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Below are the readings for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, August 9, 2020.

These are for Year A in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

There are two options for the First Reading and Psalm.

Emphases below are mine.

First Reading and Psalm — Option One

In this season of Trinity, this choice of first readings has focused on Abraham and his descendants. Today’s passage is the story of Joseph’s abduction. He was one of Jacob’s — Israel’s — sons, who were fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob loved him the most. This angered Jacob’s elder sons who expected preferential treatment because, by right, they were his first heirs. Joseph, who wore the many-coloured coat, was born much later. Therefore, his older brothers conspired to get rid of him. Note the use of the word Ishmaelites in verses 25, 27 and 28. Those were the descendants of Abraham’s illegitimate son by Hagar: Ishmael.

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

37:1 Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan.

37:2 This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father.

37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.

37:4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

37:12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.

37:13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.”

37:14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.”So he sent him from the valley of Hebron. He came to Shechem,

37:15 and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, “What are you seeking?”

37:16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said; “tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.”

37:17 The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan.

37:18 They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him.

37:19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer.

37:20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”

37:21 But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.”

37:22 Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him” –that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.

37:23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore;

37:24 and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

37:25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.

37:26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?

37:27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed.

37:28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

Psalm 105, in part, tells the story of Joseph, who, being Pharaoh’s right hand man in charge of the grain stores, ended up saving his once-hateful — now grateful — brothers and their families from famine. Jacob/Israel was not wrong in preferring Joseph to his other sons. More importantly, our loving Lord keeps His covenants.

Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b

105:1 O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.

105:2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.

105:3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

105:4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.

105:5 Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

105:6 O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

105:16 When he summoned famine against the land, and broke every staff of bread,

105:17 he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

105:18 His feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron;

105:19 until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD kept testing him.

105:20 The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free.

105:21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions,

105:22 to instruct his officials at his pleasure, and to teach his elders wisdom.

105:45b Praise the LORD!

First Reading and Psalm — Option Two

Elijah felt he had to self-exile because of rulers Ahab and Jezebel as well as the Baal-worshipping Israelites. It is a shame that this reading did not include verses 19-21, which show that Elijah felt strengthened by Elisha’s joining him for their return. Why ever not? Elisha is integral to the events that followed.

1 Kings 19:9-18

19:9 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

19:10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

19:11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;

19:12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

19:13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

19:14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

19:15 Then the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.

19:16 Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.

19:17 Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill.

19:18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Here are the next three verses:

19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

Bible scholars have disagreed about when this Psalm was written. In any event, it is to be sung when God’s faithful are in trouble as a collective group.

Psalm 85:8-13

85:8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

85:9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

85:10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

85:11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.

85:12 The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.

85:13 Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.

Epistle

Paul discusses the importance of heartfelt belief in and open confession of Christ as Lord. Verse 12 is pertinent in our troubled times this year, 2020.

Romans 10:5-15

10:5 Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.”

10:6 But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down)

10:7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);

10:9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

10:10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

10:11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.

10:13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

10:14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?

10:15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Gospel

Last week, we read Matthew’s account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. That night, Peter briefly walked on water during a terrifying storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Matthew 14:22-33

14:22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.

14:23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

14:24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.

14:25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.

14:26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.

14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

14:28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

14:29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.

14:30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

14:31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

14:32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

14:33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

What an excellent set of readings this week. They tell us of God’s faithfulness, His blessings towards us and the importance of belief in Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

May all of us enjoy a blessed Sunday.

Below are the readings for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, July 26, 2020.

These are for Year A in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

There are two options for the First Reading and Psalm.

Emphases below are mine.

First Reading and Psalm — Option One

Readings about the life of Jacob, one of Abraham’s grandsons, continue. Jacob continued on from Bethel (last week’s reading) to the home of Laban, his uncle (his mother Rebekah’s brother). This is the story of how Jacob came to be married to Leah and, seven years later, to Rachel, his first love. From the two women, eight out of the Twelve Tribes came into being. The other four sons of Jacob were born of Zilpah and Bilhah, two sons apiece. It is a complicated family tree. Rachel gave birth to Joseph, which caused problems when Jacob considered Joseph to be his heir. Jacob had one daughter, Dinah.

Genesis 29:15-28

29:15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?”

29:16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.

29:17 Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful.

29:18 Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”

29:19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.”

29:20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

29:21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.”

29:22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast.

29:23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her.

29:24 (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.)

29:25 When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”

29:26 Laban said, “This is not done in our country–giving the younger before the firstborn.

29:27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.”

29:28 Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.

There are two choices of Psalm.

David wrote Psalm 105 for Asaph to use in the daily service of the sanctuary, which pertained to the Ark of the Covenant.

Psalm 105:1-11, 45b

105:1 O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.

105:2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.

105:3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

105:4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.

105:5 Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

105:6 O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

105:7 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

105:8 He is mindful of his covenant forever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,

105:9 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,

105:10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,

105:11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.”

105:45b Praise the LORD!

The second choice of Psalm is one for families to pray together in obedience to God. These verses are but an excerpt of a long Psalm.

Psalm 128

128:1 Happy is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways.

128:2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.

128:3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

128:4 Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.

128:5 The LORD bless you from Zion. May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

128:6 May you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!

First Reading and Psalm — Option Two

Solomon, David’s son, asks the Lord for wisdom.

1 Kings 3:5-12

3:5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.”

3:6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today.

3:7 And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.

3:8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted.

3:9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

3:10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.

3:11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right,

3:12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

We have another excerpt from the excellent Psalm 119, read or sung in parts throughout the Lectionary year.

Psalm 119:129-136

119:129 Your decrees are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.

119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

119:131 With open mouth I pant, because I long for your commandments.

119:132 Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your custom toward those who love your name.

119:133 Keep my steps steady according to your promise, and never let iniquity have dominion over me.

119:134 Redeem me from human oppression, that I may keep your precepts.

119:135 Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.

119:136 My eyes shed streams of tears because your law is not kept.

Epistle

Readings from Romans 8 conclude. Some of these verses will be familiar, even to novices of the Bible.

Romans 8:26-39

8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

8:27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

8:28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.

8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

8:31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

8:32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?

8:33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

8:34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

8:36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Gospel

Matthew 13 contains eight parables. We heard the Parable of the Sower two weeks ago and, last week, the Parable of the Tares. Today’s brief parables conclude the chapter.

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

13:31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;

13:32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

13:33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

13:45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls;

13:46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

13:47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind;

13:48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.

13:49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous

13:50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

13:51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.”

13:52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Verse 50 contains the second mention of the ‘furnace of fire’, which Jesus also mentions at the end of the Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13:42).

Be in no doubt: the day of judgement will come for everyone.

What follows are readings for the Second Sunday after Trinity — the Third Sunday after Pentecost — June 30, 2019.

These are for Year C in the three-year Lectionary used for public worship.

There are two choices for the First Reading and Psalm. I have differentiated these by using blue in the heading for the second option.

Emphases below are mine.

First reading — option one

This is the dramatic account of Elijah being swept up into heaven on a chariot.

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14

2:1 Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.

2:2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

2:6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

2:7 Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan.

2:8 Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

2:9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.”

2:10 He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.”

2:11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.

2:12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

2:13 He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.

2:14 He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

Psalm — option one

The water imagery and plea to God tie together well with the aforementioned passage about Elijah and Elisha.

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20

77:1 I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me.

77:2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.

77:11 I will call to mind the deeds of the LORD; I will remember your wonders of old.

77:12 I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds.

77:13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is so great as our God?

77:14 You are the God who works wonders; you have displayed your might among the peoples.

77:15 With your strong arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

77:16 When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; the very deep trembled.

77:17 The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side.

77:18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.

77:19 Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints were unseen.

77:20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

First reading — option two

The Lord instructs Elijah to choose Elisha as his successor. Note the role of the mantle, also in the other first reading involving the two prophets.

1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21

19:15 Then the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.

19:16 Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.

19:19 So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him.

19:20 He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?”

19:21 He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

Psalm — option two

This psalm of David expresses his faith in God and ties in with that of Elijah and Elisha. More importantly, however, this psalm should be considered as pertaining to Jesus Christ.

Psalm 16

16:1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

16:2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

16:3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

16:4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.

16:5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

16:6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.

16:7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

16:8 I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.

16:10 For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.

16:11 You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Epistle

Paul describes the freedom from sin that Christ gave us through His death on the Cross, our redemption. Therefore, we must let the Holy Spirit lead us in standing firm in our faith.

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.

5:14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

5:15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

5:16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.

5:17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.

5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.

5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,

5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,

5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

5:22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,

5:23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Gospel

Much takes place in Luke 9. The following occurred at the end of an eventful chapter which begins with Jesus giving the Twelve the power to go out to preach and heal. He then fed the Five Thousand. The Transfiguration followed. Afterwards, James and John, whom Jesus had dubbed the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17), misunderstood Him. Finally, those who wanted to be His disciples were not really prepared to follow Him.

Luke 9:51-62

9:51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

9:52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him;

9:53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

9:54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

9:55 But he turned and rebuked them.

9:56 Then they went on to another village.

9:57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

9:58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

9:59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

9:60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

9:61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”

9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Jesus could discern the hearts of those wanting to be disciples. The Son of Man desires full commitment, along with service. So often, we, too, let our lives interrupt what should be continuous service and devotion to Him.

The Church is now in what is known as the season ‘after Pentecost’, ‘after Trinity’ or ‘Ordinary Time’.

Green vestments are now worn until the First Sunday in Advent, when they change to purple.

The Church of England, my denomination, names these Sundays as being ‘after Trinity’.

What follows are the readings for the First Sunday after Trinity, June 23.

These are for Year C in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

There are two choices for the First Reading and Psalm. I have differentiated these by using blue in the heading for the second option.

Emphases below are mine.

First Reading — Option One

The people did not listen to Elijah, so he went into hiding, during which time God took care of him.

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a

19:1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.

19:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”

19:3 Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.

19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”

19:5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.”

19:6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again.

19:7 The angel of the LORD came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”

19:8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

19:9 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

19:10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

19:11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;

19:12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

19:13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

19:14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

19:15a Then the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus.

Psalm — Option One

We do not know for certain who wrote these Psalms, but many scholars believe David wrote it either when Saul was persecuting him or Absalom was in rebellion. At that point, only God could remedy the situation. The isolation from his people that David faced parallels Elijah’s experience in the accompanying reading above.

Psalm 42 and 43

42:1 As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.

42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?

42:3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?”

42:4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help

42:6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

42:7 Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.

42:8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

42:9 I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?”

42:10 As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”

42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

43:1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; from those who are deceitful and unjust deliver me!

43:2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you cast me off? Why must I walk about mournfully because of the oppression of the enemy?

43:3 O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.

43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

First reading — Option Two

This reading prophesies that Gentiles would be brought into the Church and that God’s chosen who rejected Christ would be brought to judgement.

Isaiah 65:1-9

65:1 I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name.

65:2 I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices;

65:3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks;

65:4 who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels;

65:5 who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long.

65:6 See, it is written before me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps

65:7 their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together, says the LORD; because they offered incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will measure into their laps full payment for their actions.

65:8 Thus says the LORD: As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all.

65:9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall settle there.

Psalm — Option Two

In this Psalm, whether he realised it or not, David wrote of the Messiah and his own ancestry with regard to Christ. David’s sufferings were great; his descendant’s would be even greater.

Psalm 22:19-28

22:19 But you, O LORD, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!

22:20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!

22:21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

22:22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

22:24 For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.

22:25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

22:26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD. May your hearts live forever!

22:27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.

22:28 For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.

Epistle

Paul explains that Jesus Christ fulfilled Mosaic Law through His one, perfect and holy sacrifice on the Cross for our salvation.

Galatians 3:23-29

3:23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.

3:24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.

3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian,

3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

3:27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

3:29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Gospel

This is Luke’s dramatic account of the Gadarene Swine, about which I wrote a few years ago:

The Gadarene swine served a purpose (Apologetics Corner)

The Gadarenes — what happened next (Apologetics Corner)

Luke 8:26-39

8:26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.

8:27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs.

8:28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”–

8:29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.)

8:30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him.

8:31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

8:32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission.

8:33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

8:34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country.

8:35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.

8:36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.

8:37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.

8:38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying,

8:39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

I do hope that clergy give a good sermon on this week’s Gospel. There is much to examine.

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.

What follows are the readings for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 26, 2018.

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

There are two sets of first readings, each with an accompanying Psalm from which the celebrant can choose. I have given the second selection blue subheadings below. Emphases mine throughout.

First reading

Readings continue from 1 Kings and Solomon’s reign after succeeding his father David. God enabled Solomon to build the first temple, which lasted approximately 350 years until the Babylonians destroyed it. The destruction was a divine judgement on God’s chosen people. 2 Chronicles 7 — here and here — gives more information about the magnificence of the temple and God’s instruction to Solomon to remain faithful to Him.

1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43

8:1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.

8:6 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim.

8:10 And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD,

8:11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

8:22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven.

8:23 He said, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart,

8:24 the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand.

8:25 Therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’

8:26 Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David.

8:27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built!

8:28 Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O LORD my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today;

8:29 that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place.

8:30 Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive.

8:41 “Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name

8:42 –for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm–when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house,

8:43 then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.

Psalm

The Psalm is about God’s pleasing dwelling place and the happiness of His faithful.

Psalm 84

84:1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!

84:2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

84:3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

84:4 Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah

84:5 Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

84:6 As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.

84:7 They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

84:8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

84:9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed.

84:10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.

84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.

84:12 O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.

First reading

Joshua tells the Israelites to remain faithful to God, who mercifully watched over them from Abraham’s time to the deliverance from bondage in Egypt to the present. This was Joshua’s final message to the tribes of Israel. He died soon afterwards.

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

24:1 Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God.

24:2a And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors–Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor–lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods.

24:14 “Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

24:15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

24:16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods;

24:17 for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed;

24:18 and the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.

Psalm

The Psalm acknowledges the mercy God shows to His faithful.

Psalm 34:15-22

34:15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.

34:16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.

34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all.

34:20 He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.

34:21 Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

34:22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Epistle

This passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians contains many familiar and powerful verses about faith.

Ephesians 6:10-20

6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.

6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

6:12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

6:14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.

6:15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

6:16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

6:17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

6:19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,

6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Gospel

This passage concludes Jesus’s words to the crowd in Capernaum whom He had fed the day before (the Feeding of the Five Thousand). I am happy to see that the 2005 version of the Lectionary that the Vanderbilt Divinity Library uses includes the difficult verse, John 6:66:

Some traditions use versions of the Revised Common Lectionary that differ slightly from the version on this RCL website. Differences between lectionary selections in your denomination’s published materials and what appears on this site may be a result of variations in adoption of the RCL by your denomination.

I have highlighted verse 66 in purple.

John 6:56-69

6:56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

6:57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.

6:58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

6:59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

6:61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you?

6:62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?

6:63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

6:64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.

6:65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

6:66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.

6:67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”

6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.

6:69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Sometimes we need reminding that a) Jesus always knew who the believers were during his earthly ministry, b) only God the Father can give people faith in Jesus and c) He lost many followers that day.

What follows are the readings for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 19, 2018.

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

There are two sets of first readings, each with an accompanying Psalm from which the celebrant can choose. I have given the second selection blue subheadings below. Emphases mine throughout.

This week’s theme is wisdom.

First reading

Readings from 2 Samuel have ended, and now go to 1 Kings. King David dies, and his wise son Solomon succeeds him. As background, in 1 Kings 2, David passes on sage advice to his son and admits he has sinned during his life. He also advises Solomon about his (David’s) enemies and how to handle them. Some committed conspiracies against David and his house. They must be punished. David also tells his son who his friends were and that they must be welcome at table.

Today’s reading, principally from 1 Kings 3, focusses on Solomon’s dream in which the Lord appeared to him and is pleased with the new king’s sensible requests: wisdom and discernment.

Solomon, unlike his father, worshipped and went to offer sacrifices at high elevations — ‘high places’.

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14

2:10 Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David.

2:11 The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.

2:12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

3:3 Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places.

3:4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.

3:5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.”

3:6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today.

3:7 And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.

3:8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted.

3:9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

3:10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.

3:11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right,

3:12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

3:13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you.

3:14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”

Psalm

The Psalm describes the boundless joy and willing adoration the wise faithful give to our merciful, loving God.

Psalm 111

111:1 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

111:2 Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.

111:3 Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.

111:4 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the LORD is gracious and merciful.

111:5 He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.

111:6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.

111:7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.

111:8 They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

111:9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.

111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.

First reading

The second option for the first reading is also about wisdom.

Proverbs 9:1-6

9:1 Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars.

9:2 She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table.

9:3 She has sent out her servant girls, she calls from the highest places in the town,

9:4 “You that are simple, turn in here!” To those without sense she says,

9:5 “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.

9:6 Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

Psalm

The Psalm describes the conduct of the wise faithful, those who find favour with the Lord.

Psalm 34:9-14

34:9 O fear the LORD, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want.

34:10 The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

34:11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

34:12 Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good?

34:13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.

34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Epistle

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians discusses the conduct that wise Christians should practise.

Ephesians 5:15-20

5:15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise,

5:16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

5:17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

5:18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit,

5:19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts.

5:20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel

The sermon from Jesus to those who gathered at Capernaum the day after the Feeding of the Five Thousand continues. He tells them He is the Bread of Life. Unfortunately, the spiritually blind do not understand.

John 6:51-58

6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

6:54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;

6:55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.

6:56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

6:57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.

6:58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

These words lost Jesus many disciples (John 6:66). Later, in private with His Apostles, He also said that one of the Twelve would betray Him (John 6:70-71).

What follows are the readings for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, August 12, 2018.

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

There are two sets of first readings, each with an accompanying Psalm from which the celebrant can choose. I have given the second selection blue subheadings below. Emphases mine throughout.

First reading

Readings from 2 Samuel continue. To bring those of us less learned in the Old Testament up to date in the story of David (see last week’s reading), the child that David had sired when he lay with Bathsheba when she was still married to Uriah the Hittite died after seven days. The two had married after Uriah’s engineered death on the battlefield. She became pregnant again and gave birth to one of the most famous men in biblical history, Solomon (2 Samuel 12).

David had older children, among them two sons — Ammon (his firstborn) and Absalom — and a daughter, Tamar. Ammon committed incest with Tamar, taking her by force, despite her attempting to resist his advances (2 Samuel 13). Absalom took the distraught Tamar into his house. Whilst David, when he found out, was furious with Ammon, he did nothing to punish him. Absalom, meanwhile, loathed his brother for what he had done to their sister.

To avenge his sister’s rape, Absalom arranged for his servants to get Ammon drunk and then murder him. Jonadab, David’s nephew, explained to him (David) the reason for the murder. While David was finding out from Jonadab what had happened, Absalom left to go into exile for three years. David, no longer having Ammon, missed Absalom terribly.

David asked Joab, whom he deeply trusted, to bring Absalom back home, out of exile (2 Samuel 14). However, David told Joab to instruct Absalom not to come in contact with him (David). Consequently, Absalom did not see his father in Jerusalem for two years. He was a very handsome young man, with a head full of abundant hair. During his time away from his father, Absalom had three sons and a daughter, whom he named after his sister Tamar.

One day, Absalom sent for Joab, as he wanted to see his father David. However, Joab ignored Absalom’s two requests. To get his attention, Absalom told his (Absalom’s) two servants to set Joab’s field of barley on fire. The field was next to one of Absalom’s. Joab finally agreed to take the request to David. David summoned Absalom and forgave him for setting up the murder of Ammon.

Absalom then assumed the role of being guardian and gatekeeper for (law)suits that David was supposed to judge (2 Samuel 15). He sent everyone home as they approached the city gates, saying that no one was available to hear their cases. As such, he became a hero to the Israelites.

Four years later, Absalom asked David’s permission to visit Hebron, as he said he wanted to fulfil an obligation he had made to the Lord. David duly granted his permission, and Absalom left. However, Absalom’s goal was to make himself king of Hebron, effectively usurping his father. David left in pursuit, accompanied by his officials, the people of the city and most of his household (some had to stay behind).

David, through careful plotting, managed to foil Absalom’s coup via one of the co-conspirators, Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16 and 17). A battle later resulted in the forest of Ephraim and Absalom died. Now on to this Sunday’s reading:

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

18:5 The king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders concerning Absalom.

18:6 So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim.

18:7 The men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter there was great on that day, twenty thousand men.

18:8 The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest claimed more victims that day than the sword.

18:9 Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on.

18:15 And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him, and killed him.

18:31 Then the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, “Good tidings for my lord the king! For the LORD has vindicated you this day, delivering you from the power of all who rose up against you.”

18:32 The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.”

18:33 The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Psalm

The Psalm reflects hope in the Lord during times of desolation:

Psalm 130

130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.

130:2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!

130:3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?

130:4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.

130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

130:6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.

130:7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.

130:8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

First reading

These second choices of first readings are from various books in the Old Testament. In this passage, the prophet Elijah is distraught, having been forced into the wilderness by the unrepentant among God’s chosen people who refused to listen to him. Yet, the Lord was with Elijah:

1 Kings 19:4-8

19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”

19:5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.”

19:6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again.

19:7 The angel of the LORD came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”

19:8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

Psalm

The Psalm reflects the gratitude we feel when God is with us and delivers us from trying, isolating circumstances:

Psalm 34:1-8

34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

34:2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.

34:3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.

34:5 Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.

34:6 This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, and was saved from every trouble.

34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.

Epistle

The reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians concerns Christian behaviour, focussing on showing brotherly love and pursuing truth:

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

4:25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.

4:26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

4:27 and do not make room for the devil.

4:28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.

4:29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.

4:31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice,

4:32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children,

5:2 and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Gospel

The Gospel reading continues with Jesus’s words in Capernaum, the day after the Feeding of the Five Thousand:

John 6:35, 41-51

6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

6:41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

6:42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

6:43 Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves.

6:44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.

6:45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.

6:46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.

6:47 Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.

6:48 I am the bread of life.

6:49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.

6:50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.

6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

These words lost Jesus many disciples (John 6:66). Later, in private with His Apostles, He also said that one of the Twelve would betray Him (John 6:70-71).

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