Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Three weeks ago we heard Peter’s confession of faith as told in John’s gospel. This week we hear Mark’s version, when Peter says, “You are the Messiah.” In John, the stumbling block is Jesus’ invitation to eat his flesh, given for the life of the world. In Mark too the scandal has to do with Jesus’ words about his own coming death, and here Peter himself stumbles over Jesus’ words. But Jesus is anointed (the meaning of messiah) in Mark only on the way to the cross (14:3); so we are anointed in baptism with the sign of the cross.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
whose teaching is life,
whose presence is sure,
and whose love is endless.
Let us confess our sins to the one who welcomes us with an open heart.
Silence is kept for reflection.
God our comforter:
like lost sheep, we have gone astray.
We gaze upon abundance and see scarcity.
We turn our faces away from injustice and oppression.
We exploit the earth with our apathy and greed.
Free us from our sin, gracious God.
Listen when we call out to you for help.
Lead us by your love to love our neighbors as ourselves.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
By the gift of grace in ☩ Christ Jesus, God makes you righteous.
Receive with glad hearts the forgiveness of all your sins.
Prayer of the Day
O God, through suffering and rejection you bring forth our salvation, and by the glory of the cross you transform our lives. Grant that for the sake of the gospel we may turn from the lure of evil, take up our cross, and follow your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Isaiah 50: 4-9a
The image of the servant of the Lord is one of the notable motifs in the book of Isaiah. Today’s reading describes the mission of the servant, whom early Christians associated with Jesus. Like Jesus, the servant does not strike back at his detractors but trusts in God’s steadfast love.
4The Lord God has given me
the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
5The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backward.
6I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting.
7The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
8he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
9aIt is the Lord God who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?
Psalm: Psalm 116:1-9
I will walk in the presence of the Lord. (Ps. 116:9)
1I love the Lord, who has heard my voice,
and listened to my supplication,
2for the Lord has given ear to me
whenever I called.
3The cords of death entangled me; the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I came to grief and sorrow.
4Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray you, save my life.”
5Gracious is the Lord and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6The Lord watches over the innocent;
I was brought low, and God saved me.
7Turn again to your rest, O my soul.
for the Lord has dealt well with you.
8For you have rescued my life from death,
my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling;
9I will walk in the presence of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Second Reading: James 3:1-12
This text uses various images to illustrate how damaging and hurtful the way we speak to and about others can be. Not only are we to control our speech, but what we say and how we say it are to reflect our faith.
1Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
Alleluia. Christ suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous,* in order to bring you to God. Alleluia. (1 Pet. 3:18)
Gospel: Mark 8:27-38
This story provides the turning point in Mark’s gospel. Peter is the first human being in the narrative to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, but he cannot accept that as the Messiah Jesus will have to suffer. Moreover, Jesus issues a strong challenge to all by connecting discipleship and the cross.
27Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
31Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
I’m picking up a bit of a theme for the recent readings. A couple of weeks ago, when the Pharisees were criticizing Christ’s disciples for not properly washing their hands before eating, Christ reminded them that it is not what goes into the body that can defile it, but rather what comes out. And a few weeks before that, Paul was reminding the Ephesians to let no evil talk come out of their mouths, nor falsehoods for that matter. In this week’s second reading, we are being reminded once again of the dangers of loose speech.
It’s easy to say bad things about someone we don’t like very much, but what good does that do? All it really does is to make us look small and petty. It’s an easy habit to get into, saying unkind things about another. Sometimes, when we are by ourselves, we might vocalize our feelings about someone, then it becomes easier to express those feelings in front of others. Even if no one else is around to hear it, giving voice to our criticism of another does harm to ourselves. When we are critical of someone else, we should remember that they are also one of God’s creations and created in His image. Are we not being critical of God in doing that? James also points out that the same tongue we use to say evil things about others is the tongue we use to sing God’s praises. Have you ever been asked, “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” after cussing up a storm? It’s kind of like that. If foul things come out of our mouths, does that not say something about what’s inside?
The anonymity of social media on the internet has only made it easier for people to insult one another feeling that there are no consequences. However, we have seen only too well what happens to our society when we feel free to hurl insults and falsities around with reckless abandon. What does it say about us as a society when that kind of behavior becomes the norm? Like Christ said, it’s the things from inside of us, even as a people, that defile, not things from the outside.
When I worked at the prison, people found it easy to criticize co-workers who were under investigation for doing something wrong, such as bringing in drugs or other contraband for the inmates, because they were removed from their position while they were being investigated. These comments often made their way back to the accused employee. Then when they were found to have not done what they were accused of doing and they returned to work, they realized that the other employees didn’t trust them and therefore they felt they couldn’t trust anyone either. It could make day to day functioning rather difficult. Another issue we often ran into when people let their tongues run loose involved the inmates. In the inmate population, their reputation is everything to them. If they feel as though they’ve been disrespected, they feel compelled to do something to correct that situation. This can result in fights between inmates or assaults on staff. I remember having my life threatened by a gang member once because he thought I had disrespected another of the gangs members by refusing to give him more food than what I was allowed to.
Peter is having some trouble controlling what comes out of his mouth in today’s Gospel. At first, when Christ asks him, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah. I’d call that an acknowledgment of Christ’s divinity. But then when Jesus is explaining what that means, how He must suffer and die, Peter speaks up out of a very human desire to not want someone he loves to go through that. In Matthew’s telling of the story, Peter says “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” While I sympathize with Peter, after all I wouldn’t want to see someone I love suffer a torturous death either, having just acknowledged Christ as the Messiah, it seems rather presumptuous for him to want to substitute Christ’s wisdom with his own. This draws one of the strongest rebukes from Jesus. “Get behind me, Satan!”
Lord, I know that I have failed in the past to hold my tongue when I should have. Forgive me this sin and give me the fortitude to resist the temptation to do that in the future. Help me to see the good in all of your creation. Help me to express that whenever possible. In Jesus name, Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
Made children and heirs of God’s promise, we pray for the church, the world, and all in need.
A brief silence.
Revealing God, you have made yourself known through bread and wine, water and word. Continue to nurture your church, that it is a place where your presence is experienced and shared. Lead Daniel & Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, so that they may lead us in your ways. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Creating God, you brought life into being and called it good. Bring new creation to lands devastated by tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, and other disasters. Restore forests and curb overflowing waters. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Protecting God, you desire all people to live in peace and safety. Provide for all who are in danger. Strengthen first responders to help meet to the complex needs of others. Provide care and compassion as they face trauma themselves. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Transforming God, you announce release to the captives and freedom to the oppressed. Break chains of discrimination and injustice. Amplify voices that go unheard and inspire us to advocate for the those who are overlooked. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Forming God, you gather this community together. Shape our communal life, that in our prayer, praise, and worship, we honor you and encourage one another. Keep our disagreements civil and increase our joy in working together. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Redeeming God, you accompany your people through every stage of life. We give you thanks for the saints who now rest in your embrace. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Receive these prayers, O God, and those in our hearts known only to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.*
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly 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 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.
People of God,
you are Christ’s body,
bringing new life to a suffering world.
The holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
bless you now and forever.
Go in peace. The living Word dwells in you.
Thanks be to God.