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What follows are the readings for the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost, November 11, 2018.

These are for Year B in the three-year Lectionary cycle.

There are two sets of first readings and Psalms. I have given the second selections blue subheadings below. Emphases mine throughout.

Today’s themes are widows and obedience.

First reading

Readings from the Book of Ruth continue. Naomi and Ruth were both widows, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, respectively. Naomi arranged a new husband for Ruth. Ruth became the grandmother of Jesse — and great-grandmother of David, ancestors of Jesus.

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17

3:1 Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you.

3:2 Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.

3:3 Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.

3:4 When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.”

3:5 She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.”

4:13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the LORD made her conceive, and she bore a son.

4:14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel!

4:15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.”

4:16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse.

4:17 The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Psalm

This is a famous Psalm about the bountiful blessings of parenthood. This is the origin of the name of the fundamentalist Quiver movement.

Psalm 127

127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.

127:2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.

127:3 Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

127:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth.

127:5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

First reading

This reading from 1 Kings is about the prophet Elijah, whom the Lord shielded from his enemy Jezebel. It was a time of drought and famine. Here we read of another widow who received blessings when she obeyed the Lord.

1 Kings 17:8-16

17:8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

17:9 “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”

17:10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.”

17:11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”

17:12 But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

17:13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son.

17:14 For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth.”

17:15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days.

17:16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.

Psalm

Interestingly, the Lectionary compilers scheduled Psalm 146 again, last week’s Psalm for one of the first readings.

Psalm 146

146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

146:2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

146:4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

146:5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,

146:6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;

146:7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;

146:8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

146:9 The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

146:10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

Epistle

The author of Hebrews continues his discourse on Jesus as the eternal High Priest, the Messiah.

Hebrews 9:24-28

9:24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

9:25 Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own;

9:26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.

9:27 And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment,

9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Gospel

Readings from Mark continue. Today’s concerns the widow’s mite.

Mark 12:38-44

12:38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces,

12:39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets!

12:40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

12:41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.

12:42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.

12:43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.

12:44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

This passage is often misused. Jesus was condemning the scribes and felt pity for the widow who felt compelled to contribute her last coins. The Jewish leaders really did take advantage of widows in those days.

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