After Pentecost 4A – June 25

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
Sunday, June 25, 2023
Matthew 10: 24 – 39

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, Will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?
The Summons by John Bell, stanza 1

CALL TO WORSHIP (based on The Summons and Matthew 10: 24 – 39)

One: Christ calls us this day and every day to a journey of discipleship that will radically transform
our lives.
ALL: We hear your summons as you call us by name, and our desire is to say “yes.”

One: Christ calls us to a journey of “follow-ship” that will challenge us as it challenged Jesus to live the truth of his identity. It is not easy to let Christ’s love be shown in the face of adversity or hostility and yet,
ALL: We hear your summons as you call us by name, and our desire is to say “yes.”

One: Christ calls us to a journey of discipleship that may bring us into direct conflict with those we know and love, even the members of our own family but still,
ALL: We hear your summons as you call us by name, and our desire is to say “yes.”

One: Christ calls us to a journey of “follow-ship” that offers life without fear, a life that transcends our earthly existence, eternally bound in the love and shelter of our Creator, and
ALL: We hear your summons as you call us by name, and our desire is to say “yes.”

One: Christ calls us to a journey of discipleship that will call us OUT of the shadows and compel us to share the message of God’s Kin-dom for all, proclaiming what we have learned at our teacher’s feet and in the company of like-minded students and,
ALL: We hear your summons as you call us by name, and our desire is to say “yes.”

One: Christ calls us this day and every day to a journey that will radically transform us and the world. Christ blesses us so that we do not have to travel alone, but with all others who hear their name and say “yes.”
ALL: Let us continue the journey as we worship the One who calls us in spirit and in truth!


Holy and Beloved One, Author of Life, transcendent and yet closer than our breath – we gather first just to say “thank you.” We thank you for the privilege of being in relationship with you. We thank you that you know us and call us by name to follow in your way. We thank you for being our Master Teacher, leading us through the text of your life, death, and resurrection. We thank you for being the one who cares so much about us that not even a hair can fall from our heads without you taking notice. We thank you for challenging us to claim our identity as your disciples even when claiming so puts us at risk of adversity for your name’s sake and for the sake of compassion, justice, and extravagant welcome to all. We thank you for this community [can name the congregation] and we ask that you make your presence felt with and among us. Help us to see you in the faces of all who are gathered in this place, whether in-person or virtually. [And on this Pride Sunday] Help us to celebrate the beautiful array of all we are as we worship you in spirit and in truthfulness. These things we pray in the name of the One who calls us continually to life and that more abundantly. Amen!

GATHERING SONG SUGGESTION – “The Summons” stanzas 1 – 2
Will you come and follow me
If I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know
And never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown,
Will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown
In you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind
If I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind
And never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare
Should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer
In you and you in me


Loving God, in whom we live and move and have our being – you call us to journey with you as you journeyed on this earth – in love, in power, in healing, in conflict, in boldness, speaking truth to the powers that be – even the powers that threaten our very lives.

Yet we are often afraid for our lives and reputations. We are often afraid of those who would bully us spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. We are often afraid to identify with you because your name has been used to justify harm to those who are the marginalized and oppression of those you refer to as “the least of these” and we don’t want to be identified with such things. We are often afraid to be singled out as the different ones – the unusual or queer Christ-followers who have a message to proclaim that can impact the world to become the loving Kin-dom you desire for all your creation.

We forget that you have promised to watch over and care for us as much as and more than you care for the sparrows. We forget that you will never deny us and will be with us throughout our earthly lives into our life eternal. Forgive us our fear – Forgive us our forgetfulness – Forgive us our hiding and turning from your path. Forgive us our unbelief and heal us by your peace and your presence.



“Blessings of our Ancestors, Our Praying Grandmothers” by Déjà Baptiste as included in The Black Trans Prayer Book, co-edited by J Mase III and Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, © 2020 – used by the editors’ permission

Hear these words of grace and assurance taken from the words of trans artist, Déjà Baptiste:

You are not alone
You are not the first or the only
There is a lineage you are inheriting
It is your courage, your faith, your spirit that sets you apart
We are not doomed – we are not cursed
We are the blessed ones, the blessing
We are blessed to know our spirits are not only bound in our skin (flesh)
That bodies, like names, are expressions
Manifesting the soul we bear outside of time and beyond infinity
There is a lineage here …
We heard and nurtured our ancestors’ dreams and came forward to create and dream,
Imagine and plant,
Live in the physical what is celebrated
and cherished and renewed in the spiritual.

Receive these words and receive the assurance of God’s full embrace of love and acceptance. Amen.

In Christ, we are welcomed fully and enabled to exchange our fear with faith, our forgetfulness with the reassurance grounded in remembrance, our turning away with the possibility of turning toward our call and life more abundant that we might transform the world and all creation by the power of God’s unconditional and all-encompassing love. With open hands and hearts, let us receive the peace of Christ’s grace and peace. Amen

SUGGESTED SONG OF GRACE – “This Little Light of Mine/This Joy that I Have” TNCH #524

CHILDREN’S MOMENT – “Like Teacher, Like Student” or could be called “Follow the Leader”
There are two directions that could be chosen to illustrate the lesson that Jesus is teaching in this passage. I am encouraging the use of the Inclusive Language Bible as the source reference, with a particular focus on verses 24 & 25 – 24 A student is not superior to the teacher; the follower is not above the leader. 25 The student should be glad simply to become like the teacher, the follower like the leader.
For younger children, you might want to engage them around “Follow the Leader”
∙ Ask them how many have ever played that game, and how do they play it?
∙ As they explain the rules of the game, you could ask them – how many of you have been the leader? And how many of you have been the follower? What does it feel like to be the leader? What does it feel like to be the follower?
∙ Jesus says, essentially, that we get to follow the leader. Whatever the leader does, we get to do. Whatever the leader teaches us, we get to teach someone else. Whatever the leader experiences, we get to experience
∙ Jesus is making it plain to his followers that not everyone likes the messages or teachings of the leader and that sometimes they might call the leader bad names or say bad things about them just because they don’t like them. Sometimes that might happen to us when we say we’re followers of Jesus.
∙ But he tells his learners not to be afraid because God will always be with them – so they should stay true to what they learn from God and who they are in God.
∙ You might invite them to follow you as the leader, but also rotate in 2 or 3 children to be the leader that the rest of the group follows.
∙ Close their time in a prayer to encourage them to follow what they learn about God/Jesus and to help them not to be afraid even if their friends don’t understand them. They can remember that God’s spirit lives in them and watches over them. They can remember also that they get to be leaders, too, in their church or community or school.

For older children, you might want to use “Like Teacher – Like Student” to engage them
∙ Ask them to tell about their favorite teacher(s) and why they are their favorite
∙ Ask them what kinds of things they have learned from those teachers?
∙ Ask them if there is anything about those teachers that they want to be like when they’re older?
(is a teacher kind, smart, fun? Do they learn new and important things from them?)
∙ Jesus is saying that “teachers are important” and students often become like their teachers – whether those are school teachers, church teachers, parents/guardians, or people in the community
∙ Jesus is also saying that sometimes when you identify with a teacher, you might experience things that can be hard just because you “hang with” a certain person. And so we shouldn’t be surprised by that. There will always be people who try to be bullies especially when someone else is doing good things and receiving attention for the good things they’re doing.
∙ Our task is to stay true to the lessons we learn from our favorite teachers, and to be like them in ways that make our lives and our communities better
∙ Then we can always know that God is paying attention to us when we do the best we can to show love to others.


Today we are invited to partner with God and with each other in transforming the world through the privilege of giving. You are invited to remember that all that we steward has its source in God and we join the circle of reciprocal generosity when we share of our material resources. We invite you, in particular on this Sunday, to consider sharing a portion of your offering with an organization – local, regional, or national – that advocates for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Organizations like the Trevor Project enable support specifically for the many youth who are at-risk of literally losing their lives in the current rising national atmosphere of anti-LGBT legislation and revocation of rights. You may also choose to send an offering to support the work of the Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ. There are many ways to multiply the “God-Work” of justice and freedom through our giving.

PRAYER OF DEDICATION (“Offering Song” words by Rev. Ann Jefferson)

All that we have belongs to you
You provide for our every need –
Now we bring back a part of what you’ve given to us,
In love, we gladly say thank you.

Receive our gifts which we return to you full hearted and freely. Take and use them for your glory and for the blessing of your beloved creation everywhere.


Option 1: Sing stanzas 3 & 4 of “The Summons”

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen,
And admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,
Through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Option 2: Invite a Liturgical Dancer to dance to this recording of The Summons – In keeping with Pride, beautiful rainbow-colored worship/dance fans are available to utilize.

SEEDS for Reflection for Matthew 10: 24 – 39

Throughout Chapter 10, Jesus is commissioning his disciples to take “The Teacher’s Message” into the world. To some degree, they are in “Disciples’ Bootcamp” as he seeks to prepare them for what they will face as his followers.

He doesn’t sugarcoat what can happen to those who align with him. He makes it plain – if they call me names, [they – the powers that be – political or religious or societal] will certainly do the same with those who identify with his radical Gospel. That radical Gospel that places the marginalized at the center and disrupts the status quo and the “disenfranchisement agenda” of those who claim supremacy.

He acknowledges that this can be frightening, and the work we are called to do on behalf of women, children, elders, LGBTQIA+, the differently-abled, those from racially minoritized and immigrant groups, and the economically and socially disadvantaged can be/IS dangerous work – particularly in this current atmosphere. In particular, He notes that some of the greatest opposition may come from those who are closest to us – our very family members. Many have experienced the pain of rejection and being disparaged for living our “created and called” identities.

Yet Jesus invites us to live/lean into the disruption that can come by being in open alignment with our purpose and call. We are invited to live it out in truth because even if we lose our physical life, there is a Life beyond this one, and the One to truly give account to is the One who is the ground and source of our being and destiny. We are invited to proclaim the same message(s) that saved our lives for many are waiting for the very testimony that we have. And as we claim Christ – in liberating and life-affirming ways – we can trust that very Christ to “have our back” here and now and in the life to come.

SONG OF RESPONSE – The Summons, stanza 5

Lord, your summons echoes true
When you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
And never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
Where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow
In you and you in me.

Holy Beloved One, you who loves us as much as the tiny sparrows and every member of your grand and diverse creation,

We thank you, especially on this Pride Sunday, for how you have made us to be who we are – beautiful to our very core – all our hues, all our genders, all our ages and abilities, all our orientations. We come from you. You have gifted us with life and gifted our lives to be a blessing to the world.

We come before you today in mindfulness of the great call you to be your disciples in this world at this time. We thank you for “calling us by name” in spite of our fears – in spite of our doubts – in spite of circumstances that seem to be or are actually aligned in opposition to our very being and your claim on our lives.

We pray also in mindfulness of the many attacks through political legislation, spiritual, physical, and emotional violence upon our beloved LGBTQIA+ kindred. We pray specifically for [name persons or issues]. We pray especially for our queer, non-binary, and trans youth who live in greater fear and too often, count themselves unworthy to be loved and to live as they are. God in your mercy, enable us to be a covering for them – to defend their sacredness – to fight for the eradication of hatred and brutality, especially as it manifests from so-called “religious” persons and organizations.

And as we claim our identity as followers and disciples of Jesus, embolden us beyond our own fears, so that we might “shout from the rooftops” the love with which you have embraces us. Give us courage to live fully into all that you are summoning us to do – to go where you send us, knowing that even if we lose our physical life, we are still with you and you are still with us.

Grant this nation and its leaders a spirit of repentance from self-righteousness and supremacist falsehoods, and give instead hearts of compassion, committed to the work of justice and equity for ALL its people. Use us as your instruments of peace, faith, and transformation that your Kin-dom might come in our lifetimes.

May our prayers – spoken and unspoken – be granted according to your will and power and in the name of the One who “so loved the world” that he gave himself to and for it. In the name of Jesus, our Sibling and Teacher, we pray – Amen.


“This Little Light of Mine” (traditional) – NCH #525
“In the Midst of New Dimensions” – NCH #391


First Principle – make your sacred space and altar as “colorful as Pride!” Let the vibrancy be reflected in chosen fabrics, candles, other altar items. Feel free to utilize photos of LGBTQIA+ S/Heroes and Teachers/Mentors that have impacted your lives or your congregation or community. The following examples were used as part of the “Coming Out/Indigenous Peoples’ Day Chapel at Pacific School of Religion.

Barbara Cameron – LGBTQ/Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Activist & Bayard Rustin

The Summons
Words: 1987 WGRG, Iona Community, Glasgow, Scotland, G2 3DH (Admin. by Wild Goose Resource Group), Music: David Peacock – The Jubilate Group (Admin. by Hope Publishing Company)
Matthew 10: 24 – 39
The First Egalitarian Translation
(Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. – 2007 by Priests for Equality)

24 A student is not superior to the teacher; the follower is not above the leader. 25 The student should be glad simply to become like the teacher, the follower like the leader. “If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of the household! 26 Don’t let people intimidate you. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, and nothing is hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in darkness, speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Don’t fear those who can deprive the body of life but can’t destroy the soul. Rather, fear the one who can destroy both body and sould in Gehenna. 29 Are not the sparrows sold for pennies? Yet not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Abba God’s knowledge. 30 As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. 31 So don’t be afraid of anything – you are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows. 32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before Abba God in heaven. 33 Whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before Abba God in heaven. 34 Don’t suppose that I came to bring peace on earth. I came not to bring peace, but a sword. 35 I have come to turn ‘A son against his father, a daughter against her mother, in-law against in-law. 36 One’s enemies will be the members of one’s own household.’ 37 Those who love mother or father, daughter or son more than me are not worthy of me. 38 Those who will not carry with them the instrument of their own death – following in my footsteps – are not worthy of me. 39 You who have found your life will lose it, and you who lose your life for my sake will find it.”

Life: Service Prayers for the Fourth Sunday in After Pentecost Year A was written by Rev. Ann Jefferson is the Associate Pastor of Worship & Liturgy at City of Refuge UCC in Oakland, California. She is also the Director of Community Life & Spiritual Care at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.