Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 26:7-27:1 
Psalm 109
Hebrews 10:1-4, 10-14, 26-39
Matthew 8:1-4; 9:1-8 OR Luke 5:12-26

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has come with authority to forgive sins, and with power to perform miracles so as to confirm the good news of forgiveness: In a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; and those who have been made righteous in him will live by faith. Therefore, have faith. Let nothing cause you to shrink back and so be lost, but have confidence in God, and stand firm among those who share faith in the Lord and so are saved. For in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Baptism of the Lord/First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Leviticus 16:1-34
Psalm 69
Matthew 14:1-12
Hebrews 9:1-28

Lord God of Hosts, in whose beloved Son Jesus Christ we are joined together through the one baptism, begun in the Jordan and completed on the cross, draw near and refresh us with your presence, restore us to the joy of your salvation, for our prayer is to you alone, O Lord. May this be an acceptable time, O God, for you speak to us and answer us in the abundance of your steadfast love, for though we are yours through the waters of regeneration, yet there remain many forces in this world that threaten to overwhelm and swallow us up. Do not hide your face from your servants in distress, but reveal yourself and make haste to answer us; with your faithful help rescue us from sinking in the mire of this dying world. Draw near and redeem your people; set us free from every enemy, every entrapment, every temptation, and every snare. Deliver us from the deep waters into the new life that Christ alone offers us, who is at once the Lamb of God and the High Priest of the new and better and everlasting covenant. This we ask in Jesus’ name. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Epiphany (January 6)

Deuteronomy 4:9-24 (25-31) 32-40                    
Psalm 75 OR Psalm 76
1John 2:3-29
John 5:31-47

Let the Word that you have heard from the beginning abide in you! For this is the good news: If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. As the word of God abides in you, your sins are forgiven on account of his name, and you have overcome the evil one. Therefore, receive the Spirit of the Lord, who has promised you eternal life. Know that you are forgiven and be at peace. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Second Sunday of Christmas

Exodus 25:1-40
Psalm 73
Matthew 11: (1-11) 12-24 (25-30) OR Luke 7:18-35
Hebrews 8:1-13

Our Holy and Gracious God, truly you are good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart. But we confess that we have harbored envy, pride, and bitterness in our hearts. We have seen how the wicked seem to prosper, at least for a time, yet we have often failed to see the slippery slopes on which you have placed them. Forgive us, O God, for our foolishness, for our ignorance and blindness, for desiring things that are contrary to your will, for being untrue to the circle of your children. For there is nothing on earth worth desiring above you, and we have no hope of heaven apart from you. Forgive us, O God, and lead us ever more deeply into your will, for it is good for us to be near you, and to have Christ Jesus, your Son, as our refuge.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The First Sunday of Christmas

Genesis 14:1-24
Matthew 8:14-34 OR Mark 5:1-20
Hebrews 7:1-28


O Christ our Savior, yours in the power of an indestructible life! Yet we are mortal, compromised by sin, easily distracted from you, easily attracted by and accommodated to the surrounding culture. Saving Lord, save us from ourselves, and from every sinful thing that would come between us and you. Cut off every path of retreat from you, that as you draw us to yourself, we would not draw back, but lean forward into your presence, enter your rest, and learn to enjoy eternal fellowship with you, our true King of Peace, our true King of Righteousness!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Morning


Ecclesiastes 7:15-29 OR Micah 7:1-20
Psalm 44
Matthew 10:9-23 OR Luke 12:1-12
Romans 3:1-22a

O Holy Savior, Son of God and Son of David, shepherd your people with your staff, as in the days of old, the flock that belongs to you, which abides in the midst of a garden land; show us marvelous things, as in the days when you came out of Egypt, so that the nations shall see, cover their mouths, and be ashamed of all their might. For you came into this world with nothing, and you have called us to go forth with nothing but your Spirit to teach us what to say, speaking peace to those who receive you and remaining at peace in the face of rejection. Give us, therefore, strength and sustenance for this earthly life, that we may have hope and courage to endure, for you have promised that those who endure to the end will be saved.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Phenomenal Llama

Are you planning an intergenerational gathering, pageant, or family dinner this Christmas? Here is a sweet, delightful, imaginative Christmas story that is fun to read aloud. Read the book by the fireside or project the e-book version so that all can see the beautiful illustrations. Here, under "From the Author," is a bit of background. I hope you enjoy it.

Christmas Eve


Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 OR 7:1-14 OR Ezekiel 33:23-33
Matthew 12:22-50 OR Luke 11:14-36 (37-54)
James 1:17-27

Holy and Loving God, by your Holy Spirit, your son Jesus Christ came to expose the darkness of this world, to cast out demons, to deal death to death, and to inaugurate your new heavenly reign in the midst of our languishing earthly reality. Christ Jesus, the only begotten, has declared that everyone who does your will is his brother and sister, and he has blessed all who hear your word and obey it! Indeed, he himself is the Word of God. Help us, therefore, this night and always, to hear and receive him and all the good news concerning him, that we might forever be occupied with the true joy of hearts: Jesus Christ, the Son of David; greater than Solomon, greater than Jonah, greater than all, he is the Word and the Wisdom that gives life!

NOTE ON THE LECTIONS: These lections may seem peculiar for a Christmas Eve service, but I would urge the preacher to consider the possibilities that arise in light of the implicit logos Christology evident in the Epistle of James, in lieu of the more explicit logos Christology of the Johannine literature, then view the other texts through that theology of the Word. The contrast between careless, foolish, vain human speech and the divine and "implanted" word of truth is one that I think frames the whole feast of the Incarnation and the prospect of Epiphany (or Christophany) rather well, actually. In other words, do not be put off by the seeming lack of Christmas themes here. No, there are no nativity stories included, but neither is there a need to preach in isolation from them. The primary consideration, I think, is to approach these lections, not as though they have nothing to say of Christmas, but in the very light of Christmas itself, the Revelation of God in the Incarnation of Jesus: God's saving, embodied speech to the world. Let Christmas have its sway over these texts and vice versa, and new insights will undoubtedly emerge. Ezekiel will remind us that God's revelation is not merely beautiful, but true. Jesus and James will call us to live the faith and not merely profess it. The light of Christ shining amidst the darkness will be understood, not merely esthetically, but in terms of his mission to overthrow the cosmic forces of evil. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!