Home Worship for Sunday, April 26
The Holy Eucharist: The Liturgy of the Word
3rd Sunday of Easter (Year A) April 26, 2020
Watch the Livestream at www.Facebook.com/StMattSav/Live/
Sunday at 9:30 a.m. (or anytime afterward)
I am posting this worship service online because we at St. Matthew's Church in Savannah are unable to gather together in person this week. Due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak, public health officials recommend avoiding large gatherings of people to avoid spreading the illness to more vulnerable people. Therefore, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia has ordered all parishes in our diocese to suspend in-person worship until further notice.
At 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, I will broadcast the following worship service using Facebook Live at www.Facebook.com/StMattSav. After the service concludes, you can re-watch it at any time.
Today's service is the Liturgy of the Word (or the first part of the Holy Eucharist service we use on normal Sundays). This is for use at home while watching the live stream or reading the prayers when you cannot physically attend worship. Lay people may read the entirety of this service as printed.
May God protect you from this virus and protect the most vulnerable among us. May we be God’s hands and feet of compassion and service to all in need during this time. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda
The Word of God
Hymn #180: He is Risen! He is Risen!
1. He is risen, he is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice:
he has burst his three days' prison;
let the whole wide earth rejoice:
death is conquered, we are free,
Christ has won the victory.
2. Come, ye sad and fearful-hearted,
with glad smile and radiant brow!
Death's long shadows have departed;
Jesus' woes are over now,
and the passion that he bore–
sin and pain can vex no more.
3. Come, with high and holy hymning,
hail our Lord's triumphant day;
not one darksome cloud is dimming
yonder glorious morning ray,
breaking o'er the purple east,
symbol of our Easter feast.
4. He is risen, he is risen!
He hath opened heaven's gate:
we are free from sin's dark prison,
risen to a holier state;
and a brighter Easter beam
on our longing eyes shall stream.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
LEV #41: Christ Has Arisen
Christ has arisen, Alleluia!
Rejoice and praise Him, Alleluia!
For our Redeemer burst from the tomb,
Even from death dispelling its gloom.
Let us sing praise to Him with endless joy.
Death’s fearful sting He has come to destroy,
Our sin forgiving, Alleluia!
Jesus is living, Alleluia!
The Collect of the Day (BCP, p. 295)
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray:
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (2:14a, 36-41)
Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd, “Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God
Psalm 116:1-3 10-17 (BCP, p. 759)
Read responsively by half-verse (at the asterisk).
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, * because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
2 The cords of death entangled me; the grip of the grave took hold of me; * I came to grief and sorrow.
3 Then I called upon the Name of the Lord: * "O Lord, I pray you, save my life."
10 How shall I repay the Lord * for all the good things he has done for me?
11 I will lift up the cup of salvation * and call upon the Name of the Lord.
12 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord * in the presence of all his people.
13 Precious in the sight of the Lord * is the death of his servants.
14 O Lord, I am your servant; * I am your servant and the child of your handmaid; you have freed me from my bonds.
15 I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving * and call upon the Name of the Lord.
16 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord * in the presence of all his people,
17 In the courts of the Lord'S house, * in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah!
A Reading from the First Letter of St. Peter (1:17-23)
If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God
Hymn #208: Alleluia! The Strife is O’er
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
1. The strife is o'er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun. Alleluia!
2. The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed:
let shout of holy joy outburst. Alleluia!
3. The three sad days are quickly sped,
he rises glorious from the dead:
all glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!
4. He closed the yawning gates of hell,
the bars from heaven's high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumphs tell! Alleluia!
5. Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death's dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live and sing to thee. Alleluia!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ According to St. Luke (24:13-35)
Glory to you, Lord Christ.
Now on that same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Christ.
“First Peter: Part I” by Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda
1 Peter is an Easter letter. We read from this letter every Sunday this Easter Season. It’s the letter we read during Evening Prayer this past week. It pops us all over the place right now in Episcopal worship services. So for the next few Sundays, I’m going to focus on this interesting, powerful book in the New Testament because it is incredibly relevant to us now.
The opening verse of 1 Peter says that it is addressed to Christian “exiles” around the land we now call Turkey (1 Pet 1:1). To be an exile means that you are separated from your place and from your people. We usually use the word exile to refer to a literal geographic exile. You once lived one place and now live somewhere else. But it's important to remember that exiles are not immigrants. Immigrants voluntarily search for new opportunities in a new place. Exiles don’t choose to leave their homes. Exiles are not people who left their homes to go to college or to get a new job. Exiles are more like modern refugees. Exiles are people who move against their own will. In times of war or famine or persecution, exiled people are ripped from their homes and forced to migrate. Others make them leave what they know and adapt to something new. Exiles experience enormous social tragedies.
The COVID-19 Pandemic is creating a different kind of exile. We have not moved from our homes, but we have been forced into a new way of living. We did not choose to expose ourselves to the coronavirus in essential jobs. We did not choose to get laid off from “non-essential” jobs. We did not choose to stay home and quarantine ourselves. We did not choose to stop gathering with the community of believers at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. Like an exile, none of this was voluntary. It was forced upon us as a global human society.
And that means that now, perhaps more than ever, 1 Peter is a letter written to us. It’s written to people living in contexts like ours, where our worlds are turned upside down by forces outside our control. It’s written to Christians in exile.
Peter writes that the Old Testament prophets “wondered what the Spirit of Christ within them was saying when he bore witness beforehand about the suffering that would happen to Christ and the glory that would follow. … 12 It was revealed to them that in their search they were not serving themselves but you.” (1 Pet 1:11a, 12a, CEB, emphasis added).
In our time of exile and suffering, Peter reminds us that God loves us and is with us. God has been preparing the plan of salvation from before the world began. God spoke to prophets in ages long past and revealed to them that Jesus Christ would suffer and that he would then be glorified. We are not alone in our sufferings because Jesus suffered first and God raised him from the dead. Remember that the great mystery of our faith is: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again” (BCP, p. 363). Peter says that this was revealed to the prophets and to the angels “for you.” You need this Good News that the Son of God lived among us, suffered, died, and rose again to save us. Jesus' saving actions are God's gift to you.
Then, at the beginning of this Sunday’s reading, Peter continues to explain, “live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.” (1 Pet 1:17b-19, NRSV).
Despite our exile, we have hope. We have this Good News of Jesus. Jesus lived and died and rose again in glory in order to “ransom” us. The Common English Bible translates this as “liberated.” The imagery here is that of slavery. We were enslaved to our own sinful habits, to “the futile ways” (NRSV), to “the empty lifestyle you inherited from your ancestors” (CEB). We could not escape these old patterns of thought, word, and deed. But God saved us. Christ suffered and died and Christ rose victorious from the grave. In his rising, we have hope that our sins can be forgiven, that our old ways can die, and that we can receive the gift of new life with the Holy Spirit.
The Good News that Peter preaches is both death and resurrection. Many Christians want to simplify the message and make it all happy (like Easter) or all sad (like Lent). But it’s really both. God both acknowledges the truth of our present reality and transforms it supernaturally.
Peter doesn’t preach a prosperity gospel that tells you everything will be alright and that God will protect you from all harm if you just believe hard enough. 1 Peter asserts that disciples will suffer, just as Jesus suffered against the sinful powers. Faith in Christ is not a ticket out of the world. But it’s also not all bad. We don’t seek after pain and harm and abuse, but instead, we trust in God’s resurrecting power. We believe that God both knows our reality as it is (with sin, pain, suffering, and death) and actively transforms it (bringing us out of darkness into light, out of death into life).
Peter’s final word to us this week is a simple one that lives at the core of Christianity: “love one another, deeply from the heart. You have been born anew” (1 Pet 1:22b-23a, NRSV). Just as God has loved us from before time and forever, we are ambassadors of love to our family, friends, and neighbors, especially those we are quarantined with. In times of exile, it’s easy to become selfish and worry only about preserving what we have. But Peter tells the exiles not to grow jaded; don’t give up on caring for each other in this time of great need. We can let our old habits of selfishness die, and live our new, born-again life in Christ. “Love one another, deeply from the heart” (1 Pet 1:22, NRSV).
I encourage you to read all of 1 Peter this week. We’re going to keep preaching about it for the next few Sundays in the Easter season. It’s only 5 chapters long, but it’s got so much love packed into it.
This little New Testament letter has a powerful message of hope for those who are suffering and anxious. It’s a letter of encouragement to keep going. Keep your chin up. Continue to trust and believe in God. “Live in reverent fear” because Jesus has already done this saving work for you. The rest of life isn’t easy, but if even Jesus died, then we should not fear death. If God raised Jesus to new life, then God can raise us too. Amen.
Edmondson, Stephen. “Theological Perspective on 1 Peter 1:17-23,” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A, Vol. 2, edited by David L Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, 412-416. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.
Lundblad, Barbara K. “Homiletical Perspective on 1 Peter 1:17-23,” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A, Vol. 2, edited by David L Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, 413-417. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.
Steagald, Thomas R. “Homiletical Perspective on 1 Peter 1:3-9,” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A, Vol. 2, edited by David L Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, 389-393. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.
The Nicene Creed (BCP, p. 358)
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Prayers of the People
[Adapted from Prayers provided by the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and those written by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Ewing, NJ: http://www.stlukesewing.org/prayers-of-the-people-easter]
Rejoicing in the mighty acts of God who has delivered the people of God from sin and death through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us lift our voices and pray,
Hear our Prayer.
Let us give thanks to God for the multitude of blessings that God showers upon us: For our lives and for those whom we love, For the beauty of this home God has created for us, For our families and our friendships. Remember especially Lazola Cope (4/19), Ja’wanna Baker-Pennamon (4/25), and Taylor Blue (4/30) on their birthdays; and James and Monica Williams (4/21) and Anthony and Renee Watts (4/25) on their wedding anniversaries. Let us give thanks to the God of Life.
Hear our Prayer.
Let us pray for the Church, that it may carry forward the redemptive works of God: Gather all the baptized around your presence in the Word. Strengthen the body of your people even when we cannot assemble for worship. Grant Bishop Scott, Bishop-elect Frank and all our deacons and priests faithfulness and creativity for their ministry in this time.
Hear our Prayer.
Let us pray for the whole creation, for this good earth and for the flowering of springtime. Save dry lands from destructive droughts. Protect the waters from pollution. Allow in this time the planting of fields for food. Make us into care-givers of your plants and animals.
Hear our Prayer.
Let us pray for the nations, leaders, and peoples of the world. Inspire all people to live in peace and concord. Grant wisdom and courage to heads of state and to legislators as they face the coronavirus. Lead our elected officials to champion the cause of the needy.
Hear our Prayer.
Let us pray for those who are sick, those who suffer, those who struggle, for you accompany suffering humanity with love. Abide wherever the coronavirus has struck. Visit all who mourn their dead; all who have contracted the virus; those who are quarantined or stranded away from home; those who have lost their employment; those who fear the present and the future. Support physicians, nurses, and home health aides; medical researchers; and the World Health Organization.
Hear our Prayer.
Let us pray for all the needy, especially those who have asked this parish for prayers: Martha Avery, Cheryl Bennett, Zavier Bradley, Raleigh Bryant, Christine Brown, Mark Case, Genella Chamberlain, Annie Colbert, Lazola Cope, Alice Dailey, Brittany Dawson, Ruby Fernandez, Harry Frazier, Earl Golden, Gary Gordon, Loretta Harmond, Marva Harris, Enoch Henderson, Charles E. Hines, Kenneth Howard, Terri Howard, Dale Hundley, Jared Hundley, Tracy Hundley, Milinda James, Alvin Jenkins, Dana Jenkins, Frances T. Jones, Lori Jones, Robert L. Jones, Sr., Ronald Jones, Whitney Kennedy, Leonard Law, Jr., Ryan Lovett, Tammie Lovett, Craig Maxwell, Sada Maxwell, Carmelita Maynard, Viola Maynard, Bette Milledge, Hollie Moultrie, Patricia Murry, Russell Nails, Dorothy Neal, Glenzy Payne, Robert Payne, James Small, Gwendolyn Smith, Willie Stephens, Gisele Walton, Lori Ward, Gertrude Washington, Noel Wheeler, and Dean Williams. We beg you to feed the hungry, protect the refugee, embrace the distressed, house the homeless, nurse the sick, and comfort the dying.
Hear our Prayer.
Let us pray for those who have died in the peace of Christ, and those whose faith is known to you alone; bring them by your resurrecting power into the place of eternal joy and light
Hear our Prayer.
The Celebrant adds a concluding collect.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
A. We continue under shelter-at-home orders and do not yet know when we can safely return to in-person worship at church. The Right Rev. Scott Benhase, the Bishop of Georgia, has provided guidelines for a return to worship in our diocese, specifically: (1) a steady reduction in new cases of COVID-19 for at least fourteen consecutive days and (2) the widespread availability of COVID-19 tests throughout the Diocese of Georgia.
B. Our worship schedule during this time of social distancing and quarantine is:
9:30 am Sunday services and
5:00 pm T/W/Th Evening Prayer
C. Many people are already feeling the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, including the church. We still need your support to pay our staff, pay our bills, and provide for these online live streams. If you pledged a donation in 2020 and are able, please continue making those contributions. If you have not pledged, please consider donating to St. Matthew’s now and in the future. There are several ways to give, but the simplest are these:
Mail us a check or money order at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 1401 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, Savannah, GA 31415; OR
Make a secure online gift to St. Matthew’s and/or automate future gifts at: https://onrealm.org/StMattSav/-/give/now; OR (3) Text “stmattsav” to 73256 to make a secure online donation through your phone.
“O Lord our God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power; because you have created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11)
LEV #69: I Come to the Garden Alone
1 I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
2 He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing;
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing. [Refrain]
3 I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling;
But He bids me go through the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling. [Refrain]
The Lord’s Prayer
And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
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, for ever and ever. Amen.
Let us bless the Lord. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen.
Note: This service is reproduced from The Book of Common Prayer 1979 (BCP), The Hymnal 1982 (Hymn), Lift Every Voice and Sing II: An African American Hymnal (LEV), and other sources cited. The Scripture readings are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible unless otherwise noted.