Ash Wednesday, Year C, February 26, 2020

Please see How to Use Lection Connection.

Full lections can be read here.

 

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Joel 2:1-2, 12-17)

Through the prophet Joel the Lord warns of an impending “Day of the Lord” and pleads with his people to return to him in sincerity of heart. He calls for a fast that goes beyond mere outward observance and relies instead on God’s own steadfast love and mercy.

Psalm (51:1-17)

The Psalmist, deeply aware of his own sinfulness, realizes that what he truly needs is a new spirit, a new heart. A merciful and loving Lord grants such to those who sincerely and humbly offer him a broken and repentant spirit.

Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10)

Paul pleads with the Corinthians to get right with God through Christ who has taken our sin upon himself and shares with us the righteousness of God. This is the day of salvation for which the apostle has worked, suffered, and, paradoxically, been blessed.

Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21)

Jesus teaches that practicing our religion in order to impress others reveals only that the things of heaven are not of ultimate importance to us. Hearts truly oriented to God will be content to do these things in secret, knowing that his blessings await in due course.

 

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The poverty of superficial religious observance
  • God looks upon the heart
  • The necessity of a changed heart in order to please God
  • Good deeds issue from good souls and not the other way round
  • The true fast is of the heart
  • A little humility goes a long way

 

Based on the Alternative First Reading

First Reading (Isaiah 58:1-12)

Isaiah voices the Lord’s displeasure with a people who seek to draw near to him through fasting while not observing his ways. A true fast, one that will ultimately lead to Israel’s restoration, is caring for those in need and bringing injustice to an end.

Psalm (51:1-17)

The Psalmist, deeply aware of his own sinfulness, realizes that what he truly needs is a new spirit, a new heart. A merciful and loving Lord grants such to those who sincerely and humbly offer him a broken and repentant spirit.

Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10)

Paul pleads with the Corinthians to get right with God through Christ who has taken our sin upon himself and shares with us the righteousness of God. This is the day of salvation for which the apostle has worked, suffered, and, paradoxically, been blessed.

Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21)

Jesus teaches that practicing our religion in order to impress others reveals only that the things of heaven are not of ultimate importance to us. Hearts truly oriented to God will be content to do these things in secret, knowing that his blessings await in due course.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The poverty of superficial religious observance
  • God looks upon the heart
  • The necessity of a changed heart in order to please God
  • Good deeds issue from good souls and not the other way round
  • The true fast is of the heart
  • A little humility goes a long way

 

 

 

Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, November 3, 2019, Proper 26, Year C

Please see How to Use Lection Connection 

Full lections can be read here.

 

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4)

Crying out for the Lord to end his silence concerning Judah’s destruction, the prophet Habakkuk decides simply to listen for the divine word. He is assured of a coming “end” for which he is to wait and that it is through such faithfulness that the righteous will live.

Psalm (119:137-144)

The Psalmist, although he is in the midst of serious trouble, exults in the life-giving quality of God’s word at every level of existence and pleads for fuller understanding.

Second Reading (2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12)

Paul praises the Thessalonians who are steadfast in the midst of suffering and persecution. Indeed, they are growing in faith and love through the power of God, bringing glory to the Lord Jesus.

Gospel (Luke 19:1-10)

St. Luke tells the story of Zacchaeus, a tax-collector and a cheat who nevertheless has a passion to see Jesus. Forced to climb a tree to get above the crowd, Jesus reaches out to him and his life is transformed as he experiences the new life of God’s salvation.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Suffering, even though it is very real and often debilitating, does offer opportunities for genuine faithfulness and witness
  • Suffering can remind us that we are always in the hands of the Lord
  • God does promise salvation and deliverance, but it is not on our timetable. Patience is a mark of the faithful
  • The road to righteousness requires great resolve
  • Is a sense of “lostness” the precondition to being “found”?

 

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Isaiah 1:10-18)

The prophet Isaiah compares the sin of Judah to that of Sodom and Gomorrah and calls the nation to right living as well as right religion. He offers the promise that, if the nation repents, its sins will be forgiven.

Psalm (32:1-7)

The Psalmist rejoices in sins forgiven and even in the difficult times that inspired true repentance. The Lord is a hiding place in times of trouble for those who will look to him.

Second Reading (2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12)

Paul praises the Thessalonians who are steadfast in the midst of suffering and persecution. Indeed, they are growing in faith and love through the power of God, bringing glory to the Lord Jesus.

Gospel (Luke 19:1-10)

St. Luke tells the story of Zacchaeus, a tax-collector and a cheat who nevertheless has a passion to see Jesus. Forced to climb a tree to get above the crowd, he catches Jesus’ attention and his life is turned around by the one who actually seeks the lost.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The Lord is looking for us to acknowledge our sin and repent
  • True repentance involves a change in behaviour
  • Suffering, even though it is very real and often debilitating, does offer opportunities for genuine faithfulness and witness
  • The road to righteousness requires great resolve
  • Is a sense of “lostness” the precondition to being “found”?

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, October 27, 2019, Proper 25, Year C

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

 

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Joel 2:23-32)

The prophet Joel tells of a time in which the Lord will exalt his humiliated people, blessing them extremely abundantly both materially and spiritually. Indeed, his Spirit will be poured upon each one of them and those who look to him will be saved.

Psalm (65)

The Psalmist calls us to rejoice in the God who answers prayer and saves us, forgiving us and delivering us from evil. The God of all creation shows his power especially in providing water in abundance, enabling the fruits of the earth to flourish.

Second Reading (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18)

Paul anticipates that day when, having expended himself fully, he, along with all who have looked for Jesus to appear, will receive the crown of righteousness. Experience has proven that he will be rescued from all adversity and so attain to the kingdom at last.

Gospel (Luke 18:9-14)

Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and the tax collector vividly illustrates the fact that God will exalt the truly humble and humiliate the falsely proud. It is the sinner who calls out to God for mercy who is saved, not the one who is confident in his own righteousness.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Being open and honest before God in our needs
  • It is only God who can save us, he alone is our saviour
  • The salvation of God is both spiritual and material in nature
  • Humility is the place to start in our relationship with God
  • Evil is more powerful than our own resources to overcome it

 

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22)

Jeremiah voices the urgent appeal of a distressed nation to their God who seems to be acting like a stranger. Taking responsibility for their sins, they pointedly argue that if the Lord fails to save his covenant people, it is his own name that will be disgraced.

Psalm (84:1-7)

The Psalmist exults in the many delights of living in the very presence of God. He affirms that those who derive their strength from God alone are the happiest of all. Indeed, the ways to his divine presence are very evident in their hearts.

Second Reading (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18)

Paul anticipates that day when, having expended himself fully, he, along with all who have looked for Jesus to appear, will receive the crown of righteousness. Experience has proven that he will be rescued from all adversity and so attain to the kingdom at last.

Gospel (Luke 18:9-14)

Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and the tax collector vividly illustrates the fact that God will exalt the truly humble and humiliate the falsely proud. It is the sinner who calls out to God for mercy who is saved, not the one who is confident in his own righteousness.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Being open and honest before God in our needs
  • It is only God who can save us, he alone is our saviour
  • Humility is the place to start in our relationship with God
  • Evil is more powerful than our own resources to overcome it
  • Taking responsibility for our own sin

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 15, 2019, Proper 19, Year C

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

 

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28)

Jeremiah foresees God’s judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem as a scorching wind from the desert that sweeps all before it. The land will be desolate, without light, vegetation or inhabitants. Although this fate is inevitable, the Lord promises that it is not final.

Psalm (14)

The Psalmist laments Israel’s lack of someone to come to her rescue. The world seems full of fools who deny God’s very existence and who ignore his ways. All have gone astray. The Lord, however, is the refuge of the poor, and terror will come on the wicked.

Second Reading (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

Paul tells the young Timothy of his gratitude to Christ Jesus for his conversion and calling to serve. He was such a hard-case unbeliever that his coming to faith can only be seen as a miracle of grace, an example for all to see and come to faith themselves. He can only give glory to God.

Gospel (Luke 15:1-10)

Because he is criticized for socializing among sinners, Jesus tells two parables to illustrate that sinners are actually the primary focus of God’s attention and how he rejoices when even one repents. He tells of a shepherd who finds a lost sheep and a woman who finds a lost coin.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God’s judgment is meant to bring us back to himself
  • Amazing grace
  • We can only truly appreciate our redemption if we truly appreciate our lostness without Jesus
  • Our sinfulness does not make us repellant to God but attracts his loving and redemptive attention

 

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Exodus 32:7-14)

While Moses meets with Yahweh on Mt. Sinai the people demand that Aaron make gods for them. The Lord angrily decides to destroy this people who so quickly abandon him. He plans to make a great nation out of Moses instead, but the latter intercedes and the Lord relents.

Psalm (51:1-10)

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 to be given to him.

Second Reading (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

Paul tells the young Timothy of his gratitude to Christ Jesus for his conversion and calling to serve. He was such a hard-case unbeliever that his coming to faith can only be seen as a miracle of grace, an example for all to see and come to faith themselves. He can only give glory to God.

Gospel (Luke 15:1-10)

Because he is criticized for socializing among sinners, Jesus tells two parables to illustrate that sinners are actually the primary focus of God’s attention and how he rejoices when even one repents. He tells of a shepherd who finds a lost sheep and a woman who finds a lost coin.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Amazing grace
  • We can only truly appreciate our redemption if we truly appreciate our lostness without Jesus
  • Our sinfulness does not make us repellant to God but attracts his loving and redemptive attention
  • The perversity of sin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 31, 2019, Year C

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Joshua 5:9-12)

After the Israelites cross over into the Promised Land, the Lord tells Joshua that they had finally gotten over the disgrace of Egypt. In Canaan at last, they celebrated the Passover and began to live off the produce of the land instead of the manna that God had provided in the wilderness.

Psalm (32)

Beginning by noting the happiness of forgiven sin, the Psalmist recalls his burden of sin and how it was forgiven when he confessed it to the Lord. While he is our saviour in times of trouble, we are responsible to listen to and obey divine instruction, confident of his steadfast love as we do.

Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

Paul writes that those who are reconciled to God through Christ are actually new creatures entering into a new reality. The sinless Christ was made sin so that we sinners could be made righteous. Paul considers himself, as a preacher of this message, to be Christ’s ambassador.

Gospel (Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32)

Jesus explains his socializing with sinners by telling the parable of a man with two sons. The older is obedient while the younger runs away from home and squanders his inheritance. When he finally returns home, his father is delighted to have him back, but his brother can only sulk.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God’s salvation involves a new kind of existence for the redeemed
  • Confession/repentance is good for the soul
  • God has provided a way for our sin to be dealt with in order for us to be reconciled to him
  • God has taken the initiative in saving sinners and delights in their return to him
  • Sin is a burden not worth carrying