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June 11, 2023
2nd Sunday after Pentecost



Loving God,
as we enter this place to worship you,
may your Holy Spirit
open our hearts and minds
to experience your presence.
Through our faith journeys,
empower us to bear witness
to your grace, mercy, and power.
 In the name of Christ we pray. Amen.



Rejoice in the Lord, O you God’s beloved;
Sing to God a new song!
For the word of the Lord is upright,
And all God’s work is done in faithfulness.
Our God loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

*HYMN No. 270 “O Lord, You are My God and King”

1 O Lord, you are my God and King,
and I will ever bless your name;
I will extol you every day,
and evermore your praise proclaim.
You, Lord, are greatly to be praised;
your greatness is beyond our thought;
all generations shall tell forth
the mighty wonders you have wrought.

2 How rich in grace are you, O Lord,
full of compassion, merciful,
your anger always slow to rise;
your steadfast love you show to all,
for you are good in all your ways;
your creatures know your constant care.
To all your works your love extends;
all souls your tender mercies share.

3 Your works will give you thanks, O Lord;
your saints your mighty acts will show,
till all the peoples of the earth
your kingdom, power, glory know.
Eternal is your kingdom, Lord,
forever strong, forever sure;
while generations rise and die,
your high dominion will endure.


God promises to love us and forgive us, not because we are righteous or law-abiding, but simply because we are. Trusting in God’s steadfast love, let us confess our sin together.


Merciful God, you are always drawing the circle of your love wider, but often we resist. You tell us that all people are your beloved, and we ask, “Why?” “Why them?” “Even them?!” We are quick to judge others rath- er than being grateful that we, too, are included in the fold. We prioritize the privileged, the powerful and the people who look and act right, but you extend grace first to the sinner, the outcast and the marginalized. Forgive us, O God. Transform us, that we may show mercy as you show mercy. Amen.  



When the woman touched Jesus’ cloak, he told her, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” Indeed, we are made well and whole, not because of ourselves, but through the grace of God!
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven! Thanks be to God!  

*RESPONSE No. 300 “We Are One In The Spirit” v.4

All praise to the Father, from whom all things come,
and all praise to Christ Jesus, God’s only Son,
and all praise to the Spirit, who makes us one:

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love,
by our love; yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.


Our peace comes from knowing how much God loves us in Jesus Christ. With God’s help, we try to love and forgive one another as Christ loves and forgives us.
“The peace of Christ be with you,”
“And also with you.”

ANTHEM                   “Lift Your Light”                    Mary McDonald



God beyond all knowing, you are shrouded in wonder and mystery and yet as close to us as our very breath. By your Spirit, illuminate our hearts and minds through your Word, that we may follow you more faithfully. Amen.  

UNISON SCRIPTURE Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax-collection station, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

10 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with Jesus and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

18 While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. 20 Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from a flow of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, 21 for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that moment. 23 When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24<s/up> he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26 And the report of this spread through all of that district.


Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? We humans often like to categorize people and put them in neat and tidy groupings.  During my childhood it was the Washington Redskins vs. the Dallas Cowboys, The Allies vs. The Axis and Snoopy vs the Red Baron, and especially The Red Coats vs. The Colonists.  In 2015, we revisited that story with the musical Hamilton.

Near the end of the first act of the musical about an American founding father, we hear the following lyrics:

After a week of fighting, a young man in a red coat stands on a parapet
We lower our guns as he frantically waves a white handkerchief
And just like that, it’s over, we tend to our wounded, we count our dead
Black and white soldiers wonder alike if this really means freedom
Not yet

We negotiate the terms of surrender
I see George Washington smile
We escort their men out of Yorktown
They stagger home single file
Tens of thousands of people flood the streets
There are screams and church bells ringing
And as our fallen foes retreat
I hear the drinking song they’re singing

The world turned upside down
The world turned upside down
The world turned upside down
The world turned upside down
Down, down, down, down

Freedom for America, freedom for France!
Down, down, down
Gotta start a new nation, gotta meet my son
Down, down, down

We won!
We won!
We won!
We won!
The world turned upside down!

According to the American mythology of the Revolution against England, when the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781 – their band played a drinking song called “The World Turned Upside Down.”  Indeed, for the monarchy and its powerful military, the world was turned upside down – beaten by a rag-tag band of colonists with French assistance.  Everything would change for England and for those who were part of the American Experiment, but we aren’t the only folks with ideas about winning or losing and who are heroes and villains?

Again, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? We humans often like to categorize people and put them in neat and tidy groupings. Often those in the “bad” category are those who are not like us, who do not share our morals, our social standing, our beliefs, etc. This tendency was as alive and well during Jesus’ time as it is during ours.

Matthew 9:9 hints that something unsettling, something against the status quo is about to happen when Jesus calls, of all people, Matthew, a tax collector.

Tax collectors were hated and despised in Jesus’ day. These Jewish tax collectors were working for the Romans by collecting Roman taxes. The tax collectors made a healthy commission by tax collecting and they were the richest people in town. There were several Roman taxes: a ground tax on which a Jewish farmer paid 10% of his grain and 20% of his fruit to the Romans; an income tax of 1%; a poll tax just for living; a travel tax to travel on Roman roads; an animal tax to take your animal on the Roman roads, etc. One Biblical commentator says that “tax collectors were universally hated and notoriously dishonest.” The tax collectors were disbarred from attending the synagogue and they were considered unclean by the Jewish law.

The Jews of that era looked down on tax collectors. We recall in Luke 18:11 that “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector.” In other words, tax collectors were in the same category as robbers and adulterers.

We also think of Matthew 18:17 which says, “And if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” In other words, kick the guy out. Don’t have anything to do with him. Ostracize him.

In some ways, it is no surprise then that people are confused (even outraged) by the fact that Rabbi Jesus does just the opposite. He associates with these “sinners” and even eats with them! What is going on? The answer lies in the task for which Jesus has been sent. He doesn’t see himself as a religious teacher who must quarantine himself, keeping himself pure from the sickness and sin around him. Rather, he knows himself to be the doctor, sent to help and heal the sick. As N. T. Wright says, “There’s no point in a doctor staying in quarantine. He’ll never do his job” . The doctor puts aside questions of categories and seeks to heal those who are ill.

But should Jesus’ way of interacting with those around him surprise them (or us)? The words of the Lord spoken through the prophet Isaiah remind us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). We are quick to trust our own wisdom and judgment and so need to be reminded that God’s wisdom is far above our own. Reflecting on this truth is cause for us to humbly submit ourselves to following God’s way rather than insisting on our own. The life of a disciple, one who follows the Lord Jesus, is marked by humble submission to God’s wisdom that is very often at odds with the desires of our own hearts, and this can be very different way than the way of the world:

Elizabeth Lovell Mitford, a presbyterian pastor tells the story of a congregation that was struggling with the idea of good guys and bad buys: A number of years ago, her husband, also a pastor, went through a painful time in his congregation. He pastored a middle-of-the-road church. When I say middle-of-the-road, I don’t mean as far as the value of their ministry; I mean their theological stance. They are neither conservative nor liberal but instead include in their midst folks across the spectrum. It makes for a rich congregation. It also makes for controversy. Because there are people from across the spectrum, they can often disagree with one another. Most often they do this with great integrity, with the desire to understand and be understood, and with love. However, a number of years ago it didn’t happen that way. When her husband arrived as the new minister to this particular congregation, he discovered an ongoing disagreement between a couple of the most conservative families and the most liberal ones.

It manifested itself in many ways that we might expect in the church: debates over what programs and projects got funded, disagreements over how they worshiped, and not least of all, but maybe most of all, arguments about the Christmas pageant. That’s right: the Christmas pageant. You’re thinking that’s supposed to be the most loving and glowing days of the church year. However, it often isn’t. If there’s one thing in the church that people have strong opinions about, it’s the Christmas pageant. Who in the pews hasn’t been to one? Who doesn’t have an opinion about what animals should be featured and how? Who doesn’t want the angels to be the most angelic of all angel choirs? And who doesn’t want their very own child to be Mary or Joseph? It’s packed with the possibility to pick sides and hold grudges. And that’s what happened. It split these already feuding families right down the middle.

The differences continued over theological beliefs and Christian practices until one day the mother of one family made a decision. She decided that she could no longer take communion at the same table with these families that she disagreed with and frowned upon. So, she didn’t. At the time in the service that everyone else gathers in the center aisle, approaches the table, and receives communion, she remained in her seat. It was noticeable. It’s a small enough congregation and sanctuary that folks noticed. Even my husband presiding at communion that day noticed. And it was painful for him and those who understood what was happening. A member of their congregation had removed herself from one of the two most important liturgical moments in our church life, a sacrament, a sacrament of God’s grace and love and acceptance. This church member had decided, she reported later, that she believed there were others coming to the table who weren’t worthy. As it turns out, she was right about one thing. There were people at the table who weren’t worthy. Where she went wrong was in not recognizing that she was included in those. None of us is whole but by the grace of God. And, by the grace of God, all of us are deemed worthy.

It’s the same place that the Pharisees went wrong—in wanting some in and some out. Some seen as good guys and others as bad guys.  And Jesus has no regard for such. The thing is discipleship isn’t an either-or proposition. You aren’t either a disciple or a sinner. We are all sinners, and all called to be disciples, just like Jesus called a tax collector. Our call is that simple, too: “Follow me.” Follow me to dinner with the sinners and reprobates. Follow me to include the lost and the least. Follow me to stand with the outcast and unwelcome. Follow me to extend grace and mercy.

That’s what happens later in our passage today when Jesus encounters two very different people: one a leader in high standing in the synagogue who has confidently come to Jesus seeking healing for his daughter assumed to be dead and one a woman outcast from society because she suffered from hemorrhages for years. She timidly approaches Jesus and touches his garment. And lo and behold, Jesus heals both of them. There is no litmus test. No arguing about their worthiness. No scolding the father for asking Jesus to make himself unclean by standing alongside a corpse. No sending away a woman who has been marked by society as unclean. No, there’s only healing and grace. Everyone gets the same thing: mercy and compassion.

That’s the good news and the bad news: Jesus treats both healing stories the same. Jesus recognizes no codes or traditions that should keep him from these people. He applies no test for proper doctrine, no question regarding their political convictions, no calculation of their gender, ethnicity, or social standing. He sees only their need to be touched, to be healed, to be loved, and to be forgiven. Some days we like that news, and other days we don’t. We like it on the days that we see ourselves in need—that like the woman and the father, we need Christ’s healing touch. We don’t like it on the days that we want to consider ourselves insiders, the first in line to be called a disciple or to be healed. We don’t like it on those days because what we discover is that we will be treated just the same as all of God’s children. We will be loved and supported and cherished, but so will all the other children of God.

But before we go out to serve the lost, we must be found. We must be found believing that God cares for our days and our ways, our living, and our dying, that God cares uniquely for us and loves us dearly. That’s the first step in responding to God’s call upon our lives. As well-known preacher Frederick Buechner puts it, “Faith is a word that describes the direction our feet start moving when we find that we are loved.” So, we must allow ourselves to be found by the love of God. We must be found saying yes when Jesus calls, “Follow me.” And we must be found at this table, taking our seat among all of those who call themselves children of God.

World Turned Upside Down because Jesus invites heroes and villains to follow him.
World Turned Upside Down because Jesus invites saints and sinners to follow him.
World Turned upside down because Jesus invites tax collector and pharisee to follow him.
World Turned upside down because Jesus invites the conservatives and the liberals to follow him.
World Turned upside down because Jesus invites ALL PEOPLE to follow him.

Prayer: Dear God, create in us a love for those of your children that have strayed farthest from your fold so that we may treat them with dignity and respect and demonstrate to them and all the world your great love for all of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Commentary and Liturgy from the Book of Common Worship (PCUSA), NT Wright, Ginna Bairby, Dana Ferguson, Elizabeth Lovell Mitford, Doug Ottati, Rachel Clark and David Lose


I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
he descended into hell;
the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand
of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

*HYMN No.  800 “Sometimes a Light Surprises”

1 Sometime a light surprises
the child of God who sings;
it is the Lord who rises
with healing in his wings;
when comforts are declining,
he grants the soul again
a season of clear shining
to cheer it after rain.

2 In holy contemplation
we sweetly then pursue
the theme of God’s salvation
and find it ever new;
set free from present sorrow,
we cheerfully can say,
“Let the unknown tomorrow
bring with it what it may.”

3 It can bring with it nothing
but he will bear us through;
who gives the lilies clothing
will clothe his people, too;
beneath the spreading heavens
no creature but is fed;
and he who feeds the ravens
will give his children bread.

4 Though vine nor fig tree neither
their longed-for fruit should bear,
though all the fields should wither,
nor flocks nor herds be there,
yet God the same abiding,
his praise shall tune my voice;
for while in him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.


Covenant-making God, you meet us where we are and call us forth to follow you.

We give you thanks for the beauty of the earth. As summer comes, we thank you for the lengthening of days, the warming of waters, the excitement of children ready for a break. Help us to enjoy your creation, and from that place of joy, to be faithful stewards of the planet that sustains us.

We give you thanks for the loving community we find here in Christ’s church. Strengthen us, teach us and empower us to faithful service in the world, so that our love may mirror your love, and our mercy your mercy.

We praise you, O God, for your sovereign care for your people. Before you, nations rise, fall, and wither like grass. Guide the leaders of nations, states, cities, and towns in the ways of your justice, compassion, and mercy. May all who hold positions of authority seek your will, and in so doing tend to the welfare of all people.

We rejoice this morning with those who rejoice, even as we know that the morning does not bring joy for all your people. We pray for people living through war, violence, or oppression. We pray for the hungry and the homeless; the sick, injured and grieving; those who feel lonely or afraid. We pray for immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and all people “on the move.”

As Jesus reached out and touched the people who came to him for healing, may we also reach out: our hands as your hands, our feet as your feet. Give us the grace to love and serve, to seek and listen, to pray and persist in righteousness and mercy.

This we pray in the name of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray, saying: “Our Father….”

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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.



God comes to us in grace; we respond in gratitude. Let us return to God a portion of what we have received.


*RESPONSE N0. 609 “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow”

Praise God, from whom all blessing flow, Praise God, all creatures here below.  Alleluia, Alleluia Praise God in Jesus fully known; Creator, Word, and Spirit one. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.


Gracious God, you are the giver of all good gifts. Receive these offerings and use them for your work in the world until “thy kingdom come.” Amen.  

*HYMN No. 641 “When in Our Music God is Glorified”

1 When in our music God is glorified,
and adoration leaves no room for pride,
it is as though the whole creation cried:

2 How often, making music, we have found
a new dimension in the world of sound,
as worship moved us to a more profound

3 So has the church, in liturgy and song,
in faith and love, through centuries of wrong,
borne witness to the truth in every tongue:

4 And did not Jesus sing a psalm that night
when utmost evil strove against the light?
Then let us sing, for whom he won the fight:

5 Let every instrument be tuned for praise!
Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!
And may God give us faith to sing always:


Friends, go forth in hope, faith, and love. Go forth to seek Christ’s face, for those who seek him will surely find. Go forth to love and serve the Lord by loving and serving one another.

And as you go, may Christ’s grace uphold you, may God’s love surround you, and may the Spirit’s energy sustain you, now and forever. Amen.