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Daily Lectionary – April 26, 2020

 

Morning Psalms 93; 150

First Reading Exodus 18:1-12

Second Reading 1 John 2:7-17

Gospel Reading Mark 16:9-20

Evening Psalms 136; 117

 

7Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness.

 

10Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. 11But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness. 12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven on account of his name. 13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, because you have conquered the evil one. 14I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

 

5Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16for all that is in the world – the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches – comes not from the Father but from the world. 17And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

 

John’s letter is a kind of greatest hits reprise of his Gospel. The problem in John’s day is that false teachers have come into the church, and there are two ways to root them out. One has to do with a test of belief; true teachers of the Gospel confess Jesus is from God and truly came in the flesh. But the second sign is an expression of that belief through love. Simply, if we believe what we say, our lives will be characterized by love. This is no new commandment (it was when Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”) By now the church should know that to follow Jesus means that our lives will be full of love for others. This also means that loving one another will help us lose our desire for the things of the world. So, as we live in days with less—fewer opportunities, fewer consumer goods, fewer things to distract us from a new reality—maybe God is calling us to respond with more love.

 

Gracious God, as you gave yourself to us in the love of Jesus Christ, let your Spirit be among us, that we would have the love to give ourselves to others. Remove all the things from our lives that bind us to the world, as we would be bound to you alone. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 26, 20202020-09-08T16:05:00-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 25, 2020

 

Morning Psalms 92; 149

First Reading Exodus 17:1-16

Second Reading 1 Peter 4:7-19

Gospel Reading John 16:16-33

Evening Psalms 23; 114

 

7The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. 8Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

 

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. 16Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.

 

17For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?” 19Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.

 

Peter reappears because he is so helpfully practical. Everything he writes has to do with times of testing: meaning everything he writes is applicable to us today. So how should we spend our time in isolation? We can do all the things we want—exercise, bake bread, catch up on neglected books. We can also discipline ourselves for the sake of prayer, renewing our reliance on God. We can show love for one another through cards and phone calls. We can serve one another, and encourage each other with the work of God. Several have asked in the past weeks how we, as a church, can do something to help in this time of crisis (I’ve been wondering that plenty myself). The answer is, there is nothing new that we can do. We can worship. We can give. Above all, we can continue to be disciples of Jesus Christ, which his exactly what the world needs right now.

 

God, you provide the way through your Son, Jesus. Encourage us by your Spirit to follow his example in lives of prayer and devotion, service and love. In all things, and in all times, we live for the praise of your glory. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 25, 20202020-09-08T16:05:02-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 24, 2020

 

Morning Psalms 96; 148

First Reading Exodus 16:23-36

Second Reading 1 Peter 3:13-4:6

Gospel Reading John 16:1-15

Evening Psalms 49; 138

 

23

[Moses] said to them, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD; bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.'” 24So they put it aside until morning, as Moses commanded them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it. 25Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none.”

 

27On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. 28The LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions? 29See! The LORD has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you food for two days; each of you stay where you are; do not leave your place on the seventh day.” 30So the people rested on the seventh day.

 

31The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, in order that they may see the food with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.'” 33And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD, to be kept throughout your generations.” 34As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the covenant, for safekeeping. 35The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land; they ate manna, until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36An omer is a tenth of an ephah.

 

When we think that refusal to rest is a uniquely modern phenomenon, we can look back on the experience of Israel in the wilderness. Even then people had trouble slowing down. God rained manna from heaven for six days, calling the people to gather a double-portion before the sabbath. But here the people still haven’t figured it out, and go out on the sabbath to gather their daily bread. The story uncovers a deep irony in the experience of Israel—Moses’s initial plea for freedom was so that the people could worship God. The people needed a sabbath day without work so they could do just that. Worship was an expression of freedom. Yet here, having been freed, the people revert to what they knew before, working every day they can to get enough bread. This is the difference between God and Pharaoh—sabbath, which means so much more than rest. It’s an expression of God’s provision and God’s care for us, no matter how productive we are. Despite the strangeness of these days, then, maybe this space out of time, out of the ordinary, is an opportunity to rest in God’s provision, remembering that our lives are not about what we produce or the bread we gather, but the bread we receive.

 

Holy God, give us your Spirit of comfort and rest. Remind us of your love, which is more than we can make or do or accomplish—rather, let our restless souls rest in you, in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 24, 20202020-09-08T16:05:02-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 23, 2020

Morning Psalms 47; 147:12-20

First Reading Exodus 16:10-22

Second Reading 1 Peter 2:11-3:12

Gospel Reading John 15:12-27

Evening Psalms 68; 113

 

11Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 12Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.

 

13For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, 14or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. 16As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. 17Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

 

This truncated version of the 1 Peter passage has been a trip hazard for many. Peter writes to exiles, people for whom the political arrangements of the day do not work, and yet he commends their obedience to the state: “Fear God, Honor the emperor.” The passage is not beloved by revolutionaries or reformers. It raises concern for us when we worry about the ineffective response of government to the challenges of the day, especially when so many suffer as a result of negligence or intentional policy. How do we honor the emperor then? The answer to the challenge comes in two forms. First, Peter prioritizes our relationship with God, the source of our ultimate authority. He recalls a passage from Matthew, where Jesus warns his disciples not to fear those who can control the body, but the one who controls the destiny of the soul. When our civic and religious duties conflict, then, we have clear guidance where our allegiance lies. The second answer is that our civic action should reflect what’s best about us. The people of God are conscientious and obedient citizens, caring for everyone’s welfare because that is the best witness we can offer to a God who died for all. This is why our self-isolation and altered worship isn’t turning our back on God, but an expression of loving our neighbor. This is the true exercise of our freedom: caring for others. “As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.”

 

Holy God, all that we have belongs to you. We thank you for the gift of freedom, which is given through the love of Jesus Christ and the way he offers. Help us to walk his way with humility, showing that love of the cross, through which Christ redeemed the world. We pray in his name. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 23, 20202020-09-08T16:05:03-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 22, 2020

Morning Psalms 99; 147:1-11

First Reading Exodus 15:22-16:10

Second Reading 1 Peter 2:1-10

Gospel Reading John 15:1-11

Evening Psalms 9; 118

 

1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

Jesus provides the clearest image of our relationship with God: “I am the true vine” and we are the branches. We are connected with God; we are connected with one another. The image includes the effects of this relationship: to the extent that we abide in Jesus, we bear fruit. The South African missionary and the theologian Andrew Murray thought this was an astute diagnosis of spiritual dryness. We’re good at responding to the initial call of Jesus: “come, follow me.” But it’s the lifetime work of abiding that makes the real difference in our faith or how we bear fruit. We can listen for God in worship. But do we make the time to listen for God every day of our lives? That’s comparison is too straightforward but is maybe close to what is meant here. Our life with God is not meant to be an occasional observance that we lead and come back to. When we have relationship with God, we abide, keeping God’s commandments as we can, so that God’s Spirit bears fruit in us. God doesn’t just appear in moments of grace, but in a grace-filled life.

 

Gracious God, abide in us, that we would abide in you. Let your Spirit remain, uniting us with you and one another in common mission until our lives bear fruit, and all abide in your eternal life, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 22, 20202020-09-08T16:05:03-05:00
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