Easter Sunday (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, God promises a new creation, where all creatures will live in safety (Isaiah 65:17-25). The psalmist declares: I will not die, I will live; this is the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24). The apostle Paul writes: As death came through Adam, resurrection comes through Christ (1 Corinthians 15:19–26). In Luke, women find Jesus’ tomb empty; he has been raised from the dead (Luke 24:1–12).

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 65:17–25

17 For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
and their descendants as well.
24 Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.

Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

14 The Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
16 the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

1 Corinthians 15:19–26

19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Luke 24:1–12

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5 The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Isaiah 65:17-18

I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Luke 24:1-9; Psalm 118:14

Risen Lord,
we know that you are making all things new,
but too often, like the women who first came to the empty tomb,
we are perplexed and confused by your ways.
We doubt your goodness and the promises in your word.
Fill us with faith to believe all that you have revealed
to us about your grace and your steadfast love.
May we sing boldly with the psalmist:
The Lord is our strength and our might;
he has become our salvation;
through Jesus Christ, our living Savior. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

1 Corinthians 5:20-25

Brothers and sisters, what do we believe concerning the resurrection?

We believe that Christ was raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have died.

We believe that since death came through a human being,
the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being;
for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.

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Palm Sunday (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday the prophet writes: The Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty? (Isaiah 50:4-9a) The psalmist sings: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord (Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29). The apostle Paul writes: Seek the mind of Christ, who was humble, but exalted by God (Philippians 2:5-11). In Luke, Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt; the disciples praise God with joy (Luke 19:28-40).

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 118:1–2, 19–29

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Philippians 2:5–11

5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Luke 19:28–40

28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,

“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Luke 19:29–38

LEADER:
When Jesus had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,

PEOPLE:
“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Prayer of Adoration

Based on Psalm 118:1–2, 21-24, 26, 29

O Lord, we give you thanks for you are good;
your steadfast love endures forever!
We thank you that you answer us
and have become our salvation.
We know that Jesus, who was rejected,
has become the chief cornerstone.
This is your doing, O Lord,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.

As your people, may we proclaim:
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
And give us hearts that declare:
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We give you thanks for you are good,
your steadfast love endures forever.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Philippians 2:5–11

Brothers and sisters, what do we believe concerning
the humility and exaltation of Christ Jesus?

We believe that Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.

We believe that, being found in human form,
he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

We believe, therefore, that God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

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Fifth Sunday in Lent (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday the prophet writes: I am about to do a new thing, says the Lord; do you perceive it? (Isaiah 43:16-21) The psalmist sings: When the Lord restored our fortunes, we shouted with joy (Psalm 126). The apostle Paul writes: Knowing Christ Jesus as Lord, I regard everything else as loss (Philippians 3:4b-14). In John, Mary anoints Jesus feet with perfume at the home of Lazarus (John 12:1-8)

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 43:16–21

16 Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings out chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21 the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

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.

Philippians 3:4b–14

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

John 12:1–8

1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Isaiah 43:18-19, 20b-21

Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Psalm 126:4-6; John 12:1-8

Restore us, O Lord,
like streams in the desert.
May those who plant in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Like Mary, may we be extravagant
in our love and worship of you.
Give us generous hearts
that long to serve our neighbors
and reach out to those who do not know you.
In your holy name we pray. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Philippians 3:7-14

Brothers and sisters, what do we believe concerning the value of knowing Christ?

We believe that whatever gains we had,
these we have come to regard as loss because of Christ.

We regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of
knowing Christ Jesus our Lord,
being found in him,
not having a righteousness of our own that comes from the law,
but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.

We want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,
that we may attain the resurrection from the dead.

We do not believe that we have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;
but we press on to make it our own, because Christ Jesus has made us his own.

Forgetting what lies behind, we strain forward to what lies ahead,
and we press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

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Fourth Sunday in Lent (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday the Israelites keep passover at Gilgal; God rolls away their disgrace (Joshua 5:9–12). The psalmist sings: Happy are those whose sin is forgiven; be glad, rejoice in the Lord (Psalm 32). The apostle Paul writes: In Christ there is a new creation; everything old has passed away (2 Corinthians 5:16–21). In Luke, Jesus shares the parable of the parable of the Prodigal Son; he was lost and has been found (Luke 15:1–3, 11b–32).

Lectionary Readings

Joshua 5:9–12

9 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.

10 While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

Psalm 32

1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

2 Corinthians 5:16–21

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Luke 15:1–3, 11b–32

15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable:

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based Psalm 32:11

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous.
Shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Call to Confession

Based on Psalm 32:5

Brothers and sisters, let us not hide our iniquities,
but acknowledge our sin to the Lord.
Let us say, “We will confess our transgressions to the Lord,”
and let us find forgiveness.

Prayer of Confession

Based on Psalm 32:7-9; Luke 15:1–3, 11b–32

Merciful God,
we confess that our hearts are often full of deceit.
You offer us counsel and instruction,
but we do not listen to your Word.
You offer us wisdom and peace,
but our stubbornness, pride, and short tempers
keep us from true understanding.
Like the prodigal son, we can run after things that do not satisfy;
forgive our wayward hearts.
Like the elder brother, we can be self-righteous and ungrateful;
forgive our hard hearts.
Restore us, O God; be our hiding place;
preserve us from trouble; surround us with glad cries of deliverance.
In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Based on Psalm 32:1

In Christ, our transgressions are forgiven,
in him, our sins are covered.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on 2 Corinthians 5:17, 20-21

Brothers and sisters, what do we believe concerning our new position in Christ?

We believe that if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation:
everything old has passed away; everything has become new.

We believe that God has reconciled us to himself through Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

We believe we are ambassadors for Christ,
since God is making his appeal through us.

For our sake, we believe that God made him to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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Third Sunday in Lent (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday the prophet Isaiah writes: Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; listen to me and live (Isaiah 55:1-9). The psalmist sings: O God, you are my God, I seek you; my soul thirsts for you (Psalm 63:1-8). The apostle Paul writes: Our ancestors crossed the sea; they drank from Christ, the rock (1 Corinthians 10:1-13). In Luke, Jesus gives lessons on a tower and a fig tree; repent or you will perish (Luke 13:1-9).

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 55:1–9

1 Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalm 63:1–8

1 O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
6 when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

1 Corinthians 10:1–13

1 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10 And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Luke 13:1–9

1 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8 He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based Isaiah 55:1-2

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Come and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Psalm 63:1-8

O God, you are our God, we long to seek you.
May our souls thirst for you; and our flesh faint for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

As we enter our times of worship,
may we gaze upon you and behold your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
our lips will praise you.
By your grace, may we bless you as long as we live,
lifting up our hands and calling on your name.

May our souls be satisfied as with a rich feast,
and may our mouths praise you with joyful lips
when we think of you throughout the day and night;
for you have been our help,
and in the shadow of your wings we sing for joy.
Our souls cling to you; your right hand upholds us.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Brothers and sisters, what do we believe concerning our spiritual ancestors?

We believe our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.

We believe they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
However, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

How are these things an example for us?

These things occurred and were written down to instruct us,
that we would not desire evil as they did;
that we would not become idolaters as some of them did;
that we would not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did;
that we would not put Christ to the test, as some of them did;
that we not complain as some of them did,

What do we believe about God in the midst of testing and temptation?

We believe God is faithful, and he will not let us be tested beyond our strength,
but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that we may be able to endure it.

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Second Sunday in Lent (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday Abram believes in the Lord; God makes a covenant with Abram (Genesis 15:1–12, 17–18). The psalmist sings: I believe I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27). The apostle Paul writes: God will transform our humiliation into glory; stand firm in the Lord (Philippians 3:17-4:1). In Luke, Jesus laments: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets (Luke 13:31-35).

Lectionary Readings

Genesis 15:1–12, 17–18

1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4 But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

7 Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,

Psalm 27

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.

4 One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.

6 Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
10 If my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they are breathing out violence.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Philippians 3:17—4:1

17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

Luke 13:31–35

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 27:4-6

One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:

to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me,

and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27:1, 14

Faithful God,
we know we can trust in you and your word to us.
In spite of his bleak circumstances,
you promised Abraham that his descendants
would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens,
and that promise was fulfilled.
Fill us with faith to look beyond the impossible,
and to trust in your mighty provision and care.
You are our light and our salvation; whom shall we fear?
You are the stronghold of our lives; of whom shall we be afraid?
Fill us with strength and courage as we wait on you.
In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Philippians 3:20-21

Brothers and sisters, what do we believe regarding our true citizenship,
the return of Christ, and the redemption of our bodies?

We believe our citizenship is in heaven,
and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We believe he will transform the body of our humiliation
that it may be conformed to the body of his glory,
by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

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First Sunday in Lent (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday Moses writes: we cried to the Lord, God of our ancestors, and God delivered us (Deuteronomy 26:1-11). The psalmist sings: The Lord says: I will deliver and protect those who call on me (Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16). The apostle Paul writes: The word is near to you; those who call on the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:8b-13). In Luke, Jesus is tempted by the devil for forty days in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).

Lectionary Readings

Deuteronomy 26:1–11

1 When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, 2 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3 You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 5 you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. 6 When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, 7 we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8 The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; 9 and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. 11 Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.

Psalm 91:1–2, 9–16

1 You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
2 will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”

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.

Romans 10:8b–13

8 But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Luke 4:1–13

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”

5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’”

9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you,’

11 and

‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Deuteronomy 26:8-9

The Lord brought his people out of Egypt
with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,
with a display of power, and with signs and wonders.

He brought them into the promised land,
a land flowing with milk and honey.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Based on Psalm 91:1-2, 14-16

Holy God,
as your people we are grateful
that we live in the shelter of the Most High,
that we abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Grant us grace to declare that you are our refuge
and our fortress; our God, in whom we trust.

We rest in knowing you will deliver us;
you will protect those who know your name.
When we call to you, you answer us.
You rescue us and satisfy us with long life;
you show us your salvation.
Through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Romans 10:9-13

Brothers and sisters, regarding salvation, what is it that we believe?

We believe that if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord,
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
We believe there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

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Transfiguration of the Lord (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, Moses returns from Sinai with the law, and his face is shining (Exodus 34:29–35). The psalmist sings: The Lord is holy, a lover of justice; worship at God’s mountain (Psalm 99) . The apostle Paul writes: With unveiled faces, we see the glory of the Lord reflected (2 Corinthians 3:12—4:2). In Luke, Jesus is transfigured on a mountaintop; God says: This is my Son (Luke 9:28–43a).

Lectionary Readings

Exodus 34:29–35

29 Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34 but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Psalm 99

1 The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2 The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name.
Holy is he!
4 Mighty King, lover of justice,
you have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Extol the Lord our God;
worship at his footstool.
Holy is he!

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called on his name.
They cried to the Lord, and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;
they kept his decrees,
and the statutes that he gave them.

8 O Lord our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9 Extol the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy.

2 Corinthians 3:12—4:2

12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

1 Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

Luke 9:28–43a

28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39 Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 99:1-3

The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.

Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!

Prayer of Renewal

Based on 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Lord God,
you revealed your glory to Moses at Mount Sinai;
and to Peter, James, and John on the mount of transfiguration.
As your people, we want to know you and behold your glory.
We know that you are Spirit and where
the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
As we gaze upon you through Word, worship, and prayer,
would you transform us into your image
from one degree of glory to another;
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Luke 9:28-36

Brothers and sisters, what do we believe concerning the transfiguration of the Lord?

We believe that one day Jesus took with him
Peter and John and James,
and went up on a mountain to pray.

We believe that while he was praying,
the appearance of his face changed,
and his clothes became dazzling white.

We believe the disciples saw two men,
Moses and Elijah, talking to him.
They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure,
which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

We believe a voice from a cloud came and said,
“This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

We believe that when the voice had spoken,
Jesus was found alone; and the disciples kept silent
and told no one any of the things they had seen.

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Seventh Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday, Joseph tells his brothers, “God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:3–11, 15). The psalmist sings: Trust in the Lord and do good; you will live in the land and be secure (Psalm 37:1–11, 39–40). The apostle Paul writes: How are the dead raised? There is a spiritual body, raised in glory (1 Corinthians 15:35–38, 42–50). In Luke, Jesus says, “Love your enemies. Be merciful. Do not judge, but forgive”
(Luke 6:27–38).

Lectionary Readings

Genesis 45:3–11, 15

3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10 You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’

15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

Psalm 37:1–11, 39–40

1 Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not be envious of wrongdoers,
2 for they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will make your vindication shine like the light,
and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For the wicked shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

10 Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land,
and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and rescues them;
he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

1 Corinthians 15:35–38, 42–50

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is[a]from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will[b] also bear the image of the man of heaven.

50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Luke 6:27–38

27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 37:3-4

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Psalm 37:3-7

Faithful God,
help us to trust in you and do good;
that we might dwell in the safety of your presence.
May we take delight in you,
knowing that we will receive the true desires of our heart.

By your grace, may we commit our way to you;
trust in you, and watch you move in your lives.
We know that you have the power to make things right,
and that the justice of our cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Help us to be still and wait patiently for you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Luke 6:27-31, 37-38a

What did Jesus teach us about loving others in the sermon on the plain?

He taught…

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.

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Sixth Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)

Summary & Song

In the readings for this Sunday the prophet Jeremiah pronounces curses and blessings; those who trust in the Lord are like trees (Jeremiah 17:5-10). The psalmist sings: Happy are those who delight in God’s law, like trees by the water (Psalm 1). The apostle Paul writes: If there is no resurrection of the dead, our faith has been in vain (1 Corinthians 15:12–20). In Luke, Jesus speaks of blessings and curses in his sermon on the plain (Luke 6:17-26).

Lead Sheet, Lead Sheet (capo 2) | Multitracks

You Are Our Life

Words and Music by Paxson Jeancake, 2019
Based on Jeremiah 17:7-8; Psalm 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 6:20-21

Blessed are those whose trust is the Lord; planted by streams, like trees, they endure.
Their leaves will not wither; they stand firm and sure. Blessed are those whose trust is the Lord.

Blessed are those who delight in Your word; day after day, seeking what’s pure.
Not following foolish ways of this world. Blessed are those who delight in Your word.

We’ll follow Your ways for You are our life. We’ll find all we need, our soul’s deep delight.
There’s no greater love; no greater prize. You are our hope; You are our life.

Blessed, all poor, the kingdom is yours; and all who now hunger for you shall be full.
Blessed when weeping for laughter will come. Blessed, all poor, the kingdom is yours.

Blessed are those whose hope is in Christ; who’ve died unto Him, but have been made alive.
For one day these bodies will be raised to life. Blessed are those whose hope is in Christ.

Lectionary Readings

Jeremiah 17:5–10

5 Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
    and make mere flesh their strength,
    whose hearts turn away from the Lord.
6 They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.

7 Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
8 They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit.

9 The heart is devious above all else;
    it is perverse—
    who can understand it?
10 I the Lord test the mind
    and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
    according to the fruit of their doings.

Psalm 1

1 Happy are those
    who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
    or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
    planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
    and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

4 The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

1 Corinthians 15:12–20

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.

Luke 6:17–26

17 He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now,
    for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now,
    for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
    for you will mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 1:1-3

Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

Call to Confession

Based on Jeremiah 17:9-10

The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse—who can understand it?
As we confess our sins,
may the Lord tests our minds and search our hearts.

Prayer of Confession

Based on Jeremiah 17:5-8

Gracious Lord,
we confess that we often rely on
our own strength and resources,
and turn away from you.
In doing so our souls remain parched and unsatisfied.

We long to be a people who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
We desire to be like trees planted by water,
that do not fear when heat comes,
and whose leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought they are not anxious,
and they do not cease to bear fruit.
Help us to be this kind of people;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Based on 1 Corinthians 15:20

Brothers and sisters, we find life and forgiveness in Christ,
who has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Luke 6:17, 20-26

What did Jesus teach in the sermon on the plain before
a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people?

He taught…

“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
    for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now,
    for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
    for you will mourn and weep.

“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

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Fifth Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday the prophet Isaiah sees the Lord in the temple and says, “Woe is me! I am lost” (Isaiah 6:1-13). The psalmist declares: I give you thanks, O Lord; I bow down toward your holy temple (Psalm 138). The apostle Paul reminds us that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1–11). In Luke, we read of a miraculous catch of fish; Peter says, “Lord, I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:1–11).

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 6:1–13

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” 9 And he said, “Go and say to this people:

‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep looking, but do not understand.’
10 Make the mind of this people dull,
and stop their ears,
and shut their eyes,
so that they may not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and comprehend with their minds,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is utterly desolate;
12 until the Lord sends everyone far away,
and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.
13 Even if a tenth part remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak
whose stump remains standing
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.

Psalm 138

1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
above everything.
3 On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.

4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
5 They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

1 Corinthians 15:1–11

1 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Luke 5:1–11

1 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Isaiah 6:1-5

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty;
and the hem of his robe filled the temple.Seraphs were in attendance above him;
each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet,
and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.

The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called,
and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips,
and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Prayer of Adoration

Based on Psalm 138

Sovereign God, we give thanks to your name
for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
above everything.

All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.

Though you are high, you regard the lowly;
though we walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve us against the wrath of our enemies;
you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers us.
We know you will fulfill your purpose for us;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on 1 Corinthians 15:3-7

We believe that Christ died for our sins,
and that he was buried,
and that he was raised on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures.

We believe that he appeared to Cephas,
then to the twelve; then to more than
five hundred brothers and sisters at one time.
Then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles.
Then, last of all, we believe he appeared to Paul.

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Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday we read that the Lord knew and called the prophet Jeremiah before he was born (Jeremiah 1:4-10). The psalmist declares: Be my refuge, O God; I have trusted in you since my birth (Psalm 71:1-6). The apostle Paul writes: Without love, I have nothing; the greatest gift is love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). In Luke, we read how a prophet is not welcome at home; a crowd tries to attack Jesus (Luke 4:21-30).

Lectionary Readings

Jeremiah 1:4–10

4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”

9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

Psalm 71:1–6

1 In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
3 Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

1 Corinthians 13:1–13

1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Luke 4:21–30

21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” 24 And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 71:1-3

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Gracious Father,
if I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels,
but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away all my possessions,
and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Fill me with love that is patient and kind;
with love that is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
Fill me with love that does not insist on its own way;
that is not irritable or resentful;
that does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
Fill me with a love that bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things;
through Jesus Christ, love incarnate. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

We believe that love never ends,
but as for prophecies, they will come to an end;
as for tongues, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

We believe that we know only in part,
and we prophesy only in part;
but when the complete comes,
the partial will come to an end.

We believe that for now we see in a mirror, dimly,
but one day we will see face to face.
Now we know only in part;
one day we will know fully, even as we have been fully known.

We believe that faith, hope, and love abide,
these three; and the greatest of these is love.

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Third Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)

Summary

In the readings for this Sunday Ezra reads God’s law to the people; they weep to hear God’s words (Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10). The psalmist declares: The heavens tell God’s glory; the law of the Lord is perfect (Psalm 19). The apostle Paul writes that Christ’s body has many different members; in the Spirit we are one (1 Corinthians 12:12-31a). In Luke, Jesus reads from Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (Luke 4:14-21).

Lectionary Readings

Nehemiah 8:1–3, 5–6, 8–10

1 All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. 2 Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

Psalm 19

1 The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.

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.

1 Corinthians 12:12–31a

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Luke 4:14–21

14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 19:1-4

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Psalm 19:7-14

Holy God,
we know your law is perfect, reviving the soul;
your decrees are sure, making wise the simple;
your precepts are right, rejoicing the heart;
your commandments are clear, enlightening the eyes;
We know that reverence for you is pure, enduring forever;
your ordinances are true and righteous altogether.

May we desire these things more than gold,
and may our experience of them be sweeter than honey.
Your commandments protect us; in keeping them there is great reward.
But we confess that we cannot detect all of our errors;
so we ask you to clear us from our hidden faults.

Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

Based on 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27-28

We believe that just as the body is one
and has many members, so it is with Christ.

We believe that we were all baptized into one body,
and that we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

We believe that we are the body of Christ
and individually members of it.

We believe that God has appointed in the church
first apostles, second prophets, third teachers;
then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance,
forms of leadership, and various kinds of tongues.

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Second Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)

Summary

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

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 62:1–5

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

Psalm 36:5–10

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 12:1–11

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

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

John 2:1–11

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

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 36:5-10

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

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

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

Prayer of Renewal

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

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

Affirmation of Faith

Based on 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

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

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

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

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

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Baptism of the Lord (Year C)

Summary

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

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 43:1–7

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

Psalm 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 8:14–17

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

Luke 3:15–17, 21–22

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

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

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 29:1-2

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

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

Prayer of the Day

Based on Isaiah 43:1-3

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

Affirmation of Faith

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

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

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

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

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Epiphany of the Lord (Year C)

Summary

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

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 60:1–6

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

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

Psalm 72:1–7, 10–14

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

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

Ephesians 3:1–12

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

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

Matthew 2:1–12

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

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

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

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Isaiah 60:1-3

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

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

Prayer of the Day

Based on Ephesians 3:1-12

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

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Matthew 2:1-11

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

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

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

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

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First Sunday after Christmas (Year C)

Summary

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

Lectionary Readings

1 Samuel 2:18–20, 26

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

Psalm 148

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colossians 3:12–17

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

Luke 2:41–52

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

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

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Psalm 148:1-6, 11-14

Praise the Lord!

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

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

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

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

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

Praise the Lord!

Prayer of Renewal

Based on Colossians 3:15-17

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

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Colossians 3:12-14

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

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

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

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Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Summary

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

Lectionary Readings

Micah 5:2–5a

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

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

Psalm 80:1–7

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 10:5–10

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

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

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

Luke 1:39–55

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

46 And Mary said,

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

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Micah 5:2, 4-5a

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

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

Prayer of the Day

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

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

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Hebrews 10:5-10

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

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

We believe he then said,

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

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

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Third Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Summary

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

Lectionary Readings

Zephaniah 3:14–20

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

Isaiah 12:2–6

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

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

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

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

Philippians 4:4–7

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

Luke 3:7–18

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

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

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

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

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Isaiah 12:4-6

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

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

Prayer of the Day

Based on Zephaniah 3:14-17

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

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Philippians 4:4-7

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

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

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

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

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Second Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Summary

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

Lectionary Readings

Malachi 3:1-4

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

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

Luke 1:68-79

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

Philippians 1:3-11

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

Luke 3:1-6

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

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

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Luke 3:4-6

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

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

Let us worship the Lord.

Prayer of the Day

Based on Philippians 3:6, 9-11

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

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Luke 1:68-73

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

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

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

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