Hear the Spirit: Proper 23A

Readings and supplemental resources for Proper 23A in the RCL

October 11, 2020 | Pentecost +19

Click to view or download the Bible Study for Proper 23A

Collect for Proper 23

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. ~BCP 234

Isaiah 25:1-9 NRSV

In our Old Testament lesson the prophet praises the Lord for destroying the cities of the ruthless and for providing a refuge for the poor. Now comes the banquet of the Lord’s salvation.

1 O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. 2 For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt. 3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. 4 For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat. When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, 5 the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place, you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled. 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. 7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Philippians 4:1-9 NRSV

In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul invites the new disciples to exult in joy in the Lord who is near at hand, and he thanks them for their most recent gift.

1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters,whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion,help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4 Rejoicein the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, beloved,whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think aboutthese things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Matthew 22:1-14 NRSV

Our gospel reading presents a parable about those who declined invitations to a marriage feast and others who were then invited, followed by the story of a guest who came without wedding clothes.

1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Psalm 23 BCP 612

The Psalm expresses our trust that the Lord is shepherd and guide. God is present in time of danger and spreads a table for the one who needs comfort.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; * I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures * and leads me beside still waters.

3 He revives my soul * and guides me along right pathways
for his Name’s sake.

4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; * for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; * you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, * and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Supplemental Material

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 NRSV

Philippians 4:1-9. A Theological Perspective

By David B. Burrell, Professor of Ethics and Development Studies, Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, Uganda

Paul’s radical revision of the terms of observance of the covenant was bound to elicit some hard questions. Just what is required of followers of Jesus? One hears a similar complaint from some observant Jews today: this “love-stuff” is all well and good, but what difference does becoming a follower of Jesus make to one’s daily life?

A follower familiar with the Gospels would, of course, readily cite Matthew 25, the charter of the Christian life, yet Paul is even more specific: “help these women, [Euodia and Syntyche], for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my coworkers, whose names are in the book of life” (v. 3). So followers of Jesus are enjoined to assist one another “in the gospel,” that is, to encourage each other to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as outlined in Matthew 25.

As with the original covenant, a distinct path is indeed offered, though it is not prescribed. It will unfold before those who take the initial steps indicated to help others negotiate the travails of ordinary life. Beginning with knowing one another by name, each calls the other forth to a shared life in Jesus, where attempting to live “in Jesus” evokes an immense gratitude for the community that results in rejoicing: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let all know your forbearance” (vv. 4–5 RSV, NRSV “gentleness”).

Benedict, whose Rule spelled out some implications of “living in Jesus” in greater detail, speaks often of forbearance, as would spouses who have been together for decades. “Living in Jesus” means living together with others, and persons living together can easily grate on each other.

Peter counsels those engaged in the communal task of following Jesus: “like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). So the ongoing task of building this community of followers of Jesus takes on the proportions of building the temple itself, comparing the stone edifice with a human construction in which “living stones” grate on one another as stones would were they brought together to make a single building. People engaged in a common pursuit will inevitably jostle one another, often employing their sharp edges to find space for themselves. Like Peter, Paul suggests that this very jostling can lead us toward shared prayer in “the Lord [who] is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (vv. 5–6).

Such a spirit of cooperation will emerge only as we develop that crucial “forbearance” toward one another. Surely this is more than “love-stuff.” In fact, it describes the daily grind of living together, which Peter elevates to the constructive communal task of rebuilding the temple of God in Jerusalem, always considered by the people of the covenant to be the “dwelling place of God with us.”

Although that edifice had recently been destroyed by Rome, the occupying power, this community, now incorporated into the original covenant, will be called to offer a counterwitness to the destructive powers that surround it (the very powers that put Jesus to death) by living out “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (v. 7). The key to attaining that peace will again be mutual forbearance, the exercise of which will perforce “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). Paul culminates his exhortation, implicitly contrasting the separations he associated with the original covenant with the fruits of forbearance: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (v. 8). Nothing short of forbearance will succeed in eliciting so constructive an ethos from us, as our natural propensity is rather to render harsh judgment on one another, as the least demanding way to exalt ourselves! In a kind of solipsistic jujitsu, denigrating others can lift us above them without our having to undertake anything ourselves.

Continuing his teaching, Paul calls those who follow Jesus’ example to follow his as well: “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you” (v. 9). “The God of peace” is, of course, shorthand for the presence of Jesus among us, partaking in those very travails that demand we be forbearing toward one another. So we are carried from Peter’s exalted image of the temple to a humble one of family, recalling how the Jesus we follow was born into and emerged from a family, to offer a humble yet unerring path to the entire human family.

As Jesus’ mother Mary and his foster father Joseph assisted one another in the commonest of human tasks, so Paul engaged in a panoply of tasks to help forge a family of followers of Jesus. So it has ever been: beyond the ever-present forbearance toward one another, what followers of Jesus consistently enjoy is the gift of following one another along the path offered. That has of course been the witness of holy women and men throughout the history of this community, as those who are forbearing toward one another also call each other forth to live faithfully to the call of the “God of peace,” who is ever living in their midst, recognizable in their fellow travelers.

So we can respond to the challenge of our observant Jewish brothers and sisters by reminding them and ourselves that the work of followers of Jesus is ever present and “never done” (as is sometimes said of women’s work). It is that of building a community of people who can sustain one another in the journey of faith, reminding each other of its goal, but even more of the joys attending the journey itself, no matter how arduous.

Source: Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year A, vol.4, ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011).

Source Material

View or Download the Proper 23A Study Handout

NRSV: Bible Gateway website

Book of Common Prayer (BCP): justus.anglican.org

Introductions to the Readings are from the book  Introducing the Lessons of the Church Year, 3rd Ed.  (Kindle Edition) by Frederick Borsch and George Woodward.

Image: Communications Resources

Just because

Next to the Word of God,
the noble art of music
is the greatest treasure in the world.

Attributed to Martin Luther

Music continues to shape us, inspire us, humble us, thrill us, and so much more as humans and as Christ-followers. Music is a treasure we carry with us and share. “Sacred” music is everywhere, not just in church. Many of us in the Sunday Morning Forum (in the meeting room and online) meet God, dance with God, enjoy God, share God in ‘the noble art of music.’

Here is a recent discovery we share with you. Enjoy:

Continue the conversation, please share a comment. And, if you know the source of the Martin Luther quotation, I/we would like to be informed via your comment. Thanks.

Hail Thee, Festival Day

In many churches, including Episcopal churches, the Day of Pentecost is a day to sing “Hail Thee, Festival Day” with joy and thanksgiving. The hymn is often used on Easter, the Feast of the Ascension, and Pentecost. Here is a version shared on Easter (but sure to get you into the joy of Pentecost, listen for the verse beginning “Spirit of life and of power”):

Want to know more about the hymn? Check out Hymnary.org for this particular version of the hymn.

Do you have a favorite “Pentecost Hymn”? Let us know in the Comment section.

Wind Chimes: 25 Jan 2013 — Day 8

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Readings for Day Eight — Walking in celebration

Habakkuk 3:17-19 | Celebrating in a time of hardship
Psalm 100 | The worship of God through all the earth
Philippians 4:4-9 | Rejoice in the Lord always
Luke 1:46-55 | The Song of Mary

Quote . . .To walk humbly with God means to walk in celebration. The visitor to India is struck by the hardships and struggles endured by Dalits, but at the same time by their sense of hope and celebration. 2013-WPCU-Readings-and-Prayers

Prayer on Day Eight

2013 Week of Prayer (Cover)Gracious God, may your Holy Spirit fill our communities with joy and celebration, so that we can cherish the unity we already share, and zealously continue in the search for visible unity. We rejoice in the faith and hope of peoples who refuse to allow their dignity to be diminished, seeing in them your wonderful grace and your promise of freedom. Teach us to share in their joy and learn from their faithful endurance. Rekindle our hope and sustain our resolve, that in Christ‘s name we may walk together in love, raising a united voice of praise, and singing together one prayer of adoration. God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.

divider lineImage: School of Theology & Ministry, Seattle University

Wind Chimes: 03 Jan 2013

On that day: The deaf will hear the words of a scroll and, freed from dimness and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see. The poor will again find joy in the Lord, and the neediest of people will rejoice in the holy one of Israel.

Isaiah 29:18-19 CEB

Today, January 3rd, the Episcopal Church remembers William Passavant (October 9, 1821 – January 3, 1894).

William Passavant was a Pennsylvania Lutheran pastor who left an uncommonly rich legacy of service. He was driven by a desire to see the consequences of the Gospel worked out in practical ways in the lives of people in need. For Passavant, the church’s commitment to the Gospel must not be spiritual only. It must be visible. For him, it was essential that Gospel principles were worked out in clear missionary actions.

Learn more about William Passavant on Holy Women, Holy Men

In the Collect we ask God, the Compassionate, to “inspire us by his example, that we may be tireless to address the wants of all who are sick and friendless….”

One of the goals of the Sunday Morning Forum is to hear the Spirit calling us to such service and gracing us to serve to the welfare of others and the glory of God. The chimes sound, “you are called to serve.” What do you hear?

Additional information about William Passavant on Wikipedia

Wind Chimes: 29 Dec 2012

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

View the lyrics, music, and background for this Hymn.

The chimes sound like a dialogue tonight. The Spirit-wind creates all that is, seen and unseen. We respond in song. What do you hear?

Wind Chimes: 28 Dec 2012

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
[…]

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1, 14 NRSV

Holy Innocents Icon
Holy Innocents Icon, ca. 2010

When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, … When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi.

Matthew 2:13, 16 CEB
From the Gospel read on the Feast of the Holy Innocents,
December 28th

Remembering Holy Innocents, December 28

The merriment of Christmas and the profound mystery proclaimed by John (John 1:1ff) are in stark contrast to the brutal events perpetrated by Herod (Matthew 2:13ff), the violent slaughter in Newtown, CT, and daily reports of the death of children (0–17) due to abuse, neglect, and violence.

John Thatamanil, is an Associate Professor of Theology and World Religions at Union Theological Seminary in New York and is a member of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Chapel at Vanderbilt. Yesterday (12/27/12) he posted an essay “Christmas in Newtown and Bethlehem.” In it, he speaks to the contrast and its meaning for us who seek to follow Christ:

Quote . . .The slaughter of innocents and the birth of a child in excruciating vulnerability — this is a profoundly counterintuitive way to speak of God’s coming. Unlike the light and unblemished merriness that we wish each other every Christmas, the Bible offers no happily-ever-after fairy tale. The world into which the Christian Messiah enters is shattered by terror and ruled by Roman imperial power and its client dictators.
The Gospel narratives suggest that the coming of God does not (then or now) undo our capacity to inflict violence upon each other nor does it radically reconfigure the conditions under which we live out our lives. On the contrary, these very conditions, in all their fragility, are sanctified by incarnation. When God assumes flesh and enters the world, this very world is accepted and embraced.

God does not first remake the world in order to enter it, and entering the world does not diminish the dignity of divinity. The incarnation affirms that our fragility and frailty are not contrary to divine intention. Rather, they too are taken up by divinity when God becomes flesh. This world, as it stands, offers the necessary conditions for love and community. The coming of God as a child affirms that this fragile world is as it ought to be.

God does not come to eradicate vulnerability but to teach us how to welcome it. Love comes to open our eyes to look for holiness not in might and power, not in any futile attempt to secure ourselves against each other by force of arms, but precisely in our delicate bonds with each other.

I invite you to read his entire essay on The Huffington Post.

The wind blows. The sounds from the chimes burst out like merriment, then jangle in discord, and then are silent. All this happens in the space of minutes. What do you hear?

Icon: Suzanne Zoole commissioned by The Rev. Michael Sullivan and Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA. About the icon.

Wind Chimes: 27 Dec 2012

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
[…]

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1, 14 NRSV

These words from the “Prologue of John” (John 1:1-18) will be proclaimed this Sunday (12/30/12) in our worship. Today, December 27th, is the day the Church remembers (St.) John the Evangelist, the ‘author’ of these familiar words. Perhaps, if he were to ‘write’ his Good News today, he might present it differently:

The wind moves the chimes mysteriously and the sounds constantly amaze and delight. What do you hear?

Video: Bryan Bilac on YouTube

Wind Chimes: 25 Dec 2012

  Click to play the Christ Child’s Lullaby

Wind Chimes: 24 Dec 2012

A Christmas Eve present. Today, the chimes sound like “Ode to joy.”

About the video

For their 130th anniversary, Spanish finance group BancSabadell commissioned a symphony orchestra flash mob at a city square in Sabadell, Spain. The Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the choirs of Lieder, Friends of l’Opera and the Choral Belles Arts performed beautifully in this month old video that already (July 1, 2012) has over 460,000 views