Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, January 19, 2020

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 49:1-7)

Isaiah speaks of the Lord’s chosen servant who is to turn Israel back to God and be used for his glory, manifesting the light of salvation to the nations. Presently despised, Israel will be so noticeably blessed that even foreign kings shall worship the Lord.

Psalm (40:1-11)

The Psalmist speaks as someone whom the Lord has rescued from the pit, set on a rock, and enabled to sing a new song that leads many to faith. It is not temple sacrifices that have saved him, but simply God’s love and mercy, and he now delights in his law.

Second Reading (1 Corinthians 1:1-9)

St. Paul celebrates the grace of God that has been manifested to the Corinthians as part of the fellowship of Christ being instituted throughout the entire world. Through grace they have been enriched by having every spiritual gift poured out upon them.

Gospel (John 1:29-42)

John the Baptist appears as a mere servant pointing to a greater one to come. Seeing the Holy Spirit descend upon his cousin Jesus, John identifies him as both the Son and Lamb of God. Two of John’s disciples follow Jesus and then recruit Peter, or “the Rock”.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Grace is characteristic of the manifestation of the Lord
  • God uses those he has lifted up for his greater glory
  • The ones God has saved are set upon the surest of foundations
  • We cannot be silent about what God has done for us
  • When God’s people wholeheartedly proclaim God’s blessings, the whole world will be drawn to him

Baptism of the Lord, Year A, January 12, 2020

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 42:1-9)

The Lord will send his chosen servant to bring about universal justice. Unnoticed, a new era will dawn as he opens blind eyes and sets captives free. A covenant will be made in him, the light of the nations. All glory to the Lord who has declared it so.

Psalm (29)

The Psalmist calls all heavenly beings to worship the Lord for his glory and strength, as seen in his voice shaking the very earth itself. All in his temple cry “Glory!” to the eternal king who sits above the flood. May he bless his people with strength and peace.

Second Reading (Acts 10:34-43)

Peter, his own eyes now opened, tells Gentiles associated with Cornelius that Jesus is Lord of all. While he began his mission among the Jews after John’s baptism, his resurrection shows he is Judge of all humanity and forgives anyone who believes in him.

Gospel (Matthew 3:13-17)

John the Baptist defers to Jesus as his superior, but Jesus insists on undergoing baptism to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus’ baptism culminates with his being anointed with the divine Spirit and the voice of God proclaiming him as his beloved Son.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Jesus assumes God’s role as Judge and Redeemer
  • All that came before Jesus witnesses to him
  • Jesus’ appearance marks the beginning of the time of God’s final Salvation
  • Jesus’ baptism moves the divine plan from the old covenant to the new
  • The person of John the Baptist is important but not as great as Jesus, to whom he bore witness
  • Jesus’ messianic ministry begins after his baptism by John
  • The combination of the humble and the majestic in the life of Jesus

Second Sunday of Advent, December 8, 2019, Year A

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 11:1-10)

Through Isaiah, the Lord announces that the line of King David’s father Jesse will be revived with the coming of a righteous and just ruler endowed with the Spirit of God. The nations will notice when the poor and meek thrive and even the brutality of nature is transformed.

Psalm (72:1-7, 18-19)

The Psalmist prays that his current king, or perhaps a future king, will be a righteous judge who delivers the poor and punishes the oppressor. Long may his reign of prosperity, righteousness, and peace, endure. The Lord, whose glory already fills the earth, will accomplish all of this.

Second Reading (Romans 15:4-13)

St. Paul urges the Romans to live in harmony, especially in giving glory to God. They should imitate Jesus, who has welcomed them, as Gentiles, into his kingdom. This was foreseen in the ancient promises of Scripture which looked to the line of Jesse for the hope of the nations.

Gospel (Matthew 3:1-12)

Matthew tells us that the appearance of John the Baptist is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s word regarding the forerunner of the Lord. John insists that what God demands is true repentance and warns that one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and the fire of judgment is coming.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The Lord uses both establishment and outsider types to fulfill his plan
  • Jesus is the hope of the nations
  • The arrival of the Kingdom of God is good news and bad news because Jesus is both universal king and judge
  • Jesus is the expected Davidic king and judge
  • It is all according to Plan

Reign of Christ, November 24, 2019, Proper 29, Year C

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Jeremiah 23:1-6)

The Lord rebukes the false shepherds who have devastated and scattered his people. He promises to regather the nation and appoint faithful shepherds who will be ruled by a descendant of David. His name will remind them that their righteousness is from God.

Psalm Substitute (Luke 1:68-79)

Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, poetically proclaims that his newborn son will be the long-awaited prophet who prepares the way of the Lord. With his birth, the light of God’s great salvation from sin and death is finally beginning to dawn upon his people.

Second Reading (Colossians 1:11-20)

St. Paul points to God’s strength for help against all adversity while giving thanks for being rescued from the power of darkness. God has reconciled all things to himself through the cross of his divine Son, who, as creator and redeemer, is over all authorities.

Gospel (Luke 23:33-43)

St. Luke records Jesus’ words from the cross forgiving those responsible for his execution. They only scoff at his seeming inability to save himself. In contrast, a thief being crucified with him repents, and Jesus majestically assures him of Paradise.

Connection Suggestions

  • The powers of darkness are real, but ultimately subject to the Lord
  • There is only one Shepherd, to whom all the sheep, including their other shepherds are subject
  • The ministry of Jesus marks the beginning of God’s final salvation
  • Jesus is Lord of all
  • Forgiveness originates at the Cross

 

Based on the Alternative Psalm

First Reading (Jeremiah 23:1-6)

The Lord rebukes the false shepherds who have devastated and scattered his people. He promises to regather the nation and appoint faithful shepherds who will be ruled by a descendant of David. His name will remind them that their righteousness is from God.

Psalm (46)

The Psalmist depicts majestic rule of the Lord even in the midst of the chaos and trouble of this life. He is a strong refuge for the faithful, providing joy like a river that is flowing through the city of God as the morning dawns.

Second Reading (Colossians 1:11-20)

St. Paul points to God’s strength for help against all adversity while giving thanks for being rescued from the power of darkness. God has reconciled all things to himself through the cross of his divine Son, who, as creator and redeemer, is over all authorities.

Gospel (Luke 23:33-43)

St. Luke records Jesus’ words from the cross forgiving those responsible for his execution. They only scoff at his seeming inability to save himself. In contrast, a thief being crucified with him repents, and Jesus majestically assures him of Paradise.

Connection Suggestions

  • The powers of darkness are real, but ultimately subject to the Lord
  • There is only one Shepherd, to whom all the sheep, including their other shepherds are subject
  • The ministry of Jesus marks the beginning of God’s final salvation in the midst of all the ambiguities and troubles of this world
  • Jesus is Lord of all, even of our struggles and difficulties
  • Forgiveness originates at the Cross

Baptism of the Lord, January 13, 2019, Year C

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 43:1-7)

After informing Israel that her exile was the result of disobedience, Isaiah now reassures her she will pass through these menacing waters because the Lord has created and redeemed her. Giving the nations in exchange, he will gather home her offspring, all those called by his name.

Psalm (29)

The Psalmist calls all heavenly beings to worship Yahweh for his glory and strength, demonstrated by his voice shaking the very earth. All in his temple cry “Glory!” to the eternal king who sits above the flood. May he bless his people with strength and peace.

Second Reading (Acts 8:14-17)

The Apostles in Jerusalem hear that the Word of God had been accepted outside of the Holy Land in Samaria. They send Peter and John to this group who had only been baptized in water and when the Apostles lay hands upon them, they receive the Holy Spirit for the first time.

Gospel (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22)

John the Baptist raises expectations in the people that he might be the Messiah, but he claims that a much greater one is coming who will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Upon Jesus himself being baptized, a heavenly voice proclaims him as the beloved Son of God.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The waters of baptism are both disturbing and assuring
  • Jesus identifies with the historical experience of Israel
  • What Jesus brings overflows the expectations of Israel
  • The God of all creation has acted definitively in the arrival of the Christ
  • Christian baptism has both inner and outer dimensions

 

Nativity of the Lord – Proper III, December 25, 2018, Year C

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 52:7-10)

Jerusalem’s watchmen, seeing the Lord return with salvation for the ruined city, are exhorted to call her to joyful celebration.  All nations will observe her people comforted and redeemed as the Lord acts in sovereign power.

Psalm (98)

All nature is called loudly to celebrate the coming victory of the Lord on behalf of Israel. Every nation will observe the powerful vindication of his people, aware that he will act fairly and rightly as universal judge.

Second Reading (Hebrews 1:1-4, [5-12])

The author celebrates the fact that God has spoken through his Son, who, reflecting him perfectly, is both creator and heir of all things. Much superior to the worshipping angels at his birth, he has made purification for our sins and his kingdom is never ending.

Gospel (John 1:1-14)

St. John tells us that with the Word of creation taking on flesh, God himself has come among us as light and life. John the Baptist serves as its witness but not all to whom the Word is sent receive him. Believers, conversely, are born of God and made his children.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Creation, all over again/All things made new
  • Announcing/giving witness to the Word
  • The difference made by God’s arrival: it’s like night and day
  • Celebrating new birth
  • The universal significance of the coming of God’s salvation
  • The nations will be aware of the coming of God’s salvation

 

 

 

 

Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 23, 2018, Year C

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Micah 5:2-5a)

The prophet Micah declares that Israel’s ruler will come, as promised, from the smallest clan of Judah in the little town of Bethlehem. They will be bereft until a woman has given birth to a son and his people return. He shall shepherd them securely in the peace and strength of the Lord.

Psalm/Canticle ([Magnificat] Luke 1:46b-55)

Mary praises God for raising her from obscurity to become the mother of the Lord. She sees this as part of God’s pattern of lifting up the lowly and needy and putting down the proud and rich. This is a pattern rooted in the covenant promise made to Abraham and his descendants.

Second Reading (Hebrews 10:5-10)

The coming of Christ means the end to the old sacrifices and offerings as his body is offered once for all instead. Those sacrifices and offerings under the law were unable to please God and it was his will to send Christ into the world that through his body we might be truly sanctified.

Gospel (Luke 1:39-45)

After Gabriel’s visit, Mary hurries to her cousin Elizabeth who is indeed pregnant. Her child leaps for joy at Mary’s greeting and Elizabeth herself is filled with the Holy Spirit. She tells Mary that her baby is blessed, as is she, because she had believed the word of the Lord.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God has not lost sight of the humble and lowly
  • Mary, as a humble believer in God’s word, is lifted up
  • Part of God’s lifting up of the humble involves the sacrifice of his Son.
  • The promises of God are sure

OR

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Micah 5:2-5a)

The prophet Micah declares that Israel’s ruler will come, as promised, from the smallest clan of Judah in the little town of Bethlehem. They will be bereft until a woman has given birth to a son and his people return. He shall shepherd them securely in the peace and strength of the Lord.

Psalm (80:1-7)

The Psalmist, aware of Yahweh’s displeasure with his people, asks him three times to shine his face upon them that they might be saved. They have suffered greatly but Yahweh remains in their midst and will surely respond to their calls upon his name.

Second Reading (Hebrews 10:5-10)

The coming of Christ means the end to the old sacrifices and offerings as his body is offered once for all instead. Those sacrifices and offerings under the law were unable to please God and it was his will to send Christ into the world that through his body we might be truly sanctified.

Gospel (Luke 1:39-55)

After Gabriel’s visit, Mary hurries to her cousin Elizabeth who is indeed pregnant. Her child leaps in joy at Mary’s greeting and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary praises God for lifting up lowly Israel, fulfilling the covenant made with Abraham and his descendants forever.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God has not lost sight of the humble and lowly
  • Mary, as a humble believer in God’s word, is lifted up
  • Part of God’s lifting up of the humble involves the sacrifice of his Son.
  • The promises of God are sure

 

Third Sunday of Advent, December 16, 2018, Year C

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Zephaniah 3:14-20)

The prophet Zephaniah calls upon Israel to rejoice because, in his vision, he sees the Lord turn away her enemies. Israel should not fear because her true King will arrive victoriously, bring the exiles home and change the people’s shame as outcasts into the praise of nations.

Psalm/Canticle (Isaiah 12:2-6)

The prophet Isaiah proclaims his trust in the Lord, who is his strength and salvation. And Israel will draw from this same well, giving thanks and praising the Lord among the nations for what he has done for them. Exult O royal Zion, for your Holy One is in your midst!

Second Reading (Philippians 4:4-7)

Paul encourages the Philippians to be always rejoicing in the Lord. They should be known for their gentleness, knowing the Lord is near. Looking to him in prayer, they will know the deep peace of having their hearts and minds protected by presence of Christ.

Gospel (Luke 3:7-18)

John has distain for those who are coming to him for baptism but who fail to exhibit true repentance in their lives by changing their behaviour. Merely being Jews is not enough to escape the coming judgment. He points to a greater one coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The coming of the Lord is both judgment and salvation
  • Greater things are coming
  • Preparing for Jesus involves trust and righteous living, the keys to true peace
  • Knowing the Lord is coming should affect the way we live