Sunday, August 21, 2016

Prelude to the Passion - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 16]


Genesis 3:1-7 (8-21) 22-24 OR Jeremiah 8:4-13 OR 24:1-10 OR Habakkuk 3:1-19
Psalm 140
Matthew 21:12-22 OR Mark 11:12-25 (26)
Colossians 1:29-2:5 (16-19) 20-23

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Prelude to the Passion - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 15]


Jeremiah 22:1-9 OR Zechariah 7:1-14
Psalm 58
Matthew 23:13-39 OR Luke 11:37-54
1Timothy 3

We confess we have not kept covenant with you, O LORD our God, but we have worshiped other gods and served them. We have sworn oaths casually and not kept them; we have given freely of small things, but neglected the weightier matters of justice, mercy, and faith; we have maintained outward appearances of piety, while allowing our interior lives to fester with greed, hypocrisy, and self-indulgence; though we bear the name of Christ, we have failed to live and to love as Jesus has taught us, thus we must confess we have taken your name in vain. Forgive us, LORD, for by our words and actions we have stopped others from entering your kingdom and we ourselves have failed to enter. Yet, do not let your house become desolate. Let not the passersby say to one another, “Why has the LORD dealt this way with his people?” But give us, everyone, a fresh start, and gather us under the shelter of your wings. Though we have not always been willing, we will it now! Absolve and cleanse us, O LORD, both inside and out, for we long to see you and say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Apocalyptic Discourse - 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time [Proper 14]


Genesis 6:1-8 OR Zechariah 9:1-8 (9-12) 13-17
Psalm 37: (1-2) 12-38 (39-40)
Matthew 24:(36-44) 45-51 OR Luke 12:(35-40) 41-48
1Corinthians 11:2-22 (23-26) 27-34

Lord Jesus Christ, we know neither the day nor the hour when you will come again to gather up your church or to stand upon the earth, but we do know that we are to remain awake, dressed and ready for action, with our lamps lit as servants awaiting the return of their Master. To think, even for a moment, that you are delayed is to risk falling asleep, and therefore, we invite you to draw near to us now, for you have promised to do so, saying, “I am with you always.” Therefore, by the swift wind of your Spirit, raise our expectations, O Lord. Let no one go through the motions of worship without becoming acutely aware that you are near, indeed, that you are here, watching, waiting, examining every heart. Surely you will speak, O Lord, through the Word, written, read, and preached, and you will feed your people—you, the Christ, the living bread, you, the Holy Spirit, of whom we all partake as we drink from same spiritual drink, the spiritual rock of Christ.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Apocalyptic Discourse - 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time [Proper 13]


Genesis 19:1-29
Psalm 59
Matthew 24:23-35 (36-44) OR Luke 17:20-37
1John 2:3-29 OR 2John OR 2Peter 2:1-22

Love, in truth, is not permissiveness, but it aspires to perfection, for “whoever obeys God’s word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection.” But where destructive opinions are introduced, the way of truth is maligned, and those with unsteady souls, enticed from the way of love by the lures of licentiousness, become irrational creatures of instinct, insatiable for sin, reveling in dissipation, with eyes full of adultery and hearts trained in greed. As the proverb says, “The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.” Therefore, friends, let us turn away from every evil thought, word, and deed, that we might not suffer the penalty for wrongdoing. Rather, let us seek the merciful grace of Jesus Christ, whose commandment is love and whose name is truth, for the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Apocalyptic Discourse - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 12]

Deuteronomy 4:32-40 OR Isaiah 65:10-65 OR Ezekiel 7:(1-9) 10-27
OR Zechariah 14:(1-3) 4-9 (10-21)
Psalm 50: (7-8) 9-21 (22-23) OR 105:(1-6) 12-15, 26-36 (37, 43-45)
Matthew 24:15-22 OR Mark 13:14-20 OR Luke 21:20-24
1Corinthians 10:(14-17) 18-11:1


Holy and merciful God, we confess that we have acted wickedly. We have forgotten your words, cast off discipline, and spoken against those whom you love. We all too quickly assume that you are just like us, that we know your mind, that we may speak judgment against others with impunity. Forgive us, O Lord, for we have too often forgotten how far you have come and how much you have done to save us from death, depravity, and despair. We have neglected to pay our vows to you, to whom we have promised lifelong loyalty. Cleanse us from every sin, forgive our every transgression, wash us thoroughly in the blood of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ, and receive once again our sacrifice of thanks and praise. This we ask in his name.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Christian education and liturgical resources

As the summer flies by all too quickly, you may find yourself in need of doing some planning for the fall, both for Sunday school and worship, in which case, I could well imagine 6 or 7 weeks in the study of the Lord's Prayer ...

and 6 to 9 weeks rediscovering an important, but forgotten Reformer.

The seventeen chapters in this piece are very short and could easily be read two or three at a clip. For many an adult ed class or book group, you could well spend a whole semester on these two studies alone.

After which, you may be ready for something lighter at Advent and Christmas. Written to "delight," this story is probably most suited to a family night or fellowship gathering, but perhaps it has been adapted for pageants; you might also think of it as an extended Christmas card for a congregation, a thank you gift for key families, a welcome gift for visitors, etc.

Where worship is concerned, if you haven't looked into Year D yet, it is not too soon to plan ahead:


On the other hand, if you want to restart the RCL cycle with Year A and the Gospel of Matthew, you may want to have this on hand:

These are just a few — hopefully helpful — pieces developed over the years in small church ministry, and one (the translation) that has arisen from the nagging sense that we still have a lot to learn about our identity and mission as Christians in the Reformed tradition from the actual Reformers (there are more than just Luther and Calvin) who got the ball rolling. In short and paradoxically, clues to the way forward always seems to demand attending to the past, if we are patient and teachable enough to search out the great treasures of the tradition. Obviously, that applies to scripture above all, especially to those basic, but neglected essentials like the Lord's Prayer.

Spread the Word!