Friday, November 25, 2016

First Sunday of Advent

O LORD our God, we confess that we have been slow to believe your promises, and quick to drift away from you. We have paid far too little attention to your word, to your testimony, to your miraculous signs and wonders, and far too much attention to selfish concerns. We have held back from you our very best, even though you gladly and graciously sent us your beloved and only begotten Son. Forgive us, O God, for our sinful thoughtlessness! Let us never again neglect so great a salvation as you have provided for us in Jesus Christ!

The LORD shows himself loyal to those who show themselves loyal, but with the crooked he shows himself perverse. The way of God is perfect. The promise of the LORD proves true. He is a rock for all who take refuge in him. You who have confessed and cried out to the LORD, know that you are delivered and forgiven, and be at peace.

On this very First Sunday of Advent, you will soon notice a peculiar feature of Year D. Some of the selections are quite long, and therefore you need to plan ahead if you wish to shorten the readings. 

Psalm 18, for example, is a rich and wonderful psalm with many unique spiritual and historical insights, but it is also much longer than the usual Psalm selection for a Sunday service. It falls to you to either make room for such a long psalm and cue the congregation that it will be a lengthy, or to make a shorter selection of key verses that you wish to accentuate. In this instance, Year D "narrows" the selection, but does not make the final cut for you. You must do this yourself. 

The Assurance above, for instance, makes use of the provocative, but intriguing language of Psalm 18:25-26, which contains (I suspect) an important perspective on the human experience of evil and a clue to the mysterious and troublesome doctrine of theodicy. These words will no doubt strike some as controversial, but to others, they issue a summons to self-examination and personal responsibility. The one undeniable thing is this: there they are ... in Scripture! 

May the Spirit inspire your study and planning!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Christ the King Sunday - 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 29]

Obadiah 1-21
Psalm 87 AND 117
John 12:17-19, 37-50
1Corinthians 15:27-50 (51-57)


Though you say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?”, though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, for your proud heart has deceived you, says the LORD. For the day of the LORD is near. As you have done, it shall be done to you. Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Some people have no knowledge of God. But you are to come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. Therefore, let us confess our sins.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 28]


Nahum 3:1-19 OR Zechariah 12:1-13:1
Psalm 77: (1-2) 3-10 (11-20)
Matthew 27:57-66 OR Mark 15:42-47 OR Luke 23:50-56 OR John 19:31-42
[Comprehensive option: Jn 19:31-37; Lk 23:50-52; Mk 15:44-45; Jn 19:39-42; Lk 23:55-56]
Romans 16:1-25 (26-27)

Lord Jesus Christ, even in death, you, the Living Word, have spoken and offered the testimony of God, the testimony of the Spirit and the water and the blood, that the Word of the LORD might not return empty. Even in death you fulfilled the prophets, preached to the spirits that were in prison, and kept the Sabbath wholly, manifesting the grace of God in the face of the abuse and disgrace that continued to be heaped upon you, even in death. Now, O Lord, now that you live again, how much more do we hope to hear from you, from you, the Lord of Eternal Life, and how much more do we hope to be refreshed in your Holy Spirit, to see you in your glory! Meet with us, we pray, in this time and place, and speak from eternity, testify once more, that we may hear and be strengthened in faith and hope and the love of your dear name.  

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ - 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time [Proper 27]

Nahum 2:1-13 OR Jeremiah 42:1-7; 43:1-7
Psalm 71:15-24
Matthew 27:31b-56 OR Mark 15:20b-41 OR Luke 23:33-49 OR John 19:17-30
Romans 14:13-23


O LORD, holy and merciful, we confess we have often misplaced our faith in you and sought to establish our own righteousness. We have been afraid to submit to your claim upon our lives, and thus we find ourselves as but a remnant of a once numerous people. We have been guided by self-concern, judged one another, and made one another stumble, where you would have us judge ourselves, confess our own sins, and build one another up in the knowledge of your saving love. Truly, O God, we stand in need of forgiveness, renewal, reform, and grace. Therefore, be gracious to us, O God, and help us, we pray, to receive grace that we may be better able and quick to show grace toward one another in the knowledge that Jesus has given himself up to death, and now is risen and reigns on high, not only for our sake, but for the sake of our neighbors and fellow believers. Forgive us, LORD, and help us to live as forgiven and forgiving people, to the honor and glory of your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

All Saints’ Day

Haggai 1:1-14 (15) OR 2Chronicles 19:4-20:30
Psalm 107: (1-3) 10-16, 23-32 (33-37) 38-42 (43)
Matthew 27: (45-49) 50-56
Listen to me, you chosen of God!
Believe in the LORD and you will be established;
believe his prophets; sing to the LORD and praise him in holy splendor: 
        “Give thanks to the LORD,
        for his steadfast love endures forever.”
For thus says the LORD to you:
“Do not fear or be dismayed at your enemies;
for the battle is not yours; it belongs to God.
It is not for you to fight, but only to stand still
and see the victory of the LORD on your behalf.”
        “We will not fear or be dismayed;
        For the LORD our God is with us.”

O LORD our God, surely your Spirit rejoices when your children walk and love one another in the truth. Draw near to us, we pray, speak to and support your people, that we may be faithful to the truth, that it may go well with us in body, soul, and spirit, and that we, your church, might be healthy co-workers with the truth, supporting those saints and servants of the gospel who testify and journey for the sake of Christ, blessing them in a manner worthy of your most holy name.