Proper 16 (Year B)

(Sunday between August 21 and August 27 inclusive)

Summary

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

Lectionary Readings

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

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

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

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

Psalm 34:15-22

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

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

Ephesians 6:10-20

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

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

John 6:56-69

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

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

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

Liturgical Elements

Call to Worship

Based on Joshua 24:15-18

Choose this day whom you will serve.

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

Prayer of the Day

Based on Psalm 34:15-20

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

Affirmation of Faith

Based on Ephesians 6:10-18

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

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

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

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

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

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