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Daily Lectionary – April 21, 2020

Morning Psalms 98; 146

First Reading Exodus 15:1-21

Second Reading 1 Peter 1:13-25

Gospel Reading John 14:18-31

Evening Psalms 66; 116

 

1Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. 2The LORD is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 3The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.

 

4“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea; his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea. 5The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. 6Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power – your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy. 7In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries; you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble. 8At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up, the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. 9The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’ 10You blew with your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

 

11“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders? 12You stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them.

 

13“In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed; you guided them by your strength to your holy abode. 14The peoples heard, they trembled; pangs seized the inhabitants of Philistia. 15Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; trembling seized the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away. 16Terror and dread fell upon them; by the might of your arm, they became still as a stone until your people, O LORD, passed by, until the people whom you acquired passed by. 17You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession, the place, O LORD, that you made your abode, the sanctuary, O LORD, that your hands have established. 18The LORD will reign forever and ever.”

 

19When the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his chariot drivers went into the sea, the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.

 

20Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. 21And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”

 

Most scholars agree that Exodus 15, specifically “The Song of the Sea” is the oldest bit of scripture we have. I remember a seminary professor describing it as the national anthem of ancient Israel. The song recounts how God delivered the people of Israel from Pharaoh’s pursuing armies, coming to bring them back into slavery. As the song makes clear, the victory belongs to God: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” The song marks such an important national moment, we can forgive the bit of anachronism that intrudes—”The peoples heard, they trembled; pangs seized the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; trembling seized the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away”—, lyrics which describe Israel’s conquest of the holy land. But this later interruption may not be an anachronism so much as greater detail to the saving work of God. If this is the first thing Israel decided to write about God, it means that their national consciousness begins with salvation—our God is a God who saves. How, then, could they ignore the unfolding salvation that followed? And if our knowledge of God, our story, begins at the cross, how can we ignore the signs that God’s saving love is still at work with us, forming us into a community of hope even in the midst chaos (symbolized throughout scripture as the sea)? We can’t. The point of the song is that God always makes a way through chaos. Chaos is just where our salvation appears.

 

Holy God, we praise you, for in Jesus Christ you have thrown down the reign of sin and death, and set our feet on dry ground. Let your Spirit bring us through chaos again, landing us safely in the promised land of your love and grace. We pray in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 21, 20202020-09-08T16:05:03-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 20, 2020

Morning Psalms 97; 145

First Reading Exodus 14:21-31

Second Reading 1 Peter 1:1-12

Gospel Reading John (14:1-7) 8-17

Evening Psalms 124; 115

 

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood:

May grace and peace be yours in abundance.

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the genuineness of your faith – being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, 11inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things into which angels long to look!

First, a geography lesson. Peter writes a letter to “The exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” These are Jewish Christians, fellow travelers who no longer have any place to call home. Maybe they were generations removed from Israel. Maybe by the time the letter was written the temple had been destroyed, Israel had finally lost the unifying symbol of its faith, and its people scattered. Whoever they were, these “exiles” were far from home, and that made them vulnerable. Peter mentions their trials, which may have been persecution or suffering related to faith. It’s not as if they hadn’t suffered already; but by following this new faith they reached another level of alienation. They had once been removed from their homes. Now they had been removed from communities of support in the new homes they attempted to build. In such a time it would be easy—or at least understandable—to question the purpose of God. Where is God when things fall apart? Peter tries to be encouraging. The trials the exiles suffer are not the removal of God’s promise but a testing of faith. We don’t often want to think of trials this way. We don’t want to think that God has made suffering in our lives or the lives of others. (There is a long argument in Christian theology about just this point.) But, as we all have become exiles of a sort—exiled from normalcy, exiled from one another—maybe it’s comforting to think that the end result of this may be a stronger faith. The home we return to may not be a place, but the presence of God newly rediscovered in our own souls.

 

It is enough, Lord, to know that you are with us, and you will never leave us to face our trials alone. In moments of fear and weakness, in doubt and despair, let the comfort of your Spirit remain. Encourage us in all that we do, that the fire of your love would make us into the image of the one you have called us be, in Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 20, 20202020-09-08T16:05:03-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 19, 2020

Morning Psalms 93; 150

First Reading Exodus 14:5-22

Second Reading 1 John 1:1-7

Gospel Reading John 14:1-7

Evening Psalms 136; 117

 

1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.

John takes us to the time before the crucifixion and resurrection, except now everything looks different. These words come from Jesus’ farewell discourse—an extended goodbye that includes warnings about persecutions and difficulties but seasoned with the assurance of God’s abiding presence. Here in chapter fourteen, Jesus makes it clear that he is going; yet even though he is going he is preparing a place for his disciples so that they will never have to leave God’s presence again. The problem—both for us and the disciples—is that we may not be sure how to get there. Thomas voices our question, “Lord we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” It feels like that sometimes. We may trust in God; yet God may be hard to see in the midst of suffering or hardship or worry. How do we know the way to make things better? But Jesus turns it around. The way is not something we have to do so that we can follow. The way is a person, a life. Consequently our life following in this way is life in the presence of God. We want to go ahead and find God and avoid the things that trouble us. Jesus’ promise is that God has already found us in our troubles. Rather than leaving us a map and a flashlight, he decides to take us by the hand and lead us out of the darkness.

 

Let the light of your love shine on us, Lord, that we may be saved. Accompany us in our difficulty, that in discovering your presence we may discover our way, truth, and life in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

Daily Lectionary – April 19, 20202020-09-08T16:05:03-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 18, 2020

Morning Psalms 92; 149

First Reading Exodus 13:17-14:4

Second Reading 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10

Gospel Reading Mark 12:18-27

Evening Psalms 23; 114

 

17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle. 19And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, “God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here.” 20They set out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21The LORD went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

1Then the LORD said to Moses: 2Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall camp opposite it, by the sea. 3Pharaoh will say of the Israelites, “They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has closed in on them.” 4I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD. And they did so.

 

Salvation doesn’t always look the way we might expect. The Israelites do not get the direct way home. The challenge there may be too strong for them. Instead God guides them to the Red Sea, ripe for revenge from the Pharaoh who let them go reluctantly. Maybe it is not the way they would have chosen. So it is with us. We may not have chosen the way of the cross and the empty tomb. The disciples, certainly, were not expecting that. Their responses to the Easter stories have been fear, disbelief, amazement, and silence. Yet the work of God isn’t primarily about our needs as we understand them but the deeper truth about who we are. We are made, loved, and saved by a God who will not let us go. And so our lives may not return to the way they were before. Things that once seemed sure may become clouded with doubt. Values which were once non-negotiable all of a sudden meet the reality of a new world. Maybe, in the way that only God can lead us, we will find something better.

 

Your ways, Lord, are not ours; but we ask that they would meet—that our work, our worship, our prayers, our lives, might become all that you intend, in the way of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We pray in his name. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 18, 20202020-09-08T16:05:03-05:00

Daily Lectionary – April 17, 2020

Morning Psalms 96; 148

First Reading Exodus 13:1-2, 11-16

Second Reading 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

Gospel Reading Luke 24:1-12

Evening Psalms 49; 138

 

1But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Now Luke’s Easter story gets a hearing. The women hear good news from the angels, and they go to relay it to Jesus’ disciples. But the disciples don’t listen—“these words seemed to them an idle tale.” It’s not enough for Peter. He has to know. He runs to the tomb to look for himself. We don’t know exactly what he thought. Maybe he put two and two together and realized what the linen cloths by themselves meant. Whatever it was he went home amazed.

 

We didn’t get that chance this year. We didn’t get the brass or the pastel ties or lemonade on the lawn—not to mention the packed church full of friends singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” to our hearts’ content. The church, like the tomb, was empty. But the story still speaks; and as we read and read and keep reading we, like Peter, get to return to the tomb to see for ourselves what it means. The full implication of what it means isn’t something we discover one time (or on one particular Sunday). We grapple with it for the rest of our lives. It’s enough to see, and then to return (or remain) home amazed, even if we’re alone. The good news is, even if it feels that we are alone, because of Easter we never are.

 

God be with us, now more than ever. Let the words that we read become your voice to us, that we would hear the assurance of your love emerging from dark tombs of isolation and worry into joyful Easter mornings, wherever we are. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – April 17, 20202020-09-08T16:05:03-05:00
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