New Revised Standard Version
for March 2024 – Year B
Scripture Summary For the 3rd Sunday in Lent – Year B (March 3) by Rev. Shelley
Exodus 20:1-17: The chronicling of God's covenants continues this week. Last week we read of the
Abrahamic covenant; the week before; the Noahic agreement with the entire world. Today we come to Moses' covenant, the Ten Commandments. This solemn agreement is not a set of rules to earn God's favour. The love is already there and God has shown this by delivering his people out of slavery. That is the context of this covenant. The ten commandments are the way to continue to live in this freeing love.
Psalm 19: God has many ways of speaking. Here the Psalmist poetically states that the cosmos itself is pouring forth speech. Night and day it speaks to us of the beauty and knowledge of God. In the middle of the Psalm the writer changes gears and begins to rhapsodize about the Law of the Lord. Its beauty and perfection brings any of us who study it to perfection and joy. The psalm ends with the famous words that we often use before we study God's word together. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer”.
I Corinthians 1:18-25: St. Paul declares a different type of ruler here. This crucified one is not going to be a drawing card to either Jews or Greeks. In fact Paul understands that this will sound like foolishness to anyone who is used to military or monetary power. But ultimately God will have the final word and the suffering, crucified One will win the hearts of many and begin a new type of reign - a peaceable kingdom that we are all invited to be part of.
John 2: 13-22: Jesus saw how corrupted the worship in the Jerusalem temple had become. He decided to meet this challenge head on in a way that we might consider surprising. He was asked “what sign do you give for doing this?” Jesus responded with a cryptic answer. But He also gave the key as to how he will ultimately deal with the corruption of the temple. He will become the true temple himself; living the perfect life, and taking the full extent of punishment for the corruption of all of the sins of the world. Resurrection will then become God's final joyous answer to the human dilemma.
Scripture Summary For 4th Sunday in Lent – Year B (March 10) – by Rev. Shelley McVea
Numbers 21: 4-9: In literature the serpent has often been portrayed as something to be feared, or as something to be worshiped. Here, the means of punishment becomes the means of forgiveness. The Lord commands that a bronze snake be made and put on a pole. By actively looking at their own folly and sin, they were able to also see the means of grace and forgiveness. The picture of a snake on a pole is now a symbol for the medical profession.
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22: This Psalm chronicles the continuing story of the people of faith. There are many times of hardship but “then they cried to the Lord” and the Lord provided for them. The Psalmist invites all to “give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love”.
Ephesians 2:1-10: In the same way that we are all dead in sin; we can also all be made alive in Christ. This is not the result of good works but by the gift of God. The natural outflowing of this grace will of course be good works. In fact, that is what we are created for. If fact, they are to become our way of life.
John 3: 14-21: In today's lection Jesus quotes our Numbers reading to describe what will happen to him in Jerusalem, and the results that will flow from it. In this famous encounter with Nicodemus Jesus reveals that God's plan has always been about love, and not about condemnation. God's love for the cosmos leads Jesus to earth. His death will bring many to new life.
Scripture Summary For the 5th Sunday in Lent – Year B (March 17) – by Rev.
Jeremiah 31:31-34: One week before Palm Sunday and we finally arrive at the last Lenten covenant highlighted in Year B. Jeremiah anticipates a time when God's covenant will not be with a particular tribe. It will be written on stone tablets, or seen in a rainbow. It will be written on the hearts of God's people. All will know God directly. Jesus said, “you know him because he abides with you and will be in you (John 14:17).
Psalm 51:1-12: King David's famous Psalm of penitence is a fitting one for Lenten reflection. He
acknowledges that his sin was not only against the ones he injured, but also against God. He trusts God for mercy, cleansing of his sin, the restoration of joy and gladness, and the recreation of a clean heart. Hebrews 5:5-10: Jesus Christ was not only the lamb of God; He was also the priest offering prayers and the sacrifice (of himself). Christ is eternally alive and is therefore able to continually pray for us and tooffer a salvation that is eternal.
John 12:20-33: The arrival of the Greeks seems to signal to Jesus that “his hour has come”. His death will be the single seed falling into the ground that will result in a huge harvest of many followers. His goal through all his life has been to bring glory to the Father. That has not changed now that He is about to suffer.
Scripture Summary for Palm Sunday – Year B (March 24) - by Rev. Shelley McVea
Traditionally this Sunday has been known as Palm Sunday. With fewer people attending Good Friday services, many denominations are adding the Passion readings to this day. To go from a triumphal entry into Jerusalem on one Sunday to Resurrection the next, leaves out the crucial story of the Cross of Christ.
Mark 11: 1-11: Jesus and his disciples come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover. Jesus instructs the disciples to find an unridden colt for Him to ride on. Jesus anticipates that people will question the disciples on their "borrowing" of the colt. As Jesus enters Jerusalem on the colt, people are caught up in the excitement of the day, lauding Jesus with branches and voices. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” "Blessed is the coming of the kingdom of David (the king)".
Psalm 31:9-16: The Psalmist is going through a crisis. All have turned against him. He pleads to God for help, as he is in distress. As he paints his picture, we can see how well it describes what Jesus will go through in our gospel reading today. Yet the Psalmist's final affirmation is that “You are my God – my times are in your hand”. This is not only Jesus' affirmation, but it can become all of ours as we face the hardships of our own lives.
Isaiah 50:4-9A: This s a prophetic text describing God's anointed one. This one is devoted to doing the will of God. He is called to be a teacher. He is called to help the weary. Yet this calling will bring with it opposition and hatred. Yet this anointed one will remain true, and will neither be ashamed or
found guilty. What a beautiful picture of the Messiah.
Philippians 2:5-11: St. Paul invites each of us to step into the identity of Christ. Christ has voluntarily left all the privileges of the Godhead to take on human form. Christ embraced this new calling and humbled himself to the point of death. By dying a sinless death he has now been exalted by God to the highest glory in heaven or on earth. His name is above all others and we bow before him out of love and thankfulness.
Mark 14:1-15:47: Today we do a dramatic reading of Marks' version of the Passion story. Betrayal, love, jealousy, kindness, belief and unbelief. All are represented in this morning's reading. We see the resolution and faith of Jesus contrasted with the duplicity and fearfulness of so many others. As we read the story today, try putting yourself in each character's part. We are all capable of playing all the roles. Mark is the gospel that gives us Jesus cry from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me". We also see the bravery of Joseph of Arimathea in asking to bury Jesus' body.
Scripture Summary For Maundy Thursday – Year B (March 28) by Rev. Shelley McVea - Worshipping with St. Nicholas Birchcliff
Exodus 12:1-14: Here God begins a new work among the Israelites. It is a beginning that they are to celebrate in perpetuity. This is the day that God will rescue his people from slavery. He will do this
through the gentlest of animals. If a lamb is slain and it blood put on the lintel of each household's door, those inside will be spared. This will become the Passover feast for the Jewish people right into 21st century.
Psalm 116:1, 10-17: The psalmist begins his prayer with, “I love the Lord because...”. In response to
God's kindness, the psalmist outlines the many actions he will take in thanksgiving. “I will call on the
Lord. I will lift up the cup of salvation. I will fulfill my vows”. The final action will be God's as God
welcomes his precious ones in death.
Corinthians 11:23-26: St. Paul reminds the readers of his letter that when they (we) celebrate the Lord's supper, we are doing it in obedience to Christ. Whenever we eat and drink we are remembering the fact of Christ's death and all that it means. As the Jewish Passover meal remembers the deliverance from slavery in Egypt; the celebration of Christ's death remembers that it was to deliver all humanity from the crippling effect of sin on our lives.
John 13:1-17, 31b-35: John shares here the intimate details of Jesus' last night on earth. It is a poignant Passover dinner with his followers. Christ shows his true greatness in the humble act of washing his disciples' feet. He attempts to prepare them for the horror of what will happen in the next hours, but they are not able to understand. He wants to ensure them that God loves them, and that they are to continue in this love.
Scripture Summary For Good Friday – Year B (March 29) by Rev. Shelley McVea
Isaiah 52:13-53:12: This picture of the suffering servant can be seen as the people of Israel. Isaiah's image of the suffering servant also takes on a new significance as early Christians begin to see in this a picture of the suffering of Jesus Christ. This servant would be raised up and many would be appalled at his appearance. He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was pierced for our transgressions and wounded for our iniquities. We have heard this passage read and sung so often in conjunction with Jesus Christ that we forget that it was written 400-500 years before He was born.
Psalm 22: This well known Psalm was written by King David. It's opening words “My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?” have become the cry of many who suffer great pain and lose. Jesus cries
these words from the Cross. His mockers, knowingly or unknowingly even hurl the insults of verse back on him. “He trusts in the Lord, let the Lord rescue him”. As we pray for all those who suffer, and as we reflect especially on Christ's pain and sacrifice on our behalf, the psalmist also reminds us that the whole earth will ultimately be drawn to this suffering One.
Hebrews 10:16-25: Here The writer of the Hebrews reminds us that because of the sacrifice of Christ and his resurrection we now have full access to God the Father. This encourages us to persevere in the faith. Let us continue to meet together so that we can encourage each other with this message of hope and forgiveness.
John 18:1-19:42: John presents his version of the Passion story. The story is prefaced by “Jesus,
knowing all that was going to happen to him...”. This is a more serene picture of the suffering servant
than the other gospels present. Jesus is fully in charge, even as He is the prisoner of both the religious authorities and the political masters. Read through this passage and compare it to the other three gospels' account of Christ's passion.
Scripture Summary For the Easter Sunday – Year B (March 31st) – by Rev. Shelley McVea
Acts 10:34-43: In this powerful sermon by Peter, he summarizes the gospel. The message of God began with the people of Israel, but the message has not stayed there. It is now available to anyone who chooses to listen and believe. And what is this message? That God in Christ was put to death. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. We have witnessed this event. God has given us the message of reconciliation for the whole world; the forgiveness of sins for all.
Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24: This song of praise reminds us that God is with the righteous no matter what they are experiencing in life. The Psalmist wants to thank God for giving him salvation and allowing him to live. God alone delivers him. Therefore he will praise and sing. He longs to enter God's temple so that he can praise him. This psalm can also be seen as an anticipation of Jesus as the true temple of God, becoming the chief cornerstone of the new temple of God.
I Corinthians 15:1-11: In this powerful letter from Paul, he summarizes the gospel. That God in Christ was put to death for our sins. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead according to the scriptures. The risen Christ appeared to the disciples and many others. He appeared lastly to Paul. Paul has worked tirelessly to share the message of God's reconciling love. Through this sharing of the gospel, the Corinthians have come to believe.
Mark 16:1-8: Easter morning begins before dawn as the female followers of Jesus go to the tomb to
anoint his dead body. They are worried about who will roll the stone away from the tomb. When they
arrive, they find that someone has already been there before them. The stone is rolled away and a young man sits inside the tomb with a story they cannot believe and a commission they are afraid to carry out. Here Mark's story ends abruptly. Has the end of the scroll been cut off? Did Mark mean to end his gospel like this? Early Christians added verses 9 to 20 to complete the story.