Weekly Lectionary: July 28 – August 3

The stories in the week to come move like a clock, several hands telling the time together. They may point in different directions, but they amount to the same time. The book of Judges begins, depicting an unsettled Israel. The people have received God’s promise and settled in a new land, but they pick up the bad habits of their neighbors and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. The promise of God has fallen apart already—and how can they put it back together? Acts shows the birth of the early church. Here is one of God’s plans come to fruition—or does it simply show the next challenge of faith? The Gospel of Matthew ends as Jesus walks the way of the cross, rises from the grave, and commissions his disciples. Is it the beginning of a new creation? Or is the end of one? It’s hard to tell where we are sometime in the cycle of salvation.


It’s hard to tell time without the church seasons. We’re in that long stretch of ordinary time that seems to go on forever (not a bad metaphor for where we are in life, actually). We know that at some point the paraments in the sanctuary will change; but in the meantime, we don’t know where we are, exactly. Are we nearing the end of COVID? Or is that just an illusion? Do we still have farther to go? Will it really have to get worse before it gets better? The challenges of telling time overlap with a new school year; what would be rally day and exciting new activities in our church (in any normal time); and the suspicion that, no matter the outward appearances, nothing is really changing.


But the movements of scripture can be helpful, here Despite the continuous falling away from faith, there is always a movement to return. Despite Israel’s sin, judges rise up to restore order. Despite the absence of God, a church is born, bearing God’s grace to the world. The dead Messiah becomes a risen Savior. The clock keeps moving but it always ends up in the same place—that in the fullness of time, God sent Jesus to redeem us. We live in the meeting of time and eternity: Jesus Christ.


(Devotionals will be taking some time off in the coming weeks, but will appear back in your mailbox later in August. Stay tuned, and keep reading!)


Tuesday, July 28


Morning Psalms 54; 146

First Reading Judges 2:1-5, 11-23

Second Reading Romans 16:17-27

Gospel Reading Matthew 27:32-44

Evening Psalms 28; 99


Wednesday, July 29


Morning Psalms 65; 147:1-11

First Reading Judges 3:12-30

Second Reading Acts 1:1-14

Gospel Reading Matthew 27:45-54

Evening Psalms 125; 91


Thursday, July 30


Morning Psalms 143; 147:12-20

First Reading Judges 4:4-23

Second Reading Acts 1:15-26

Gospel Reading Matthew 27:55-66

Evening Psalms 81; 116


Friday, July 31


Morning Psalms 88; 148

First Reading Judges 5:1-18

Second Reading Acts 2:1-21

Gospel Reading Matthew 28:1-10

Evening Psalms 6; 20


Saturday, August 1


Morning Psalms 122; 149

First Reading Judges 5:19-31

Second Reading Acts 2:22-36

Gospel Reading Matthew 28:11-20

Evening Psalms 100; 63


Sunday, August 2


Morning Psalms 108; 150

First Reading Judges 6:1-24

Second Reading 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Gospel Reading Mark 3:20-30

Evening Psalms 66; 23


Monday, August 3


Morning Psalms 62; 145

First Reading Judges 6:25-40

Second Reading Acts 2:37-47

Gospel Reading John 1:1-18

Evening Psalms 73; 9


Art Work: Swanson, John August. Ecclesiastes, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56542 

[retrieved July 27, 2020]. Original source: www.JohnAugustSwanson.com – copyright 1989 by John August Swanson.

Weekly Lectionary: July 28 – August 32020-09-08T16:04:26-05:00

FPC Weekly Lectionary – July 21-27, 2020

When I started writing daily devotionals back in March I thought that they might continue through Holy Week. Surely by then, I thought, we would have figured out how to remain connected as a church—or even that we might be able to worship together again. The stories seemed to reflect the time so well. Why couldn’t we break out of quarantine with the Israelites as they fled Egypt and slavery? With Jesus and Paul and the psalms consoling us, it seemed like we had everything we needed for our time in the wilderness. Maybe time with scripture could be like manna from heaven—daily bread.


Now the connection seems broken. This week Joshua will continue to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. He’ll even say farewell, telling them how to keep the promise. And yet we’re still here, waiting, and the promised return to church still seems far away.


The relationship between the two contexts—the story of scripture and our own story—is imperfect. Four months of zoom meetings do not equal forty years in the wilderness. But as we remain apart there are certain practices we can do to remain connected—with God, and with one another. We can continue to read scripture together, following the stories of our faith, gathering a little bit of daily bread as a gift of God to sustain us on the way of faith. We can pray when the morning comes so that the Word of God will guide our daytime wandering; or read the evening psalms that, like a pillar of fire, light the way to God in the darkness.


And, if we read scripture carefully, we might find our lives in the pattern of Israel’s faith. Just as we gather our daily bread, we rest. On the sixth day of the week, you’ll remember, God asks the Israelites to gather enough bread for two days. They are to rest just as the Creator rested.


My confession: I’ve been gathering daily bread for a while, but I’ve neglected to rest.


In a couple of weeks I will take some time for vacation and study leave. And, as a way of resting even as I work, I will forgo writing daily devotionals (or any devotionals at all, for that matter, while I’m “away”). I will, I however, offer a weekly reflection to help guide our church’s lectionary readings in the days ahead. My hope is that, through reading “together,” we all might contribute something to a shared understanding of how God is at work during this time. It’s up to us to gather the manna. And when we return to church, then, we’ll bring what we have, and share the bread of heaven.


Tuesday, July 21


Morning Psalms 123; 146

First Reading Joshua 8:1-22

Second Reading Romans 14:1-12

Gospel Reading Matthew 26:47-56

Evening Psalms 30; 86


Wednesday, July 22


Morning Psalms 123; 146

First Reading Joshua 8:1-22

Second Reading Romans 14:1-12

Gospel Reading Matthew 26:47-56

Evening Psalms 30; 86


Thursday, July 23


Morning Psalms 15; 147:1-11

First Reading Joshua 8:30-35

Second Reading Romans 14:13-23

Gospel Reading Matthew 26:57-68

Evening Psalms 48; 4


Friday, July 24


Morning Psalms 36; 147:12-20

First Reading Joshua 9:3-21

Second Reading Romans 15:1-13

Gospel Reading Matthew 26:69-75

Evening Psalms 80; 27


Saturday, July 25


Morning Psalms 130; 148

First Reading Joshua 9:22-10:15

Second Reading Romans 15:14-24

Gospel Reading Matthew 27:1-10

Evening Psalms 32; 139


Sunday, July 26


Morning Psalms 56; 149

First Reading Joshua 23:1-16

Second Reading Romans 15:25-33

Gospel Reading Matthew 27:11-23

Evening Psalms 118; 111


Monday, July 27


Morning Psalms 57; 145

First Reading Joshua 24:16-33

Second Reading Romans 16:1-16

Gospel Reading Matthew 27:24-31

Evening Psalms 85; 47


God, guide our reading, our praying, and our waiting—that in all our restless wandering we might find rest in you, in Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.


Art: Moyers, Mike. Guidance Day and Night, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57143 

[retrieved July 20, 2020]. Original source: Mike Moyers, https://www.mikemoyersfineart.com/.

FPC Weekly Lectionary – July 21-27, 20202020-09-08T16:04:26-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 17, 2020

Morning Psalms 51; 148

First Reading Joshua 4:19-5:1, 10-15

Second Reading Romans 12:9-21

Gospel Reading Matthew 26:17-25

Evening Psalms 142; 65


Romans 12:9-21


9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.


14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


This, one of Paul’s many blessings, illustrates the kind of life we are to live. Let love be genuine; hate what is evil hold fast to what is good. None of these are surprises as we think about the shape of Christian life; but we could always do with encouragement—which is exactly what this is. We rejoice not because everything is going great (it isn’t!). We rejoice because we hope that God is at work redeeming brokenness. We may not always feel patient, but that’s how to be when suffering. We keep praying even if we haven’t gotten an answer because that’s what patience and hope look like. Be hospitable. Share with others. The encouragement keeps coming. Bless those who persecute you. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Our faith isn’t just about times when things are going well, but for times, just like these. How are we to live, how we are to be when everything around us seems like it’s falling apart? Paul’s answer: be just like this.

God, for your encouragement, for your word, for the example of saints and Apostles, we worship you. Help us to live in this way, reflecting the grace of love of Jesus Christ, displaying who you are to a world desperate to know you, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – July 17, 20202020-09-08T16:04:26-05:00

Church Email Scam – July 14, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,


This note is to warn you about a possible email phishing scam that may be using email addresses resembling church staff emails. These scams are not unusual, but please use caution if you encounter the following:


  1. Any address that ends with a gmail.com. Church staff emails end with @firstpresdalton.org. Any other note you get that suggests it is from church staff but from a different email service should be blocked immediately. *PLEASE DO NOT OPEN*
  2. The subject lines of these false emails have been reading: “I need your help with something.” Please ignore emails with that subject line.
  3. Please do not send money through any email the church sends. We will not solicit donations through email. This is a common scam, so please beware.


We will work with our tech support to see if there is anything we can do to block these emails. In the meantime, please exercise caution.


Please click here to report the phishing scam to google.


Thank you—and please be in touch if you have any questions.


Church Email Scam – July 14, 20202020-09-08T16:04:26-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 20, 2020

Morning Psalms 135; 145

First Reading Joshua 7:1-13

Second Reading Romans 13:8-14

Gospel Reading Matthew 26:36-46

Evening Psalms 97; 112


Matthew 26:36-46


36Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”


Maybe we wish we had an idea of how to respond to the struggle of quarantine; to sick friends; and to the intractable problems that seem to be springing up everywhere. Jesus shows that prayer is a challenge—that we might not always get the answer we want right away. Really, what we want is compassion: the idea that someone is with us no matter the anxiety or the worry or the hurt. Even Jesus wants this. If we feel like we’re alone, we know that Jesus understands. If we wake up and open our eyes, maybe we realize that he’s with us already.


Gracious God, nothing less than your presence will do—the comfort of your Spirit, the help of Jesus Christ—in our doubt and confusion. Be with us through the challenge of these days: that in your compassion we would find our healing, assured in your love. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – July 20, 20202020-09-08T16:04:27-05:00
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