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St. Ansgar Lutheran Church, Outline for Worship (with sermon)
Sunday, June 13, 2021 – Third Sunday after Pentecost
Based on ELW Setting Four

P: Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, the God of manna,
the God of miracles, the God of mercy.
C: Amen.
P: Drawn to Christ and seeking God's abundance,
let us confess our sin.
P: God, our provider,
C: help us.
It is hard to believe there is enough to share.
We question your ways when they differ from the ways
of the world in which we live.
We turn to our own understanding rather than trusting in you.
We take offense at your teachings and your ways.
Turn us again to you. Where else can we turn?
Share with us the words of eternal life
and feed us for life in the world. Amen.
P: Beloved people of God:
In Jesus, the manna from heaven, you are fed and nourished.
By Jesus, the worker of miracles, there is always more than enough.
Through Jesus, ☩ the bread of life, you are shown God's mercy:
you are forgiven and loved into abundant life.
C: Amen.

P: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion
of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
C: And also with you

A: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
A: For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
A: For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God,
and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
A: For this holy house, and for all who offer here their worship and praise,
let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
A: Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord.
C: Amen.

P: This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia.
C: Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain,
whose blood set us free to be people of God.
Power and riches and wisdom and strength,
and honour and blessing and glory are his.
This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia.
Sing with all the people of God
and join in the hymn of all creation:
Blessing and honour and glory and might
be to God and the Lamb forever. Amen.
This is the feast of victory for our God,
for the Lamb who was slain has begun his reign.
Alleluia. Alleluia.

P: Let us pray.
P: O God, you are the tree of life, offering shelter to all the world. Graft us into
yourself and nurture our growth, that we may bear your truth and love to
those in need, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.
C: Amen

FIRST READING: Ezekiel 17:22-24
22 Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a
cedar; I will set it out. I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young
twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain
height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit,
and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of
its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind. 24 All the trees of the field
shall know that I am the LORD. I bring low the high tree, I make high the low
tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the LORD have
spoken; I will accomplish it.

PSALM: 92: 1-4, 12-15
1 It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praise to your name, O Most High;
2 to herald your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night;
3 on the psaltery, and on the lyre,
and to the melody of the harp.
4 For you have made me glad by your acts, O Lord;
and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands.
12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.
13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God;
14 they shall still bear fruit in old age;
they shall be green and succulent;
15 that they may show how upright the Lord is,
my rock, in whom there is no injustice.

SECOND READING: 2 Corinthians 5:6-17
6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home
in the body we are away from the Lord -- 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body
and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make
it our aim to please him. 10 For all of us must appear before the judgement
seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done
in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord,
we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope
that we are also well known to your consciences. 12 We are not commending
ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that
you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in
the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right
mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are
convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died
for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for
him who died and was raised for them. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard
no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from
a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone
is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see,
everything has become new!

C: Alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.

P: The Holy Gospel according to Mark 4:26-34
C: Glory to you, O Lord.
Mark 4:26-34
26 He also said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter
seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the
seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces
of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.
29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because
the harvest has come." 30 He also said, "With what can we compare the
kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard
seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds
on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all
shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make
nests in its shade." 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them,
as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables,
but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
P: The Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise to you, O Christ.

Mark 4:26-34
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth, and the prayers of our hearts,
always be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer.

By now the seeds have all been planted and we are in the season of
celebration for the miracle of growth. The seeds and young plants are taking
root and growing. Soon our gardens and the fields that surround us will
flourish as we marvel at the signs of God’s faithfulness.
The kingdom of God is described in our Gospel lesson from Mark “as if
someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night
and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he (the planter) does not
know how.” We are living in the kingdom of God here on earth, in London,
Ontario, Canada, and the surrounding area. We are called to be the planters
in our little corner of God’s kingdom, and it is not an easy job. It is our job
to scatter the seeds of faith and hope, see to it that the plants receive water
and sun, and tend to the weeds that choke out the growing plants. This is
how we nurture our growing plants.
When it comes to being God’s fellow workers, the first thing to realize is
that we are not in control of the growth. We are called to plant. Only God
produces the growth. God gets the credit. We are called to plant and nurture
the field that God gives us. Our fields are not big, and our fields are local.
Sadly, our gardens and fields contain a wide variety of weeds, and we
have much work to do.
Last week we addressed the weeds of prejudice, racism, segregation,
fear of the unknown “other,” and attempted genocide. Last Sunday evening
more weeds rose to choke out the growing plants in our gardens and our
fields. The horrific act of terrorism that took place on the fringe of the
neighbourhood in which our church stands brought home the reality of the
weeds of Islamophobia and hatred. Coupled with fear of the unknown
“other,” prejudice, and racism, Islamophobia and hatred proved to be deadly.
Four people died and a young boy was severely injured and will live the rest
of his life without his family.
The victims of this hate crime were also created in God’s image, were
also children of God. They were a family who lived life in a meaningful and
productive way. One wonders what they were talking about as they took
their last steps. Did they laugh and joke like the rest of us? As they went for
their evening walk together, they did not watch their backs because they did
not assume they had to do so. They were simply a family taking an evening
walk together, as so many of us do when the weather permits. The only
difference is that the three women were dressed differently which identified
them as Muslim. They were the “other” and did not deserve to live, or so the
driver of the black pickup truck that mowed them down mistakenly thought.

The past several weeks have been trying and exhausting. We have
experienced tragedy close to home, not in the news from some distant
country. The atrocities suffered by innocent children and adults happened
in our gardens and fields and are the weeds that need to be eliminated.
At times, the call to be God’s fellow workers seems to be overwhelming.
Yet, as Paul wrote in his first letter to Timothy, we are to “fight the good
fight of the faith.” (6:12) The authors of Deuteronomy remind us that, “It is
the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail or forsake
you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (31:8) Remembering this helps us in our
work and gives us strength to carry on. We need to grow in our capacity to
attend to the troubles of our world as well as our inner challenges.
Knowing that God walks with us, we still have questions: “Where do we
begin our work scattering seeds? What seeds do we scatter to combat
the weeds?” In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he writes, “And now
faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
(13:13) I suggest that we begin with these three seeds. First, we begin with
ourselves. Our faith provides the energy to do the work of being God’s fellow
workers. We must carefully reflect on our faith and what Jesus teaches us
about how we are to treat the unknown “other.” Next consider the ways we
live our faith. What prejudices, blatant or subtle, do we hold within ourselves
that hold us back from doing God’s work? What prevents us from living is
such a way that our decisions are shaped by the basic fact that we are all
daughters and sons of God? We should honestly and prayerfully consider
our answers. Listen for God’s voice speaking to us in our everyday lives,
and then live accordingly.
Hope takes courage. Our hope is to live life fulfilling the purposes for
which we were created. Writing to the Romans, Paul reminds us that
“hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into
our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (5:5) We all
hope for peace and for living together in harmony with our sisters and
brothers that are like us yet different from us, so that we grow to understand
and appreciate each other. We need to recognize the strength of our
combined wisdom and reach out in hope to every culture and tradition.
It is not about power of one group over another, but about standing together
and beginning a new chapter of hope in equality, peace, justice, and
freedom. These seeds promise to yield beautiful plants and choke out
the weeds in our gardens and fields.
Finally, we have the greatest seed of all: love. The writer of I John tells us,
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do
with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate
their brothers and sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or
sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.
The commandment we have from him (Jesus) is this: those who love God
must love their brothers and sisters also.” (18-21) Our hearts cannot hold
both love and fear, so when we fear the “other” we cannot love them.
The more interaction we have with the unknown “other” the more we learn
about them and they learn about us. Similarities surface and the unknown
becomes the known. We can move forward in combined strength, allowing
our gardens and fields to flourish. We all want to live in love and peace,
but we must work together to achieve a better world. Paul wrote to the
Colossians telling them, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which
binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (3:14)
We have been given the seeds: faith, hope and love. Along with these
seeds are the seeds of compassion, kindness, humility, peace, justice,
equality, freedom, and patience. We are called to scatter these seeds in our
little piece of God’s kingdom here on earth. Growth in the kingdom of God which
comes from our scattered seeds is quiet and slow but can produce great
growth, growth beyond anything we could predict, like the tiny mustard seed
that becomes a great mustard bush. Our own small beginnings can have
great endings. Do not be afraid to scatter the seeds God provides.

HYMN OF THE DAY – All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly (ELW #461)

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.*
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

A: Let us come before the triune God in prayer.
A: God of our church, send forth your Spirit as we pray for our Bishops Susan
and Michael. Empower them with your wisdom to lead the church. We also pray
for the Thames Ministry area, especially Pastor Sylvia Swiatoschik and the
people of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Leamington. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
A: Gracious God, we thank you for your loving presence with us in this time of
pandemic. While we must still remain apart for reasons of safety, we trust that
you surround all of us with your sheltering wings. Help us to reach out, as we
are able, to each other in our church family and to our neighbours in need,
and to persist in prayer. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
A: Holy God, you plant the seeds of faith in every nation. Enliven your church,
so that the good news of your grace may root and grow throughout the world.
Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
A: Creator, even the trees, shrubs, and flowers delight in your goodness.
From the depths of the soil to the highest mountain, bring forth new plants.
Restore growth to places suffering drought. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
A: Judge of nations, we pray for our leaders and those in power. Grant them
the ability to regard those under their charge with humility, dedicating their lives
in service to others. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
A: Divine comforter, you show compassion to those in need and provide relief
to those who call on you. Bless all who suffer, especially people trapped in
cycles of poverty and homelessness. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
A: Almighty God, your Holy Spirit equips the church with a whole variety of gifts.
Grant that we may use them to bear witness to Christ in lives that are built on
faith and love. Make us ready to live the gospel and eager to do your will.
Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
A: Compassionate God, we mourn the tragic deaths of four members of one
family from the Muslim community in our own city. These victims of hate and
toxic Islamophobia died needlessly because of their faith and ethnic heritage.
Grant them eternal peace. We pray for the nine-year-old boy who is the only
survivor of this family and who will live the rest of his life without his parents,
sister, and grandmother. Grant him healing, both physically and emotionally,
and hold him in your loving and tender care. We pray for the Muslim community
in London as they live in fear of further violence, and we pray for them as they
mourn such a tragic and senseless loss. Bring an end to hate and violence and
further acts of terrorism not only in our community, but in the rest of the world.
May we all learn to live together in harmony and peace. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
A: Eternal God, we give thanks for our ancestors in the faith who are now at
home with you. We look forward to that day when we are reunited in your new
creation. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
A: We lift our prayers to you, O God, trusting in your abiding grace.
C: Amen.

P: The peace of Christ be with you always.
C: And also with you.

Let the vineyards be fruitful, Lord, and fill to the brim our cup of blessing.
Gather a harvest from the seeds that were sown,
that we may be fed, with the bread of life.
Gather the hopes and dreams of all; unite them with the prayers we offer.
Grace our table with your presence,
and give us a foretaste of the feast to come.

C: 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass
against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen.

P: The blessing of God, who provides for us, feeds us,
and journeys with us, ☩ be upon you now and forever.
C: Amen.

P: Go in peace. You are the body of Christ.
C: Thanks be to God.

DISMISSAL HYMN – Go Now in Peace
Go now in peace, never be afraid.
God will go with you each hour of every day.
Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true.
Know He will guide you in all you do.
Go now in love, and show you believe.
Reach out to others, so all the world can see.
God will be there, watching from above.
Go now in peace, in faith, and in love.

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