Second Sunday after Epiphany

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, the prophet speaks: The nations will see God’s faithful love when Jerusalem is redeemed (Isaiah 62:1–5). The psalmist declares The steadfast love of the Lord is great; in God is the fountain of life (Psalm 36:5–10). The apostle Paul writes: Each of us has gifts from the Spirit, given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:1–11). In the Gospel of John, Jesus turns water into fine wine at a wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1–11).

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 62:1–5

1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your builder marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

Psalm 36:5–10

5 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

10 O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your salvation to the upright of heart!

1 Corinthians 12:1–11

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

John 2:1–11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 36:5-10

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your salvation to the upright of heart!

Prayer of Renewal

Based on John 2:1-11; Isaiah 62:1-2, 5

Lord Jesus, we believe you are able to perform miracles
in our lives today, just as you turned water to wine long ago.
Do your work of transformation, by the Spirit,
that our lives may reflect your power and your glory;
that the nations may behold the salvation of our God.
May we cling to you each day,
knowing that you pursue us with your steadfast love.
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so you rejoice over your people.
May we live in light of this strong promise.
In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

We believe there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
varieties of services, but the same Lord;
and varieties of activities, but the same God
who activates all of them in everyone.

We believe that to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

We believe that to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom,
and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy,
to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues,
to another the interpretation of tongues.

We believe that all these are activated by one and the same Spirit,
who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

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Baptism of the Lord

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday we hear the prophet speak: Do not fear, I am with you; I have called you by name; you are mine (Isaiah 43:1–7). The psalmist declares: Glorify the name of the Lord, who reigns over the waters (Psalm 29). In the Book of Acts, people previously baptized in Jesus’ name receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14–17). In Luke, John baptizes Jesus; the Spirit descends; God says: You are my Son (Luke 3:15–17, 21–22).

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 43:1–7

1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my sight,
and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
6 I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

Psalm 29

1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendor.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,
and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Acts 8:14–17

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Luke 3:15–17, 21–22

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 29:1-2

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendor.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Isaiah 43:1-3

Holy God,
we know that we do not need to fear
for you have redeemed us;
you have called us by name, we are yours.
You promise that when we pass
through the waters, you will be with us;
and when we walk through the fire,
we shall not be burned,
For you are the Lord our God,
the Holy One of Israel, our Savior. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

We believe that John the Baptist answered
the doubts and false expectations of the people of his day by saying,
“I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming;
I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his granary;
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

We believe that when all the people were baptized,
and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.

We believe that a voice came from heaven,
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

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Epiphany of the Lord

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday we hear the prophet speak: Arise, shine your light has come; the glory of the Lord appears (Isaiah 60:1–6). The psalmist declares: May the king reign forever and deliver the needy (Psalm 72:1–7, 10–14). The apostle Paul writes: An ancient mystery is revealed: Gentiles are fellow heirs in Christ (Ephesians 3:1–12). In Matthew, following a star, wise men visit Jesus and bring him gifts (Matthew 2:1–12).

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 60:1–6

1 Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
3 Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

4 Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Psalm 72:1–7, 10–14

1 Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king’s son.
2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.
3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness.
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor.

5 May he live while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth.
7 In his days may righteousness flourish
and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

Ephesians 3:1–12

1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Matthew 2:1–12

1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Isaiah 60:1-3

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Ephesians 3:1-12

Holy God, we praise you for your Word,
allowing us to understand the mystery of Christ:
that we have become fellow heirs,
members of one body, and sharers in the promise
in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
We are so grateful that we have been granted
the good news of the the boundless riches of Christ.
We thank you, O Lord, that this was in accordance
with the eternal purpose that you carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have access to you in boldness
and confidence through faith in Christ.
To him be glory and honor, forever and ever. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Matthew 2:1-11

We believe that in the time of King Herod,
after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking,
“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?
For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

We believe that they set out for Bethlehem;
and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,
until it stopped over the place where the child was.
We believe that when they saw that the star had stopped,
they were overwhelmed with joy.

We believe that on entering the house,
they saw the child with Mary his mother;
and they knelt down and paid him homage.

We believe they opened their treasure chests
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

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First Sunday after Christmas

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, we see that Samuel grows in stature and favor, ministering before
the Lord (1 Samuel 2:18–20, 26). The psalmist declares, Praise the Lord, all creation! God is exalted
in heaven and earth (Psalm 148). The apostle Paul challenges us: As God’s chosen ones, clothe
yourselves in love; be thankful (Colossians 3:12–17). In Luke, three days after Passover, young
Jesus is found in his Father’s house (Luke 2:41–52).

Lectionary Readings

1 Samuel 2:18–20, 26

18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord”; and then they would return to their home.

Psalm 148

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!

3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He established them forever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

Colossians 3:12–17

12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Luke 2:41–52

41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 148:1-6, 11-14

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike, old and young together!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.

Praise the Lord!

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Colossians 3:15-17

Holy God,
let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts,
and help us to be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly;
help us to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom;
and with gratitude in our hearts, may we sing
psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to you.
And whatever we do, in word or deed,
may we do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to you, our Father, through him.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Colossians 3:12-14

We believe that as God’s chosen ones,
holy and beloved, we are to clothe ourselves
with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

We believe we are to bear with one another and,
if anyone has a complaint against another, we are to forgive each other;
just as the Lord has forgiven us, so we also must forgive.

We believe that, above all, we are to clothe ourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday we hear that a ruler will come from Bethlehem; he will be the one of peace (Micah 5:2–5a). The psalmist declares, Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel; let your face shine, and save us (Psalm 80:1–7). The author of Hebrews tells us that God does not desire burnt offerings; Christ came to do God’s will (Hebrews 10:5–10). In Luke, Mary visits Elizabeth; the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy (Luke 1:39–55).

Lectionary Readings

Micah 5:2–5a

2 But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the people of Israel.
4 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
5 and he shall be the one of peace.

If the Assyrians come into our land
and tread upon our soil,
we will raise against them seven shepherds
and eight installed as rulers.

Psalm 80:1–7

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!

3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.

4 O Lord God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears,
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
our enemies laugh among themselves.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Hebrews 10:5–10

5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’
(in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Luke 1:39–55

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Micah 5:2, 4-5a

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.

And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Luke 1:46-55; Psalm 80:3

Redeeming Lord,
may our souls magnify you alone;
may our spirits rejoice in God our Savior.
Your mercy is for those who fear you
from generation to generation.
You have brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
you have filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
Restore us, O God,
let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Hebrews 10:5-10

We believe that when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.”

We believe he then said,

“See, I have come to do your will, O God.”

We believe that it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

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Third Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday we hear the words: Rejoice and sing. God will redeem you and restore your fortunes (Zephaniah 3:14–20). The prophet Isaiah declares: Surely God is my salvation; trust in the Lord and give thanks (Isaiah 12:2-6). The apostle Paul encourages us to rejoice in the Lord, who is near; pray and receive God’s peace (Philippians 4:4–7). In Luke, John the Baptist warns of God’s wrath and proclaims the good news (Luke 3:7–18).

Lectionary Readings

Zephaniah 3:14–20

14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
18 as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.
19 I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord.

Isaiah 12:2–6

2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day:

Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.

5 Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Philippians 4:4–7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:7–18

7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11 In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Isaiah 12:4-6

Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Zephaniah 3:14-17

Loving God,
during this Advent season,
help us to sing aloud, and rejoice in you with
full and gracious hearts.
We know that you have taken away
the judgments against us,
and that you are in our midst.
When fears overcome us, may we remember
that you delight in us with gladness;
that you quiet us with your love;
that you rejoice over us with singing.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Philippians 4:4-7

We believe we are to rejoice in the Lord always,
and to let our gentleness be known to everyone.

We believe the Lord is near,
that we do not worry about anything.

We believe that in everything, we can let our requests
be made known to God through prayer and supplication.

We believe that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

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Second Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday we hear that the Lord is like a refining fire; God’s messenger will prepare the way (Malachi 3:1-4). In Luke, we hear Zechariah’s song: Blessed is the Lord God, who has come to save us (Luke 1:68-79). Paul writes that the work that God has begun will be completed at Christ’s coming (Philippians 1:3-11). Also from Luke, in the wilderness John cries out: Prepare the way of the Lord (Luke 3:1-6).

Lectionary Readings

Malachi 3:1-4

1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Luke 1:68-79

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us 74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Philippians 1:3-11

3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Luke 3:1-6

1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Luke 3:4-6

The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.

Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Let us worship the Lord.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Philippians 3:6, 9-11

Sovereign God,
we know that you, who began a good work among us,
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
May our love overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight
to help us to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ
we may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Luke 1:68-73

Remembering the prophecy of Zechariah,
brothers and sisters, what is it that we believe…

We believe that the Lord God of Israel
looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
We believe he raised up his Son, Jesus Christ,
a mighty savior in the house of David,
just as he spoke through the prophets of old.
We believe God saved his people from their enemies,
showed them the mercy promised to their ancestors,
and remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham.

We believe he raised up John the Baptist,
the prophet of the Most High;
who went before the Lord to prepare his ways,
and to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
We believe that by the tender mercy of God,
the dawn from on high broke upon his people,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

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First Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday we hear that the days are coming when God’s promise of salvation will be fulfilled (Jeremiah 33:14-16). The psalmist declares: O Lord, teach me your paths; you are the God of my salvation (Psalm 25:1-10). The apostle Paul encourages us: May God strengthen your heart until the coming of the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 3:9-13). In Luke, signs in the heavens show that the kingdom of God is near; be alert (Luke 21:25-36).

Lectionary Readings

Jeremiah 33:14-16

14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Psalm 25:1-10

1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.

6 Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Luke 21:25-36

25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 25:1, 5

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.

Prayer of the Day

Based on 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

Lord Jesus, during this Advent season,
fill us with anticipation and direct our way to you.
May we, your people, increase and abound
in love for one another and for all,
just as we abound in love for you.
Strengthen our hearts in holiness
that we may be blameless before you
when you return. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

We believe that when Jesus returns there will be signs
in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth.
We believe that we will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
We believe that when these things begin to take place,
our redemption is drawing near.

We believe that we are to be on guard
so that our hearts are not weighed down
and that the day does not catch us unexpectedly.
We believe that we are to be alert at all times,
praying that we may have the strength
to escape all the things that will take place,
and to stand before the Son of Man.

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Christ the King (Year B)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday we hear that the Ancient One gives all dominion to a human, coming in clouds (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14). The psalmist proclaims that the ancient and everlasting Lord is enthroned in majesty (Psalm 93). In Revelation we know that Jesus is coming with the clouds; the Lord is Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:4b-8). In John, Pilate asks: Are you a king? Jesus answers: I came to show the truth (John 18:33-37).

Lectionary Readings

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

9 As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One took his throne,
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

13 As I watched in the night visions,

I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.
14 To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.

Psalm 93

1 The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.
He has established the world; it shall never be moved;
2 your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.

3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
4 More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters,
more majestic than the waves of the sea,
majestic on high is the Lord!

5 Your decrees are very sure;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore.

Revelation 1:4b-8

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

7 Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be. Amen.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

John 18:33-37

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 93:1-2

The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.

He has established the world; it shall never be moved;
your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

call to confession

Based on Revelation 1:5b

Brothers and sisters,
Jesus loves us and frees us from our sins;
therefore, let us confess our sins to God.

Prayer of Confession

Based on John 18:33-37

Lord Jesus,
we confess that, like Pilate,
we sometimes question your kingship.
Too often, we desire to rule and manage our own lives.
Help us submit to your will and your authority,
for you love us, care for us, and know what is best for us.
Remind us that your kingdom is not of this world,
and that your ways are not our ways.
Help us to listen to your voice,
and grant us an undivided heart, wholly devoted to you.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Based Revelation 1:5b

Brothers and sisters,
Jesus loves us and frees us from our sins;
therefore, we have peace with God.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 1:7-8

We believe that when Jesus returns, he will be coming
with the clouds of heaven, and every eye will see him.

We believe he was given dominion and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.

We believe that his dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.

We believe Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega,
who is and who was and who is to come.

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Proper 28 (Year B)

(Sunday between November 13 and November 19 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday we hear about Daniel’s vision: Those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake (Daniel 12:1-3). The psalmist sings, O Lord, you are always with me; you show me the path of life (Psalm 16). The author of Hebrews encourages us to hold fast to our faith, preparing for the day of the Lord (Hebrews 10:11-25). In Mark, Jesus speaks of the temple’s fall, and other signs of what is to come (Mark 13:1-8).

Lectionary Readings

Daniel 12:1-3

1 “At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.

4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.

5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.

7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.

11 You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11 And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,” 13 and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.” 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds,”

17 he also adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

19 Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Mark 13:1-8

1 As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2 Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Hebrews 10:22-25

Let us come to worship with a true heart
in full assurance of faith,
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast to the confession
of our hope without wavering,
for he who has promised is faithful.

And let us consider how to provoke one another
to love and good deeds,
not neglecting to meet together,
as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,
and all the more as we see the Day approaching.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Psalm 16

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.

You are my inheritance, my chosen portion and my cup;
you guard all that is mine.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a wonderful heritage.

You give me counsel and guidance;
even in the night my heart instructs me.
You are always with me;
I will not be shaken, for you are right beside me.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure. You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Daniel 12:1-3; Mark 13:5-8

Regarding the last days, we believe there will be a time of anguish,
such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence.
We believe that God’s people shall be delivered,
everyone who is found written in the book.
We believe that many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
We believe that those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky,
and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

In the last days, we believe that many will come in Jesus’ name and say,
”I am he!” and they will lead many astray.
We believe that when we hear of wars and rumors of wars,
we should not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.
We believe that nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom;
there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines.
We believe this is but the beginning of the last days.

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Proper 27 (Year B)

(Sunday between November 6 and November 12 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday a widow miraculously feeds Elijah with only meager resources (I Kings 17:8-16). The psalmist declares: Do not put your trust in princes; God gives food to the hungry (Psalm 146). The author of Hebrews tells us that Christ entered the sanctuary of heaven; he will come again to save (Hebrews 9:24-28). In Mark, Jesus criticizes the scribes and praises the gift of a poor widow (Mark 12:38-44).

Lectionary Readings

I Kings 17:8-16

8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” 11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” 15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

Psalm 146

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.

5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Hebrews 9:24-28

24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Mark 12:38-44

38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 146:1-2, 7b-10

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!

I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow.

The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord!

Prayer of the Day

Based on 1 Kings 17:8-16; Mark 12:38-44

Sovereign Lord,
we know that your word comes to us,
and that your Holy Spirit guides us
in the ordinary events of life.
Often, when it seems our resources have been depleted,
you provide for us and sustain us in amazing ways.
You care for us like the widow at Zarephath,
whose jar of meal was not emptied,
and whose jug of oil did not fail.
O Lord, may we not walk around pridefully,
desiring approval and places of honor in this world.
Rather, from a poverty in spirit, may we find abundance;
from a heart of gratitude, may we offer you all that we have.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Hebrews 12:38-44

We believe that when he ascended,
Christ entered into heaven itself,
to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

We believe Christ has appeared once for all
to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.

We believe that Christ,
having been offered once to bear the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to deal with sin,
but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

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Proper 26 (Year B)

(Sunday between October 30 and November 5 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, it is said: Hear, O Israel: The Lord alone is our God; you shall love the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). The psalmist declares: Happy are those who seek God and walk in the ways of the Lord (Psalm 119:1-8). The author of Hebrews tells us that by the blood of Christ, our high priest, we will be made clean (Hebrews 9:11-14). In Mark, Jesus summarizes the commandments: to love God and neighbor (Mark 12:28-34).

Lectionary Readings

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

1 Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, 2 so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Psalm 119:1-8

1 Happy are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
2 Happy are those who keep his decrees,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways.
4 You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 O that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous ordinances.
8 I will observe your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me.

Hebrews 9:11-14

11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

Mark 12:28-34

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 119:5-7

O that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous ordinances.

Call to Confession

Based on Hebrews 9:14

The blood of Christ purifies our conscience
from dead works to worship the living God.
Therefore, let us confess our sins before the Lord.

Prayer of Confession

Based on Psalm 119:1-7

Triune God,
we know that those who walk in the law of the Lord,
and whose way is blameless, have peace in their hearts.
We confess that our souls are not at rest.
We are disturbed and downcast
for we do need keep your word.
We do not walk with you as we should;
nor love you with our whole heart;
we are not steadfast in keeping your commands.
Help us to keep our eyes fixed on all your ways,
and to praise you with an upright heart.
We desire rest for our souls;
we want to be satisfied in you alone. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Based on Hebrews 9:11-12

Brothers and sisters, receive the promise of forgiveness:
Christ entered the Holy Place, once for all,
not with the blood of goats and calves,
but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Mark 12:29-31

We believe that the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

We believe that we are to love the Lord our God
with all our heart, and with all our soul,
and with all our mind, and with all our strength.
We believe we are to love our neighbor as ourself.

We believe that there is no other commandment greater than these.

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Proper 25 (Year B)

(Sunday between October 23 and October 29 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, we hear the prophet Jeremiah speaking for the Lord saying that he will gather his people from the ends of the earth (Jeremiah 31:7-9). The psalmist proclaims that those who went out weeping will come home with shouts of joy (Psalm 126). In Hebrews, we learn that Jesus is a high priest forever; his own sacrifice was once for all (Hebrews 7:23-28). In Mark, Jesus restores Bartimaeus’s sight and tells him that his faith has made him well (Mark 10:46-52).

Lectionary Readings

Jeremiah 31:7-9

7 For thus says the Lord:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
“Save, O Lord, your people,
the remnant of Israel.”
8 See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
those with child and those in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
9 With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Psalm 126

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.

4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

Hebrews 7:23-28

23 Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

Mark 10:46-52

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Jeremiah 31:7

For thus says the Lord:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,

“Save, O Lord, your people,
the remnant of Israel.”

Prayer of Intercession

Based on Psalm 126; Mark 10:46-52

Gracious Lord, we can look back and see
your hand of faithfulness in our lives;
seasons of redemption and restoration,
when our mouths were filled with laughter,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
You have done have great things for us, and we have rejoiced.

Restore our hearts and our health
once again, O Lord, like streams in the desert.
Like blind Barimaeus, we cry out
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
May those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
come home with shouts of joy, carrying the fruit of your hand.
We ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Hebrews 10:46-52

We believe that Jesus holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.
We believe that he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him,
since he always lives to make intercession for them.

We believe it was fitting that we should have such a high priest,
holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
We believe that, unlike the other high priests, Jesus has no need to offer sacrifices
day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people;
this he did once for all when he offered himself.

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Proper 24 (Year B)

(Sunday between October 16 and October 22 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, we see the suffering servant of God was wounded for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:4-12). Speaking for the Lord the psalmist says: I will deliver and protect those who love me (Psalm 91:9-16). The author of Hebrews tells us that the Son of God suffered willingly; now he is our great high priest (Hebrews 5:1-10). In Mark, we read that Jesus came to be a servant and to give his life for others (Mark 10:35-45).

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 53:4-12

4 Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
9 They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
11 Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.

Hebrews 5:1-10

1 Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; 3 and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4 And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;

6 as he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”

7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 91:14-15

Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;

I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.

Call to Confession

Based Isaiah 53:6a

Brothers and sisters,
all we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way.
Therefore, let us confess our sins to the Lord.

Prayer of Confession

Based on Mark 10:35-45

Gracious Lord,
we confess that we desire positions
of power and authority
and to make a name for ourselves.
Change our hearts, O God;
give us the humility of Christ,
who came not to be served but to serve.
May we remember that whoever
wishes to become great must become a servant,
and whoever wishes to be first must be slave of all.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Based on Isaiah 53:5

Christ was wounded for our transgressions,
and crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Hebrews 5:7-10

We believe that in the days that Jesus walked the earth,
he offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears,
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

We believe that although he was a Son,
he learned obedience through what he suffered;
and having been made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,
having been designated by God a high priest.

Reflection Questions

1. Reflect on all that Jesus endured for us in the vivid descriptions of Isaiah 53. How does that shape your perspective of the cross?

2. What uniquely qualifies Jesus to be our High Priest? In the Old Testament there were priests and sacrifices. How does Jesus fulfill both of these roles?

3. How do we often act like James and John in Mark 10? What selfish motives influence how you pray to Jesus?

4. In what ways can we be naive in what we ask of God? How does God often show us mercy?

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Proper 23 (Year B)

(Sunday between October 9 and October 15 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, the prophet Amos tells us to establish justice; seek good and not evil, so that you may live (Amos 5:6-7, 10-15). The psalmist declares: satisfy us with your love, O Lord; prosper the work of our hands (Psalm 90:12-17). The author of Hebrews tells us that the living word of God is our judge; Jesus is our great high priest (Hebrews 4:12-16). In Mark, we find that for God all things are possible; the last will be first in the kingdom (Mark 10:17-31).

Lectionary Readings

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15

6 Seek the Lord and live,
or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,
and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.
7 Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood,
and bring righteousness to the ground!

10 They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
11 Therefore because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
13 Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.

14 Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
15 Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Psalm 90:12-17

12 So teach us to count our days
that we may gain a wise heart.

13 Turn, O Lord! How long?
Have compassion on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us,
and as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be manifest to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!

Hebrews 4:12-16

12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.

14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Mark 10:17-31

17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Psalm 90:14, 16-17

As we come to worship you, O Lord,
satisfy us with your steadfast love;
may we rejoice and be glad all our days.

Let your work be made known to your people,
and your glorious power to the younger generation.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Amos 5:14-15

Merciful God,
help us to seek good and not evil,
that we may live, and that you,
the Lord Almighty, will be with us.
Establish justice in our hearts
and in our communities.
Be gracious to us and
smile upon us with your favor;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Hebrews 4:12-16

We believe the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow;
able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 

We believe we have a great high priest
who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.

We believe our high priest is able to sympathize with our weaknesses;
for he has, in every respect, been tested as we are, yet without sin.

We believe, therefore, that we can approach the throne of grace with boldness,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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Proper 22 (Year B)

(Sunday between October 2 and October 8 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, God sees that the man is alone, and creates a partner for him (Genesis 2:18-24). The psalmist asks: Majestic Lord, what are human beings that you are mindful of them? (Psalm 8). The author of Hebrews tells us that now God speaks to us by a Son, made lower than the angels. In Mark, Jesus responds to a question on divorce and blesses little children (Mark 10:2-16).

Lectionary Readings

Genesis 2:18-24

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
for out of Man this one was taken.”

24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Psalm 8

1 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?

5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

5 Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. 6 But someone has testified somewhere,

“What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
or mortals, that you care for them?
7 You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned them with glory and honor,
8 subjecting all things under their feet.”

Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, 9 but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying,

“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

Mark 10:2-16

2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

From Psalm 8:1-4, 9

You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Prayer of the day

Based on Genesis 2:18-21

Creator God,
we know it is not good for humankind to be alone.
We thank you for the covenant of marriage
and the intimacy between husband and wife.
Give us the grace, in all of our relationships,
to love and serve one another with the love of Christ.
We thank you for the gift of creation,
animals of the field and birds of the air.
May we be good stewards of the earth,
exercising care and dominion over all that you have made;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Hebrews 1:1-4

We believe that long ago God spoke to his people
in many and various ways by the prophets,
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, Jesus,
whom he appointed heir of all things,
through whom he also created the world.

We believe Jesus is the reflection of God’s glory
and the exact imprint of God’s very being,
and that he sustains all things by his powerful word.

We believe that when Jesus had made purification for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
having become as much superior to angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

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Proper 21 (Year B)

(Sunday between September 25 and October 1 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, we find in the book of Numbers that, among the elders, a controversy erupts over who can prophesy (Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29). The psalmist declares: Clear me from hidden faults; let my words be acceptable to you (Psalm 19:7-14). James tells us to pray for one another; faithful prayer brings healing and forgiveness (James 5:13-20). In Mark, the disciples find someone else casting out demons in Jesus’ name (Mark 9:38-50).

Lectionary Readings

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29

4 The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6 but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

10 Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the Lord became very angry, and Moses was displeased. 11 So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? 12 Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child, to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors’? 13 Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. 15 If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once—if I have found favor in your sight—and do not let me see my misery.”

16 So the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you.

24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.

26 Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!”

Psalm 19:7-14

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

James 5:13-20

13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.

19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20 you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Mark 9:38-50

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

42 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Psalm 19:14

Lord Jesus,
as we gather together in worship,
let the words of our mouths
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable to you,
our rock and our redeemer.

Prayer of INTERCESSiON

Based on James 5:13-20

God of healing and grace,
we come with intercessions for those among us:

For those who are suffering, we lift up our prayers.
For those who are cheerful, we join in their songs of praise.
For those who are sick, we ask for your anointing power and healing touch.

Fill us all with faith, like Elijah, as we pray for one another
and confess our sins to one another, that we may be healed.

Use us to bring back those who have wandered from the truth;
may their souls be saved from death; may their sins be covered by your grace.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Psalm 19:7-11

We believe the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
and the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;

We believe the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
and the commandments of the Lord are clear, enlightening the eyes.

We believe the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;
and the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

We believe the ordinances of the Lord are to be desired more than gold, even much fine gold.
We believe they are sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, we believe that by them we are warned,
and that in keeping them there is great reward.

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Proper 20 (Year B)

(Sunday between September 18 and September 24 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, Jeremiah laments: I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter (Jeremiah 11:18-20). The psalmist pleads: Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me against my enemies (Psalm 54). James tells us that wisdom from above is pure, peaceful, gentle; draw near to God (James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a). In Mark, Jesus foretells his dying and rising; then he welcomes a little child (Mark 9:30-37).

Lectionary Readings

Jeremiah 11:18-20

18 It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew;
then you showed me their evil deeds.
19 But I was like a gentle lamb
led to the slaughter.
And I did not know it was against me
that they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
so that his name will no longer be remembered!”
20 But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously,
who try the heart and the mind,
let me see your retribution upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

Psalm 54

1 Save me, O God, by your name,
    and vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
    give ear to the words of my mouth.

3 For the insolent have risen against me,
    the ruthless seek my life;
    they do not set God before them.

4 But surely, God is my helper;
    the Lord is the upholder of my life.
5 He will repay my enemies for their evil.
    In your faithfulness, put an end to them.

6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
    I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7 For he has delivered me from every trouble,
    and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

1 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2 You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Mark 9:30-37

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 54:6-7

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
    I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.

For he has delivered me from every trouble,
    and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Prayer of Confession

Based on Mark 9:34-37

Gracious God,
you told the disciples that whoever wants
to be first must be last of all and servant of all.
We confess that we are often driven
by selfish ambition and a desire to be the greatest.
Grant us a humility of heart that, in your name,
we would welcome the children among us,
the least among us, the broken among us.
Help us to serve others rather than ourselves;
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Based on Psalm 54:4

Hear the good news:
God is your helper;
the Lord is the upholder of your life.
Through the blood of Christ, we are forgiven.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on James 3:16-18; 4:7-8

We believe that where there is envy and selfish ambition,
there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 

We believe that the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle,
willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 

We believe that a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

We believe that we are to submit ourselves to God.

We believe that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us;
and when we draw near to God, he will draw near to us.

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Proper 19 (Year B)

(Sunday between September 11 and September 17 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, Isaiah says: God has given me the tongue of a teacher, to sustain the weary (Isaiah 50:4-9a). The psalmist declares: Lord, you deliver me from death, from weeping, from stumbling (Psalm 116:1-9). James tells us that words have the power to bless and curse; use them wisely (James 3:1-12). In Mark, Jesus says: You must take up the cross if you want to follow me (Mark 8:27-38).

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 50:4-9a

4 The Lord God has given me
    the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
    the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
    wakens my ear
    to listen as those who are taught.
5 The Lord God has opened my ear,
    and I was not rebellious,
    I did not turn backward.
6 I gave my back to those who struck me,
    and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
    from insult and spitting.

7 The Lord God helps me;
    therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
    and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
8     he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
    Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
    Let them confront me.
9 It is the Lord God who helps me;
    who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out like a garment;
    the moth will eat them up.

Psalm 116:1-9

1 I love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
    the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
    I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”

5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.
6 The Lord protects the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest,
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

8 For you have delivered my soul from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling.
9 I walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

James 3:1-12

1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

Mark 8:27-38

27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Psalm 116:5-7

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.

The Lord protects the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return, O my soul, to your rest,
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Prayer of Confession

Based on James 3:5-10, Isaiah 50:4

Lord, we confess that our tongue
can be used for evil and is full of deadly poison.
It is like a fire that can set a forest ablaze.
With it we bless the Lord, but also curse
those who are made in the likeness of God.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.
Merciful God, give us tongues that are able
to sustain the weary with just a word.
Let our mouths be used to edify and encourage,
rather than tear down and destroy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Based on Isaiah 50:7-8

Hear the declaration of forgiveness:
The Lord God helps us; therefore we will not be disgraced.
We will not be put to shame; he who vindicates us is near.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Mark 8:29, 34-35

We believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

We believe that the Son of Man endured great suffering;
was rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes;
was killed, and after three days rose again.

We believe that all who want to become disciples of Christ
must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him.
For those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for Christ's sake,
and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

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Proper 18 (Year B)

(Sunday between September 4 and September 10 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, Isaiah speaks of how miracles of healing and streams in the desert signal God’s coming (Isaiah 35:4-7). The psalmist tells us to trust God, who does justice, sets prisoners free, and helps the poor (Psalm 146). James exhorts us to care for those who are in need; without good works, faith is dead (James 2:1-10, 11-17). In Mark, Jesus heals a Gentile woman’s daughter and a man who cannot speak (Mark 7:24-37).

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 35:4-7

4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
    “Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
    He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
    He will come and save you.”

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

Psalm 146

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.

5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
7     who executes justice for the oppressed;
    who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8     the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
    he upholds the orphan and the widow,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

James 2:1-17

1 My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Mark 7:24-37

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Psalm 146:1-2, 7b-10

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
   the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
   the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
   he upholds the orphan and the widow,
   but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Prayer of intercession

Based on Isaiah 35:4-7, Mark 7:34-35

Mighty God,
you urge us to be strong and not to fear,
for you will come to save us.
So we pray boldly for your kingdom to come
on earth as it is in heaven.

From your healing touch may
the eyes of the blind be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
May the feet of the lame leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

From your redeeming love may
waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert.
May the burning sand become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water.

With just a word, you are able to heal us,
redeem us, and make all things new;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on James 2:8-17

We believe we are to fulfill the law according to the scripture,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

We believe that if we show partiality,
we commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 
For we believe that whoever keeps the whole law
but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

We believe we are to speak and to act
as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 
For we believe that judgment will be without mercy
to anyone who has shown no mercy.
We believe that mercy triumphs over judgment.

We believe that if a brother or sister is naked
and lacks daily food, and one of us says to them,
“Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,”
and yet does not supply their bodily needs, our words are useless.
We believe that faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

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