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Proper 6 | Ordinary Time 11 | Pentecost 2, Cycle A

Sunday between June 12 and June 18 inclusive (if after Trinity Sunday)

The texts selected for this occasion include the basic elements of worship of God and of the life and mission of the People of God. Psalm 100 is obviously an entrance psalm, a song of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving. The psalmist in Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 expresses thanksgiving to the Lord God for deliverance from a life-threatening illness. Paul in Romans 5:1-8 expresses our confession of our weakness and sinfulness, together with assurance of forgiveness granted by God. In Genesis 18:1-15 (21:1-7), after Abraham welcomes the three messengers of the Lord with gracious hospitality, the Lord announces the gift of a son to the aged Abraham and Sarah, and even though Sarah has doubts about this, the promised son is born. Matthew 9:35–10:8 (9-23) provides the commission to go out to proclaim the message of salvation, heal, and work. Exodus 19:2-8a offers the af?rmative response of the People of God.

Because the texts selected for this coming weekend include the basic elements of our worship of God and of the life and mission of the People of God, it will be especially appropriate on this occasion to have heavy involvement by the People of God of the congregation in this service. For variety and for emphasis we could, for example, move the Scripture readings from their usual place and sequences to the positions in the service in which the various texts will be most appropriate. For example, Psalm 100 could be sung by a choir, cantor, or by the entire congregation as the entrance song. Romans 5:1-8 can be closely related to our “Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness,” or wherever in our worship service confession and absolution is emphasized. Genesis 18:1-15 (21:1-7) could be read, summarized, or paraphrased as the basis for the children’s sermon. Matthew 9:35–10:8 (9-23), as the Gospel and primary sermon text, provides the call and commissioning of all of the People of God, emphasizing the Priesthood of All Believers. Exodus 19:2-8a provides a counterpart of the call and commissioning of the People of God, the Priesthood of All Believers in the Older Testament. Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 would be most appropriate for use in connection with the offering section. Each text reading could be preceded or followed by brief comments by a member of the congregation and in some instances by an accompanying hymn, solo or duet, choir, and so on, so that as many persons as possible can be involved as worship leaders. The sermon itself should be brief. It will take some effort and planning to do what has been suggested here, but the results may be well worth the effort.

Genesis 18:1-15 (21:1-7)
The appearance of the Lord in the form of three men is fascinating. Are they simply angel messengers? Why are there three? Abraham’s response is appropriate. He welcomes them with the best in Israelite/Near Eastern hospitality. Sarah is skeptical, but very grateful when Isaac is born.

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
Prayers of thanks to God are always appropriate. Especially signi?cant are the prayers of thanks of those who have been terminally ill and have been restored to health. The psalmist shares the prayer of thanks with all of the people who are worshiping the Lord together.

Exodus 19:2-8a
The covenant promise of God that if the People of God obey the voice of God and live in accordance to the terms

of the covenant they will be God’s holy People is followed here by the promise of the people that they will indeed do everything God has commanded. Even though neither the People of God depicted in Exodus nor the People of God today have done “everything that God has commanded,” it is important that the af?rmative response to God be made. One of the most important reasons we come together corporately in our congregations each week is to hear the covenant promise of God together and to respond to God together. If we sincerely confess our sins and gratefully accept forgiveness from God, we are not hypocrites and should not be called hypocrites by anyone.

Psalm 100
Initially, “all the lands” in this psalm may have referred to the local regions in which Israelite people traveled with their ?ocks. When some of them became agricultural, the concept of “all the lands” was expanded. When they became a nation, “all the lands” would denote the land of Israel as it expanded and then declined. In the Diaspora of the Israelites, “all the lands” became all the regions into which the Israelites were scattered. As a perception of the planet earth as spherical and including two hemispheres and a “New World” as well as the “Old World” was accepted, the concept of “all the lands” was expanded further. For us today, Jews and Christians, all the lands can be the expanding universe.

Romans 5:1-8
This text is only one small segment of Paul’s exposition about how the death of Jesus was not in vain, but was used by God as atonement for our sins. We who are said by Paul to be “weak,” “ungodly,” and “sinners” in Romans 5:6-8, are further described by Paul in 5:10 with the Greek word echthroi, a word rendered in most of our translations into English as “enemies.” In the context of Romans 5, however, it would be more accurate to say that we as weak, ungodly, and sinful have been “alienated” from God rather than we are “enemies” of God. The relationships Paul depicted here are basically family relationships. Children who do not obey their parents are alienated from their parents. They are not enemies of their parents. Through our oneness with the life of the Risen Christ, we too have life. We are “saved” from the well-deserved “wrath” of God. We reactualize this each time we include a corporate confession and absolution in our worship services. Baptism expresses this even more vividly.

Matthew 9:35–10:8 (9-23)
The gospel in this text is the good news that God’s kingdom is coming soon to replace the oppressive rule of Caesar. The oppressed lost sheep of the house of Israel are said to be like sheep without a shepherd. Those who cooperate with the Roman oppressors are possessed by unclean spirits. Those who are afraid of the Roman oppressors are harassed and helpless, ?lled with every kind of disease and in?rmity. The text here is a proclamation that Jesus as the Christ sends disciples with authority over the oppressors, with the ability to cast out demons and to heal every illness. That is what we are called and commissioned to do also today. That is our vocation. The healing includes but is not in any way limited to medical care, medications, and surgeries. It involves opposing and removal of oppressors and oppressive systems today. It includes courageous opposition to exploiters and exploitation, especially economic exploiters and exploitation. This requires involvement by the entire People of God. This is a reason why this worship service should involve and be led by the entire People of God where we are.

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Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen