Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
|Reunion of Israel's sons
Gathering of God's people
|445: Happy the Home When
God Is There
723: Shall We Gather at the River
|A Psalm of unity
God's people offer praise
|561: Jesus, United by Thy
562: Jesus, Lord, We Look to Thee
|Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28||Crumbs are enough for those with faith||385: Let Us Plead for Faith
452: My Faith Looks Up to Thee
462: 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
|Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32||People are all disobedient; God is all merciful||355: Depth of Mercy
363: And Can It Be that I Should Gain
Abraham Lincoln was preparing to seek the presidency of the United States in 1858 when Civil War was imminent. Northern states had gained political momentum that threatened to restrict and eventually abolish slavery throughout the nation; southern states that exploited slave labor claimed the right to govern themselves in all matters. Addressing himself to this conflict, Lincoln declared, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." He was right. In a terrible war that pitted brother against brother, one part of the house fell and the other was left badly shaken. The turmoil that led to that war still has not been fully resolved today--in America or in other parts of the world. The struggle for equality goes on. There is no unity of people.
Lincoln was not the originator of this famous quote. Christ himself used the very same words when leaders accused him of using evil powers to do good things. Christ pointed out the irreconcilable conflict between good and evil. The two cannot stand together. There must be one or the other. The necessity of unity was well known to Christ.
The need for unity was also known to God's people. Joseph's story stands out among the lectionary scriptures this week. If anyone in history ever had a right to be upset with his brothers, Joseph is the man. Robbed of his clothes. Thrown in a pit. Sold into slavery. Forgotten. Yet, when Joseph saw his brothers he looked for reasons to be with them, and ultimately had them come to Egypt where he could provide for them. The sons of Israel reunited with Joseph to fill their physical needs; Joseph reunited with the sons of Israel to fill his spiritual and emotional needs.
As people of God today, we need the same unity within the church that Joseph sought with his family. This week's featured hymn was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). In it he writes of the unity that we have in Christ. Wesley recognized the need for unity within the church. Although Methodism grew to become a distinct denomination of the Christian church, it was the intention of the Wesleys that their "Methodist Societies" should function within the Anglican Church, not apart from it. As you read the following words, think of all of the opportunities you have to unite with the whole church of Christ:
|1. Jesus, united by thy grace
and each to each endeared,
with confidence we seek thy face
and know our prayer is heard.
|2. Help us to help each other, Lord,
each other's cross to bear;
let all their friendly aid afford,
and feel each other's care.
|3. Up unto thee, our living Head,
let us in all things grow;
till thou hast made us free
indeed and spotless here below.
|4. Touched by the lodestone of thy love,
let all our hearts agree,
and ever toward each other move,
and ever move toward thee.
|5. To thee, inseparably joined,
let all our spirits cleave;
O may we all the loving mind
that was in thee receive.
|6. This is the bond of perfectness,
thy spotless charity;
O let us, still we pray,
possess the mind that was in thee.
The only true unity is the unity that we have in Christ. Unite with Him.
God bless you--
Lection at HymnSite.com
|Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.|