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  • Writer's pictureFr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

Sunday Worship on July 12, 2020

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

The Holy Eucharist: The Liturgy of the Word

6th Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 10, Year A) July 12, 2020

Watch the Livestream at

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 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 #48: O Day of Radiant Gladness

1 O day of radiant gladness, O day of joy and light, O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright; this day the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune, sing "Holy, holy, holy" to the great God Triune.

2 This day at the creation the light first had its birth; this day for our salvation Christ rose from depths of earth; this day our Lord, victorious the Spirit sent from heaven, and thus this day most glorious a triple light was given.

3 This day, God's people meeting, his Holy Scripture hear;

his living presence greeting, through Bread and Wine made near.

We journey on, believing, renewed with heavenly might,

from grace more grace receiving on this blest day of light.

4 That light our hope sustaining, we walk the pilgrim way,

as length our rest attaining, our endless Sabbath day.

We sang to thee our praises, O Father, Spirit, Son;

the Church her voice upraises to thee, blest Three in One.

Words: Sts. 1-2, Christopher Woodsworth, Public Domain; st. 3, Charles P. Price © 1982; st. 4 © 1985 Church Publishing, Inc.

Music: Es flog ein kleins Waldvögelein, German folk song, Public Domain; harm. George Ratcliffe Woodward, Public Domain.

Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #28058. All rights reserved.

Opening Sentences

[BCP, p. 355]

Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen.

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.

Hymn S 280: Glory to God in the Highest

[BCP, p. 356]

Glory to God in the highest,

and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,

Almighty God and Father,

we worship you, we give you thanks,

we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,

Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world:

have mercy on us;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father:

receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,

you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High,

Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Words: Public Domain.

Music: Robert Powell, © 1985 Church Publishing, Inc.

Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #77081. All rights reserved.

The Collect of the Day

[BCP, p. 357, 230]

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Let us pray:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Reading from the Book of Isaiah (55:10-13)

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace;

the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;

and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Psalm 65:1-14

[BCP, p. 672]

Read responsively by half-verse (at the asterisk).

1 You are to be praised, O God, in Zion; * to you shall vows be performed in Jerusalem.

2 To you that hear prayer shall all flesh come, * because of their transgressions.

3 Our sins are stronger than we are, * but you will blot them out.

4 Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there! * they will be satisfied by the beauty of your house, by the holiness of your temple.

5 Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, * O Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the seas that are far away.

6 You make fast the mountains by your power; * they are girded about with might.

7 You still the roaring of the seas, * the roaring of their waves, and the clamor of the peoples.

8 Those who dwell at the ends of the earth will tremble at your marvelous signs; * you make the dawn and the dusk to sing for joy.

9 You visit the earth and water it abundantly; you make it very plenteous; * the river of God is full of water.

10 You prepare the grain, * for so you provide for the earth.

11 You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges; * with heavy rain you soften the ground and bless its increase.

12 You crown the year with your goodness, * and your paths overflow with plenty.

13 May the fields of the wilderness be rich for grazing, * and the hills be clothed with joy.

14 May the meadows cover themselves with flocks, and the valleys cloak themselves with grain; * let them shout for joy and sing.

A Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans (8:1-11)

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law-- indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Hymn #657: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

1 Love divine, all loves excelling,

joy of heaven, to earth come down,

fix in us thy humble dwelling,

all thy faithful mercies crown.

Jesus, thou art all compassion,

pure, unbounded love thou art;

visit us with thy salvation,

enter every trembling heart.

2 Come, almighty to deliver,

let us all thy life receive;

suddenly return, and never,

nevermore thy temples leave.

Thee we would be always blessing,

serve thee as thy hosts above,

pray, and praise thee without ceasing,

glory in thy perfect love.

3 Finish then thy new creation;

pure and spotless let us be;

let us see thy great salvation

perfectly restored in thee:

changed from glory into glory,

till in heaven we take our place,

till we cast our crowns before thee,

lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Words: Charles Wesley, Public Domain.

Music: Hyfrydol, Rowland Hugh Prichard, Public Domain.

Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #84255. All rights reserved.

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ According to St. Matthew (13:1-9, 18-23)

Glory to you, Lord Christ.

Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, Lord Christ.

The Sermon

“Jesus Goes Before Us” by the Rev. Guillermo A. Arboleda

I. Colonialism and the Parable of the Sower

Every time I hear this Sunday’s Gospel story -- Jesus’ parable about the sower who sowed seeds -- I think of a sermon I heard when I was in high school while away on an international mission trip. Our youth group traveled to Nassau in the Bahamas to lay foundations for new homes that would be completed by future mission teams.

You may be feeling proud of me and other young people for doing this service project, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. By the end, I hope you’ll understand that I’m not the hero of this story, and that there are better ways to express our love and solidarity with people in other parts of the world.

The pastor used this parable as an encouragement for us young Christians to become sowers of the Good News on our mission trip. We are supposed to tell as many people as we can about Jesus’ saving message. And if people don’t accept it, then that’s on them. We just need to do our best and let God handle the rest. If people reject the message, we can wash our hands of it and let God judge them.

Even though the pastor didn’t say it, the implication that the Bahamian people needed us and even that God needed us. We thought we traveled to the Bahamas to bring the word of God to people who didn’t have it or didn’t have enough of it. We thought we built homes for people who couldn’t build them for themselves. But that is just, plain wrong.

That mentality places all the onus on sinful human beings. But we’re actually not that capable. We’re not able to do the right thing all the time. Even when we try to do the right thing, we have mixed motivations and we can cause more harm than good. 

For generations, European and American Christian missionaries understood themselves to be sowing God’s word to people all around the world. They came together with merchants and soldiers to spread “Western civilization” with its political subjugation, its capitalism, and its religion. Missionary work today is not so explicitly tied to commerce and colonization, but it hasn’t been totally untangled from them either. This kind of missionary work usually fails to honor the dignity of local communities being served. It fails to recognize this value of local cultures and values, instead imposing a Western cultural worldview. Western Christians have been unable to separate their understanding of the Gospel with their culture and “civilization.” Worshipping Jesus gets tied to praying, dressing, talking, and thinking like White Men.

It took me years of reflection, but I came to see that short-term mission trips like that one can often be harmful to local communities. They are more about puffing up the ego of the foreign visitors than they are about helping the local people on the ground. 

For example, there is no reason that Bahamians couldn’t have built their own houses. There are plenty of skilled laborers there. If money is the problem (because of the colonialist global economy) the missionary group could have hired local contractors to do the work and thus stimulated the local economy. They could have provided financial support to local churches and other charitable organizations that empowered the already-present Christian communities to do more for themselves. Instead, a group of mostly unskilled and incompetent suburban teenagers did a worse job of building homes than professionals would have done and removed social and economic opportunities from that town. 

For the record, I don’t think that short-term missionaries intend anything evil. I just think we don’t reflect enough on our history, biases, and assumptions; and I know that it’s easy to harm somebody despite our best intentions. As a participant in Diocese of Georgia service trips in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, I engage in conversations about these topics with our Gift of Sight Mission Team. We have to examine ourselves and make sure we avoid that colonialist mentality.

At the core of these colonialist problems is a belief that God needs us to accomplish God’s work. When Christian people become the sowers of God’s word, we put on an arrogant, destructive, colonialist mindset. 

So how ought we understand this passage? What is Jesus trying to tell us?

II. A New Question

It starts with asking a different question. What is the Word of God? Or rather, Who is the Word of God? John 1:1-18 shows us that the Word of God is Jesus Christ himself (“The Word became flesh and lived among us” - John 1:14). There isn’t one right way to understand the Bible (that idea is itself colonialist). But whenever we see “the word” come up in a Bible passage, we want to at least consider what it means for “the Word” to be Jesus: his presence, his Spirit, his ministry. 

In this version of the parable, the Sower is God the Father and the seed is the “word of the kingdom,” who is Jesus. God sends Jesus to every kind of soil all over the world. Every kind of person and creature receives the presence of God’s Word, the Son Jesus Christ. Some never accept it; others are persecuted and lose heart; others are distracted by greed; and still others receive the Word joyfully. 

But even in the first four examples, the Word, Jesus, has been there. And the Word can still accomplish good purposes, even when they are invisible. We are not the sowers. We do not sow Jesus to people we meet or places we go. We don’t control God’s movement or God’s activity. Jesus goes before us.

Isaiah says that God’s word “shall not return to me empty but it shall accomplish that which I purpose” (Isa 55:11). In other words, God’s purposes cannot be stopped. Jesus, the Word, will do what God wants. This is a promise that even as the world deteriorates around us in more ways than one, we can rest assured that God’s Word, Jesus Christ, is living and active. We can trust that Jesus is bringing about love, justice, peace, and liberation. Because we believe that God is good, we can have confidence that God will bring about good.

That means we have no pressure to control or manipulate our neighbors into believing or acting or praying like us. We aren’t God. But we serve a God who has already visited our neighbors near and far. We serve a God who goes before us. We know that God is already sowing seeds of new life, of freedom, of love, and of hope. 

So when we listen to our neighbors, Christian and otherwise, we should not be surprised to find echoes of God’s word already there. They too are bearers of God’s image and they too can speak wisdom, correction, and justice into our lives. Because Jesus has gone before us. Amen.

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 & Confession of Sin

[Adapted from Form VI, BCP, p. 392]

In peace, we pray to you, Lord God.

Silence, about 5 seconds.

For all people in their daily life and work;

For our families, friends, and neighbors, and for those who are alone.

For Donald, our president; Brian, our governor; Van, our mayor; Al, the chair of our County Commission; Ann, the Superintendent of our Public Schools, and all other civic officials; For this community, the nation, and the world;

For all who work for justice, freedom, and peace.

For the just and proper use of your creation;

For the victims of hunger, fear, injustice, and oppression.

For all who are in danger, sorrow, or any kind of trouble;

For those who minister to the sick, the friendless, and the needy.

For all the churches in Savannah, that we may be one as you are one with the Son, and the Holy Spirit; For the peace and unity of the Church of God;

For all who proclaim the Gospel, and all who seek the Truth.

For Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury; Michael, our Presiding Bishop; Frank, our Bishop; Guillermo our Priest; and for all bishops and other ministers;

For all who serve God in his Church.

For the special needs and concerns of this congregation, especially for our Day Care’s staff, students, and families, and for those on our Parish Prayer List: Martha Avery, Zavier Bradley, Raleigh Bryant, Christine Brown, Mark Case, Genella Chamberlain, Annie Colbert, Lazola Cope, Alice Dailey, Brittany Dawson, Imani Ferguson, Ruby Fernandez, Harry Frazier, 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, Joan Maty, 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; and those we remember now…

Silence. The People may add their own petitions.

Hear us, Lord;

For your mercy is great.

We thank you, Lord, for all the blessings of this life, especially for Mary Bonaparte (7/12), Margaret Anne Pearson (7/17), Grace Luten (7/17), Jayda Newton (7/17), Fr. DeWayne Cope (7/18), and Jewel Wheeler (7/18) on their birthdays, and other blessings we remember now.

Silence. The People may add their own thanksgivings.

We will exalt you, O God our King;

And praise your Name for ever and ever.

We pray for all who have died, that they may have a place in your eternal kingdom, especially Earl Golden (cousin to Altheria and Carmelita Maynard), and those we remember now.

Silence. The People may add their own petitions.

Lord, let your loving-kindness be upon them;

Who put their trust in you.

We pray to you also for the forgiveness of our sins.

Silence may be kept.

Leader and People:

Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; in your compassion forgive us our sins, known and unknown, things done and left undone; and so uphold us by your Spirit that we may live and serve you in newness of life, to the honor and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Celebrant concludes with an absolution or a suitable Collect.

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.

The Peace

[BCP, p. 360]

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also with you.


A. We do not yet know when we can safely return to in-person worship in our church building. The Right Rev. Frank Logue, the new Bishop of Georgia, has authorized some parishes in our Diocese to begin re-opening their buildings as early as July 1. Given the recent increase in new COVID-19 cases in Chatham County, the Vestry has decided not to proceed with Phase 1 Re-opening at this time. The church building will remain closed to all in-person gatherings. We will continue to monitor data provided by our local health experts and present a re-opening plan to the parish when we believe that it is safe to do so. Thank you for your patience and flexibility during this uncertain time.

B. Our updated weekly worship schedule during this time of social distancing and quarantine is as follows. Unless otherwise noted, all services may be read on the blog and/or viewed as a video on Facebook Live. If you know of church members who have trouble accessing these services, please reach out and show them or direct them to Fr. Arboleda for support.

  1. Sundays - 9:30 Worship (You can find all of the upcoming Sunday and Holiday readings at

  2. Tuesdays - 5:00 Evening Prayer

  3. Wednesdays - 5:00 Evening Prayer

  4. Thursdays - 5:00 Evening Prayer

C. We will hold a virtual "Coffee Hour" over Zoom next Sunday, July 19, at 10:30 AM, and again on every other Sunday. Thank you to Mrs. Rachael Blue-Jones who is donating a professional Zoom login to the church for our use.

Topic: St. Matthew's Virtual Coffee Hour

Time: Jul 19, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 839 8763 1416

Password: stmattsav

One tap mobile

+19292056099,,83987631416#,,,,0#,,873853606# US (New York)

Dial by your location

+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

Meeting ID: 839 8763 1416

Password: 873853606

D. St. Matthew's is planning to pre-record Sunday services to ensure higher quality video and audio for our worshippers at home. This provides a new opportunity for church members to be a part of the service! Mrs. Pearson and I will reach out to parishioners about recording themselves reading Scripture lessons and/or the Prayers of the People for use in these Sunday videos. If you want to get involved, please email me about your interest at

E. Many people are 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:

  1. Mail us a check or money order at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 1401 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, Savannah, GA 31415; OR

  2. Make a secure online gift to St. Matthew’s and/or automate future gifts at:; OR (3) Text “stmattsav” to 73256 to make a secure online donation through your phone.

The Offertory

[BCP, p. 377]

Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.(Ephesians 5:2)

AAHH #154: Oh, What He's Done For Me

1 Oh, what He's done for me. Oh, what He's done for me. Oh, what He's done for me. I never shall forget what He's done for me.

2 He took my feet out the miry clay, That's what He's done for me. He took my feet out the miry clay, That's what He's done for me. He took my feet out the miry clay, That's what He's done for me.

I never shall forget what He's done for me.

3 He feeds me when I'm hungry, That's what He's done for me. He feeds me when I'm hungry, That's what He's done for me.

He feeds me when I'm hungry, That's what He's done for me. I never shall forget what He's done for me.

4 He picked me up and turned me around, That's what He's done for me. He picked me up and turned me around, That's what He's done for me.

He picked me up and turned me around, That's what He's done for me. I never shall forget what He's done for me.

5 He gave me a home in glory, That's what He's done for me. He gave me a home in glory, That's what He's done for me.

He gave me a home in glory, That's what He's done for me. I never shall forget what He's done for me.

Words: Congregational Praise Song

Music: Congregational Praise Song; arr. by James Abbington, © 2000, GIA Publications, Inc.

Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #95016. All rights reserved.

The Lord’s Prayer

[BCP, p. 364]

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

[Enriching Our Worship 1, p. 71; BCP, p 366]

Live without fear: your Creator has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Go in peace to follow the good road and may God’s blessing be with you always. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord!

Thanks be to God!

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. Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture readings and quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible

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