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Daily Lectionary – May 1, 2020

Morning Psalms 96; 148

First Reading Exodus 24:1-18

Second Reading Colossians 2:8-23

Gospel Reading Matthew 4:12-17

Evening Psalms 49; 138

 

12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – 16the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

 

We don’t like to see Jesus running away from a fight. His cousin John has been arrested; and rather than rush to his defense, Jesus withdraws to Galilee—familiar ground. What follows is a great injustice. John is killed at the whim of the wicked king, Herod. We might even fault Jesus for this. When he hides in the wilderness, he’s reminded that he has the power to call down legions of angels to his defense. Of course, Jesus doesn’t do this—ever. He exercises caution and judgement, knowing that his time will come. He meets injustice himself, finding it at the cross. We might be frustrated, then, with Jesus’ inaction for a time—with God’s inaction in this present time. Jesus reminds us that the immediate solution isn’t always the best: that, in light of God’s coming kingdom, our job, above all else, is to repent. It’s not what we would have chosen, but it’s the light guide shines into the valley of the shadow of death.

 

Accept our repentance, God of grace, for the ways we have failed you. We have trusted in our own way instead of yours. We look for the bold solution, which drowns out your still, small voice. Let your Word speak deep within us, to remind us, assure us, and encourage us, that, in Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God is here. We pray in Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – May 1, 20202020-09-08T16:04:59-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 30, 2020

Morning Psalms 47; 147:12-20

First Reading Exodus 20:1-21

Second Reading Colossians 1:24-2:7

Gospel Reading Matthew 4:1-11

Evening Psalms 68; 113

 

1Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before me.

 

4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

 

7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

 

8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work – you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

 

12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

13You shall not murder.

14You shall not commit adultery.

15You shall not steal.

16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

 

18When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, 19and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” 20Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.” 21Then the people stood at a distance, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

 

This should be familiar to all of us; but sometimes the familiar words have the hardest time landing. Take the fifth commandment—“honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD is giving you.” At first glance this should be easy. Maybe it was one of the first lessons we learned at church as our parents incentivized, threatened, and cajoled us into good behavior. Maybe, we think, a little respect and deference should suffice here. But, like most simple commands in scripture, this one wants context. When God dispensed the ten commandments through Moses the people of Israel didn’t have land, safety, or shelter. They had years of wilderness wandering ahead of them. And, in the midst of this wandering, maybe it would have been tempting for Israel to leave their elderly and vulnerable parents behind so that they might enter God’s Promised Land more expeditiously. But the purpose of the wilderness wasn’t just to get the people to the Promised Land, but to fit them for it. And how could the people be fit to be a blessing to the nations if they left their parents to die by the roadside? Honor your father and mother. It means so much more. Even today, it seems, many have trouble with the “simple” commands.

 

Holy God, we thank you for all those parents in faith who have gone before us, to teach and to lead us in your way. Help us to honor them through our work, our care, and our love, that we might honor you, our Father in heaven, through Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 30, 20202020-09-08T16:04:59-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 29, 2020

Morning Psalms 99; 147:1-11

First Reading Exodus 19:16-25

Second Reading Colossians 1:15-23

Gospel Reading Matthew 3:13-17

Evening Psalms 9; 118

 

16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. 19As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. 20When the LORD descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the LORD summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the LORD to look; otherwise many of them will perish. 22Even the priests who approach the LORD must consecrate themselves or the LORD will break out against them.” 23Moses said to the LORD, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.'” 24The LORD said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the LORD; otherwise he will break out against them.” 25So Moses went down to the people and told them.

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said something along the lines of, to know the name of Jesus Christ we first have to know that God’s name is unsayable. Maybe we know this intuitively. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” says Hebrews. God is powerful. God is fearful. God is beyond our reckoning or imagination. This is why the people of Israel didn’t dare speak the name of God. We don’t like to think of God as the one making us afraid (we have enough to be afraid of these days). But the irony in this picture of God is that, if God is always knowable and accessible, what use do we have for him? If God is so familiar to us, maybe we’d be like that old married couple who knows what each other are going to say before they say it. Moses reminds us that, despite our feelings of closeness, God is separate, holy, wild, and unpredictable, always outside of our grasp. Even the priests can’t get too close. While this may be off-putting, it is exactly this separateness that affirms God’s rule of creation. The world is never in our hands, and that’s good news—it’s in God’s.

 

Gracious God, let your love hold us, shelter us from trouble, and bring us to safety. Let your power cover the creation you made and love, that even in fear and trembling, we may worship you as Messiah and Lord, in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 29, 20202020-09-08T16:04:59-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 28, 2020

Morning Psalms 98; 146

First Reading Exodus 19:1-16

Second Reading Colossians 1:1-14

Gospel Reading Matthew 3:7-12

Evening Psalms 66; 116

 

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

 

2To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

 

3In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. 7This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

 

9For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  10so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

 

“May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power.” Colossians is one of those letters of Paul that implicates the author. The words simply sound different when we remember that Paul wrote under house arrest in Rome—the letter is called one of his “prison epistles.” The horizon of his life narrowing rapidly, Paul must have realized that his power to determine the course of his life was gone. His strength, then, did not come from himself, but from the God who sent him to preach to powers and principalities. It recalls words he wrote elsewhere, of God’s “power made perfect in weakness.” God’s power and will may have been his only consolations at this point in his life; and so, in captivity, Paul was uniquely suited to write to a struggling church dealing with a major conflict. “may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.” When our horizon narrows, then, God’s power gives us patient endurance and joyful thanksgiving because, no matter what we thought our lives were before, we have received more in our inheritance with all the saints in light.

 

Gracious God, let your light shine upon us, that we may be saved. Encourage us in patient endurance; let us receive your gifts with joy; and, in all things, unite us with the risen Jesus, to share in his new life, an inheritance which will never run out. We pray in Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 28, 20202020-09-08T16:05:00-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 27, 2020

Morning Psalms 97; 145

First Reading Exodus 18:13-27

Second Reading 1 Peter 5:1-14

Gospel Reading Matthew (1:1-17) 3:1-6

Evening Psalms 124; 115

 

1An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of

Abraham.

 

2Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, 4and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6and Jesse the father of King David.

 

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

 

12And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.


17
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

 

3:1In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'” 4Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

 

It’s worth reading through Jesus’ family tree so that we can remember his less than noteworthy ancestors. Although Jesus boasts patriarchs and kings among his forefathers, the family has plenty of black sheep, too. And, just as different people appear, so too do they appear in different times. Fourteen generations divide each of the groupings (six groups of seven, so that the seventh, inaugurated by Jesus, will manifest God’s completion of Israel). The first set begins with Abraham and ends with David—God’s promise culminating in a kingdom (though not without the struggle of slavery first). The second set traces the decline of Israel until the time of exile. The last set hints at restoration as it culminates in Jesus. The point is that there are black hats and white hats, all living in good times and bad. But t doesn’t matter whether the time is good or bad—eventually it comes to fruition in the work of the savior, who redeems it all.

 

Our time is in your hands, loving God. Use it as you will, to show your grace, to share your love, to spread your hope, until Christ comes again. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 27, 20202020-09-08T16:05:00-05:00
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