Saturday, June 20, 2020

June 21, 2020 Father's Day

At Home Worship

First Presbyterian Churches of

Paris and Deport, Texas


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,          2 Cor. 13:13

and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

And also with you.

Trusting in the word of life given in baptism, we are gathered in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.


OPENING SENTENCES                                                  

Through our baptism, we are dead to sin.                          Rom. 6:3, 11

Now we are alive to God in Christ Jesus.


Come, nations of the earth, to bow before God.

Distant galaxies proclaim the Creator of all things.

We are humbled by the wonders of creation.

We are amazed by God’s mighty works.

This infinite God cares for each one of us.

God hears our cries and respond to our needs.

In our days of trouble, we call on our God.

We are confident that God listens and answers.

Let us also call on God with our prayers of thanks.

Let us celebrate the wondrous thing God provides.

God cares for us, even when others reject us.

We gather to glorify God’s name.

LET US PRAY(in unison)

Holy God, come to us in distress. We are weary of conflict and long for your healing waters of forgiveness and renewal. You have sent us a teacher to draw us into discipleship, and we have found fulfillment when we are faithful to Christ’s call. We long to find peace, as we serve, but more often we encounter a sword. Our disagreements are many, and our capacity to forgive is strained. Send your light that we night not falter in our caring and in the proclamation of your good news.           Amen

God’s grace has been poured out among us that we might die to sin. Yet, we are persistent in our disobedience, as if we thereby give to God more opportunities to be gracious. Let us bring to God all the brokenness of our lives, our alienation from our Creator, from persons we are called to love, and even from our own best selves.


God we are poor and needy in matters of the spirit. You have offered us newness of life, but we are fearful of the cost. Your gifts place us in debts so vast that we can never repay. We are not worthy of your love and cannot earn your forgiveness. How is that when we accept your grace we sense a freedom we have never before enjoyed. O God, we want to be dead to sin and alive. Help us!     Amen        


As Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God, we are lifted up to walk in newness of life, accepted and forgiven. You can never be your old self again, for Christ has set you free. Old divisions and misunderstandings are overcome in the steadfast love of God. All who give up their self-occupied ways for Christ’s sake find abundant life. This is God’s gift to you today.

Let Us Pray

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.



Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Amen. Amen.


Let us pray:

Shepherd of the flock, whose compassion reaches out to all who are harassed and helpless, teach us and empower us to proclaim the good news of your dominion, that the healing may be offered, new life received, and demons overcome. May your love tend us day by day, transforming us in the image of Christ.        



THE PSALMIST                                     PSALM 86: 1-10, 16-17

 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
 Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;
 be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all day long.
 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication.
In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant; save the child of your serving girl.
Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

OLD TESTAMENT READING                GENESIS 21: 8-21

A sermon on Father’s Day based on Genesis 21: 8-21  Jane Els 

When I first read this scripture in Genesis I thought to myself, “Wow, could they have picked a worse passage for Father’s Day?”  It sounded to me like Abraham wasn’t going to win any Father of the Year prizes for the way he treated either his first-born son or the kid’s mother, Hagar.  But, the more I dug into the story the more complicated the story got. Because now you have to add Juneteenth and slavery to the mix this year.  So we have a lot to talk about today.  Pull up a chair.  

When I started feeling bad about Sarah sending Hagar away, it turned out that Hagar had already run away once before.  In Genesis 16 we are introduced to Hagar as Sarah’s slave.  When it becomes obvious that Sarah is not going to be able to provide Abraham with a son Sarah has no problem with “giving” her slave to her husband to provide a child.  So Hagar ran away.  But God sent an angel to Hagar to convince her to return to Sarah and submit to her.   

It finally hit me – after my first cup of coffee while watching the morning news on Juneteenth-- that the Creator of the Universe seemed to be totally cool with slavery. And not just any kind of slavery—no! The kind that apparently includes rape and then stealing the child of that rape as your own child.  Because, folks, in today’s genteel terms that’s exactly how we would look at it today. That struck me as a bit odd for God to create a world set up with such out of balance values from the beginning of recorded history.   

Some of this you say was the “social norm”.  And my bible commentary even ignores the scenario I just laid out and instead tells us that this was the first time God, through the angel, had spoken directly to a woman, like this was some big honor, like Abraham had ever asked her what she thought of the whole situation ahead of time, like she had any input into the whole plan.  

Now we get to the scripture today and they are throwing a big party for Abraham’s second son, his “real” son, the one Sarah was finally able to conceive.  And Sarah catches Hagar’s son Ishmael “playing” with her son Isaac.   

To start with there is some question exactly what the translation of the word “playing” in the very first verse means.  There may have been something more sinister between the lines when we read that Hagar’s son Ishmael was “playing” with Sarah’s son Isaac.  “Playing” could mean anything from teasing to torture or even sexual predation but the point is made that Sarah may have been wise to separate the two little boys. So, maybe we’re going to have to cut Sarah some slack.  Maybe she did have good reason to put some distance between Hagar and the homestead.  And maybe it didn’t have anything to do with jealousy or inheritance.  

And throughout it all God is in the background like a nervous uncle promising everybody lots of land and descendants and good reputations.  

So, after we investigate a bit we find that families in the bible are really just like families today—very complicated.  If we think we have problems on Father’s Day we can rest assured that Abraham feels our pain. 

My daughter used to be a Day Care Director.  About once a year she would call me up and without any explanation tell me “Thank you for being such a great mom.” We both knew it wasn’t so much that I was so great but in her work in Day Care she saw a side of people that was not always the best.  Because she saw them early in the morning and when they were in a hurry or when they were tired or having to write a check when they didn’t have the money or when their kid was sick or when they were sick.  Families are just complicated.   

I have a quiet suspicion that there are families who are secretly relieved this year that they have an excuse to cancel Fathers Day and blame it on the quarantine.  And I’m not pointing a finger at anyone because I have no idea where I would point it—I just know that families get complicated.  Even the ones in the bible had drama.  Why should we think we are any better than they are? And maybe this is a good year to have a “Time Out.” 

Jesus didn’t come into the world because we are perfect.  Jesus came into the world because we’re not perfect and needed someone to love us anyway.  

Let us pray. 

Creator God,  

We are not perfect people and ask you to help us. We pray for fathers today. We remember the good fathers that we have had who are no longer with us and we know what a blessing we had to have had them and we give you thanks for them. We pray for fathers that struggle to be better and hope that you will guide them. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen. 

THE EPISTLE  READING                      ROMANS 6: 1b-11

THE EPISTLE  READING                      ROMANS 6: 1b-11

Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?
By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
For whoever has died is freed from sin.
But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus according to Matthew 10: 24-39

 “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master;
 it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.
What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
And even the hairs of your head are all counted.
So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven;
but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

The Gospel of the Lord.      Praise to you, O Christ.


Bad News/Good News Send-Off                                     Armel Crocker

In our passage for today Jesus sends the twelve out into the mission field where he warns them they will face opposition and even violence. He expects them, despite opposition, to get the job done. Matthew shapes this discourse to speak to the early missionaries from his Jewish-Gentile congregation who go into the world and meet with abuse and rejection as they spread the message that the kingdom of heaven has come near in Jesus. Jesus' message in 10:24-39 is a bad news/good news send-off speech. The bad news is that they will face opposition and violence. The good news is that God will give them the words to speak.

Jesus strictly instructs them to travel light. No gold, silver, or copper. No bag. Just one tunic, no extra sandals, no staff. Then Jesus launches into a lengthy advice session for the journey, nuggets of advice he most definitely wants to be on our packing list. His send-off speech takes the form of a series of proverbial observations about life, alternating with admonitions based on those observations. This passage reminds me of the rabbinic form of teaching or preaching called the "string of beads," a series of brief proverbial observations and admonitions strung together along the thread of a single theme. They all seem to have to do with what the disciples are to know and remember to get the job done. The thread will become clearer as we explore the beads strung upon it.

By definition, a proverb—a short sentence of ethical guidance—is anonymous. When we come upon a saying that is proverbial in form but whose author we know, it is called an aphorism. So technically speaking, the brief sayings in these verses are aphorisms of Jesus. In some of them Jesus seems to be echoing common wisdom about life. In others, he is making a statement about the consequences of accepting or rejecting him for our futures.

Here are several aphorisms Jesus utters in his send-off speech. He seems to be saying that remembering these truths and acting accordingly is how the disciples can face into opposition and get the job done.

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master".

"Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known".

"Even the hairs on your head are counted".

"Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven".

"I have come not to bring peace, but a sword".

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me".

"Those who find their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake will find it”.

Proverbs, indicative statements of the way things are, imply admonitions—directions on how we should live in light of the reality they express.

Our passage is a series of alternating proverbial observations about daily life and admonitions. They are strung on a thematic thread. Jesus wants the disciples to wear this string of beads around their necks as they go out into hostile environments. Matthew wanted the Christian missionaries to wear this string of beads as they went out from the church community into the world.

A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master. So, the response to this truth is that the disciples, the early missionaries, and we 21st-century disciples should prepare ourselves to face opposition as Jesus did.

Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered and nothing secret that will not become known. So as a result of this fact, we are to remember that evildoers' words and deeds will be revealed and judged in due time. And we are to be emboldened to speak God's good news boldly and without fear.

Even the hairs of your head are counted. Since God values us so highly, we can be assured God will vindicate us in the last days.

Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. In light of this reality, we should choose to acknowledge Jesus and his kingdom now in all we say and do. And we should encourage others to do so as well in light of these high stakes.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. Given this truth Jesus speaks, we should love him above all and give him our highest loyalty.

Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. We should not shrink from inconvenience or sacrifice in service of God's kingdom.

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. We should give up our definition of the good life with the goal of personal success to find our true identity and purpose in Christ's service.

How would we describe the string or thread that holds these beads together? I think it's fearless confession of faith in Jesus in the world that, while risky, is well worth the sacrifice because it leads to the discovery of our true identity and purpose as individuals and as a church.

That's a reminder we will want to carry along with us as we meet difficult tests of our faith in our daily lives in the world.



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.


Friends in Christ,
God invites us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dear to us as our own needs. Loving our neighbors as ourselves, we offer our thanksgivings and our petitions on behalf of the church and the world. Hear our prayers, God of power, and through the ministry of your Son free us from the grip of the tomb, that we may desire you as the fullness of life and proclaim your saving deeds to all the world.

We ask this through Christ our Lord who taught us to pray;

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 and the Power and the Glory forever.



Beloved people of God                                                             Phil. 4:8–9

whatever is true, whatever is honorable,

whatever is just, whatever is pure,

whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable,

anything that is excellent and worthy of praise—

keep on doing these things,

and the God of peace will be with you.

Alleluia! Amen.

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