Home Worship for Sunday, May 17
Updated: May 17
The Holy Eucharist: The Liturgy of the Word
6th Sunday of Easter (Year A) May 17, 2020
Watch the Livestream at www.Facebook.com/StMattSav/Live/
Sunday at 9:30 a.m. (or anytime afterward)
A Baptism from Easter Season in 2019
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 #400: All Creatures of our God and King
1 All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voices, let us sing: alleluia, alleluia! Bright burning sun with golden beams, Pale silver moon that gently gleams, O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
4 Dear mother earth, you day by day unfold your blessings on our way; O praise him, Alleluia! All flowers and fruits that in you grow, let them his glory also show: O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
5 All you with mercy in your heart, forgiving others, take your part, O sing now: Alleluia! All you that pain and sorrow bear, praise God, and cast on him your care: O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
6 And even you, most gentle death, waiting to hush our final breath, O praise him, Alleluia! You lead back home the child of God, for Christ our Lord that way has trod: O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
7 Let all things their creator bless, and worship him in humbleness, O praise him, Alleluia! Praise God the Father, praise the Son, and praise the Spirit, Three in One: O praise him, O praise him, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
[BCP, p. 355]
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
The Collect for Purity
[BCP, p. 355]
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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. 357, 225]
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray:
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (17:22-31)
Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
[BCP, p. 674]
Read responsively by half-verse (at the asterisk).
7 Bless our God, you peoples; * make the voice of his praise to be heard;
8 Who holds our souls in life, * and will not allow our feet to slip.
9 For you, O God, have proved us; * you have tried us just as silver is tried.
10 You brought us into the snare; * you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.
11 You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; * but you brought us out into a place of refreshment.
12 I will enter your house with burnt-offerings and will pay you my vows, * which I promised with my lips and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble.
13 I will offer you sacrifices of fat beasts with the smoke of rams; * I will give you oxen and goats.
14 Come and listen, all you who fear God, * and I will tell you what he has done for me.
15 I called out to him with my mouth, * and his praise was on my tongue.
16 If I had found evil in my heart, * the Lord would not have heard me;
17 But in truth God has heard me; * he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
18 Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, * nor withheld his love from me.
A Reading from the First Letter of St. Peter (3:13-22)
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God's will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you-- not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Hymn #405: All Things Bright and Beautiful
REFRAIN: All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.
1 Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings, he made their glowing colors, he made their tiny wings. (Refrain)
2 The purple-headed mountain, the river running by, the sunset, and the morning that brightens up the sky. (Refrain)
3 The cold wind in the winter, the pleasant summer sun, the ripe fruits in the garden, he made them every one. (Refrain)
4 He gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell how great is God Almighty, who has made all things well. (Refrain)
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ According to St. John (14:15-21)
Glory to you, Lord Christ.
Jesus said, ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Christ.
“1 Peter: A Baptized People” by Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda
Today is our second to last week in a sermon series studying 1 Peter. Our guiding image in 1 Peter is that of “exiles.” Peter refers to his original audience as these people who were forced out of their homes, their cultures, their routine, and plopped into a hostile Roman imperial environment. He counsels them on how to live as Christians in such a time and place.
Our experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is similarly disorienting. We have been forced to change many habits in our day-to-day lives. We are separated from loved ones out of concern for the health and well-being of the whole society. And into this context, Peter speaks to us about our Christian identity as Baptized People.
Peter wants us to remember that we are baptized. Being baptized means that we are sinners in need of God’s mercy and that we have received that mercy. We acknowledge our need for help and that God has given it. We both have to see our own flaws and rest in the assurance that God loves us anyway.
In this text, Peter uses the Noah story to remind us of God’s grace and mercy toward us. Remember that God told Noah to build an ark in order to survive an enormous flood (Genesis 6-9). Genesis says that the Great Flood came because “God saw that the earth was corrupt” and “the earth is filled with violence” (Genesis 6:12-13). These words could describe the world in our day and in many other generations. People messed things up and of course Noah and his family were people too. But God showed mercy on them. God gave them grace and allowed them to be saved in the ark. Noah was obedient in this and he “found favor in the sight of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8, 22), but Noah and his family weren’t perfect people. They weren’t especially righteous. They just recognized their imperfections; they had enough humility to ask God for help and accept the help God offered.
We, like the people of Noah’s day, have done wrong. Our sins may not be as disastrously great as those of Noah’s generation, but that doesn’t really matter. We have hurt others. We have been complicit in systems of oppression that crush and destroy the poorest and neediest people in our society. The earth is still “corrupt” and “filled with violence.” And even though God promised never again to destroy the earth with a flood, God still desires justice. God is still righteous and will make things right for everyone.
God has gone before us in suffering and in death. God sees the suffering and evil of the world and God mourns. God sees that we not only experience pain, but that we Christians also cause it. “None is righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:12; cf. Psalm 14:3; 52:3) and “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Our sin is real. It is damaging to ourselves and to everyone around us.
Sin has consequences. On the day of judgment, we will all need to reckon with the truth about ourselves, that we have hurt one another and hurt ourselves. We have thought and acted selfishly more often than not. We’re going to have to deal with that and seek forgiveness from everyone we have ever wronged.
That’s why we should be grateful that God provided a way of salvation. Like the eight persons who entered the ark and were spared the destruction of the flood, we enter the lifeboat of the church through baptism. We didn’t earn this salvation, but God offered it to us freely, “while we still were sinners” (Romans 5:8). We dive into the waters of sin and death, and God lifts us out into new life. The Holy Spirit raises us from death just as the Holy Spirit raised the body of Jesus.
Baptism means that God is with us along the way. God is the righteous judge revealing our sin to us. But God is also the great forgiver. God is willing to help us forgive one another, forgive ourselves, and heal from all our brokenness. A baptized life is a life of New Creation. God is making us new. We don’t ignore our sins and act like everything is okay the way it is. We accept God’s forgiveness and long for God to set the whole world right (ourselves included).
Baptism is a sacrament the forges an unbreakable bond between God and us (see BCP, p. 298). God promises to join us to the power of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. God promises to make us new creations, born again through the Holy Spirit (BCP, pp. 306-307). Baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). The power of God who raised Jesus from the dead cleanses and heals us in baptism. This is powerful stuff!
That’s why it is so important for us to remember our baptisms and to keep baptizing new members into Christ’s Body. At St. Matthew’s, most of our families are pretty good about bringing their infants and toddlers forward to receive baptism at that very young age. But more and more often, children grow up in families that don’t go to church and so many people out there were not baptized as children or teens at all. It is going to be more normal for us to share the Good News with our friends and neighbors and discover that our adult friends have never been baptized.
This is a perfect opportunity to share “an accounting for the hope that is in you … with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). We Christians need to become as articulate as we can about why we do what we do. We need to know who we are and how we are bonded together. We are a people made one through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. And we show that unity through our common experience of the sacrament of baptism. It’s where we are assured that God gives us a lifetime of grace. (To be clear, God can give us grace in many other ways; God is not limited by human forms of worship; the sacraments are simply the “sure and certain means” of God’s grace [BCP, p. 857].)
To know ourselves as baptized people is to know that we are broken, guilty, and needy and that God already loves us and promises to heal and forgive us. We are sinners but God is good. That’s the promise of baptism. That is why baptism is at the heart of our Christian identity. If we can hold onto nothing else, hold onto the truth that we all need forgiveness and that God offers it to all. Amen.
Perkins, Pheme. First and Second Peter, James, and Jude. A Volume in Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Edited by James L. Mays, et al. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1995.
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 Zariyah Cope (5/17), Farah Taylor (5/17), Marilyn Jones (5/20), Altheria Maynard (5/20), and Milburn Lewis (5/22) on their birthdays; and Donald and Marilyn Jones (5/20) and Timothy and Cheryl Rhett (5/20) 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, Tonya 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, Dison Washington Slaughter, 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:
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, "Peace I give to you; my own 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.
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 in-person 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. Next Sunday is the last sermon in my series on 1 Peter. The reading is 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11. You can find all of the upcoming Sunday and Holiday readings at http://www.lectionarypage.net.
Also, this Thursday is Ascension Day, a principal feast in The Episcopal Church’s calendar. Look out for some special content in our Wednesday prayers with the Diocese and our Thursday prayers.
C. I am making a slight adjustment to our weekly worship schedule during this time of social distancing and quarantine. St. Matthew's Rector and members are regularly supporting the Diocese of Georgia's Wednesday Evening Prayer services through video readings, music, and sermons, so we will support these live stream services on Wednesday evenings. All services may be read on the blog and/or viewed as a video on Facebook Live.
Sunday - 9:30 Worship
Tuesday & Thursday - 5:00 Evening Prayer
D. We held a virtual "Coffee Hour" over Zoom last Sunday and had nearly 20 participants. The assembled group enjoyed the social time to catch up with one another. We are planning to hold similar Zoom calls at 10:30 AM (for no more than 40 minutes) on every other Sunday. That means the next virtual Coffee Hour will be next week, May 24, 2020. I'll post the Zoom link and other info on Facebook and in next week's blog post.
E. 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)
Give online at: https://onrealm.org/StMattSav/-/give/now
LEV #96: He is King of Kings
REFRAIN: He is King of kings, He is Lord of Lords; Jesus Christ, the first and last no man works like Him.
1 He built his throne up in the air no man works like Him; And called the saints from ev’erwhere no man works like Him. [Refrain]
2 I was but young when I begun no man works like Him; But now my race is almost won no man works like Him. [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.
The Blessing & Dismissal
The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make [us] perfect in every good work to do his will, working in [us] that which is well-pleasing in his sight; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among [us], and remain with [us] always. Amen.
Let us bless the Lord. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!
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.