020
WORSHIP LEADERS:Rev. Jason Santalucia, Pastor
Ms. Andrea Barbour, Guest Organist
Elder Jeff Snider, Liturgist Gathering
(We prepare ourselves for worship by acknowledging who we are,
and receiving the assurance of God’s grace.) PRELUDE “Holy Spirit, Truth Divine” arr. by David Paxton
GREETING & ANNOUNCEMENTS
CALL TO WORSHIP
This is the day that God has made.
The night is far gone, the day is near.
Sing to God a new song, and praise God’s holy name.
We come with joy and words of praise.
Where two or three are gathered in God’s name, God is here among us.
Praise be to God!
* HYMN 515 “I Come with Joy” DOVE OF PEACE
I come with joy, a child of God, forgiven, loved and free,
the life of Jesus to recall, love laid down for me,
in love laid down for me.
I come with Christians far and near to find, as all are fed,
the new community of love in Christ’s communion bread,
in Christ’s communion bread.
As Christ breaks bread and bids us share, each proud division ends.
The love that made us, makes us one, and strangers now are friends,
and strangers now are friends.
The Spirit of the risen Christ, unseen, but ever near,
is in such friendship better known, a live among us here,
alive among us here.
Together met, together bound by all that God has done,
we’ll go with joy, to give the world the love that makes us one,
the love that makes us one.
This text affirms that Christian unity is not achievement but gift, one renewed each time we gather for the Lord’s Supper. Each of us enters as an “I” and leaves as part of “we.” The unadorned language of this text is well matched to the simple shape note tune that sets it here.
TIME FOR CHECKING IN
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Gracious God, you created us to be in relationship, for you are a relational God, and you made us in your image. Yet we often distort your image and by breaking relationship with you and others. We cling to the values and habits of a broken world. The profit and pleasure we pursue harm creation and the lives of others. The freedom and abundance we enjoy belong mostly to a few, when you have given them as a gift to all. Have mercy upon us. Heal us, forgive us and set us free to serve you in the world as agents of your reconciling love in Jesus Christ. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF GRACE
SIGNING OF THE PEACE (USING AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE)Hearing
(We hear God’s word, written & proclaimed. God’s word is central to our faith;
hence we put it at the center of our worship.)FIRST READING Psalm 149
Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in its Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their couches.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters
and their nobles with chains of iron,
to execute on them the judgment decreed.
This is glory for all his faithful ones.
Praise the Lord!
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
SECOND READING Matthew 18:15-20
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION Sermon given by Rev. Jason Santalucia, Pastor
August 30, 2020
“If Another Member of the Church Sins Against You”
When I do pre-marriage counseling, one of the things I talk about with couples is conflict. A lot of couples think conflict in a marriage is a bad thing. They think it means the marriage is in trouble. But what I always try to get across is the fact that conflict is an inevitable part of being in a relationship. Couples are going to disagree about things, they’re going to argue sometimes. There’s no getting around it. So what matters is not whether there’s conflict in a marriage. What matters is how couples deal with it. Do they give each other the silent treatment? Do they sweep things under the carpet? Do they nurse grudges and bring up past mistakes? Or do they work it out in ways that actually resolve their issues? Because the ones who work it out are the ones who stay together, and the who don’t are the ones who split up.
This morning Jesus sounds a lot like he’s talking to a couple getting married, except he’s not. He’s talking to his disciples. They had come to him arguing about which one of them was the greatest, and he had talked to them about humility and not putting themselves above each other. And then he gave them a way to work it out—a process for restoring relationships when there has been some kind of rupture in the life of the church. And that’s what we hear in today’s gospel reading.
If someone wrongs you, Jesus says, go to that person, tell them what they did, and try to settle it one-on-one. That way you’re giving them the chance to take responsibility and make amends. If that doesn’t work, try again, only this time bring along two or three fellow church members—not to gang up on the other person, but to bring in some objectivity and to make sure that misunderstandings don’t occur. If that does’t work, and by now the conflict is starting to spread, bring the matter before the whole church—not to shame the other person but to utilize the collective wisdom of the community and together discern how to move forward. And if you give the other person all these opportunities to make things right, and they still won’t listen, then, Jesus says, “let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
And here I imagine the disciples are breathing a sigh of relief. All they have to do is go through each one of these steps, and their obligation is fulfilled. All they have to do is check each one of these boxes, and they can wash their hands of the whole affair. It’s like a free pass to write off whoever we’re not getting along with. Only it’s not—not when you look at how Jesus actually treated Gentiles and tax collectors.
For instance, when Jesus told the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the temple, he emphasized the Pharisee’s showboating pride and self-satisfaction versus the tax collector’s pained and private acknowledgement of his own sinfulness. To treat a fellow church member like a tax collector, then, would then be to realize that beneath the outer façade of combativeness, that person might be hiding a great deal of regret over their own behavior. They might be deeply sorry about whatever part they had in causing the conflict.
Jesus said the tax collector in that story went home justified and forgiven. Could we not then look for the hidden self of the person we’re arguing with and feel compassion for them? Could we not then realize that we ourselves might be in danger of being like the Pharisee—proud and puffed up and certain of our own righteousness?
Another story in the gospel is about a tax collector named Zacchaeus. He was actually the chief tax collector, and he’d gotten filthy rich by cheating people. But he was so eager to see Jesus on Palm Sunday that he climbed a tree so he could see above the crowds. And when Jesus saw him up there in the branches, he called him down and invited himself over to Zacchaeus’ house for supper.
Could we not then recognize the faithfulness and commitment of the person we’re having trouble with? Could we not then break bread with them—whether it’s at the communion table, or in the fellowship hall, or in one another’s homes?
That’s how Jesus treated tax collectors—with mercy, with invitation, and with an eye toward their potential for growth and service in God’s kingdom. And we can’t forget about probably the best example of all—Matthew, not the gospel writer but the disciple. He was one of the Twelve, part of Jesus’ inner circle. And he also happened to be a former tax collector. In fact, he was sitting in his booth collecting taxes when Jesus called him to be a disciple.
I wonder what he was thinking when Jesus gave this teaching. I wonder what he was thinking when Jesus said if you’re fighting with someone, and all else fails, treat them like a tax collector. I bet he was glad Jesus hadn’t written him off. I bet he was thankful Jesus had seen, not who was, but who he could be. And from that time on, whenever he was having trouble with someone, I bet he was a lot more patient and a lot more understanding.
What about gentiles, then? How does Jesus teach us by example to treat them? Two stories in particular come to mind. One of Jesus’ best-known encounters with a gentile was when a Syrophoenician woman asked him to heal her daughter. We just read that story the other week. It’s the one where he refuses to help her at first because she isn’t a Jew. But when she refuses to go away empty-handed, it makes him re-think his whole purpose and see his mission in a larger way.
The other story I’m thinking of is when Jesus encounters a Roman solder who asks him to heal his servant. And again, Jesus has to broaden his perspective and stretch his boundaries more than what he’s maybe comfortable with. Could we not then do the same? Could we not then re-think how we look at someone we’re in disagreement with? Could we not then listen to the pain they’re in and be changed by what we hear?
So this reading is anything but a free pass to write off people in the church we struggle to be in relationship with. Jesus’ instruction to treat those people like tax collectors and gentiles opens up a whole range of creative paths to reconciliation—by seeing the best in one another, by recognizing one another’s humanness, and by expanding our understanding of God’s grace.
And all of this is important not just because of the fact that there’s no such thing as a church without conflict. It’s important because of how Jesus concludes his instructions: “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” How we choose to treat one another when the going gets tough has far-reaching consequences. With the choices we make, we can bind each other even tighter into our separate camps and polarized positions. Or we can loose ourselves from our pride and our ever-present need to be right.
And that choice is entirely up to us. Just like in a marriage, what matters is not whether there’s conflict in a church. What matters is how people deal with it. Jesus gives us the process. Now we have to decide to use it.Responding
(God has spoken, and we respond. We affirm our faith, pray for the world, re-commit ourselves to mission, present our tithes & gifts, and offer thanks that God continues to speak today.)AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
* HYMN “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether” UNION SEMINARY
Draw us in the Spirit’s tether, for when humbly in your name
two or three are met together, you are in the midst of them.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Here we touch your garment’s hem.
As disciples used to gather in the name of Christ to sup,
then with thanks to God the giver break the bread and bless the cup,
Alleluia! Alleluia! so now bind our friendship up.
All our meals and all our living make as sacraments of you,
that by caring, helping, giving, we may be disciples true.
Alleluia! Alleluia! We will serve with faith anew. This communion text calls attention to the inherent sacramental nature of all meals and the communal dimensions of all human interaction. The tune, originally composed for an anthem setting of this text, honors the institution where the composer was trained and later taught.
MOMENT FOR MISSION One Great Hour of Sharing PRESENTING OUR TITHES & OFFERINGS(If you’re joining us via Zoom,
we invite you to make your offering online.
Thank you to everyone for your generous support!) PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING & DEDICATION
Ever-present God, just as Jesus promised to be among us when two or three gather in his name, be among us now and help us turn these offerings into instruments of mercy and justice. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
SHARING OUR JOYS & CONCERNS
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
INVITATION TO THE LORD’S TABLE
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
… who forever sing to the glory of your name:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Great is the mystery of faith:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
COMMUNION OF THE PEOPLE
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
(We hear the charge, receive the benediction,and are sent to carry God’s Word into the world.)CHARGE & BENEDICTION
POSTLUDE Praise Him, Praise Him” arr. by Charles Callahan
*Please rise in body or in spirit.