Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Third Sunday After Pentecost (June 19, 2022) in Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary.
If we follow the lectionary reading for this Sunday, we enter Psalm 22 right in the middle of an anguished scream.
The psalmist has begun the psalm with a desolate cry of abandonment (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”), and then has detailed his 5 Hear what the Spirit is saying Pentecost +2 Proper 7C Week of June 19, 2022 troubles, using vivid metaphors. He is a “worm, and not human” (verse 6). He is surrounded by “bulls,” “lions,” and “dogs” (verses 12-13, 16). He is “poured out like water” (verse 14). And he is not afraid to place blame where blame is due: “You [God] lay me in the dust of death” (verse 15).
And yet, the psalmist also knows where his help lies; strangely enough, from the same source he has just accused of foul play. As we enter the psalm, the psalmist cries, “But you, O LORD, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!” (verse 19).
In our Forum on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, we’ll explore Psalm 22 (the entire Psalm, though only verses 18-27 will be used in worship). Please view or download the handout we’ll use in our discussion as your own exploration continues.
We believe in one God … and are instantly at a loss for words.
Welcome. Our handout features the readings for Trinity Sunday (June 12, 2022) in Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary.
The well-known hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” sings, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” Less well known, though, and even less understood is what this hymn truly means. How can God be three persons? Why is the Trinity blessed? Our hearts sing what our minds cannot grasp. We sing of things too wonderful for ourselves.
James McTyre, Pastor, Lake Hills Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tennessee in Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2
In our Forum on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, we’ll explore Psalm 8 (appointed for Trinity Sunday) and wonder at the relationship we have with God and with each other. Please view or download the handout we’ll use in our discussion as your own exploration continues.
Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit… Act 2:3-4
Welcome. Our handout features the readings for Pentecost (June 5, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.
The text [Acts 2:1-21] startles us with a scene of almost unimaginable liveliness verging on chaos: sound like the rush of a mighty wind filled the whole house; tongues of fire appeared among the people; and as the crowd was filled with the Spirit of God, they spoke a cacophony of languages. Galileans, Parthians, Medes … a roll call of peoples all represented in the crush of humanity as the winds of God’s Spirit blew and the ecstatic fire spread.
Michael Jinkins in Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2
Pay attention. Keep learning.
View or download the Handout for The Day of Pentecost, Year C including short biographies for Saint Barnabas and Melania the Elder. Also we will celebrate and explore our Book of Common Prayer that was first used on the Day of Pentecost in 1549. Over the centuries and throughout the world the Book of Common Prayer has been, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, revised, renewed, and revitalized to inspire our worship and faith.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. Revelation 22:17
Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Seventh Sunday After Easter (May 29, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.
We listen to this text [Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21], not as passive receivers, but as active participants asked to be prepared to enter into the community. This is a call to ministry, not a ticketed invitation to sit in a stadium and watch a spectacle. It is a reminder that being a Christian assumes an active disposition and an attitude of grace-filled practice within the community of faith.
Paul “Skip” Johnson in Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2
“Skip” Johnson is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia. His commentary on the reading from the Book of Revelation is featured in our handout for study in the week beginning May 29, 2022 (see link below).
Rather than predict the time of Christ’s return, Professor Johnson suggests that we are invited to be active with grace-filled practices, right here, right now. What practices come to mind for you as you await Christ’s return?
During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” –Acts 16:9
Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Sixth Sunday After Easter (May 22, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.
Lydia is prominent in the reading from Acts (Acts 16:9-15) shared on the Sixth Sunday after Easter in Year C (May 22, 2022). One commentary on this reading notes an important aspect of “biblical faith” …
In the biblical witness, visions from God are not the exception but the norm. Beginning with Adam and Eve and moving throughout the Scriptures to the Apocalypse at the end, God is demonstratively engaged with human affairs to catch our attention and transform us.
David C. Forney, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Clarksville, Tennessee in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year C, vol. 2 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009)
Paul trusted his vision. Do you trust that God is still gracing us with visions? Can you trust your visions? How have you come to trust the God who wants to “catch our attention and transform us”? What do you make of Paul’s experience since the vision and the conclusion seem to be different?
When Jesus passed through Samaria (John 4.3-42) he stopped at Jacob’s Well in Sychar, a well that the patriarch Jacob had left to his son Joseph. Sitting by the well to rest, the Lord asked a Samaritan woman who came to the well to draw water to give him a drink. The request violated cultural taboos — a man speaking privately with a woman, and a Jew speaking to a Samaritan — anticipating the theological insight of Galatians 3:28. Their brief encounter is one of notable theological depth in which Jesus makes the first of several important “I am” statements in John’s Gospel. The Samaritan woman had been married five times and was living with a man to whom she was not married. Whether this was through her own fault or due to unfortunate circumstances beyond her control the text does not indicate. However, she has the distinct honor of being the first person to whom Jesus reveals his Messianic title and the first person to preach the gospel that Jesus is the Christ.
While unnamed in the Johannine text, Orthodox Christian tradition has it that the woman was baptized by the Apostles on the first Pentecost and given the name Photini, “the enlightened one” (Svetlana, in the Russian Church). Celebrated in the Orthodox Church as an Evangelist, “Equal to the Apostles,” a significant hagiography developed around her. She, her sisters, and her children are said to have been cruelly tortured and martyred at the command of the emperor Nero.
Over the centuries many churches have been built at the site of Jacob’s Well, where Jesus held discourse with the Samaritan woman; the present church building within Bir Ya’qub Monastery was built in 1893 by order of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and consecrated to St. Photini.
O Almighty God, whose most blessed Son revealed to the Samaritan woman that He is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the World; grant us to drink of the well that springs up to everlasting life that we may worship you in spirit and in truth through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Matthias is named only once in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:21-26). The rest of his story is obscure and sometimes fanciful in the Christian tradition. Nonetheless, it is important to note that he apparently fit Peter’s requirements that to become an apostle with the remaining 11 the man should “have accompanied us (the apostles) during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection” Acts 1:21-22A
After acknowledging the hand of God in selecting and blessing Matthias to be an apostle, we ask that we—the people of God—may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors.
What role do we play in supporting and encouraging and caring for the faithful and true pastors by whom we are guided and governed as God answers our prayer?
The Collect for the Commemoration
Almighty God, who in the place of Judas chose your faithful servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve: Grant that your Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
In the nine days of waiting between Jesus’ Ascension and the Day of Pentecost, the disciples remained together in prayer. During this time, Peter reminded them that the defection and death of Judas had left the fellowship of the Twelve with a vacancy. The Acts of the Apostles records Peter’s proposal that “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21–22). Two men were nominated, Joseph called Barsabbas who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. After prayer, the disciples cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, who was then enrolled with the eleven. (See Acts 1:21-26)
Scripture does not relate anything further about Matthias, but gives him as an example to Christians of one whose faithful companionship with Jesus qualifies him to be a suitable witness to the resurrection, and whose service is unheralded and unsung.
There are, however, several early Christian accounts of his mission and ministry, such as the second century text The Acts of Andrew and Matthias in Cannibal City. According to this account, immediately after the selection of Matthias, the apostles cast lots to determine which of them would take responsibility for which part of the world, and the unlucky Matthias was dispatched to a city of cannibals! Although an unabashedly fictionalized account, it is nevertheless an inspiring tale that shows Matthias being dealt the worst possible lot, and yet nevertheless responding to his call with equanimity, competence, and grace, which are the same qualities we see reflected in the canonical account that is given by Scripture.
Saint Matthias The Apostle in Lesser Feasts and Fasts, Revision 2018
Lots in the Ancient World
Ancient peoples used lot-casting as a form of cleromancy—a type of divination in which the random outcome was believed to reflect divine will. Ancients commonly used small stones labeled to reflect the possible outcomes of the decision (Lindblom, “Lot-casting,” 168). The Bible contains no description of the specific procedure for casting lots, undoubtedly due to the commonplace nature of the practice. Based on etymology, Kitz suggests the Israelites likely placed marked stones into a container, which was then shaken in such a way as to “cast” out a deciding stone (Kitz, “Terminology,” 207–14). Hittite and Akkadian texts also indicate that the casting of stones was used to determine an oracular answer to a series of questions (Kitz, “Urim and Thumim,” 401–10).
Usage in the New Testament
The New Testament contains few references to the use of lots. However, the attested uses reflect the Hebrew mindset regarding divine involvement with the decision:
Zechariah was chosen by lot for a rotation in the temple service (Luke 1:9)
Peter used lots and prayer to determine a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15–26).
Soldiers cast lots to divide Jesus’ garments after His crucifixion (John 19:24). This is perhaps the most secular use of lots in the Bible.
Source: Rob Fleenor, “Lots,” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ed. John D. Barry et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
Matthias (Great Cloud of Witnesses website curated by The Rev. Ken Howard)
In the Collect for this Commemoration, we praise God for giving us a servant who is described as holy and gentle. And we praise God for giving this holy and gentle servant “boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith.”
We ask for the grace to follow the example of Polycarp which will include sharing the cup of Christ (sorrow and suffering) and rising to eternal life. The prayer invites us to examine our actions (do they reveal us as one who serves, one who is seeking holiness, one who is gentle in a not-so-gentle world) and our trust in God no matter the circumstances (for there are many ways to “share the cup of Christ” short of martyrdom). What do you hear the Spirit saying to you?
The Collect for the Commemoration
O God, the maker of heaven and earth, you gave your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Polycarp was one of the leaders of the Church who carried on the tradition of the apostles through the troubled period of Gnostic heresies in the second century. According to Irenaeus, who had known him in his early youth, Polycarp was a pupil of John, “the disciple of the Lord,” and had been appointed a bishop by “apostles in Asia.”
[…] Polycarp was burned at the stake. Before his ordeal, he is reported to have looked up to heaven, and to have prayed: “Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed child Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and hosts and all creation, and of the whole race of the upright who live in your presence, I bless you that you have thought me worthy of this day and hour, to be numbered among the martyrs and share in the cup of Christ, for resurrection to eternal life, for soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. Among them may I be accepted before you today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice just as you, the faithful and true God, have prepared and foreshown and brought about. For this reason and for all things I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved child, through whom be glory to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, now and for the ages to come. Amen.”
If forgiveness isn’t denial or a detour, if forgiveness isn’t quick — then what is it? What is Jesus asking of us when he invites us to love, bless, pray, give, lend, do good, withhold judgment, extend mercy, and turn the other cheek?
Check out, too, what our Church remembers about Saint Matthias The Apostle and Photini, The Samaritan Woman (at the Well). She is widely honored in the Orthodox traditions and our Episcopal Church joins them in commemorating her. Through this week, read the stories of others who studied, prayed and worked for God’s glory. Let their stories invite you to do the same.
Pay attention. Keep learning.
View or download the Handout for Epiphany +7C including short biographies for Saint Matthias The Apostle and Photini, The Samaritan Woman (at the Well).
In the Collect for this Commemoration, we remember Martin Luther as one raised up by God to “reform and renew [God’s] Church in the light of [God’s] word.”
In your life who embodies these qualities today? What contemporary of yours do you see as raised up by God to effect reformation and renewal in the Church in the light of God’s word? I pray there is such a person for you. I pray that you may be the one to embody these things for others.
The Collect for the Commemoration
O God, our refuge and our strength: You raised up your servant Martin Luther to reform and renew your Church in the light of your word. Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of your grace which you have made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Martin Luther was born November 10, 1483. His intellectual abilities were evident early, and his father planned a career for him in law. Luther’s real interest lay elsewhere, however, and in 1505 he entered the local Augustinian monastery. He was ordained a priest April 3, 1507.
In October 1512 Luther received his doctorate in theology, and shortly afterward he was installed as a professor of biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg. … On the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, 1517, he posted on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg the notice of an academic debate on indulgences, listing 95 theses for discussion. As the effects of the theses became evident, the Pope called upon the Augustinian order to discipline their member. After a series of meetings, political maneuvers, and attempts at reconciliation, Luther, at a meeting with the papal legate in 1518, refused to recant.
Luther was excommunicated on January 3, 1521. [… In safety at Wartburg] Luther translated the New Testament into German and began the translation of the Old Testament. He then turned his attention to the organization of worship and education. He introduced congregational singing of hymns, composing many himself, and issued model orders of services. He published his large and small catechisms for instruction in the faith. During the years from 1522 to his death, Luther wrote a prodigious quantity of books, letters, sermons and tracts. Luther died on February 18, 1546.