New Revised Standard Version
Scripture Summary for the 3rd Sunday of Advent – Year C (Dec 16) - Reflections by Rev. Shelley
Zephaniah 3:14-20: The prophet Zephaniah looks forward to a time when the Israelites will again dwell safely in their own country. God will bring this to fruition as He has promised. The prophet invites them to rejoice ahead of time that this will surely happen. God will rescue the people from captivity, but God will do more than this. He will sing over them with joy. Their shame will be remembered no longer. In fact their renown will be known throughout the earth. It takes real faith in the word of God to sing that hymn.
Isaiah 12:2-6: (Canticle 3) To replace our Psalm this morning we have a reading from Isaiah. He begins with a declaration of his personal trust in God. Then he invites all of the Israelites to come to this ever flowing well. The salvation of God is free for the taking. Then, refreshed by these waters, one can: Give thanks, call to God, praise God's name, sing and shout for joy. God is worthy of this as he is great and holy.
Philippians 4:4-7: This is one of the most joyous writings of St. Paul, and it is good that we are reading it on the Advent Sunday of joy. Paul exhorts us to rejoice in the Lord. This is the key. He is sitting in a Roman prison cell and has no earthly reason to be joyful. He encourages the Philippians that instead of spending their time worrying, that they should take turn all those worries into prayers to God. Tell God what you need. Then you will be in a place to receive God's out-of-this-world peace.
Luke 3: 7-18: John the Baptist, who we met last week, begins to speak. The message that he has for the people is hard hitting. The Messiah is coming and you are not ready. His picture of the Messiah is fierce, and proclaiming that we have “good parentage” will not work. The sign of preparedness must be manifest in actions. They are simple actions, but not easy. If you have two coats, give one away. Do not get what you need (or want) by violence or dishonesty. This filled the people with expectation. Then John directed their gaze, not to himself, but the one who would follow after him. The stage was set for Jesus' arrival.
Scripture Summary for 4th Sunday of Advent – Year C (Dec 23) - Reflections by Rev. Shelley
Micah 5:2-5a: The prophet Micah sings a hymn of praise to little Bethlehem. Out of this lowly town, representing one of the smallest tribes, will come the greatest leader. This is no ordinary ruler, but one whose origin is from eternity. This will be a monarch who will be a shepherd to his people. He will feed them, keep them secure, and bring them peace. From the “House of Bread” (what the word Bethlehem means) will come the living bread that will feed the whole world.
Luke 1:46B-55: (Canticle 18) Again, in place of our Psalm today, we say our Canticle. This is Mary's magnificat, sung to her cousin Elizabeth, as they were both expecting miraculous babies. Mary sees this as an upheaval of the natural order of the world. The lowly are now going to be lifted up, and the powerful cast down. The hungry are to be filled, and the rich sent away empty. This is in fulfillment to God's promises made to Abraham, and because of God's great mercy.
Hebrews 10:5-10: The long history of animal sacrifice was about to come to an end. Jesus will become the final and perfect sacrifice for sin. The incarnation (God “enfleshed”) will now do the will of God and give his body for the salvation of the earth. This will be a one time event, and will be for everyone.
Luke 1:39-45: John the Baptist speaks again; this time from the womb. After Mary's visit from an angel telling her that her cousin Elizabeth is also miraculously pregnant, she hurries to see for herself. The angel was right. As soon as Elizabeth sees Mary, the Holy Spirit overtakes her, and she pronounces the 1st blessing of many that Mary will receive.
Scripture Summary for Christmas Eve – Year C -Reflections 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 C (Dec 30) -Reflections by Rev. Shelley
1 Samuel 2:18-20,26: Hannah's prayers were answered with the birth of little Samuel. She promptly dedicates him to God, and he becomes an assistant to Eli in the house of worship. Choosing this lesson for today's reading clearly is meant to link with the N.T. story of boy Jesus in the Temple. Both young people were totally comfortable in this setting; were called to confront the religious authorities of their days, and were to be mighty prophets. Jesus will also be the Saviour, about his Father's business of salvation. Both “grew in favour with the Lord and with the people".
Psalm 148: The Psalmist is the choirmaster today, inviting the entire cosmos to join in the song of praise to God. The heavens will begin the singing; the angels first. But not just sentient beings are invited. The sun and moon can also join in. The earth is then enjoined to sing. Sea monsters, fire and hail, wind and snow. No element is left out. Then the monarchs of the earth are invited. And finally the great chorus – young, old, male and female round out the sound. Why all this singing? Because God has firmly established the cosmos, and because he draws close to his people.
Colossians 3:12-17: What are you wearing today? St. Paul in this letter gives us the perfect holiday apparel. Each morning let's clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. These kind of clothes don't jump out of our closets; we need to put them on. The final touch is love. Then we will be perfectly attired for the day. We can do this because God's forgiveness is available for all, and will ensure these clothes are fresh and clean for each day. In fact we will also be filled with God's peace and therefore ready to share God's word with others. We will become filled with songs and gracious thankfulness.
Luke 2:41-52: Jesus, at twelve years of age and on the verge of manhood, goes to Jerusalem with his parents for Passover. When it's time to go home, they assume he is with the extended family. Only three days later do they realize that he is missing. After anxiously searching for him, they find him in the Temple. He is puzzled that they would not know that he would be in his Father's house (the Temple). He then goes back home with them, obedient and increasing in wisdom. We assume that this is a story that Luke received from Mary, as we are told that “she treasured all these things in her heart”.
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 Jesus – Year C (Jan 13) – Reflections by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 43:1-7: In one of Isaiah's great passages we hear of God's fierce loyalty and commitment to his people. Originally addressed to the Israelites in captivity in Babylon, these words have brought comfort and solace to individuals, synagogues, and churches as well for the last 3,000 years. God creates us, forms us, names us and promises to be with us through all the perils that life holds. Why? Because “we are precious in God's sight, and honoured, and loved”.
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 8: 14-17: In four short verses Luke shows the ultimate fulfilment of his baptism story in the gospel reading. The coming of the Holy Spirit would not be limited to Jesus' ministry but would be given to all his followers as well. Again the importance of prayer is emphasized. It is when the disciples prayed for the Samaritans that they received the Holy Spirit. This passage also highlights our Epiphany theme of the spread of the gospel to Gentiles.
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22: Luke presents a very terse version of Jesus' baptism. Jesus is totally identified with humanity – they make their way to John's baptism, Jesus does too. One of Luke's central themes is mentioned here – the importance of prayer. It is when Jesus prays that the Holy Spirit descends on him in the form of a dove.
Scripture Summary For 2nd Sunday after Epiphany – Year C (Jan 20) – Reflections by Rev. Shelley
Isaiah 62:1-5: Isaiah uses the language of love to describe God's commitment to his people. God is tireless on their behalf. God will replace all the names of reproach that others have heaped on the people: forsaken, desolate; and replace them with new names. My delight is in her, crown of beauty; these will describe the new Israel.
Psalm 36:5-10: This Psalm is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. Even the cosmos cannot contain God's love and faithfulness. From the highest mountains to the depth of the sea – that is the scope of God's righteous judgements. He cares for humanity and for animals. He provides delightful food and drink for all. God's light allows us to dwell in light. The psalmist concludes by asking God to continue to provide this love to all of us.
I Corinthians 12:1-11: Paul reminds the quarrelling church in Corinth that their gifts and skills have been given to them by the Holy Spirit. It is this same Spirit that gifts all of their members. Wisdom, discernment, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, tongues and their interpretation. These are not ours, but given to us by God's spirit. They are given not for our selfish gain, but to build up the body of Christ.
John 2: 1-11: St. John records Jesus' first miracle. It is not a healing but providing wine for a wedding. The family's resources had finished and Jesus provides more and better wine. Guests are happy and those is charge are left wondering about where this wine came from. It is only the servants; intent on obeying Jesus' instructions and taking care of the needs of the guests, who were in on the secret. John said that this was a “sign” pointing us to Jesus' true identity. “He did this..and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him”.
Scripture Summary For 3rd Sunday after Epiphany – Year C (Jan 27) – Reflections by Rev. Shelley
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10: The exiled Israelites have returned from their Babylonian captivity. The Temple is being rebuilt and the wall surrounding Jerusalem is being restored. Yet twice the people weep-when they compare their new Temple with the grandeur of Solomon's edifice, and here, when they hear God's word read freely in their homeland. Nehemiah and Ezra encourage the people to rejoice instead. God has done great things for them. It's time to be merry for “the joy of the Lord is their (our) strength.
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 12: 12-31a: St. Paul continues his analogy of the church as the body of Christ. God has arranged this body so that all the members are needed and have a purpose in the smooth functioning of the whole. Every person is precious. Saying that you are not part of the body does not mean that you are not. It simply means that the body of Christ will be missing a vital part. This is true because by the power of the Holy Spirit we were baptized into this mystical body.
Luke 4:14-21: Jesus begins his ministry by returning to his home town. All eyes are on him. He does what has been his custom-he goes to the local synagogue. He is given the privilege of reading the Scripture and the passage he chooses is from Isaiah. Prisoners freed. Blind given sight. Then he drops the bombshell. He applies these actions to himself. “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your sight”.