The Second Sunday after Pentecost E. Bevan Stanley
June 14, 2020
Proper 6, Year A, RCL Track 1
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)
Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)
These are the names of the twelve apostles . . . In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
Names. They are important. They tell us who someone is. They tell us who we are. The keep a person alive after they die. We are haunted by the names. Here are the names of the Greeks who sailed to Troy. First the Boeotians, led by Peneleos, Leitus, Arcesilaus, Prothoenor and Clonius. And the list goes on for a thousand ships in Book II or the Iliad. I don’t know who they are, but they have been remembered for three thousand years.
Here names from the Bible: Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel and Seth. Abraham and Sarah. Isaac which means laughter, Jacob that means supplanter. Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Samuel, David, Hesekiah, Josiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah. We know these, but what about Enosh Kenan, HMahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuseleah, Lamech. Their names are written as well.
Then we know Jesus, Mary, Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalen. Peter and Paul. Here are the names of some who came after. Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Patrick, Columba, Cuthbert, and Bede.
This week in our church calendar we remembered: Roland Allen missionary to China 1947, Columba, founder and abbot of Iona, 597, Ephrem of Edessa 373, Enmegoahboweh Ottowa native, 1902, and Gilbert Keith Chesterton 1936.
In the reading from the Hebrew scriptures, the ninety-nine year old Abraham is told that his eighty-nine year old wife, Sarah, will have a baby. Sarah laughs at this ridiculous idea. When the baby is born, they call him Laugh ter, Isaac.
In the Gospel, we are given the list of the names of the twelve apostles. We Remember some of them but we know almost nothing about others such as James, son of Alphaeus. Yet when papyrus sheets were expensive and every word a labor on the part of scribe, it was important to write all these names down. Why? So we don’t forget them. Every one of these is precious. Precious to their families and friends. Precious to God. Every one of these lived and died. Everyone was a person, a life.
We all could maker our own list of names that are important to us. Mine would include Peter Gardner who taught me how to carry a canoe, Heb Evans who led through 400 miles of Canadian wilderness to Hudson’s Bay, David Bolton, who taught me about grace. And on and on.
There are names on our own private lists, and there are names on lists we share.
These are the names of the last few months: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. They call us to action to reclaim our country for justice and equality.
These are the names of this week: Thomas Graveline and Matthew Rousseau. And Jud Wells. They remind us of how short our lives are to love and be loved.
There is Tracy Griswold, who reminds us of the power of long friendships.
And then there is us. Whose lists are we on? Whose lists should we be on? What will we be remembered for?
And then there are those with no name. The three men who come to Abraham out of the desert. They are strangers, and they are God. The text oscillates between calling them three or one. Perhaps the most famous icon ever written is of these three eating at Abraham’s table, and it is called “the Trinity.” They are God. And how many strangers would be on our lists, with no name, but blessing us with a laughable truth?
Jesus send out the twelve telling them, “As you go, proclaim the good news, `The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.” He also tells them of all the resistance they will meet. “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles . . . Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
This week has piled one concern on top of another. COVID19, then the killing of George Floyd, the tragic death of two teenagers, the passing of Jud Wells. And our job is to tell everyone that the Kingdom of Heaven has come near. We are messengers of hope and judgment. We speak the truth of what is real here and now. And we proclaim the possibility of a new and better world for which God yearns. And we dedicate ourselves to helping to build that new world. A world of justice, where authority and power are used to protect the weak from the strong, the poor from the rich, and the minority from the majority. A world in which every person is of value and treated with respect. A world where wealth and resources are shared so that no child goes hungry, and everyone’s work is compensated fairly. A world where love is valued about money, and one’s humanity above one’s utility.
A world where everyone’s name is written down and remembered.