Monthly Archives: May 2020

Daily Lectionary – June 2, 2020

Morning Psalms 54; 146

First Reading Ecclesiastes 2:16-26

Second Reading Galatians 1:18-2:10

Gospel Reading Matthew 13:53-58

Evening Psalms 28; 99

 

Galatians 1:18-2:10

18Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; 19but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother. 20In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! 21Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24And they glorified God because of me.

1Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. 3But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us – 5we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. 6And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) – those leaders contributed nothing to me. 7On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised 8(for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), 9and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.

Paul gives an account of his early ministry. He asserts his right to preach because he isn’t just repeating the testimony of the other Apostles. He has his own firsthand encounter with and commission from the risen Jesus. In addition to this authority he claims, Paul mentions an interesting detail—that following his conversion, he went away for three years (verse 17, you might remember from yesterday, puts Paul in Arabia, and then Damascus). What was Paul doing before he began his ministry there? We don’t know. Acts is silent on the matter. But it’s interesting to think that Paul began his ministry with several years of isolation, taking the time to become reacquainted with the God he thought he knew—the one who bowled him over on the Damascus road. Paul must have spent that time learning God’s way around his own soul. And for those of us looking for productive uses of this relative time of solitude, could anything else be better?

Gracious God, alone in the quiet, and in the solitude of these days, help us to hear your still small voice, reminding us of who you have created us to be, in Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – June 2, 20202020-09-08T16:04:36-05:00

Daily Lectionary – June 1, 2020

Morning Psalms 57; 145

First Reading Ecclesiastes 2:1-15

Second Reading Galatians 1:1-17

Gospel Reading Matthew 13:44-52

Evening Psalms 85; 47

 

Matthew 13:44-52

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.

45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52And 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.”

People often act irrationally. Who would sell everything he has to buy one field—or to mortgage the house to buy something at the jewelry store? We’d be rightly worried if this was someone we knew. “Don’t you know this isn’t rational? You’re losing your mind.” –something like that would come out as friendly advice, which goes to show just how much stock Jesus puts into our regular considerations of a well-ordered life. The images are meant to shock us out of complacency. In the final consideration, the irrational ones are living in the way God intends. Why can’t we?

Encourage us by your Spirit, Almighty God, to live beyond our careful self-interest, but in the daring way of Jesus, who opens us to real life, discovered in you. We pray in Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – June 1, 20202020-09-08T16:04:36-05:00

Daily Lectionary – May 31, 2020

Morning Psalms 104; 150

First Reading Deuteronomy 16:9-12

Second Reading Acts 4:18-21, 23-33

Gospel Reading John 4:19-26

Evening Psalms 29; 33

 

John 4:19-26

19The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

Jesus has a conversation with the woman at the well. She is a Samaritan, outside the favor of Israel; and, what’s more, she’s had several husbands. In short, she is not the sort of person that any respectable rabbi would engage. But Jesus begins a conversation that gets personal quickly—so the woman resorts to a move that most preachers would recognize, turning the conversation into theology and raising the old question of where is the appropriate place to worship God (Jews and Samaritans had this disagreement regularly). But Jesus, as he usually does, turns the conversation to back his terms. He is not interested in rehashing old theological debates; rather, he has come for nothing less than to announce the truth of God standing before her. We want to be satisfied in our own ways—comfortable religious customs, or our personal histories (even if they’re not especially honorable). Jesus is never content to let us settle for anything less than the grace of God.

 

God, on your day of Pentecost, we worship you in Spirit and in truth, according to the grace given to us in Jesus Christ. Help us to live attending to your presence, always in trust that you appear beyond our imaginations, leading us to follow Jesus in the world you made. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – May 31, 20202020-09-08T16:04:36-05:00

Daily Lectionary – May 30, 2020

Morning Psalms 92; 149

First Reading Ezekiel 36:22-27

Second Reading Ephesians 6:1-24

Gospel Reading Matthew 9:18-26

Evening Psalms 23; 114

 

Ezekiel 36:22-27

22Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. 24I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.

The prophet Ezekiel presents another view of God’s promised restoration because it bears repeating. Despite our flaws and failures, despite our wandering from God’s way, God is always at work to return us to the promise, renewing us with a new Spirit. Maybe we could consider this as a kind of promise of Pentecost. The book of Ezekiel is itself a kind of imaginative, prophetic glimpse of God’s restoration of Israel following their exile. It would have been a familiar concept to those waiting disciples, sitting in Jerusalem and looking for signs of God’s Spirit. God’s promise to Ezekiel shows that we will know what the Spirit will look like, because it will be like something within us. All of a sudden our hearts of stone are beating and alive, vulnerable to the suffering world that God has died to love.

 

Gracious God, let the same heart that was in Christ Jesus become alive in us, awakened to your compassion and love, to all you have called us to serve, in Christ’s name. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – May 30, 20202020-09-08T16:04:37-05:00

Daily Lectionary – May 29, 2020

Morning Psalms 96; 148

First Reading Jeremiah 31:27-34

Second Reading Ephesians 5:1-32

Gospel Reading Matthew 9:9-17

Evening Psalms 49; 138

 

Jeremiah 31:27-34

27The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. 28And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD. 29In those days they shall no longer say: “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” 30But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.

31The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt – a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

It’s easy to interpret our current national situation as a sign of God’s disfavor; but it’s always fraught to think that our situation mirror’s Israel’s perfectly. The comparison is in the familiar pattern—that even though we live in a time when things our broken down, overthrown, and destroyed, God always promises restoration. “The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant.” God promises that the law will be written on our hearts—the law of love and care of neighbor. We might, then, have big plans about how the world should change (and make no mistake, it needs to change); but God begins the change with us, with love written on human hearts. Only then does it become written in the world.

Write your commands within us once again God of grace, to remind us of our way, following in the love of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – May 29, 20202020-09-08T16:04:47-05:00
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