Daily Lectionary – July 19, 2020


Morning Psalms 19; 150

First Reading Joshua 6:15-27

Second Reading Acts 22:30-23:11

Gospel Reading Mark 2:1-12

Evening Psalms 81; 113


Mark 2:1-12


1When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7“Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? 10But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the paralytic – 11“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” 12And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”


I wonder if the Pharisees joined the crowd in this last exclamation—“We have never seen anything like this!” Their complaint about Jesus forgiving sins seems small next to the miracle (complaints usually do seem small next to miracles). So they move to the confession. They (and the crowd) don’t exactly know who Jesus is at this point. How could they? All they know is that the miracle comes stamped with the unmistakable fingerprints of God’s grace. When words fail, when we have never seen anything like it before, it’s a pretty good sign God is in the miracle somewhere.


God, give us eyes to see you, and hearts to receive the surprise of grace, in Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – July 19, 20202020-09-08T16:04:27-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 18, 2020

Morning Psalms 104; 149

First Reading Joshua 6:1-14

Second Reading Romans 13:1-7

Gospel Reading Matthew 26:26-35

Evening Psalms 138; 98


Matthew 26:26-35


26While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”


30When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.


31Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 33Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” 34Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” 35Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.


We know how the story ends. Peter makes a promise that he can’t keep. “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” The bluster of faith meets the reality of the challenge. There are somethings that we just don’t have the ability to face, no matter how much we wish it were otherwise. And that’s ok. No matter the challenge, the Savior picks it up for us, doing what we cannot do for ourselves. We may be scattered and dispirited—he’s already ahead of us in Galilee.


Help us to see you ahead of us, gracious God—that no matter the challenge of the way, your vision would sustain us, until we meet you, in Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Daily Lectionary – July 18, 20202020-09-08T16:04:28-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 16, 2020

Morning Psalms 97; 147:12-20

First Reading Joshua 3:14-4:7

Second Reading Romans 12:1-8

Gospel Reading Matthew 26:1-16

Evening Psalms 16; 62


Joshua 3:14-4:7


14When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. 15Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, 16the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.


1When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua: 2“Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, 3and command them, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.'” 4Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. 5Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, 6so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.”


It’s not uncommon to imagine a river as a kind of marker of time. “Time, like an ever rolling stream, Bears all its sons away; They fly, forgotten, as a dream Dies at the opening day.” The river always moves—except for when it doesn’t. The presence of God interrupts the flow of time and the flow of the river. Israel marches across the Jordan on dry land, just as they went through the Red Sea some forty years earlier. This pause happens on momentous occasions when God stops the flow of the ordinary with an announcement of extraordinary grace. The priests stand still, holding the ark, a testament to eternity as the people march on. How can the people remember when time stood still? They gather stones from where the priests stood and carry them away. Even though they go back into the ordinary, the eternal reminder of God’s interrupting grace is always with them. So if time seems to be standing still for now—and for many of us it does—what stones can you gather to remind you of eternity?


God, in our ordinary lives, remind us of your extraordinary grace that sustains us in the way of faith, following your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – July 16, 20202020-09-08T16:04:28-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 15, 2020

Morning Psalms 89:1-18; 147:1-11

First Reading Joshua 3:1-13

Second Reading Romans 11:25-36

Gospel Reading Matthew 25:31-46

Evening Psalms 1; 33


Romans 11:25-36


25So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”


27“And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” 28As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; 29for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 32For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.


33O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34“For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”


35“Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?” 36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.


With that last line you might think Paul was trying to end the letter. He cautions his readers not to think that they are too wise—that they, as Gentiles, understand something of God’s promise that their Jewish brothers and sisters don’t. On the contrary, Paul affirms that God’s eternal covenant is for everyone. And lest they try to theologize too much and explain who’s in and who’s out, Paul picks up steam and by verse 33 is quoting scripture, and by 36 has sped into prayer and praise. Paul often ends a letter this way, with a, “To him be the glory forever. Amen.” But we’re still in the middle of things here in Romans. Maybe Paul is tired of theology for a while. He’s explained enough. Or maybe deep thinking about God has led to the only place it possibly can—worship. That’s how we know we’re on the right track. When we think about God, we don’t get to understand. Instead we approach the mystery, take off our shoes, and worship. “To him be the glory forever. Amen.”


God, we meet you in worship and in praise, for who you have been, and who you are, in our Savior, Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, unite us with Christ in the mystery of his life, death, and rising again, to know you in our worship, beyond our simple understanding, in the fullness of your love. Amen. 

Daily Lectionary – July 15, 20202020-09-08T16:04:28-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 14, 2020

Morning Psalms 42; 146

First Reading Joshua 2:15-24

Second Reading Romans 11:13-24

Gospel Reading Matthew 25:14-30

Evening Psalms 102; 133


Matthew 25:14-30


14“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


A parable that doesn’t make sense for a time that doesn’t make sense. This is one of the more challenging stories Jesus throws at his disciples. A master goes on a trip and leaves his slaves with talents—an astronomical amount of money. Two of the slaves grow the treasure. Another one buries it. While the first two slaves receive praise at the master’s return, the last slave receives the master’s anger, and loses the one talent that he has. On first reading this seems unfair. Isn’t the world’s trouble just this: that the rich receive more and the poor receive less? This story seems to upend the basic moral teaching the gospel having to do with shared resources. But the challenge of the parable isn’t that the master is harsh, as if God’s accounting of what we do with what we’ve been given will be exacting. On the contrary, the master is extravagant. What we miss in the parable is the extraordinary gift at the beginning. The accounting is done in talents. And, if we do the math, what we find is that the parable begins with the master handing over payment for roughly 150 years of continuous work among his three slaves. With all this generosity, why shouldn’t the master expect something more than a buried gift? The parable is meant to spur us. In the words of the poet Mary Oliver, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”


God, even in the stillness and smallness of these days, let your gift of grace grow within us, offering something of your extravagant generosity to the world you died to love, in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – July 14, 20202020-09-08T16:04:29-05:00
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