Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 23, 2018, Proper 20, Year B

Please see How to Use Lection Connection 

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Proverbs 31:10-31)

The writer details the qualities of a good wife who provides for her family wisely and generously, while supporting the poor. Her husband, children and community all praise her good works. Her obedience to the Lord is better than mere charm and beauty.

Psalm (1)

The Psalmist likens a person who obeys God’s laws to a tree planted by a river, always flourishing. Unlike sinners and scoffers who come and go with the wind, they are happy and content in the knowledge that the Lord watches over them as they walk in his way.

Second Reading (James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a)

Godly wisdom shows in one’s good works that, done in gentleness, promote harmony and peace. False wisdom gives rein to our inner cravings for things, resulting in conflict. Resist these and the devil behind them will flee as you look to God for your needs.

Gospel (Mark 9:30-37)

On the way through Galilee Jesus again tells his disciples that he will be betrayed, die and rise again in three days. Still not understanding, they are afraid and soon fall into arguing about who is the greatest. Jesus them that the humble servant shall be first.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God honours the simple fulfilment of our calling
  • Trusting the Lord is the way to contentment and stability
  • Going our own way leads to trouble
  • Good works are good
  • Serving others is serving yourself

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Jeremiah 11:18-20)

The Lord informs Jeremiah of a plot against him. Like a lamb led to the slaughter, he had no idea of their scheme to make him and his memory disappear from the face of the earth. The prophet, trusting in the Lord, invokes divine vengeance upon them.

Psalm (54)

The Psalmist calls upon the Lord to hear his prayer and vindicate him against those who have risen up against him. He knows that the Lord will do this, and he will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving for his victory over his enemies.

Second Reading (James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a)

Godly wisdom shows in one’s good works that, done in gentleness, promote harmony and peace. False wisdom gives rein to our inner cravings for things, resulting in conflict. Resist these and the devil behind them will flee as you look to God for your needs.

Gospel (Mark 9:30-37)

On the way through Galilee Jesus again tells his disciples that he will be betrayed, die and rise again in three days. Still not understanding, they are afraid and soon fall into arguing about who is the greatest. Jesus them that the humble servant shall be first.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Going our own way leads to trouble
  • Peace comes from leaving retribution and revenge to the Lord
  • We can expect opposition when we decide to follow Jesus
  • Opposition to God’s way arises both within and from without

 

 

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 2, 2018, Proper 17, Year B

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Song of Solomon 2:8-13)

A woman rapturously describes the arrival of her true love at her window. He calls for her to get up and go with him, now that spring has come and the flowers have risen. It is the time for love.

Psalm (45:1-2, 6-9)

The king is addressed in exuberant terms: handsome, graceful, blessed, and even as God. He rules in equity and righteousness, uniquely anointed by God. Instruments play in his fragrant palaces, serenading his splendid Queen and her royal attendants.

Second Reading (James 1:17-27)

James points out that God has given Christians birth by the word of truth. We should not be just hearers who walk away unmoved, but doers of the word. Blessed in their so doing, authentic believers guard their own tongue while caring for the needy.

Gospel (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

Jesus accuses some Jewish leaders of hypocrisy because they are so focused on external matters that they have neglected defilement arising in the heart. They have put human traditions over God’s word, thereby missing the true source of sin within each person.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart
  • Our outward manner should reflect our inner person
  • Authentic faith leads to authentic action
  • Doing the word is true listening

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9)

As they are about to enter the Promised Land, Moses charges the Israelites to keep the commandments he has given and pass them along unimpaired to their children. Doing so will impress the nations with their wisdom and the closeness of their God.

Psalm (15)

The Psalmist affirms that only those who live righteously can dwell in the Presence of the Lord. They speak the truth and do no evil, despising evil doers and honoring those who keep their word. They do not lend at interest or take bribes to pervert justice.

Second Reading (James 1:17-27)

James points out that God has given Christians birth by the word of truth. We should not be just hearers who walk away unmoved, but doers of the word. Blessed in their doing, authentic believers guard their own tongue while caring for the needy.

Gospel (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

Jesus accuses some Jewish leaders of hypocrisy because they are so focused on external matters that they have neglected defilement arising in the heart. They have put human traditions over God’s word, thereby missing the true source of sin within each person.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Following the word of God leads to wisdom and closeness with him
  • Our outward manner should reflect our inner person
  • Authentic faith leads to authentic action
  • Doing the word is true listening

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 26, 2018, Proper 16, Year B

Please see How to Use Lection Connection 

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (1 Kings 8:[1,6,10-11], 22-30, 41-43)

Solomon dedicates the new temple and the divine Presence powerfully fills the building. The king knows that the Lord is not confined to this space but asks that all those who pray toward it, Jew and Gentile alike, will be answered and come to know the Lord.

Psalm (84)

The Psalmist exults in the blessings of living in the presence of God, his temple and his city. A single day spent there is worth thousands wasted in sin. He affirms that those who derive their strength from God alone are the happiest of all.

Second Reading (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Paul affirms that the Christian struggle is not with other humans but with evil spiritual forces. We need to use all the spiritual weapons God has for us, like soldiers fully armed for battle. The Ephesians are to pray that Paul will do his best to advance the Gospel.

Gospel (John 6:56-69)

Although Jesus discourages a literal meaning, talking of the need to eat his flesh and drink his blood offends many of his disciples and they desert him. The twelve remain with him, knowing, as Peter puts it, that only he has the words of eternal life.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Being in the presence of the Lord trumps all other considerations
  • The struggles of individual believers are part of a universal cosmic spiritual struggle
  • Only the Lord is able to provide eternal life as well as victory over sin and death: it is to him alone that we must look
  • We need to look beyond the surface to see God at work at the spiritual level

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18)

Having led Israel in the conquest of Canaan, Joshua charges the nation always to follow the Lord and not the gods of their ancestors or the gods of the Land. Joshua commits himself and his family to the Lord as do the people, knowing what he has done for them.

Psalm (34:15-22)

The Psalmist asserts that the Lord helps those who follow his laws but is against those who do evil. Even though the righteous are beset by many troubles, they will be rescued and live. The wicked will be condemned to death for their evil deeds.

Second Reading (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Paul affirms that the Christian struggle is not with other humans but with evil spiritual forces. We need to use all the spiritual weapons God has for us, like soldiers fully armed for battle. The Ephesians are to pray that Paul will do his best to advance the Gospel.

Gospel (John 6:56-69)

Although Jesus discourages a literal meaning, talking of the need to eat his flesh and drink his blood offends many of his disciples and they desert him. The twelve remain with him, knowing, as Peter puts it, that only he has the words of eternal life.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • There is only one way to live and that is by the word of the Lord
  • The struggles of individual believers are part of a universal cosmic spiritual struggle
  • Only the Lord is able to provide eternal life as well as victory over sin and death: it is to him alone that we must look
  • We need to look beyond the surface to see God at work at the spiritual level

 

 

 

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 19, 2018, Proper 15, Year B

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14)

After David dies his faithful son Solomon succeeds him. The Lord appears and asks him if there is anything that he wants and he, knowing he is but a young man, asks for wisdom to rule well over Israel. Pleased, the Lord grants this along with wealth and a long life.

Psalm (111)

The Psalmist gives many reasons to praise the Lord: his works revealing his honour and majesty, his provision for the needs of his people, his trustworthy laws, and the redemption of his people. Indeed, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Second Reading (Ephesians 5:15-20)

Paul urges his readers to live wisely in an evil time, not wasting any time and knowing the will of God. Rather than being drunk with wine they should be filled with the Spirit, singing and giving thanks to the Lord for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel (John 6:51-58)

Jesus’ listeners are disturbed by his claim that his flesh is the bread of life. Jesus does not soften his words, saying plainly that consuming his flesh and blood and abiding in him is essential to eternal life and to being among those he will raise from the dead.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

• True wisdom is knowing the Lord and following him in obedience
• We need the wisdom of God to navigate our way through the evil of this world
• The Son of David is a man of wisdom beyond his peers
• Our relationship with the Lord Jesus determines our way of life and our destiny

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Proverbs 9:1-6)

The writer depicts wisdom as a well-built house filled with succulent food and to which all those who need good judgment are invited. Here they will find what they need to live mature and insightful lives.

Psalm (34:9-14)

The Psalmist calls God’s people to fear the Lord and they will lack nothing. If they will depart from deceitful conversation and direct themselves toward doing good and peaceful things they will both find them and have time to enjoy them.

Second Reading (Ephesians 5:15-20)

Paul urges his readers to live wisely in an evil time, not wasting any time and knowing the will of God. Rather than being drunk with wine they should be filled with the Spirit, singing and giving thanks to the Lord for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel (John 6:51-58)

Jesus’ listeners are disturbed by his claim that his flesh is the bread of life. Jesus does not soften his words, saying plainly that consuming his flesh and blood and abiding in him is essential to eternal life and to being among those he will raise from the dead.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

• True wisdom is knowing the Lord and following him in obedience
• We need the wisdom of God to navigate our way through the evil of this world
• Our relationship with the Lord Jesus determines our way of life and our destiny
• The Lord provides the kind of food we really need

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, August 12, 2018, Proper 14, Year B

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33)

David’s son Absalom leads a rebellion against his father and his forces are roundly defeated. Against David’s instructions, Absalom is killed by some soldiers after his hair gets entangled in a tree. David is heartbroken and greatly laments the death of his son.

Psalm (130)

In despair, the Psalmist cries out to the Lord, knowing that while he is unable hide his sin, the Lord is a forgiving God. Waiting upon the Lord, he hopes in his word and encourages Israel to do likewise, confident in the Lord’s love and power to redeem.

Second Reading (Ephesians 4:25-5:2)

Paul exhorts members of the body of Christ to conduct themselves as children of God. Putting their anger behind them, their talk should be grace-filled, building one another up. As they have been forgiven by God in Christ, so also should they forgive others.

Gospel (John 6:35, 41-51)

Some Jews, hearing Jesus claim to be the bread of life, take offence at him because they know his earthly family. Jesus says only those drawn to him by the Father can come to him and receive eternal life. His flesh is the living bread he gives for the life of the world.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God is the God who gives life in its fullness
  • Family relationships, both earthly and spiritual, are important to God and to us
  • God is in the forgiving business and we should be also
  • Sin brings despair, death, and destruction in its wake

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (1 Kings 19:4-8)

On the run from the wicked queen Jezebel, Elijah escapes into the wilderness. Despairing of his life, he encounters an angel who provides him with food and water. It is enough to last him for forty days and nights as he makes his way to the mount of God.

Psalm (34:1-8)

The Psalmist praises the Lord and exhorts others to do the same because his prayer has been answered and deliverance has come. He knows that the angel of the Lord will be with those who look to him in their trouble. Those who do so will indeed be happy.

Second Reading (Ephesians 4:25-5:2)

Paul exhorts members of the body of Christ to conduct themselves as children of God. Putting their anger behind them, their talk should be grace-filled, building one another up. As they have been forgiven by God in Christ, so also should they forgive others.

Gospel (John 6:35, 41-51)

Some Jews, hearing Jesus claim to be the bread of life, take offence at him because they know his earthly family. Jesus says only those drawn to him by the Father can come to him and receive eternal life. His flesh is the living bread he gives for the life of the world.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God is the God who gives life in its fullness
  • God is in the forgiving business and we should be also
  • Sin brings despair, death, and destruction in its wake
  • God provides the kind of food we need.

 

 

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, August 5, 2018, Proper 13, Year B

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a)

The pregnant Bathsheba becomes David’s wife and gives birth to their son. Nathan tells David a parable of a rich man who stole a poor man’s lamb. Through it David is able to admit his sin in taking both Uriah’s wife and his life. He and his house will pay dearly.

Psalm (51:1-12)

The Psalmist admits both his inborn sinfulness and the sinful acts he has committed. He pleads that the Lord will have mercy upon him and grant him forgiveness and a clean heart. He begs for a new spirit within and a place in the presence of the Lord.

Second Reading (Ephesians 4:1-16)

St. Paul sets out the need for unity in the church, a unity requiring humility, gentleness and patience. To be fully formed in Christ, members of his body need to exercise their gifts of ministry to build the whole body into maturity of faith and knowledge.

Gospel (John 6:24-35)

Jesus sees that the crowd has come to him for earthly food, not for who he is. He uses the opportunity to portray himself as the true bread from heaven providing eternal life. Eager to hear more, he tells them that believers in him will never hunger or thirst.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Seeking to provide for the earthly appetites while ignoring spiritual ones leads to trouble
  • Humility is needed in order to recognize our true condition and need
  • Life in Christ is not a smooth and easy road and requires the help of our fellow travellers
  • The need for inner transformation as followers of Jesus

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15)

Not long out of Egypt, the Israelites complain to Moses and Aaron that they had been led out a land of plenty only to die of hunger in the wilderness. The Lord appears before them and provides manna and quail to meet their need and know that he is God.

Psalm (78:23-29)

The Psalmist celebrates the wilderness experience of Israel, when God miraculously and abundantly provided for the needs of his people. The bread of angels rained down upon them in the form of manna, and flesh in the form of quail.

Second Reading (Ephesians 4:1-16)

St. Paul sets out the need for unity in the church, a unity requiring humility, gentleness and patience. To be fully formed in Christ, members of his body need to exercise their gifts of ministry to build the whole body into maturity of faith and knowledge.

Gospel (John 6:24-35)

Jesus sees that the crowd has come to him for earthly food, not for who he is. He uses the opportunity to portray himself as the true bread from heaven providing eternal life. Eager to hear more, he tells them that believers in him will never hunger or thirst.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Seeking to provide for the earthly appetites while ignoring spiritual ones leads to trouble
  • Life in Christ is not a smooth and easy road and requires the help of our fellow travellers
  • Jesus provides for every need, earthly and heavenly
  • The people of God do not lack provision even though they may not see it because they are looking in the wrong direction