Sermons

Sermon for the 19th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

Sermon for the 19th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

Oct 11, 2020

Passage:Philippians 4:1-9

Preacher: The Rev. Tammy Breitbarth

Series: Philippians

Category: Community, encouragement

Detail:

Sermon, October 11, 2020, Proper 23, Year A

St. Andrews Amarillo, 10:30 Online Service

----------------------------------------------------

Good morning.

 

Have you ever heard someone utter the phrase, “God really has a sense of humor”? 

It is usually said with irony or in a sarcastic way. Maybe you have said it yourself. I know I have.

 

You see, today is the 19th Sunday after Pentecost. You remember Pentecost, right? That holiday which is celebrated the 50th day after Easter Sunday, and which commemorates the Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ. This year it was May 31. 

 

Hold that as a place marker. Then looking forward, the 1st Sunday of Advent is on November 29 this year.

 

And the 6 months between the two, between Pentecost and Advent, is traditionally called “Ordinary” time. God, or somebody, has had a sense of humor in 2020!

Because I don’t know about you, but there hasn’t been much “ordinary” in my life since March. 

 

Or, has there been?

 

You see, “Ordinary” as used here originated with a Latin term which means “time through the year.” Ordinary time is “ordinal” or counted time. 

 

The day after Pentecost begins one of several yearly liturgical seasons of Ordinary Time. “From the day of Pentecost forward,” during this season on Ordinary Time, “various Scripture readings carve out a multiweek path of theological & spiritual reflection, finally bringing (us) to the doorsteps of Advent.” (FOTW, Yr. A, vol. 4, p. 158)

 

Ordinary time is anything but ordinary, or mundane. It is the gift of the every day. Sure, we love to dress up and show up on the celebration days! Easter. Christmas. You know what I’m talking about. But Ordinary Time is the in-between time, and the gift of the in-between time is that EACH Sunday, really each DAY, is a time to celebrate creation and resurrection.

EACH. DAY. is a day to commemorate the awesome gift of new life in Christ. 

 

And sometimes -- we are asked to count Ordinary Time during extraordinary circumstances.

 

As we have moved through Philippians on these past 4 Sundays, we have read that Paul is in a Roman prison, missing his church family in Philippi. People that he loved and longed for, calling them his joy, his crown, his beloved.

 

Missed his church family. People he loved and longed for…

Does that sound familiar? Can anybody relate?

 

Yet there was some unnamed strive or conflict in the Philippian community between Eudia (you-O-dee-a) and Syntyche (SIN-tih-tshee), and Paul urges these two leaders, perhaps co-leaders in this community of worship, to be of the same mind in the Lord. We don’t know what the tension is, why they are at odds with one another, or perhaps at odds with Paul himself. What we do know, is the instruction that Paul gives them even in the midst of this strive, and his separation from them.

 

Paul says --

Rejoice in the Lord -- always.

Show people your gentleness.

Do not worry.

Take it to God in prayer & supplication…

with Thanksgiving.

And the peace of God … the peace of God … which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

--pause—

 

If we didn’t know that Paul was in a prison when he wrote this,

If we didn’t know that there was strife in this 1st century community,

It would be so easy to read Philippians 4 and say,

“Have you heard about 2020?”

“Have you heard about the division in our nation, in our world?

Division around the topics of Covid-19. Masks. Politics. Immigration. Human rights. Sexual Orientation. Race. Gender. The list is L-O-N-G.

 

But we do know that Paul was in prison. 

We do know that he was isolated from his community of believers, this very new community of believers, who were experiencing their own division.

 

And yet his words to them…

…and to us…

Rejoice in the Lord -- always.

Show gentleness.

Don’t worry.

Take it to God in prayer & supplication…

with Thanksgiving.

And the peace of God, will guard our hearts & our minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Ordinary time is anything but ordinary and mundane.

And sometimes -- we are asked to live it during extraordinary circumstances.

 

So in the midst of these extraordinary circumstances, how … HOW… do we go to God in Thanksgiving?

 

Paul encouraged the Philippians then, and us today … Beloved …

Whatever is true … honorable …  or just

Whatever is pure … pleasing … or commendable

If there is any excellence … anything worthy of praise

Think about THESE things.

 

Perhaps it is no accident that the liturgical color of Ordinary Time, this measured, counted time of the every day, is green.

 

Green is the color often associated with growth. New life. Spring. Summer.

It is also the time of year that congregations such as ours work to clarify our identity and mission as God’s church in the world. It is a time when we answer the question of how we will live out our resurrection as we move through the days of Ordinary Time.

How will we... how will St. Andrews…how will I … show up each day?

 

This current season of Ordinary Time has certainly been a green, growing season.

Many, if not all of us, have experienced a new life, or at least a new way to do life. 

 

Some of it has been welcomed, even beneficial.

Less “busy-ness’ has encouraged meals while sitting at the table and walks in the neighborhood. I cannot recall the last time that I was able to watch and notice the daily progression of the trees leafing out like I was able to this Spring.

 

Some of this newness has been unwelcome.

We were quarantined in our own homes, missing our church family at St. Andrews, much as Paul was separated from & missing his Philippian community.

Many of us had loved ones … family & friends … who got sick … were isolated & lonely… perhaps died.

 

This march through many of the individual days of the last 7-8 months has been HARD!

 

Yet, again, in this letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages us … Beloved …

Whatever is true … honorable …  just

Whatever is pure … pleasing … commendable

If there is any excellence … anything worthy of praise

Think about THESE things.

 

During this season of an extraordinary, Ordinary Time, 

  • St. Andrews has called a new rector in Fr. Jared Houze, welcoming Ericka, his wife, and their beautiful children, Simon, Jude & Libby.
  • St. Andrews has called the Rev. Deacon Courtney Jones as the Associate for Ministry Development & Innovation.
  • St. Andrews has also launched online worship services that have enabled us to come together virtually each Sunday in a new way, where even past parishioners from all over Texas, the United States and other countries have joined us. 
  • We have created small groups.
  • We have baptized babies, buried our beloved … & even ordained a couple of deacons.

 

And next week, NEXT WEEK, we will return to our beautiful nave for in-person worship.

 

Yes, it will be different. We won’t be able to pack the house. We will wear masks and maintain distance, and we won’t be able to hug.

But … we will be together. We will be able to look each other in the eye. We will be able to give each other “distanced hugs”. We will experience the energy of our shared love for God & each other. Together. In one place. 

… We will receive the body of Christ.

 

Ordinary Time is anything but ordinary and mundane. 

And yes, some of the individual days of this in-between time have been and will be difficult. 

But together, as a Beloved community of followers, people loved and longed for, we are encouraged…

 

Rejoice in the Lord -- always.

Show gentleness – to others and self.

 Worry not.

Go to God in prayer … with Thanksgiving.

And if there is any excellence … anything worthy of praise

Think about THESE things.

And the peace of God will guard our hearts & our minds in Christ Jesus. 

 

Amen.