November 28, 2021

First Sunday in Advent

  • First reading
    • Jeremiah 33:14-16
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 25:1-10
  • Second reading
    • 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
  • Gospel
    • Luke 21:25-36
Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
Vanderbilt University

The gospel from Luke:
Jesus said “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.

Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

November 21, 2021

Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • 2 Samuel 23:1-7
    • Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18)
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
    • Psalm 93
  • Second reading
    • Revelation 1:4b-8
  • Gospel
    • John 18:33-37

The gospel from John:
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”

Jesus before Pilate, First Interview
Tissot, James, 1836-1902
Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
Vanderbilt University

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

November 14, 2021

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • 1 Samuel 1:4-20
    • 1 Samuel 2:1-10
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Daniel 12:1-3
    • Psalm 16
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25
  • Gospel
    • Mark 13:1-8

The gospel from Mark:
As Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?”

Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.

Alpha and Omega
Eugenio Hansen 2010
The letters are written in a style called “uncial”,
a script commonly used from
the 4th to the 8th centuries AD
by Latin and Greek scribes

November 7, 2021

Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17
    • Psalm 127
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • 1 Kings 17:8-16
    • Psalm 146
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Gospel
    • Mark 12:38-44

The gospel from Mark:
As Jesus taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Widow’s Mite
The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ project
chronicled the entire life of Jesus
as recorded in the New Testament
as close as possible to an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus.” :
1886-1894 Tissot, James
Brooklyn Museum New York, NY

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.

Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

October 31, 2021

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Ruth 1:1-18
    • Psalm 146
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Deuteronomy 6:1-9
    • Psalm 119:1-8
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 9:11-14
  • Gospel
    • Mark 12:28-34

The gospel from Mark:
One of the scribes came near the disciples and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that Jesus answered them well, he asked him,

“Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Thou Shalt Love the Lord Thy God… .
Schnell, Sister Maurice, 1839-1902
Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
Vanderbilt University

Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ –this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

October 24, 201

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Job 42:1-6, 10-17
    • Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22)
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Jeremiah 31:7-9
    • Psalm 126
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 7:23-28
  • Gospel
    • Mark 10:46-52

The gospel from Mark:
They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Healing of the blind man at Jericho
Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
Vanderbilt University

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.”

Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

October 17, 2021

Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Job 38:1-7, (34-41)
    • Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Isaiah 53:4-12
    • Psalm 91:9-16
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 5:1-10
  • Gospel
    • Mark 10:35-45

The First Reading from Job:
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:

Lord Answers Job Out of the Whirlwind .
Blake, William, 1757-1827

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you?
Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind?
Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together?

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert?

“Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?

The gospel from Mark:
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.”

Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.

So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.

For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

October 10, 2021

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Job 23:1-9, 16-17
    • Psalm 22:1-15
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
    • Psalm 90:12-17
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 4:12-16
  • Gospel
    • Mark 10:17-31

The gospel from Mark:
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.”

Rich Young Man Went Away Sorrowful
James Tissof: 1886-1896:
Watercolor Brooklyn Museum
New York, NY
*see note below.

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life.

But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Jesus said to his disciples that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven. In a word, impossible. They ask him who can be saved. Jesus answers that all things are possible for God. We are like the rich man, for whom all things are possible. Here is a basic contradiction. Pastor Stevensen tells us that our hymn of the day has for lyrics the words of a poem written by Charlotte Elliot, a woman in poor health. She let God work through her when she wrote the words “Just as I am, Lord, ….. ,” a hymn that appears in many collections. Jesus loved the rich man, who was disappointed, but did not need to follow Jesus. He could depend on God. Charlotte Elliot depended on God. Pastor continues, saying that a dependence on God is not a weakness ……!

*Note: “…when Tissot carefully researched collection of 350 watercolors depicting the life of Jesus was first published as a book in 1896, it found a large and enthusiastic audience. No one who had followed his previous career could have anticipated that this painter of urban life in Paris and London would undertake the project of painting virtually every event in the Gospels.

The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ project took nearly ten years to complete. When it was done, it chronicled the entire life of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament in a series of 350 watercolors. To research the project Tissot traveled to Egypt, Syria, and Palestine in 1886–87, and again in 1890.

While in the Holy Land he closely observed the landscape, the vegetation, the architecture, and the manner of dress, and filled sketchbooks with what he saw. He talked with rabbis and studied Talmudic literature as well as theological and historical volumes. He believed that there was still a remaining “aura” in the places where the Gospel events took place, and he spoke of having mystical experiences that added to his careful research. What he wanted to create was something as close as possible to an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus.” [from Terry Glaspey’s “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know”])

October 3, 2021

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Job 1:1, 2:1-10
    • Psalm 26
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Genesis 2:18-24
    • Psalm 8
  • Second reading
    • Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12
  • Gospel
    • Mark 10:2-16

The gospel from Mark 10:2-16
Some Pharisees came to Jesus, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you.

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Christ Blessing the Children Cranach, Lucas
1545-1550 Painting

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.

Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Why did Jesus speak against divorce? In the Roman Catholic church, Pastor Stevensen explains, marriage is a sacrament to not be broken. Of all the scripture readings in the three-year cycle, today’s is the most unpopular. People have different lives today. Some rules get pushed back. Laws less forceful and clear can be undermined. In biblical times, a man need only announce in public three times to be divorced. Today’s scripture is an intent to stop this action. Divorce, mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, have what meaning for us? Church leaders have struggled with this question. Some say there are two kinds of laws – moral and ceremonial. Many of our moral laws come from the Ten Commandments. Pastor in his sermon suggests that they are a mirror and critic that remind us of failures. He continues to state another use of law for Christians. His sermon he says has two purposes – one to add to our understanding. …….

# # #

September 26, 2021

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
    • Psalm 124
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
    • Psalm 19:7-14
  • Second reading
    • James 5:13-20
  • Gospel
    • Mark 9:38-50

The gospel from Mark:
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.

Praying Hands, or
Study of the Hands of an Apostle
1508-1512 Dürer, Albrecht
Albertina Museum
Vienna, Austria

For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. “For everyone will be salted with fire.

Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”