Watch Now

June 18, 2023
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
10:00 am



O God, we give thanks to you
for bringing us together.
May your Holy Spirit lead us in praising you
so that our hearts minds will be empowered
to serve your people.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
your Son and our Savior,
we pray. Amen.



Let all creation sing with gladness;
Make a joyful noise to the Creator!
Come and abide with the One who formed us;
Make a joyful noise to the Creator!
Give thanks, and praise, and bless God’s name;
Make a joyful noise to God!

*HYMN No. 330 “Our Help Is In the Name of the Lord”

1 Our help is in the name of God the Lord,
the One who made the heavens with a word,
creator of the world, each living thing.
Come, bless the Lord, lift up your hearts and sing:
“Our help is in the name of God the Lord.”

2 When evil seems to have the upper hand,
call on God’s name: the Lord, the great “I am.”
When troubles rise and all around gives way,
remember God stays with us night and day.
Our help is in the name of God the Lord.

3 Praise God the Lord who hears the captives’ prayer.
Like birds escaping from the fowler’s snare
we are set free; our praises now ascend:
“Blessed be the Lord: Creator, Savior, Friend.
Our help is in the name of God the Lord.”


The proof of God’s love is this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Assured already of God’s grace and forgiveness, let us confess our sin together.


Almighty God,
You have promised liberation for your people, and reconciliation for all of creation.
We confess that we have grown weary of waiting. We have lowered our hopes, and scaled our expectations according to the world, rather than believing in your steadfast Word.
We confess that we have grown comfortable in our waiting.
We cry out for justice, if it doesn’t cost us too much.
We proclaim your liberation, as long as it doesn’t impinge on the freedoms that we value most.
We want to follow Jesus, healing the sick and doing good deeds, but we don’t want to be mistreated or hated.
We don’t want to stir up the dust, much less shake it from our feet. Forgive us, we pray. Give us words to speak your liberating Word and endurance to persevere until your kingdom comes.



Hear the good news: God’s steadfast love endures forever, and God’s faithfulness is promised to all generations. We are justified by faith, forgiven and freed, and at peace with God and each other through Jesus Christ. Amen. 

*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                   “Here I Am Lord”                  arr. Anna Page



God of wisdom,
Speak again your liberating Word to us today.
By the power of your Holy Spirit, poured into our hearts, make us ready and willing to respond to your call to us today. Amen.

UNISON SCRIPTURE Matthew 9:35-10:8

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

10 Then Jesus[a] summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus;[b]4 Simon the Cananaean and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not take a road leading to gentiles, and do not enter a Samaritan town, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’[c] 8 Cure the sick; raise the dead; cleanse those with a skin disease; cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

SERMON “Group Project”

Image from the movie "Hangover"

There are some things in life that just can’t be done by one person alone. Can you think of any?

Tug of war is one. Marriage is another. You can’t date or have a deep conversation by yourself. It’s impossible to hug alone. You can’t even offer a simple, friendly handshake if there’s no one on the other end of your hand.

Yes, it’s true. No matter how strong our wishes or desires are, there are some things in life (perhaps more things than we care to acknowledge) that just aren’t meant to be done by one person alone.

Try seesawing by yourself. Two people hanging wallpaper works much better than just one. A funny movie is even funnier when it’s shared with someone else. And dinner at a restaurant tastes a lot better and is a lot more enjoyable when there’s someone else sitting at the table with you.

It seems that it’s not God’s plan for some things to be experienced or done alone. Take the work of ministry. Ministering in Jesus’ name isn’t meant to be a solo activity. Which, of course, is why God created, and to this day is still creating, church communities like ours: groups of people serving the Lord together, working in unison and doing their part as individual members of the Body of Christ.

When Jesus was conducting his earthly ministry, he discovered that the work of sharing the Good News of God’s kingdom was something best not done by himself. Even if it was possible for him to do that, at some point in time Jesus came to realize that doing it without help was impractical and inefficient. There were better, much more effective ways to share the Word and make sure it continued to be shared. And one of those ways was to add recruits, other helpers.

Matthew’s Gospel described how Jesus perceived the hurt and brokenness around him. In the cities, towns, and villages he traveled to, everywhere he looked, our Lord encountered people who yearned to hear a message of hope; who wanted the healing presence of God to come into their lives; who needed care and compassion.

Jesus’ reaction probably wasn’t any different that our own reaction to how fragmented and wounded the world is today. Watch the news on TV, scan the Internet or read the front page of any newspaper and we can’t help but think, “I knew things in the world were bad, but this bad?”

Although we may try to convince ourselves otherwise, the world hasn’t changed much since Jesus’ day. In fact, a strong argument could be made that things have been on a downward slide from then to now. Our world, like the world Jesus inhabited, contains so much heartache and heartbreak that at times it can be overwhelming. People everywhere—including here in our own great nation, the richest and most prosperous nation that ever existed, are living in pain, fear, and despair; and we know that, as individuals, the little we might be able to do to help make things better is just a drop in the bucket.

When Jesus began to mix and mingle with the crowds the way he did in our reading from Matthew this morning, he recognized how desperation and misery had overtaken many people’s lives. He saw countless people who were, as Matthew put it, “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Maybe that was the moment when Jesus realized he couldn’t adequately address all this pain, despair and need by himself. And even if he put his small band of twelve disciples to work, it wouldn’t be enough to get the job done.

So, Jesus did more than just tell his disciples to help him; he also urged them to pray for God to send many more workers into the field to assist in the great harvest of proclaiming good news to needy, hurting people. Jesus knew full well that his task was great, which is why he decided that the work God had sent him into the world to do was something best not done alone.

During those early days of Jesus’ ministry, he came to understand that it was unreasonable and unrealistic to go about proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God by himself. Not only would it take longer than necessary to spread the Gospel, but he would have greater success if that message was also shared by his followers: those who had taken his message to heart and wanted to carry it forward.

If Jesus had decided to proclaim the Gospel alone, without any help, then when he died that message could very well have died with him. Jesus must have understood—instinctively if nothing else—that the kind of substantial change and social transformation he had in mind was most likely to happen and continue when ordinary people became enthusiastic advocates for it.

For Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God to become a reality, everyday people, moved by the Spirit of God, first had to be convinced that the teachings and principles of the Kingdom truly mattered and would make a real difference in the world. And those people would be the ones to share it and embody it. If Jesus’ message was to take root and continue to spread, it needed to be proclaimed by more voices than just his. That’s why he prayed and worked so diligently to enlist others in helping him accomplish the Kingdom building mission he was on. And, as I’m sure you realize, it was from this recruitment of other workers to go into the harvest field and work to build up God’s realm that the church sprung up. The church is a community of laborers working together in the field (the world) to bring in God’s harvest. And the “harvest” is anyone who hasn’t already heard or responded to Jesus’ call to believe in him and follow him.

So, what is the end result that you and I and all Christians are being called to strive toward? What was the ultimate purpose Jesus wanted to see come about?

Robert McAfee Brown, a Presbyterian minister and professor of theology, wrote something that I think can help us envision the goal we’re seeking as we work together in God’s field. He penned the following reflection in response to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

“Ralph Sumner died the other day, full of years (eighty-plus) and wisdom (dairy farmer, cabinetmaker, member of the local road crew, and churchgoer). When we laid him in the ground there were some tears, but there was also a lot of gratitude for the joy he had spread around the folk of Heath, Massachusetts.

Ralph’s death made me think about my own life and our mutual human purpose.

“I believe we are placed here [on earth] to be companions—a wonderful word that comes from the Latin cum panis (with bread). We are here to share bread with one another so that everyone has enough, no one has too much, and our social order achieves this goal with maximal freedom and minimal coercion.

“There are many names for such sharing: “Utopia, the beloved community, the communion of saints, the Kingdom of God. And while the goal of bringing to reality such loving, caring companionship is far too vast to be brought to fruition solely on this planet, it is our calling and task as Christians to create foretastes of it—to offer the world living glimpses of what life according to God’s will is supposed to be and will be after Christ returns at the end of the age.

“This foretaste includes things such as art and music and poetry and shared laughter and picnics and politics and moral outrage and special privileges for children only, and wonder and humor and endless, immeasurable love—enough love to counterbalance the otherwise immobilizing realities that exist of tyrants, starving children, death camps, and just plain greed.

“But,” MacAfee concluded, “I expect that our deceased friend Ralph Sumner now sees such a world more clearly than I do.”

My friends, by its very nature, and because it’s such a lofty goal that Christ our Lord has set for us as harvesters for God, the work we Christians are called to is best not done alone. It is most effectively done by all of us. Together. Many different individual Christians and churches of every denomination working in the field side-by-side, harvesting for God as a united community. That’s the only way we can possibly hope to accomplish any of God’s work.

By the way, that work isn’t meant to be done just within these church walls. We’re called to go out and do it in the everyday, rough-and-tumble world in which we live: the dirty, gritty places around us where we encounter the helpless, the harassed, and the hungry. That’s where the good news of God’s compassion, justice, and mercy most desperately need to be proclaimed and heard.

Of course, going to such places it will be risky and uncomfortable, to say the least. It might also be distressing and unpleasant, discouraging and despairing…………………………………………………………………………………………  Such is the risky field we’re called to harvest in. But it’s imperative that the message of God’s Kingdom and God’s love be proclaimed even more boldly and emphatically the face of such senseless, horrific violence, irrational hatred, and destructive anger. And because of the risks and challenges we face for announcing the Good News of the Gospel in a world full of violence, hatred, and anger, it’s best not done alone.

My friends, just as it was in Jesus’ day, in 2023 the harvest is plentiful, and the laborers are few. Jesus has put out the call. Many more hands are needed. God’s labor force encompasses the whole people of God, all the disciples of Jesus, each of us supporting, encouraging, and helping one another; working, sharing bread, and worshipping God together.

We’re to do this to give people a foretaste of God’s Kingdom, and show the world what God’s love, grace and compassion look like when they’re lived out in the flesh. It’s a daunting task, to be sure; and we take it on with the full realization that we will never be able to completely accomplish it. What the Lord is asking of us is to do what we can, the best that we can, to accomplish whatever small portion of God’s harvest we’re able to get done. And along with that, we’re also urged to pray fervently, just as our Lord did, for God to encourage more people to come join us in the field: people who understand, as you and I do, that following Christ and doing God’s work in this world can be very difficult, challenging and risky; so, it’s best not done alone. Amen.

Commentary and Liturgy from the Book of Common Worship (PCUSA), Stephanie Sorge, Ellen Gurnon, Scott Hoezee, Brent Kercheville and Linda Strohmier.


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.  803 “My Shepherd Will Supply My Needs”

1 My shepherd will supply my need; 
Jehovah is his name.
In pastures fresh he makes me feed,
beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
when I forsake his ways,
and leads me, for his mercy’s sake,
in paths of truth and grace.

2 When I walk through the shades of death
your presence is my stay;
one word of your supporting breath
drives all my fears away.
Your hand, in sight of all my foes,
does still my table spread;
my cup with blessings overflows;
your oil anoints my head.

3 The sure provisions of my God 
attend me all my days;
O may your house be my abode,
and all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
while others go and come;
no more a stranger, or a guest,
but like a child at home.


In sure and certain hope of God’s faithfulness, let us come to God in prayer, praying:
Incline your ear to us; hear our prayers and supplications.

We pray for a world that is still so far from God’s good creation. We see the devastating evidence of our failure to care for the earth and everything in it. Wars rage, and siblings take up arms against siblings. We pray especially for those who are most impacted by environmental devastation, war and lack of basic resources.
Incline your ear to us; hear our prayers and supplications.

On the eve of Juneteenth, we recognize that so many people still cry
out for liberation. We operate in and perpetuate unjust systems built on the scaffolding of oppression of people, based on skin color, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender and more. Freedom and emancipation have been proclaimed throughout the land, but many are still in bonds today: in a broken justice system, in the prison industrial complex, and in child labor and sex trafficking that thrive under broken immigration policies and social support systems. Our lips cry out for justice, but the climb is steep, and our comfort often gets in the way. Make your justice roll down like waters, we pray.

Incline your ear to us; hear our prayers and supplications.

We pray for those who suffer in mind, body, and spirit. For all who struggle with mental illness, and addiction, and the impacts of trauma, we pray. We pray for the lonely, the hurt, and the estranged. We pray for all who live in chronic sickness or pain. Give us compassion in our relationships and encounters with others, who are fighting battles we don’t know.

Incline your ear to us; hear our prayers and supplications.

We pray for the church, the world, and the whole human family, adding the prayers and supplications of your people…

Incline your ear to us; hear our prayers and supplications.

Loving God, we offer these prayers to you, including those that remain on our hearts, and those known only to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, 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.



Jesus sent the disciples, empty-handed, to carry out his work, trusting in God’s provision for their needs. We give out of our abundance to continue the work of Jesus Christ in the world today. In faith and hope, let us offer our gifts to God.


*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.


Liberating God, use these gifts to transform the world, to bring about your justice, peace and reconciliation for all creation. Transform us as we offer them, to be partners and co-creators of your beloved kin-dom. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.  

*HYMN No. 321 “The Church’s One Foundation”

1 The church’s one foundation
is Jesus Christ her Lord.
She is his new creation
by water and the word.
From heaven he came and sought her
to be his holy bride.
With his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.

2 Elect from every nation,
yet one o’er all the earth,
her charter of salvation:
one Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with every grace endued.

3 Though with a scornful wonder
this world sees her oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
their cry goes up: “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

4 Mid toil and tribulation,
and tumult of her war,
she waits the consummation
of peace forevermore:
till with the vision glorious
her longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious
shall be the church at rest.

5 Yet she on earth has union
with God, the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion
with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
like them, the meek and lowly,
may live eternally.


Friends, there is work to be done. Jesus still sends us out into the world, to love and serve as the body of Christ. You don’t need to pack a bag or bring a change of clothes; God will provide all we need.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, let us go into the world with God’s liberating Word on our lips, until all are free, and all creation reconciled as one beloved community. Amen.