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Below are the readings for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity — the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost — October 27, 2019.

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 headings for the alternative option.

Emphases below are mine.

First reading

Joel wrote at a time of judgement via plague, specifically locusts and caterpillars. Verses 23-27 below refer to removal of the plague when the people repent, and the last five verses prophesy the future when the kingdom of the Messiah will be established in this world.

Joel 2:23-32

2:23 O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the LORD your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before.

2:24 The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

2:25 I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you.

2:26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

2:27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the LORD, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

2:28 Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.

2:29 Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

2:30 I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.

2:31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes.

2:32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Psalm

This is a beautiful Psalm praising God, His infinite mercy, His creation and all His mighty works.

Psalm 65

65:1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed,

65:2 O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come.

65:3 When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.

65:4 Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.

65:5 By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.

65:6 By your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with might.

65:7 You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.

65:8 Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

65:9 You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it.

65:10 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.

65:11 You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness.

65:12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy,

65:13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

First reading – alternates

One of the following readings may be read.

Catholics and the Orthodox churches may choose to use this reading from Sirach, which is appropriate as almost every church is nearing or beginning the time of annual fundraising.

Sirach 35:12-17

35:12 Give to the Most High as he has given to you, and as generously as you can afford.

35:13 For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold.

35:14 Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it;

35:15 and do not rely on a dishonest sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with him there is no partiality.

35:16 He will not show partiality to the poor; but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged.

35:17 He will not ignore the supplication of the orphan, or the widow when she pours out her complaint.

Readings from Jeremiah continue. His prophecy here deals with a judgement of drought that God placed upon His people because they had turned to idolatry. Good and bad suffered alike. The prophet continued to ask the Lord for relief.

Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22

14:7 Although our iniquities testify against us, act, O LORD, for your name’s sake; our apostasies indeed are many, and we have sinned against you.

14:8 O hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler turning aside for the night?

14:9 Why should you be like someone confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot give help? Yet you, O LORD, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us!

14:10 Thus says the LORD concerning this people: Truly they have loved to wander, they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them, now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.

14:19 Have you completely rejected Judah? Does your heart loathe Zion? Why have you struck us down so that there is no healing for us? We look for peace, but find no good; for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.

14:20 We acknowledge our wickedness, O LORD, the iniquity of our ancestors, for we have sinned against you.

14:21 Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake; do not dishonor your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us.

14:22 Can any idols of the nations bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Is it not you, O LORD our God? We set our hope on you, for it is you who do all this.

Psalm – alternate

David wrote this Psalm after Absalom forced him to abandon his (David’s) royal city, a holy city.

Psalm 84:1-7

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.

Epistle

Paul concludes his advice to Timothy for his future ministry by summarising his own. Verse 7 will be particularly familiar to many.

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

4:6 As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come.

4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

4:8 From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

4:16 At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them!

4:17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel

This parable is a classic, as Jesus illustrates the proper way to pray.

Luke 18:9-14

18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:

18:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

18:11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

18:12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’

18:13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Bible is full of verses saying that the lowly will be exalted while those who exalt themselves will be humbled. We can be grateful that Jesus also addressed this matter.

Incidentally, I read a moving testimony today from someone who had been a mocker until he decided to study Christianity by reading the Bible. He is now a committed believer — and a humble one — because he read the Old and New Testaments and continues to do so. He loves God’s Word and knows that Jesus Christ is His Saviour. I hope that more follow his example.

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is March 6, 2019.

Below are the readings for this day in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

The faithful are now called to examine their consciences, repent of sin and be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

Emphases mine below.

First reading

At the time of Joel’s prophecy, the land of Judah would be ravaged by locusts and caterpillars — a divine judgement. It was time for repentance and reconciliation. Note the mention of a fast in verses 12 and 15.

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near

2:2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.

2:12 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

2:13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

2:14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God?

2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly;

2:16 gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy.

2:17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep. Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?'”

Second reading

Matthew Henry’s commentary says that this passage on fasting from Isaiah is appropriate for any era. Fasting should involve prayer and charity, not quarelling or sinning otherwise whilst one is abstaining from food.

Isaiah 58:1-12

58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.

58:2 Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

58:3 “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.

58:4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.

58:5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

58:6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

58:8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

58:9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

58:10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

58:11 The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

58:12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

Psalm

Students of the Bible will immediately recognise the following Psalm, the most penitential of David’s writings. Matthew Henry says that the reference to hyssop prophesies the Blood of Christ.

Psalm 51:1-17

51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

51:3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

51:4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.

51:5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

51:6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

51:9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

51:11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

51:13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

51:14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

51:15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

51:16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.

51:17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Epistle

Paul discusses the importance of being reconciled with God through Jesus Christ through holiness and righteousness. In enumerating the trials that Christians might undergo, may they never forget that although the world sees that believers have nothing, they actually have everything they need through faith in Jesus, leading to eternal life.

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

5:20b We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

6:1 As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.

6:2 For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!

6:3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,

6:4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,

6:5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;

6:6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love,

6:7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;

6:8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;

6:9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see–we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed;

6:10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Gospel

Jesus tells us how to practice piety and self denial through fasting: keep it quiet and never boast about it. Verses 19 through 21 will also be familiar to many.

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

6:1 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

6:2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

6:4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

6:5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

6:18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;

6:20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.

6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It is hard to think of a better Gospel to lead us into Lent. For anyone observing this season, I pray that you be abundantly blessed in all your undertakings, especially those further enabling the Christian journey.

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