Category Archives: Word for the week

Word for the Week

Sunday, December 17, 2017 Third Sunday of Advent Introduction

“Rejoice always,” begins the reading from First Thessalonians. Isaiah and the psalmist make clear that God is turning our mourning into laughter and shouts of joy. “All God’s children got a robe,” go the words of the spiritual. It is not so much a stately, formal, pressed outfit as it is a set of party clothes, clothes that make us feel happy just to put on. We receive that robe in baptism, and in worship we gather for a foretaste of God’s party.

Prayer of the Day

Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and open our ears to the words of your prophets, that, anointed by your Spirit, we may testify to your light; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Though the people had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, they continued to face hardship and oppression. In the language of the jubilee year described in Leviticus 25, the prophet, moved by the spirit of the Lord, announces deliverance for those who are oppressed and comfort for those who mourn.

Psalm: Psalm 126

The Lord has done great things for us. (Ps. 126:3)

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians by encouraging them to live lives of continual joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. The closing blessing is grounded in the hope of Christ’s coming.

Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

John’s gospel describes Jesus as the “light of the world.” John the Baptist is presented as a witness to Jesus, one who directs attention away from himself to Christ, the true light.

Word for the Week

Sunday, December 10, 2017 Second Sunday of Advent Introduction

John called people to repent, to clear the decks, to completely reorder their lives so that nothing would get in the way of the Lord’s coming. The reading from Isaiah gives the context for this radical call: the assurance of forgiveness that encourages us to repent; the promise that the coming one will be gentle with the little ones. Isaiah calls us all to be heralds with John, to lift up our voices fearlessly and say, “See, your God is coming!” We say it to one another in worship, in order to say it with our lives in a world in need of justice and peace.

Prayer of the Day

Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming strengthen us to serve you with purified lives; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11

In grand, flowing, poetic lines, the prophet announces that the exile of God’s people in Babylon is over. The Lord will deliver Israel and will care for her as a shepherd cares for his sheep. This word can be trusted, because the only enduring reality in life is the word of the Lord.

Psalm: Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

Righteousness shall prepare a pathway for God. (Ps. 85:13)

Second Reading: 2 Peter 3:8-15a

This short letter deals with pressing concerns regarding the final advent of Jesus, especially concerns that could arise over its apparent delay. The author of the letter calls on Christians to anticipate the promised coming of the Lord through conduct dedicated to God.

Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

The Gospel of Mark does not begin with a story of Jesus’ birth but with the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.

Word for the Week and Advent Theme

Word for the Week

Sunday, December 3, 2017 First Sunday of Advent Introduction

Stir up your power, and come! The psalmist’s plea in Psalm 80:2 has become familiar to us in the Advent prayers. Isaiah wants God to rip the heavens open. Both cry out for an apparently distant, angry God to show up, to save, to restore. When we hear Jesus describing the coming of the Son of Man with stars falling from heaven, it can sound dire and horrible, not like anything we would ever hope for. But when we really look at the suffering of people God loves, we can share the hope that God would tear open the heavens and come.

Prayer of the Day

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection awaken us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and keep us blameless until the coming of your new day, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 64:1-9

This lament comes from a people who have had their hopes shattered. The visions of a rebuilt Jerusalem and a renewed people of God, spoken of in Isaiah 40–55, have not been realized. Instead, the people experience ruin, conflict, and famine. This lament calls God to account—to be the God who has brought deliverance in the past.

Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved. (Ps. 80:7)

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

As the Christians in Corinth await the advent of Jesus, Paul reminds them how the Lord has already enriched them through spiritual gifts and will continue to strengthen them until the coming day of the Lord.

Gospel: Mark 13:24-37

In today’s reading, Jesus encourages his followers to look forward to the day when he returns in power and glory to end all suffering.

 

Theme for the Advent season

Advent is a time of hope-filled expectation and a time of diligent preparation. We know that God is coming to us in the birth of Jesus. Salvation is near. Light *is* coming.

Are we ready? How do we prepare for something like this? How do we tend to our own light as we await the Light of the World?

This Advent season we are encouraged to slow down and to be patient while diligently preparing for the coming of Christ. In our frenzy-paced and instant gratification fueled world, these messages may seem incredibly out of place. Our busyness prevents us from slowing down and the chaos and suffering we see and experience in the world make waiting a painful and frustrating process.

Our need for the Light is immediate and our longing for God’s peace and salvation is so great that it is natural to be anxious. In these most desperate and need-filled moments, despite the frenzy and anxiety and fear, we are encouraged to quiet our hearts and minds and trust in God’s promise.

This Advent, may we together be patiently preparing for the birth of Christ in our lives and birth of Light in the world. May we breathe deep and pray often. May we let go of the things that bind us and attempt to distance us from God. May we free our minds from the doubt and guilt that cloud our judgment. May we serve those in need and share God’s Word. And – may we shine our light for others to see as we await the Light of Christ.

Word for the Week

Sunday, November 26, 2017 Christ the King / Lectionary 34 Introduction

On this final Sunday of the church year our gospel is Jesus’ great story of judgment. In the end, the faithful are those who served Christ by ministering to those who are poor, hungry, naked, sick, or estranged. In the first reading God is the shepherd who seeks the lost, weak, and injured and feeds them with justice. We gather this day to celebrate the reign of Christ and his victory over death, yet awaiting the consummation of all things yet to come. Acknowledging Christ as our merciful ruler, we go forth that his reign may be known in our loving words and deeds.

Prayer of the Day

O God of power and might, your Son shows us the way of service, and in him we inherit the riches of your grace. Give us the wisdom to know what is right and the strength to serve the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

Since Israel’s kings proved to be bad shepherds, Ezekiel declares that the Lord will assume the role of shepherd in Israel. The Lord will also set over them a shepherd-messiah, “my servant David,” who will feed and care for the people.

Psalm: Psalm 95:1-7a

We are the people of God’s pasture and the sheep of God’s hand. (Ps. 95:7)

Second Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23

In this passage, God is praised for revealing ultimate divine power in raising Jesus from the dead. The resurrected, exalted Christ is Lord both of the church and the entire universe, now and in the age to come.

Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus compares himself to a king who moves among his subjects to see how he is treated: what is done for the least of those who belong to his family is truly done for him.

Word for the Week and Theme for Pentecost (Summer)

Word for the Week

Sunday, November 19, 2017 Lectionary 33 Introduction

Our readings during November speak of the end times. Zephaniah proclaims that the coming day of the Lord will be filled with wrath and distress. Paul says it will come like a thief in the night and urges us to be awake and sober. Jesus tells the parable of the talents, calling us to use our gifts, while we still have time, for the greater and common good. In a world filled with violence and despair, we gather around signs of hope—word, water, bread and wine—eager to welcome the good news of Christ’s coming among us.

Prayer of the Day

Righteous God, our merciful master, you own the earth and all its peoples, and you give us all that we have. Inspire us to serve you with justice and wisdom, and prepare us for the joy of the day of your coming, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

First Reading:   Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18

Zephaniah (like the prophet Amos in last week’s first reading) presents the day of the Lord as one of judgment and wrath. Descriptions of the last day in the New Testament include details taken from Old Testament accounts of the day of the Lord.

Psalm:  Psalm 90:1-8 [9-11] 12

So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Ps. 90:12)

Second Reading:  1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Though we do not know and cannot calculate the day of Christ’s return, we live faithfully in the here and now as we anticipate the day when we will be given eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus tells a parable about his second coming, indicating that it is not sufficient merely to maintain things as they are. Those who await his return should make good use of the gifts that God has provided them.

 

Theme for the Pentecost season (Autumn)

Be still

We live in a world constantly vying for our attention. Loud and insistent mixed messages attempt to convince us where our focus should be, who we should pay attention to, and how we should utilize our energy and resources. We are inundated with noise as our multitasking world screams for us to keep going – keep doing – keep moving.  In the process of juggling these worldly demands, we can find ourselves off balance, confused, and at times wandering aimlessly.

The remainder of this Pentecost season we are encouraged to “be still”. While this goes against everything the world tells us to do, we are encouraged to listen past the noise to hear what truly is important: God’s purpose and path for our lives.

Turn us

There are so many different directions we are pulled every day, and we can find ourselves lost on shaky ground. God remains our sure and steady foundation.

Holy God, as we wander and stray on our own – turn us towards You.

Refocus us

Jesus sets his eyes on the cross with unwavering focus. He knows where he is headed, what he has to do, and refuses to be led astray by an easier path. We too have a path before us, and we are called to follow Jesus’ example.

Holy God, as we are drawn to other priorities – refocus our eyes on You.

Reform us

Every day is an opportunity to begin new, better than we were the day before. As we were formed from the clay of the earth, each day we are molded and shaped by God’s loving hands.

As we are shaped by the world around us – reform us into Your people.
Again and Again

We do not walk alone – every day God is with us, and every day He continues to lead, guide, and teach us to live as He intends. Our personal journeys may be different, but our destination is the same: to share God’s love with a sick and hurting world, to heal and comfort God’s people in our midst, to praise God for the abundance he provides, and to pray without ceasing.

Holy God, this is our prayer: Turn Us, Refocus Us, Reform Us … Again and Again