January 3, 2021 Second Sunday of Christmas
Within the gospel reading’s profound words lies the simple message that God is revealed in a human person. Though we may try to understand how the Word existed with God from the beginning of time, the wonder we celebrate at Christmas is the Word continues to dwell among us. Christ comes among us in the gathered assembly, the scriptures, the waters of new birth, and the bread and the wine. Through these ordinary gifts we receive the fullness of God’s grace and truth.
The Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you have filled all the earth with the light of your incarnate Word. By your grace empower us to reflect your light in all that we do, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Old Testament Reading---Jeremiah 37:7-14
God promises to bring Israel back to its land from the most remote parts of exile. In Zion Israel will rejoice over God’s gift of food and livestock. Young women will express their joy in dancing; God will give gladness instead of sorrow.
7For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.” 8See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. 9With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
10Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.” 11For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. 12They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. 13Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. 14I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord.
12Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14He grants peace within your borders;
he fills you with the finest of wheat.
15He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17He hurls down hail like crumbs—
who can stand before his cold?
18He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
19He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
20He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his ordinances. Praise the Lord!
The New Testament Reading---Ephesians 1:3-14
In Jesus, all of God’s plans and purposes have been made known as heaven and earth are united in Christ. Through Jesus, we have been chosen as God’s children and have been promised eternal salvation.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
The Gospel Reading—John 1:1-18
John begins his gospel with this prologue: a hymn to the Word through whom all things were created. This Word became flesh and brought grace and truth to the world.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
15(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
January 6, 2021 (Epiphany of Our Lord)
The feast of Epiphany (“manifestation”) concludes the Christmas season with a celebration of God’s glory revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. In Isaiah and Ephesians, that glory is proclaimed for all nations and people. Like the light of the star that guided the magi to Jesus, the light of Christ reveals who we are: children of God who are claimed and washed in the waters of baptism. We are sent out to be beacons of the light of Christ, sharing the good news of God’s love to all people.
The Prayer of the Day
O God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives, and brings us at last to the full vision of your glory, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Old Testament Reading---Isaiah 60:1-6
Jerusalem is assured that nations will make a pilgrimage to her, because the light of God’s presence is in her midst. The bountiful food of the sea and the profits of international trade will come streaming to Jerusalem and thereby declare God’s praise.
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. 3Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 4Lift 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. 5Then 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. 6A 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
1Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king’s son.
2May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.
3May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness.
4May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.
5May he live while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
6May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth.
7In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound,
until the moon is no more.
10May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.
11May all kings fall down before him,
all nations give him service.
12For he delivers the needy when they call,
the poor and those who have no helper.
13He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
and precious is their blood in his sight
The New Testament Reading---Ephesians 3:1-12
What had been hidden from previous generations is now made known through the gospel ministry of Paul and others. In Christ both Jews and Gentiles participate in the richness of God’s promised salvation.
This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5In 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: 6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7Of 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. 8Although 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, 9and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10so 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. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
The Gospel Reading---Matthew 2:1-12
God’s promise shines bright in the night as magi follow a start to honor a new king. Strangers from a faraway land, they welcome the long-awaited messiah of Israel.
2In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “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.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They 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.’” 7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then 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.”
9When 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. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On 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. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
January 10, 2021 (Baptism of Our Lord)
Our re-creation is baptism is an image of the Genesis creation, where the Spirit/wind moved over the waters. Both Mark’s gospel and the story in Acts make clear that it is the Spirit’s movement that distinguishes Jesus’ baptism from John’s. The Spirit has come upon us as upon Jesus and the Ephesians, calling us God’s beloved children and setting us on Jesus’ mission to re-create the world in the image of God’s vision of justice and peace.
Prayer of the Day
Congregation: Almighty God, you wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and yet more wonderfully restored it. In your mercy, let us share the divine life of the one who came to share our humanity, Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Old Testament Reading---Genesis 1:1-5
Out of chaos, God brings order. Out of the primeval darkness, God brings light. This familiar story was good news for the Israelites, who experienced mush chaos in their history. It remains good news for any person living in chaos and darkness of despair. God created and continues to create new life.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
1Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendor.
3The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.
4The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
10The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!
The New Testament Reading---Acts 19:1-7
In Ephesus, Paul encounters people who had received John’s baptism of repentance but had never heard of the Holy Spirit
or of baptism in the name of Jesus. After Paul baptized them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and empowered them with
gifts of the Spirit.
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” 4Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied— 7altogether there were about twelve of them.
The Gospel Reading---Mark 1:4-11
Mark’s gospel reports the story of Jesus’ baptism with some irony: The one on whom the Spirit descends is himself the one who will baptize others with the Holy Spirit.
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
January 17, 2021 Second Sunday after Epiphany Lectionary 2
All the baptized have a calling in God’s world. God calls not just the clergy but also the youngest child,
like Samuel. The story of the call of Nathanael plays with the idea of place. Nathanael initially dismissed
Jesus because he comes from Nazareth. But where we come from isn’t important; it’s where---or rather
whom---we come to. Jesus refers to the story of the vision of Jacob, who called the place of his vision “the house of God, and...the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:17). Jesus says he himself is the place where Nathanael will meet God.
Prayer of the Day
Congregation: Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful redeemer, for the countless blessings and benefits you give. May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day praising you, with the Father
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Old Testament Reading---1 Samuel 3:1-20
At a time when visions are rare and unexpected, the Lord comes to Samuel and calls him to speak the divine word. Though
just a boy, Samuel responds to God obediently, as Eli the priest has taught him to respond. This marks the beginning of
Samuel’s prophetic ministry.
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. 2At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
11Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.” 15Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” 17Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.” 19As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
1O Lord, you have searched me
and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
13For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
15My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
17How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
The New Testament Reading---1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Paul is helping the Corinthians understand that God has claimed the entirety of their lives through the death of Christ. Hence Christian relationships and conduct, including areas of human sexuality, are to reflect the reality that we belong to Christ and that the Holy Spirit lives within us.
12“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” 17But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
The Gospel Reading---John 1:43-51
In John’s gospel, Jesus’ ministry begins with the call of disciples, who then bring others to Jesus. Philip’s friend Nathanael moves from skepticism to faith when he accepts the invitation to “Come and see.”
43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
January 24, 2021 Third Sunday after Epiphany Lectionary 3
Stories of the call to discipleship continue as the time after Epiphany plays out the implications of our baptismal calling to show Christ to the world. Jesus begins proclaiming the good news and calling people to repentance right after John the Baptist is arrested for preaching in a similar way. Knowing that John was later executed, we see at the very outset the cost of discipleship. Still, the two sets of fisherman brothers leave everything they have known and worked for all their lives to follow Jesus and fish for people.
Prayer of the Day
Congregation: Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us in your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worth of your call, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen
Old Testament Reading---Jonah 3:1-5, 10
The book of Jonah is a comedy starring a reluctant prophet who is given a one-sentence message: Nieveh will be destroyed in fory days. Much to Jonah’s dismay, the people of Nineveh repent. The point of the story is to get the reader to wrestle with the question “On who should God have mercy?”
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2“Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. 10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
5For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;
I shall not be shaken.
7On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
8Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.
9Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
10Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
11Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all according to their work.
The New Testament Reading---1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Paul does not disapprove of marriage or other human social institutions. He does, however, want Christians to live in the present in fervent anticipation of God’s future, which even now has dawned through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
29I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
The Gospel Reading---Mark 1:14-20
Before Jesus calls his first disciples, he proclaims a message that becomes known as “the gospel” or good news from God. God is ready to rule our lives. Those who realize this will respond with repentance and faith.
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
January 31, 2021 Fourth Sunday after Epiphany Lectionary 4
In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses, who will speak for God: in Psalm 111 God shows the people the power of God’s works. For the church these are ways of pointing to the unique authority people sensed in Jesus’ actions and words. We encounter that authority in God’s word, around which we gather, the word that trumps any lesser spirit that would claim power over us, freeing us to follow Jesus.
Prayer of the Day
Congregation: Compassionate God, you gather the whole universe into your radiant presence and continually reveal your Son as our Savior. Bring wholeness to all that is broken and speak truth to us in our confusion, that all creation will see and know your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen
The Old Testament Reading---Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Today’s reading is part of a longer disclosure in Deuteronomy, an updating of the law for the Israelite community as the people wait to enter the promised land. Here Moses assures the people that God will continue to guide them through prophets who will proclaim the divine word.
15The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. 16This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” 17Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. 18I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 20But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”
1Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3Full of honor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
6He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.
7The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.
10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.
The New Testament Reading---1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Paul is concerned about how some Corinthian Christians use their freedom in Christ as license to engage
In non-Christian behavior that sets a damaging example to other, impressionable, believers. Christians have a responsibility to each other that their behavior does not cause a sister or brother to sin.
Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; 3but anyone who loves God is known by him. 4Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 7It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8“Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? 11So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. 12But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.
The Gospel Reading---Mark 1:21-28
The story has barely begun, and already the battle is joined. Jesus sides with humanity against every force that would bring death and disease. These forces recognize Jesus and know what his power means for them. This, however, is only the first fight. The war will go on much longer.
21They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.