Watch Now

12th Sunday after Pentecost

The Son of the Living God

Morning Prayer with Sacrament Reserved


Lift up your eyes to the heavens                                         Isaiah 51:6a

What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven                   Matthew 16:19a


 The Invitatory and Psalter

V.    O Lord, open thou our lips,
R.    And our mouths shall show forth your praise.
V.    Glory be to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
R.    As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Alleluia


 Jubilate Psalm 100[1]

1 Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands; *
serve the LORD with gladness and come before his presence with a song.

2 Know this: The LORD himself is God; he himself has made us; we are his *.
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; *
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

4 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; *
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

 The mercy of the Lord is everlasting. Come let us adore him.


 Psalm 138

138:1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;

138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.

138:3 On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.

138:4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth.

138:5 They shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.

138:6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away.

138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me.

138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

 The mercy of the Lord is everlasting. Come let us adore him.


 The Old Testament Lesson:                                            Isaiah 51:1-6

51:1 Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the LORD. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.

51:2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many.

51:3 For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

51:4 Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples.

51:5 I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope.

51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


 Hymn:    When morning gilds the skies   Robert Bridges  Hymnal 1982 # 427

 When morning gilds the skies,
my heart, awaking, cries,
may Jesus Christ be praised!
When evening shadows fall,
this rings my curfew call,
may Jesus Christ be praised!

When mirth for music longs,
this is my song of songs:
may Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s holy house of prayer
hath none that can compare
with: Jesus Christ be praised!

No lovelier antiphon
in all high heaven is known
than, Jesus Christ be praised!
There to the eternal Word
the eternal psalm is heard:
may Jesus Christ be praised!

Ye nations of mankind,
in this your concord find:
may Jesus Christ be praised!
Let all the earth around
ring joyous with the sound:
may Jesus Christ be praised!

Sing, suns and stars of space,
sing, ye that see his face,
sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s whole creation o’er,
both now and evermore
shall Jesus Christ be praised!


The New Testament Lesson:                                                Romans 12:1-8

12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable and perfect.

12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

12:4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function,

12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

12:6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith;

12:7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching;

12:8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


 Can we by searching find out God       Elizabeth Cosnett       Hymnal1982 # 476

Can we by searching find out God
or formulate his ways?
Can numbers measure what he is
or words contain his praise?

Although his being is too bright
for human eyes to scan,
his meaning lights our shadowed world
through Christ, the Son of Man.

Our boastfulness is turned to shame,
our profit counts as loss,
when earthly values stand beside
the manger and the cross.

There God breaks in upon our search,
makes birth and death his own;
he speaks to us in human terms
to make his glory known.

The Gospel Lesson:                                              Matthew 16:13-20


16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

16:14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

16:17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.

16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

16:20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise be to you, Lord Christ.


Sermon: On this Rock

“Nevertheless, he persisted.”

No, I am not repeating myself – except in a way, I am. That’s consistent with being persistent, if you think about it. Keep on keeping on, ploughing that same field, mining that same vein, nose to the grindstone and pedal to the metal, whatever cliché you chose – we press on. “Not farewell, but fare forward, voyagers,” as the poet says.

So, I say again: he persisted.

Who persisted?

Well, both of them, in this gospel: Jesus and Peter. Jesus, who wanted to see whether his disciples and other people had figured things out yet – and Peter, the disciple who’d finally figured things out. This was, is the Messiah, the Christ, the promised one who came as a surprise, the one long looked-for who arrived unseen, the redeemer who came as a thief in the night, the savior who came as a baby that needed to be saved. Jesus knew it, and probably already knew what people thought. He just wanted to see if his disciples did, too. Peter probably did not realize that Jesus knew it, but once Jesus asked, I bet even he figured it out. Jesus persisted in digging deeper, digging down deeper until he found what every teacher longs to find: the question to ask that elicits truth and growth at once. Hearing it, Peter persisted in trying to figure things out, and then saying out loud what he’d figured: this is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He persisted in being teachable, and his teacher persisted in teaching – and both of those things are good.

No-one really expected the Messiah to show up. No-one went to temple or synagogue really expecting to see that day the Christ, the son of God, the source of light and life and salvation walk into the room and beam all over everyone with the awesome power of God’s goodness, healing, peace, and love. If you went to church – remember going to church, not simply waking up to tune it in over breakfast or on the sofa in the afternoon? – if you went to church, that is, and saw there either the 1st or 2nd comings of Christ, revealed in all his co-eval, Athanasian glory, you would be stunned to the point of disbelief, and have trouble accepting what neither your eyes nor your heart could deny: this is it. This is It. This is He, Him, the One, right now. Do not forget this. Do not miss this. Do not…hesitate, though anyone would. Fare forward. This is your fate: to bear living witness to the living God amongst us, right now – and all that God will do, and all that we will do in response to what God does. Things like that happen and change everything, but no-one’s really expecting it, not even if they see the signs and portents, not even if their rituals and scriptures tell them to expect it, that it will come to pass, and might even do so today. It’s too big, too dramatic, too overwhelming, and so we think, ah, maybe one day, mañana, inshallah, it will be what it will be.

Things persist, too, inertia being what it is. Change – real change, change that matters – that is the rare thing. It can be hard to see even when it’s hard to deny, particularly when we’re not looking for it.

The line I quoted above, “Not farewell, but fare forward, voyagers,” come from a long poem by T.S. Eliot called “The Dry Salvages.” It’s one of the four long poems in his final book, Four Quartets, and focuses on what a journey really is: coming to know oneself fully, and returning to where we started and knowing the place for the very first time. Journeys are not just about discovery but self-discovery, not least in what they ask and require of us that we might not have known we could do or become. Those who voyage, particularly across the desert wastes or the wine-dark sea, know that any voyage tests us, lets us know what we’re made of when we’re really up against it, fighting to hold the boat together against the waves or whipping winds, babying the whining engine or tire or transmission to make it a few more miles, just over one last mountain. We may learn on a voyage what we can endure, and what we can’t. Journeys may change us – or, more precisely, strip away the masks and veneers and self-deceptions and reveal to us, starkly but unmistakably, who we really are. They require persistence, adaptability, openness to change, authentic self-awareness, and being honest with oneself and one’s companions about what we can do, what we can’t do, and what we don’t quite know we don’t yet know, but need to.

Jesus’s disciples have been with him on such a journey, though they weren’t really going anywhere exotic or amazing, just out and about the towns and country places where they’d always lived, and down to the big city, Jerusalem – which, like most cities, never lived up to the expectations they had of it back home in Cowtown or Fishburg. No, the real journey they were on was one of the Spirit, and led them, like it led Eliot’s speaker in the poem, back to the place they started – themselves, at home or near enough, knowing it and themselves as if for the very first time.

“Who do they say that I am?” Jesus asked them in this passage. That brought them back to the very first time they met him. For each, and to each, he called, “Follow me,” and to those who whom it was relevant, said, “I will make you fish for people.” There’s no way they could’ve heard that without asking themselves, “Who is this guy?” or even “Who does this guy think he is?”

Each had to answer that question for him- or her-self. Each had to do so with inadequate information and a whole lot of emotional reaction. Each had to do so knowing that the answer would change their world, even if they couldn’t know quite how much, or how it would change the world. Each had to decide: go forward, or go back. (That’s what saying put tends to mean, since all motion is relative. If you stay where you are and everyone else moves on, it’s just as though you’d moved backwards.) Each had to go through the stages in this pericope [short gospel passage]: It’s Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Joel (but they knew it couldn’t be Joel), John the Baptist with his head back on, somehow. No, it’s more than that. It’s…no. It can’t be. I mean, you gotta be kidding. The Messiah? Here, in Israel’s Michigan, the son of a carpenter and his wife, a wife who I still say is a bit too young for him but some men are just drawn that way, you know, never do learn. I mean, this is a kid that maybe got a bit too much Bible in him when he was young for his own good, had all these big ideas about what was right and wrong, that justice should roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness spill out like milk and honey. Don’t get me wrong: he was a nice enough young man, but always with his head in the clouds and tbh he could be a bit of a brat. I mean, you’ve heard the stories. But there was always something to him, this weird vibe like he crackled, somehow, vibrated with energy, power, something he had to do. Boy wasn’t gonna stay no carpenter, that’s for sure.

They had to answer the question, “Who is this?” and then had to deal with the follow-on: this is the real thing. For all those back home who said no, it couldn’t be, they soon had people out everywhere who say yes, it not only could be, but is. Look at the man born blind who now can see, the woman with that dreadful flow of blood who’s now doing alright, the mother whose daughter the man healed without even seeing her, the man who couldn’t walk who all of a sudden can because of what Jesus said to him, and how he knew, just knew, that they believed is what they did not expect but could not deny: this is the Messiah, the Christ, the son of the living God. Right here. Right now. Right on.

“Who do you say that I am?” he persisted, and Peter answered, as we knew he would but as we suspect maybe he and Jesus didn’t. I mean, he’d seen it – even seen Jesus transfigured, revealed as who he really was. But just because he’d seen it was no proof that he believed it. If the last four years in this country have taught us anything, it is that it is very difficult to get people to believe what they can see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears if it’s painful for them, or if an authority they trust or on whom they have become emotionally dependent tells them to ignore it. “Who do you believe? Me or your lying eyes?” goes the old gaslighting quip – and it is the precise and evil opposite to the question Jesus asks his followers, and that Peter answers with God’s unflyblown truth: you’re the one we’ve always wanted and didn’t know we’d ever get to see, much less get to know: the Messiah, the Christ, the living God’s only living son. Amen to that.

What came next must’ve been even more of a surprise. Jesus tells Peter that he, in essence, ain’t seen nothing yet. “On this rock I will build my church” — ? – “The gates of hell will not prevail against it” — ?! – and “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven” as well as the power to bind and loose, there and here — ??!! — “And oh, btw., tell no-one who I am.”

In essence: you will do as I have done, and be as I have been. What you do, say, choose, and command will make a difference, in this life and the next, not only to this generation, but to generations yet unborn. One doubts that Jesus had the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Bank, the College of Cardinals, the papal tiara, and all the other pomps, tricks, vanities, and trappings of the Roman Catholic Church, the last and most enduring successor to the Roman Empire, in mind when he said this, if he said this. He probably had in mind nothing like any of the churches we actually have. But he clearly had something in mind, or people remembered that he had, when the time came to…fare forward, voyagers, once Jesus had left for good, for heaven, and sent the Spirit to be with us as the only person of God we can actually come to know firsthand now. Be it foreshadowing or backfill, this passage has Jesus give Peter power because Peter has done something good – called Jesus by his own true name – and in the process revealed who he, Peter is: the one who knows despite all his limitations, and accepts that knowledge and its limitations.

Peter, Cephas – Simon bar Jonah, fisherman, Jew, husband and, one presumes, father – is no leader, and was no more a pope than I am, or than any of you hearing me are. He was a man of faith who doubted a lot, and had trouble doing the math, keeping up with things – but once he learned something, it was there for good. Peter was the guy that always has a set of jumper cables and knows how to use them, or will drive two hours to bring you groceries if no-one else will, and then have trouble remembering why he got home late afterwards. He’s a good man, for all his flaws – reliable, if not perfect, but no leader. That’s the point: he doesn’t have to lead to be good; he just has to be honest. See, Peter knew, somehow he knew, who Jesus really was. He’d not only seen it, but felt it, accepted it, believed it, and let it change him if that’s what it wanted, and what it took. As such he was, that is, the perfect cornerstone on which to build a community of people who would need each other to keep faith in God and with one another when the darkness came (back), and the good people were persecuted by those who were wrong, cruel, selfish, demeaning, or otherwise full of error and sin. He was a rock, not a captain; the foundation, not the boss.

He was what in the poem I mentioned above, “The Dry Salvages,” what those dry salvages were: rocks that did not move, no matter what else around them did. The Dry Salvages are the tops of seamounts off the coast of New England, and you can wreck a ship on them, or do what the poet T.S. Eliot learned to do as a young sailor: use them as a seamark to set a course by, no matter what storms toss you about or what clouds occlude the sun and stars. That’s the kind of rock that Peter is: it doesn’t do anything. It is. It abides. It stays as what it is as it abides so well that you can set a course by it, guide yourself with it, rely on it. A rock in the sea, a seamount, dangerous to the unwary, useful to the knowing, vital to the lost – as Eliot writes:

On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,

In navigable weather it is always a seamark

To lay a course by: but in the sombre season

Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.

That is, it persisted, and it persists. It is – an example and a symbol of what does not change, never stops being what it is, never becomes something else. For Eliot this was what is means to live unchanged, undiminished by the agony, the struggle and the suffering, of life. He found this easier to see in other people than in himself, much as we find it easier to see in people like Jesus, Peter, Mary, Thomas, and Paul than in ourselves. Eliot knew, as those who grieve also know, that pain once caused cannot be un-made, though one can heal from it and move beyond it. A struggle endured, a strife survived leave their marks – and those marks, he understood, do not change. It is easiest to see in grief, and in any other form of love – we only grieve because we love, and grief, one wise person said, is simply love with nowhere to go – once they exist, once they are, they change us, and we are never the same again.

Changed by what has made us who we are, we persist. We abide. We endure. We fare forward, because the only other choices are to drift backward or to sink beneath the waves. If we do, the rocks abide, as does the water, each enduring in its own way as exactly what it is, what it has been since it was made. As the first Christians knew, we do better with our enduring and our abiding if we do so together, in a community build on a foundation as strong as the rock Jesus understood Simon bar Jonah, our Peter, to be. This is the Son of God, that rock knew. This is the Messiah, the Christ, the one who feeds, who heals, who teaches, who reaches out, who saves, and who abides. He brings, indeed he embodies, the salvation and deliverance of which Isaiah speaks. When the heavens are gone, and the earth, and all who live, including ourselves, that salvation and deliverance will remain, and that is good.

I say again: this rock, this Cephas, the Peter is not a leader. He was never meant to be. He is the guy you can rely on to be there when times are toughest, the one who always has your back, who is faithful in season and out, who knows when to be there, and how. Good leaders need those qualities, of course, but they by themselves are not enough An effective leader must also be a visionary, a self-starter to be able to move people to action, get them to do what you want because they want to, challenge them, inspire them, push them, manage them, even correct them. Peter has none of these qualities. What he has is what Jesus noticed in him: the ability to endure in his faith despite his weaknesses and limited understanding, and his ability to articulate it when asked to. Because, ultimately, the rock on which Christ built his church is not a person of faith per se, but the faith that person had, the faith that person embodies.

In essence, that’s what the church Jesus founded was supposed to be: not an institution, but a community of faith. It was to be something on which people could rely, no matter what else life threw at them. It was to be a family as well, bound by choice instead of blood. It was to be a witness to salvation and a place where salvation dwells and can be found, but not the gatekeeper of it, and certainly not a power on earth itself. It was to be a rock to set a course by, not the vessel that sails it, much less the captain of that vessel or even the mates and crew.

The church was, is meant to persist in faith and in love, and get people closer to it and to one another. When the church does this, it does well. When it does otherwise, it tends to drift, misunderstanding its purpose and thus getting in its own way, and in that of others. I think that’s why the church does its best work when it meets people in the midst of their struggles and helps them in them – and does its worst when it becomes a struggle itself, and makes people’s lives, and sometimes struggles, even worse. None hearing this sermon will need a reminder of that – but a reminder the gospel gives us nonetheless. Let us take it as part of God’s mysterious gifts, and fare forward, mindful of the faith that got us here and renewed in our minds because of it, as Paul says. Let us be mindful, always, of the faith that preserves us here, now, and always. It is what it always was.



 A Statement of Faith, A Song of God’s Love (1 John 4:7-11)

Beloved, let us love one another, *
for love is of God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, *
for God is Love.
In this the love of God was revealed among us, *
that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us *
and sent his Son that sins might be forgiven.
Beloved, since God loved us so much, *
we ought also to love one another.
For if we love one another, God abides in us, *
and God’s love will be perfected in us.

A Collect for 12th Pentecost (Proper 16)

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 A Collect for Peace

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 A Collect for a Need or Intention

God of salvation,
who sent your Son to seek out and save what is lost,
hear our prayers
on behalf of those who are lost in our day,
receiving these petitions and thanksgivings
with your unending compassion.
Redeeming Sustainer,
visit your people
and pour out your strength and courage upon us,
that we may hurry to make you welcome
not only in our concern for others,
but by serving them
generously and faithfully in your name. Amen.

A Prayer after St. Alphonsus

O Jesus, you are present to us in the blessed sacrament. We love you above all things, and desire to receive you into our souls. Since we cannot at this time share your sacrament, let your spirit dwell within our hearts. Let us welcome you as one already with us, making us one body and one spirit, never to be parted from you. Amen.


Closing Hymn: The Church’s one foundation   Samuel John Stone   Hymnal 1982 # 525

1 The church’s one foundation
is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
she is his new creation
by water and the Word:
from heav’n 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 ev’ry 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 ev’ry grace endued.

3 Though with a scornful wonder
men see her sore 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 The church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
to guide, sustain, and cherish,
is with her to the end;
though there be those that hate her,
and false sons in her pale,
against both foe and traitor
she ever shall prevail.

5 ‘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.

6 Yet she on earth hath union
with the 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,
on high may dwell with thee.



The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.


Hymn: Spirit of the Living God    Daniel Iverson, alt.

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.



About Episcopal Worship and this Service

Christian worship is designed to have the congregation gather for prayer, lessons, the Eucharist, and song. In times of contagion and quarantine, the community may not gather or share the Eucharist. We have adapted this service to the conditions of the time, celebrating Morning Prayer in the Presence of the Reserved Sacrament, honoring God with our daily office prayers, thanksgivings, lessons, canticles, and hymns.

We give thanks this morning for our reader, Kris Taweel, for our organist and music director, Beresford Coker; and for our video compiler and editor, Gabriel Wilkins.


Resources (available for free online)

Book of Common Prayer,

Enriching Our Worship 1,

Enriching Our Worship 2,

These resources contain the prayers and worship services used in The Episcopal Church and by Episcopalians in their daily devotions.

The Revised Common Lectionary and Daily Office,

This source shows the readings assigned for use in Sunday worship and for daily office use for each day of the year, with links to online biblical texts.

Hymnal 1982:

Hymnal 1940:

Lift Every Voice and Sing II:

Wonder, Love, and Praise:


The Episcopal Church:

Episcopal News Service:

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington:

St. Mark’s, Fairland:


A Prayer in Times of Sickness and Contagion

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health, source of all wisdom and peace: Comfort and relieve your servants who suffer from sickness or fear, give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, and let your grace be with all those who work to protect us from contagion and disease. May we be strengthened against any weakness, sickness, fear, and doubt, and place our confidence in your loving care through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


[1] Or Venite, Psalm 95