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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Proper 17 (Year B)

(Sunday between August 28 and September 3 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, we are told to observe God’s law diligently; do not add to it or subtract from it (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9). The psalmist asks, Who may abide in God’s presence? Those who do what is right (Psalm 15). James tells us that every good gift comes from God; pure religion is to care for others (James 1:17-27). In Mark, a debate about authority and tradition; evil things come from within (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23).

Lectionary Readings

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9

1 So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2 You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.

6 You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” 7 For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? 8 And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?

9 But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.

Psalm 15

1 O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
    Who may dwell on your holy hill?

2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
    and speak the truth from their heart;
3 who do not slander with their tongue,
    and do no evil to their friends,
    nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
    but who honor those who fear the Lord;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
5 who do not lend money at interest,
    and do not take a bribe against the innocent.

Those who do these things shall never be moved.

James 1:17-27

17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
    teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Mark 7:6-7

Brothers and sisters,
may we not be like hypocrites
who honor God with their lips,
but whose hearts are far from him.

May we not worship in vain,
but in spirit and in truth.

Let us exalt the Lord together.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Psalm 15

O Lord, we long to abide and dwell with you.
Help us to walk blamelessly, to do what is right,
    and to speak the truth from our heart.
Keep us from slandering others with our tongue,
    from harming our friends,
    and from criticizing our neighbors.

God of all grace, may we despise evil acts,
    and honor those who fear the Lord;
Give us the strength to keep our promises
    even when it hurts.
May we not lend money with interest,
    nor take a bribe against the innocent.
Help us in all these ways, O Lord,
    that we may stand firm forever.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on James 1:17-27

We believe that every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift,
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

We believe that in fulfillment of his own purpose
he gave us birth by the word of truth,
so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

We believe we are to be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 
for our anger does not produce God’s righteousness.

We believe that we are to get rid of all the evil in our lives,
and humbly accept the word God has planted in our hearts,
for it has the power to save our souls.

We believe we are to be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
For we believe that when we look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere,
being not hearers who forget but doers who act - we will be blessed in our doing.

We believe that if we think we are religious,
and do not bridle our tongues but deceive our hearts, our religion is worthless.

We believe that religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

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Proper 16 (Year B)

(Sunday between August 21 and August 27 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, we learn that the Lord desires that the wicked turn away from evil, and live (Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18). The psalmist tells us that when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and rescues them (Psalm 34:15-22). Paul exhorts us to put on the whole armor of God; persevere in prayer for the saints (Ephesians 6:10-20). In John, Jesus gives a difficult teaching; yet Peter says Jesus has the words of eternal life (John 6:56-59).

Lectionary Readings

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

1 Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods.

14 “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18 and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

Psalm 34:15-22

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
    to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,
    and rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord rescues them from them all.
20 He keeps all their bones;
    not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil brings death to the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Ephesians 6:10-20

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

John 6:56-69

56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Joshua 24:15-18

Choose this day whom you will serve.

It is the Lord our God who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
out of the house of slavery, and who did great signs in our sight.
He protected us along all the way that we went,
and among all the peoples through whom we passed;
Therefore we will serve the Lord, for he is our God.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Psalm 34:15-20

Gracious God,
we know your eyes are on your children,
and that your ears are open to our cries.
When we call on you for help you hear us,
and rescue us from all our troubles.
You are near to the brokenhearted,
and save the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of your people,
but you rescue us from them all.
You redeem the life of your servants;
none who take refuge in you will be condemned.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Ephesians 6:10-18

We believe we are to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.

We believe we are to put on the whole armor of God,
so that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

We believe our struggle is not against enemies of flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the cosmic powers of this present darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

Therefore we believe that we are to take up the whole armor of God,
so that we may be able to stand firm:
the belt of truth around our waist, and the breastplate of righteousness;
shoes for our feet that will make us ready to proclaim the gospel of peace; 
the shield of faith, with which we will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one; 
the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We believe that we are to pray in the Spirit at all times; 
to keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 

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Proper 15 (Year B)

(Sunday between August 14 and August 20 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, Wisdom calls: Come, eat of my bread and drink of my wine (Proverbs 9:1-6). The psalmist declares that those who seek the Lord will enjoy goodness and lack nothing (Psalm 34:9-14). Paul tells us t be filled with the Spirit, singing to God and always giving thanks (Ephesians 5:15-20). In John, Jesus says: My flesh and blood are food and drink for eternal life (John 6:51-58).

Lectionary Readings

Proverbs 9:1-6

1 Wisdom has built her house,
    she has hewn her seven pillars.
2 She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,
    she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls
    from the highest places in the town,
4 “You that are simple, turn in here!”
    To those without sense she says,
5 “Come, eat of my bread
    and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Lay aside immaturity, and live,
    and walk in the way of insight.”

Psalm 34:9-14

O fear the Lord, you his holy ones,
    for those who fear him have no want.
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Which of you desires life,
    and covets many days to enjoy good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil,
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil, and do good;
    seek peace, and pursue it.

Ephesians 5:15-20

15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 6:51-58

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Ephesians 5:18-20

Brothers and sisters,
may we be filled with the Spirit, 
as we sing psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs together.

We come singing and making melody
to the Lord in our hearts,
giving thanks to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer of Confession

Based on Proverbs 9:3-6, John 6:51, Ephesians 5:15-20

Holy God,
we confess that we do not always heed wisdom's call:
we do not lay aside immaturity, nor walk in the way of insight.
We are not careful about how we live,
making the most of our time because this world is full of evil.
We confess that we do not nourish ourselves with the Bread of life,
but foolishly seek temporary satisfaction in wine and sensual pleasures.

God, our Father,
forgive us and help us to abide in you.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit
and may we give you thanks at all times and for everything
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Based on John 6:51

Brothers and sisters, hear the good news of Jesus Christ who said:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever."

By grace, we find life and forgiveness in Christ alone.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Psalm 34:9-14

We come as dependent children,
with a holy fear of you, O Lord.
We desire life and are jealous
for many good days ahead,
enjoying a close walk with you.

Help us to keep our tongues from evil,
and our lips from speaking deceit.
Holy Spirit, fill us with your power and guidance,
that we may depart from evil, and do good;
that we may seek peace, and pursue it;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Proper 14 (Year B)

(Sunday between August 7 and August 13 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, an angel brings food and drink to Elijah in the wilderness (1 Kings 19:4-8). The psalmist says: I cried to the Lord for deliverance; taste and see that God is good (Psalm 34:1-8). Paul exhorts us to put away bitterness; be kind to one another; be imitators of God (Ephesians 4:25-5:2). In John, Jesus says: I am the bread of life that has come down from heaven (John 5:35, 41-51).

Lectionary Readings

1 Kings 19:4-8

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” 8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

Psalm 34:1-8

1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
    and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look to him, and be radiant;
    so your faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
    and was saved from every trouble.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;
    happy are those who take refuge in him.

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 5 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

John 6:35, 41-51

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty...

41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 34:1-3

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.

O magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Psalm 34:4-8, John 6:47-51

Restoring God,
you are the one who answers our prayers
and delivers us from all our fears.
We look to you and are radiant;
in you there is no shame or condemnation.
You are the bread of life, who came down from heaven,
and who brings eternal life to those who believe.
Help us to worship and follow you this day,
to taste and see that you are good.
We are blessed when we take refuge in you.

Song of Response

Lead Sheet

Prayer of Intercession

Based on Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Lord, we come bringing our prayers and petitions to you
as a community seeking to imitate you in all we do.

We pray against falsehood,
asking you to help us speak the truth to our neighbors,
for we are members of one another.
We pray against anger that leads us to sin.
Help us not to harbor anger overnight,
letting evil thoughts consume us, and giving the enemy a foothold.

In your mercy, O Lord,
Hear our prayer.

May we not steal, but labor honestly with our own hands,
willing to share what we have with those in need.
Let no evil talk come out of our mouths,
but only what is useful for building up, as there is need,
so that our words may give grace to those who hear.

In your mercy, O Lord,
Hear our prayer.

And may we not grieve the Holy Spirit,
with which we were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.
O Lord, help us put away from you all bitterness and wrath
and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice.
Help us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, as you have forgiven us in Christ.

In your mercy, O Lord,
Hear our prayer.
 
Grant us the desire to be imitators of you, O God,
as your beloved children, and to live in love,
as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

In your mercy, O Lord.
Hear our prayer.

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Proper 13 (Year B)

(Sunday between July 31 and August 6 inclusive)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, God feeds the people in the wilderness with manna from heaven (Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15). The psalmist recounts how the Lord rained down manna; the people ate and were filled (Psalm 78:23-29). Paul tells us that there is one body and one Spirit; speak truth and grow in love (Ephesians 4:1-16). In John, Jesus teaches about the bread of heaven, food for eternal life (John 5:24-35).

Lectionary Readings

Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15

2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.

9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

Psalm 78:23-29

23 Yet he commanded the skies above,
    and opened the doors of heaven;
24 he rained down on them manna to eat,
    and gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Mortals ate of the bread of angels;
    he sent them food in abundance.
26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
    and by his power he led out the south wind;
27 he rained flesh upon them like dust,
    winged birds like the sand of the seas;
28 he let them fall within their camp,
    all around their dwellings.
29 And they ate and were well filled,
    for he gave them what they craved.

Ephesians 4:1-16

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said,

“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
    he gave gifts to his people.”

9 (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

John 6:24-35

24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Psalm 78:23, 29; John 6:35

Our God commands the skies above,
and opens the doors of heaven.

He provides food to satisfy our deepest cravings.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

As we come to you in worship,
may you fill our hungry and thirsty souls.

Prayer of Confession

Based on Exodus 16:2-3; John 6:27, 33, 35

Rescuing God, we confess that we quickly forget
your faithfulness and redemption in our lives.
Like the Israelites we romance our days in bondage
and complain about your lack of provision in our lives.
Though you call us to yourself to fill our deepest hunger and thirst,
we run back to food that does not satisfy.

Bread of life, may we not strive for the food that perishes,
but for food that endures for eternal life
You are the source of life to the world,
help us to rest in you alone.
In Christ's name we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Based on John 6:33, 35

Hear the good news of the gospel:
Jesus is the bread of life and the source of life to the world. 
Those who come to him in faith will never be hungry,
and those who believe in him will never be thirsty. 

Song of Response

Song Chart

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Ephesians 4:1-16

We believe we are to lead a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called, 
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

We believe there is one body and one Spirit,
just as we were called to the one hope of our calling:
one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,
who is above all and through all and in all.

We believe Christ gave gifts to his people. 
We believe the gifts he gave were that some would be
apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 
until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

We believe we must no longer be children,
tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine,
by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.

We believe that by speaking the truth in love,
we must grow up in every way into him who is the head,
into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together
by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly,
promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

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