New Revised Standard Version
Scripture Summary for the 4rth Sunday in Lent – Year C (March 31) -Reflections by Rev. Shelley
Joshua 5:9-12: The Israelites' 40 years of wandering in the desert are now over. They have arrived “home”. They celebrated by keeping the Passover. As soon as they reached their destination, the manna from heaven stopped. They would now be able to produce crops, grown in their new land “flowing with milk and honey”.
Psalm 32: This penitential psalm reminds us of our need for God's forgiveness for sin. The Psalmist acknowledged that forgiven sin leads to happiness. God then becomes a hiding place, preserving the Psalmist from trouble. God then is able to instruct in wise living and discernment. The unrepentant continue in misery “but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord”. The forgiven ones can shout for joy.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21: St. Paul gives us a glorious picture of who we are when we come to Jesus in faith and in repentance. We are a new creation. “The old has passed away, everything has become new!” This means that we can begin a life of reconciliation – first with God and then with the rest of our human society. It's a daily encounter – exchanging our sin for Christ's rightness. Then we can go out into the world as God's ambassador's, sharing this good news of reconciliation and friendship.
Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32: St. Luke is the only gospel writer to include this familiar parable of the of the Prodigal son. The story is told in the midst of complaints by the religious folk that Jesus was spending too much time hanging around with the so called “riffraff” of society. Here Jesus shows Father God's open and generous heart towards all those who have wandered far from home. Like the Israelites in our O.T. Reading, who have made it to their homeland; the prodigal makes it home to the heart and home of God.
Isaiah 43:16-21: Here Isaiah reminds his fellow citizens in Babylonian bondage that God delivered their ancestors when they were in captivity in Egypt. Sometimes looking to the past can upset us however; as we thing “this will never happen again”. Or it can make us think that God will do exactly the same thing for us. Isaiah reminds the people that God is doing a great new thing. God is restoring all the desert places of the land. He wants the people to trust him and be filled with praise and joy.
Psalm 126: This Psalm is a fitting response to the words read today in Isaiah. It is about a dream come true. God's people are joyous that God has brought them home and restored their fortune. They go up to the Temple in Jerusalem with singing and laughter. Although the going was tough and filled with tears; those tears have become the watering of new growth. The psalmist ends the song with the hope that all those who bear the seeds of hope in the midst of trouble will also experience the joy of a bountiful harvest.
Philippians 3:4b-14: Paul wants his opponents to know that if they want to brag about their faith, he has more reason to brag about his. He has given up everything – everything – to follow Jesus. Yet, all his learning and accomplishments he now sees as merely expendables; not even worth comparing to the joy of knowing Christ. This new life has been given to him, yet he strives to make it even richer. He longs to be Christ's mirror to the world. He doesn't look back; he presses on toward his heavenly destination.
John 12:1-8: Today's story is unique to John's gospel. (There is another woman who anoints Jesus, but it takes place in Simon's house, and the anointing is with her tears). His enemies are looking for Jesus, hoping to arrest him. He finds a safe place in the home of Martha and her siblings. Mary breaks open a jar of nard (a perfume) worth a year's salary, and anoints Jesus with it. Judas grumbles about the cost. There are two foreshadowings here: 1) Judas' concern for money. He will ultimately betray Jesus for money. 2) Jesus' body is now anointed for burial; something that will be neglected after the crucifixion (because it is the Sabbath).
Scripture Summary For the Palm/Passion Sunday – Year C (April 14th)
- Reflections by Rev. Shelley McVea
Isaiah 50: 4-9a: Isaiah talks about “the teacher” who can sustain the weary with a word. Yet, even the teacher is being is being rebuked and tormented. The teacher is being whipped, insulted, spit on, and struck. Yet, God will vindicate this righteous person. If God is “for” the teacher, who ultimately can be against them? It would be futile. This God that vindicates is the one who is near to the teacher. This helps the teacher to remain focused and determined. This sounds like Jesus as he set his face like flint, making his way 1to Jerusalem.
Psalm 31:9-16: Like psalm 22, this psalm is often recited in the Lenten/Passion season. The psalmist is going through deep waters and is crying out to God for mercy and help. The suffering of Jesus during holy week could easily be seen in this prayer. The psalmist is so disfigured that even neighbours and acquaintances turn away in horror. However, the psalmist trusts that God will be with him, and that his “times are in God's hand”.
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.
Luke 22:14-23:56: As we read together Luke's version of both Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem and his subsequent trial and crucifixion we are drawn into the story by our own participation. From loud hosanna to crucify – we are all capable of having either on our lips. It is a story of pain and grief, compassion and challenge. Let's dwell on this full story as we enter Holy week, and ask the Holy Spirit to open the scriptures to our hearts and minds.
Scripture Summary For the Maundy Thursday – Year C (April 18)
Reflections by Rev. Shelley McVea
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 116:1-4, 12-19: In this psalm, the poet tells us why he loves the Lord. He loves the Lord because God hears his voice and saves him. God even leans forward and cups his ear so that God can hear better. This kind of care and devotion inspires the Psalmist to continue to call out to God. His will keep his vows and delight in being God's servant. We are then all called upon to “Praise the Lord”.
I 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 assure them that God loves them, and that they are to continue in this love.
Scripture Summary for Easter Sunday – Year C (April 21st)
Reflections 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 this new edifice.
I Corinthians 15:19-26: St. Paul does not mince words in this passage. If Christ was not raised from the dead, then we are to be pitied. Our faith is in vain. Yet, this is not what he believes and knows. We all headed for death (as children of Adam). Through the 2nd Adam (Christ, the author of a new creation), we are offered life eternal. Christ is the harbinger of a new spring; a new creation. All enemies of this new life will ultimately be defeated. Our greatest enemy – death – will be the last enemy to be destroyed.
Luke 24:1-12: The female followers of Jesus arrive at the tomb early on Sunday morning, planning to anoint Jesus' dead body with spices. Instead they find two angels who ask them a direct, yet enigmatic question. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” This question sparks their memories. “Yes, He did tell us he would be raised from the dead on the third day”. They believed. They then went and shared this new reality with the disciples. “But these words seemed to them an idle tale”.
Scripture Summary For 2nd Sunday of Easter – Year C (April 28th) - Reflections by Rev. Shelley
Acts 5:27-32: The compelling reality of the Resurrection turns fearful and unbelieving disciples into bold witnesses to God's saving intervention into history. Brought before legal and religious authorities they no longer deny and desert the living Christ. They are now the witnesses of the resurrections and the Holy Spirit within them bears witness as well. They fill Jerusalem with this new teaching and revelation and soon they will fill the entire Roman empire with the message of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 150: This psalm concludes the Psalter. It is a call for all of creation to praise God. Praise God in the sanctuary and on the hillside. Praise God with all instruments from loud cymbals to lyrical lutes. Praise God with dance. Why? For God is great and God's actions are mighty. Any thing on the planet with breath is compelled to be part of this choir. Praise the Lord!
Revelation 1:4-8: John describes a choir like no other. gins his revelation by letting us know that this is written for the persecuted 7 churches through out Asia Minor. He greets them with peace and grace from Jesus Christ. Christ has won this loyalty through his faithful witness, by being the firstborn from the dead, and by loving us and freeing us from our sins. He is the first and the last (the alpha and the omega). Thanks be to God.
John 20:19-31: It is now evening on Resurrection Day. Jesus appears to his disciples and gives them an awesome new assignment. It is a task that is so daunting that it can only be fulfilled in the power of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately Thomas is not present when Jesus appears. Jesus makes a special visit for Thomas, and gives a blessing to all of us who have believed in him without seeing him. The writer of John tells us that he had many more stories that he could have shared; but these were written down so that we all might believe and be given life in Jesus' name.