New Revised Standard Version
Scripture Summary for the 3rd Sunday of Advent – Year A (Dec 15) by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 35: 1-10: The prophet Isaiah paints a beautiful picture of what lies ahead in God's future. All of nature will live in harmony. The desert land will bloom with flowers. The thirsty land will teem with water. Wild beasts will be tame. The blind will see and the deaf will hear. No one will go astray, not even fools. So what can we do? Strengthen weak hands and encourage ones with fearful hearts. For the Lord will fill all with joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing will be put to flight.
Canticle 18 A (Luke 1:46-55): To replace our Psalm this morning we have a reading from the Gospel of Luke. Mary sings this song after she has been given the message that she will bear the Messiah. She cannot believe that this great event is happening to one who is poor and and of no repute. She sees now that God delights in doing what the world cannot imagine. The hungry are the ones being filled. The lowly are the ones being lifted up. It is the rich and powerful who are being sent away empty. This echoes what God has already done for tiny Israel; producing through them Father Abraham – the father of all those who have faith. Jesus will now open the way to God for the entire world.
James 5:7-10: Again we are given encouragement to wait patiently and to endure. The picture of an attentive farmer shows us the way. The farmer must still plant, water, and mulch. There is work to be done; even if no plants are immediately visible. We too know the final outcome; God's kingdom of love will prevail. So we need to wait patiently; all the while preparing for God's harvest, as a farmer prepares for the coming crop. .
Matthew 11:2-11: John the Baptist's message is just too hard for the ruling authorities to accept. So he is now in prison awaiting his fate. Here he begins to doubt. Is Jesus really the Messiah? Did I get it wrong? John's followers bring him back Jesus' reassuring response. “The words of Isaiah are about to be fulfilled in me”. Don't doubt. Jesus then gives John a beautiful affirming commendation that he is the greatest prophet that the world has seen. And in the final reversal – even the lowest in God's new kingdom will be greater than John, for they will know the full revelation of God revealed in Jesus Christ.
Scripture Summary for 4th Sunday of Advent – Year A (Dec 22) by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 7:10-16: The prophet Isaiah comes to King Ahaz. “Ask the Lord for the most amazing sign that you can think of – anything”. But the king hesitates. So God provides a sign. A young woman will bear a child. This baby will bring hope, and his mother will name him Immanuel, meaning “God is with us”. This sign is not only for Ahaz's time, but is seen as a prophecy for the coming of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19: The Psalmist calls on God to restore the fortunes of his people. He reminds God that He is their shepherd. He reminds God that the flock is in peril. “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved”. When this happens, the people will never forsake the Living God again.
Romans 1:1-7: In this introduction to his most dense and theological letter, the Apostle Paul outlines his calling to ministry. He also summarizes the good news that he has been called to preach. The story has been outlined by the prophets. Jesus has come as a descendent of King David and has been declared the Son of God by his innocent death and glorious resurrection. This is good news for both Jews and Gentiles.
Matthew 1:18-25: Today we hear Joseph's version of the Nativity story. It starts with disappointment – his fiancee is already pregnant. He wants to break the engagement quietly. However, God uses a powerful dream to give Joseph a different story line. This is not going to be an ordinary baby, and Mary has not been unfaithful to him. This is the long awaited “Emmanuel” - the one who will save his people from their sins. Joseph listened to his dream and obeyed by marrying Mary, and naming the baby “Jesus”.
Scripture Summary for Christmas Eve – Year A by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 9:2-7: Isaiah poetically prophesies of a time when God will visit the people. Light instead of darkness. Rejoicing rather than repression. Army fatigues now used for kindling a fire. This will be brought about by a child. Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace. He will have special titles and will rule with righteousness and justice. (This passage was written approximately 600 years before the birth of Jesus).
Psalm 96: The Psalmist invites us to sing to the Lord. All other gods are idols, but the Lord God made the cosmos. His judgement of all peoples will be fair and just. Therefore all the world can rejoice.
Titus 2:11-14: St. Paul encourages us to live a worthy live as we wait for God to appear. We are to rely on his grace to show us how to live lives filled with righteousness and good deeds. How can we do this? By relying on God's grace, which brings salvation to all.
Luke 2:1-20: Mary and Joseph. Angels and shepherds. The Roman emperor demanding obedience. We all know the story of Jesus' birth. The harder task is to see how the angel's message can become good news to us and how it can bring us great joy.
Scripture Summary for the 1st Sunday after Christmas – Year A (Dec 29) by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 63: 7-9: The prophet tells of his determination to share the story of God's goodness to his people. He does this because God has done so much for Israel. God sees them as his children. God doesn't delegate their salvation to others-even angels-but brings it about by His own presence.
Psalm 148: Here the Psalmist invites the entire world to sing to the Lord and give God praise. From angels to sea animals, from the earthly primal elements to the hosts of heaven. From castle to hearth, the elderly and the young – all are given this invitation. God's glory is so great that no other response is adequate.
Hebrews 2:10-18: Once again we are shown a God who personally becomes involved in bringing about salvation. Jesus is the pioneer who shows the way. The eternal love he came to show and share , manifesting the true face of God, was not something the world understood. Suffering is the result. But by his sacrifice and example, he brings about our adoption into the family of God. We are now his brothers and sisters.
Matthew 2: 13-22: Again Joseph is given instructions by God in a dream. Flee! The baby is already in peril. Jesus will know what it is to be in exile, almost from birth. Egypt will again become the saving country for the people of faith. So Joseph has moved faster than King Herod and Jesus' life is saved. But in his place Herod will kill all the babies of Bethlehem. This will continue as a theme throughout Messiah's life – good and evil, light and darkness – always vying for supremacy.
Scripture Summary for the the Epiphany of the Lord – Year A – January 5 by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 60:1-6: Isaiah prophesies the Lord's coming into the world bringing light into the darkness. This is appropriate for Epiphany as today we celebrate light coming to Gentiles as well as Jews. The text also mentions two of the three gifts – gold and frankincense- that the Magi will bring to Jesus.
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14: This Psalm celebrates the crowning of a King. It offers prayers and benedictions for this king. The king's greatness will be praised because he will be a monarch of justice, bringing relief to the needy and the weak. For this reason all the others nations will also give him praise.
Ephesians 3:1-12: Here Paul reveals the mystery God has hidden from previous generations. Gentiles are now to be included in salvation history. They are now heirs with the Jews of all the promises of God. Jesus' rule is all encompassing and salvation is for the entire world.
Matthew 2:1-12: Magi from the east were possibly astrologers or priests from Persia. They had seen a cosmic sign that was so compelling that they felt they needed to follow it. They arrive at the Christ child bringing expensive, yet symbolic gifts. Gold is an appropriate gift for a king. Frankincense would be used for the anointing of a priest. Myrrh was used for burial. All these gifts laud Christ's ministry as king, priest, and saviour.
Scripture Summary for the Baptism of the Lord – Year A – January 12 by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 42:1-9: This scripture is one of great hope. God has appointed a chosen servant to carry God's spirit to the world. This will be a humble messenger; never raising his voice, or discouraging ones who have even the tiniest bit of faith. But this messenger will be fierce in his proclamation of justice and never be discouraged. His mission will be to open the eyes that are blind and to bring prisoners sitting in the darkness out into the light. Old ways of being are going to die; a new way is coming. Christians see these verses as a foreshadowing of the coming Christ.
Psalm 29: Here we encounter the voice of God. By the mere speaking of a word God changes the world. God's powerful and majestic voice causes nature to shake – bending branches and bringing fire and flood. He also playfully makes lands and constellations skip and frolic. God is so powerful that He contains the the chaos of flood by placing his throne right on top of it. The psalmist can only ask one thing of this supreme being - “may the Lord give strength to his people!” May the Lord bless his people with peace!”
Acts 10:34-43: The new Spirit-filled Peter preaches a message of a God who picks no favourites. 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.
Matthew 3:13-17: Jesus begins his ministry by coming to his cousin John for baptism. John feels unworthy in this role; however, Jesus has a larger picture in mind. He wants to be fully identified with all people-which involves baptism. God affirms Jesus by his words of love (Your are my beloved Son) and God's spirit is made visible in the form of a dove.
Scripture Summary for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany – Year A - (Jan 19) by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 49:1-7: Isaiah gives record to a conversation that The Servant is having with the nation of Israel/Judah. This servant has been called by God; known even in the womb. This servant has a message that will be as sharp as a sword, and as pointed as an arrow. God honours this servant and God is their strength. Although the message will be rejected by many, the goal that will be to eventually lift high the despised little people of Israel. But this will only be a partial goal – the ultimate plan is to bring light and salvation to all the peoples of the world.
Psalm 40:1-11: This is a well loved psalm that many turn to in times of personal despair. The Lord heard the cry of the psalmist and rescued him from the mire and bog of desolation and despair. Not only is the writer pulled from despair, they are given a steady rock to stand on and a new song to sing. Many see what has happened and are brought to God. The psalmist invites all to join this redeemed band. God shows wondrous deeds to those who follow. God doesn't look for sacrifices and offerings at the Temple – only “an open ear” to hear the voice of the Divine. The song ends with a request for God's continuous mercy, love, and faithfulness.
I Corinthians 1:1-9: Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians with a doxology. He gives thanks for them because of all that God has done in their lives. In Jesus Christ they have every spiritual benefit. These spiritual gifts are not just for daily living, but God will strengthen them until the end of time. Why? Because God is faithful.
John 1:29-42: The baptism story continues. The day after John has baptized Jesus, he directs some of his own disciples towards this “lamb of God”. He will now learn how his prophecy “He must increase; but I must decrease.” will be played out. His own disciples now begin to follow Jesus. Andrew and another follower stay with Jesus for an afternoon. This is in response to Jesus' question: “What are you looking for”? And so it begins...Andrew tell Peter. Peter tells someone else...and eventually someone told us. Let's keep the story going.
Scripture Summary for the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany – Year A – January 26 by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 9:1-4: Armies, large and small, would often tramp through the Galilee on their way to conquest and power. God would use this very parcel of well-trod land to begin bringing light to all the nations. Darkness prevailed, yet the dawning light of God's salvation would shatter this darkness. A new harvest was coming. Burdens would be lifted. Praise God.
Psalm 27:1, 4-9: The psalmist rejoices in God's provision in this song. The poet has foes, but God has given him protection. Like an eagle, placing its chicks on the high rock. God has placed the writer out of harm's way. Therefore the psalmist delights in his visits to the Temple. Here God can be worshiped and questions can be asked. But with God as his/our light, salvation, and stronghold, who is there to fear? Nobody.
I Corinthians 1:10-18: St. Paul appeals to the Christians in Corinth to get along with each other. People are picking their favourite leaders and it has resulted in quarreling. Christ is the true head of their gathering, not Paul or Apollos or any of the others. Jesus established his supremacy, not by a raw display of power, but by taking the humblest place, and by dying a criminal's death on a cross.
Matthew 4:12-23: The arrest and death of John the Baptist signals the end of the “old era”. Prophecies are now over and the Messiah has arrived. As Jesus does his “walk-about” in Galilee he meets his first disciples. He gives the fishermen a simple invitation and a challenge. “Follow me and I will make you fish for people”. Peter and Andrew, James and John leave their nets and follow. The adventure begins.