Advent, Nov.- Dec. 2021  
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First Sunday in Advent, Nov. 28, 2021

Lectionary for November 28, 2021

Lectionary selections for the first Sunday of Advent include: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 and Luke 21:25-36.

Jeremiah 33:15 – In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Advent is the time when Christians anticipate God dwelling among us through Jesus and that time when God incarnate will dwell among us again. It is a time of great anticipation – of birth, rebirth and renewal. Advent is a time of movement – toward a new vision of the world, toward a renewed vision of God and toward a new vision of ourselves living in concert with God’s plan for us.

These Advent lectionary selections often focus on this idea of movement which is both physical and metaphorical in nature. As you experience this season of Advent, consider walking daily as a symbolic discipline of your Advent journey.

From the Episcopal church - WORSHIP. Read Luke 21:25-36. How do the symbols of the Advent season help you understand the story of Jesus? Where do you see them in your worship today?

Almighty God, be with me today as I start my Advent journey. Help me move closer to you and your plan for me. AMEN.

Lectionary for November 29, 2021

Lectionary selections Amos 2:6-16, 2 Peter 1:1-11, 2 Peter 1:1-11, Morning Psalms.

Psalm 25:1 – To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

Close your eyes and meditate on this brief passage. Repeat this passage raising your arms over your head each time. As you raise your arms, stretch your fingers wide as though you are holding tight to God’s grace. Throughout the day, take a fifteen second prayer break by repeating the passage four times to yourself.

From the Episcopal church - GO -Go out of your way to have a conversation with someone you might not normally visit with today. Ask God to open your heart to hear this person as God does.

Awesome God, I offer myself to your service this and every day. AMEN.

Lectionary for November 30, 2021

Lectionary selections Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Psalm 19, Romans 10:8-18, Matthew 4:18-22

Psalm 25:5 – Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.

Trust, even trust in God, must be cultivated and developed over time. This passage asks you to trust God as you are moving forward. As you walk today, consider how you are allowing God to lead you.

From the Episcopal church - LEARN - Read Matthew 4:18-22. How do these verses from Matthew inspire you to read Scripture with new eyes? Try reading several different translations of this passage. See how the language might change your reading of it.

Steadfast God, I want to go where you lead. Help me see your way for me. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 1, 2021

Lectionary selections Amos 3:12-4:5, 2 Peter 3:1-10, Matthew 21:23-32, Morning Psalms

1 Thessalonians 3:11 – Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you.

Prayers to God often are often open-ended requests for direction. In today’s passage, Apostle Paul is asking God to lead him to specific people. There is at least one person in your life who needs your presence. Consider that person and pray today that God will provide a way to lead you to them.

From the Episcopal Church - PRAY - Pray along with the Collect for Advent 1

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Set a timer for three minutes to sit in silence and hear what God might be saying back to you.

Merciful God, while I am trying to walk where you lead, I ask today that you lead me to this person who is weighing heavy on my heart and provide me a way to offer this person comfort. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 2, 2021

Lectionary selections. Amos 4:6-13, 2 Peter 3:11-18, Matthew 21:33-46, Morning Psalms

Luke 21:28 – Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Lower your head as though you are in prayer, then raise your head as though you are seeing the glory of God. If this motion feels comfortable to you, repeat it today as you pray to God.

From the Episcopal Church - BLESS - We know that angels are God’s special messengers to us, and that Gabriel spent intentional time with Mary, helping her to understand her part in God’s story. Who has shared an important lesson or their presence with you this week? Thank them today with a call or note.

God of mystery, I raise my head toward you that I might see you more clearly. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 3, 2021

Lectionary selections. Amos 5:1-17, Jude 1:1-16, Matthew 22:1-14, Morning Psalms

Luke 21:34 – 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.

Part of healthy living is learning to live with moderation. In this passage, moderation allows you to see God’s plan more clearly. Consider an excess in your life as you journey today. Is this excess separating you from God?

From the Episcopal Church - TURN -Read - Isaiah 58. How does this reading challenge you to think about feasts and festivals differently? How might this lesson change the way you celebrate or recognize this holy season?

Loving God, I have created some obstacles that obstruct my view of you. Give me the strength to overcome these self-made barriers. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 4, 2021

Lectionary selections. Amos 5:18-27, Jude 1:17-25, Matthew 22:15-22, Morning Psalms

Psalm 24:4 – Make me know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.

You have started a journey this week. Whether your walk has been physical, metaphorical or a mixture of both, you have been engaged in a conversation with God to help draw you closer to God’s plan for you. Rejoice today in your progress, even if it seems insignificant.

From the Episcopal Church - REST - Put your phone on airplane mode and leave it in a dresser drawer for an hour or two. Whatever happens in that time, you can handle later. Give this time to yourself and Jesus, to rest and recharge for the week ahead.

God of wonder, you can make the faith of a mustard seed do amazing things. Continue walking beside me as I continue in my journey toward you. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 5, 2021

Lectionary selections. Malachi 3:1-4,Canticle 16 (Song of Zechariah), Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6

Malachi 3:1 – See I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come into his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight – indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

Journeys often have a purpose, getting from point A to point B being the most obvious. As you enter the second week of Advent, the scriptures challenge you to consider another reason for making a journey, and that is to deliver a message. This week, consider your role as a messenger for God.

From the Episcopal Church - WORSHIP - Read Luke 3:1-6. How does the story of John the Baptist fill your heart with hope

Almighty God, walk with me this week as I consider the words and actions which communicate the message I am sending about your kingdom. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 6, 2021

Lectionary selections. Amos 7:1-9, Revelation 1:1-8, Matthew 22:23-33, Morning and Evening Psalms

Luke 1:76-77 – “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.”

These words came from Zechariah in dedicating his son, John the Baptist, to the Lord. Consider today how you prepare the way for the Lord through your words and actions.

From the Episcopal Church - GO -Read or watch your local news. Ask God to open your heart and eyes to ways you can promote reconciliation and healing in your community.

Understanding God, give me strength and wisdom to be a better herald of your coming kingdom. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 7, 2021

Lectionary selections. Amos 7:1-9, Revelation 1:1-8, Matthew 22:23-33, Morning and Evening Psalms

Psalm 24:4 – Make me know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.

You have started a journey this week. Whether your walk has been physical, metaphorical or a mixture of both, you have been engaged in a conversation with God to help draw you closer to God’s plan for you. Rejoice today in your progress, even if it seems insignificant.

From the Episcopal Church - LEARN - Read Luke 1:45. Share your faith story with one new person this week. It can be someone you have known for a while who has not heard the faith part of your story

God of wonder, you can make the faith of a mustard seed do amazing things. Continue walking beside me as I continue in my journey toward you. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 8, 2021 Selections - Amos 8:1-14,Revelation 1:17-2:7, Matthew 23:1-12, Morning and Evening Psalms

Philippians 1:3-5 – I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.

An important part of Paul’s prayer life was to offer prayers of thanksgiving for the work of other people of faith. Is there someone in your life who shares the gospel in a way that is helpful to you or someone close to you? Offer a prayer of thanks to God for that person.

From the Episcopal Church - PRAY - Pray along with the Collect for Advent 2

Second Sunday of Advent

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

As you are out and about for the rest of this week, notice the people you pass. Ask God to bless them in their lives and work. See how this changes the way you go about your week.

Loving God, for those people around me whose lives shine as a beacon directing me to your truth, I give you thanks. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 9, 2021 Selections - Amos 9:1-10, Revelation 2:8-17, Matthew 23:13-26, Morning and Evening Psalms

Philippians 1:9-11 – And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Imagine the physical labor required to harvest a field or vineyard in biblical times. With fewer opportunities for movement in today’s world, you must be intentional about incorporating exercise into your routine. Add steps to your day today. Walk to a coworker’s desk rather then sending another email, or park in a space further from the entrance.

From the Episcopal Church - BLESS - Call or write a letter to a family member with whom you would like to have a closer relationship. Make plans in the new year to chat on the phone or meet over Zoom or in person. Let them know how much you love them and look forward to knowing them better.

God of the harvest, allow me opportunities to sow seeds of justice, honesty, virtue and decency. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 10, 2021 Selections - Haggai 1:1-15, Revelation 2:18-29, Matthew 23:27-39, Morning and Evening Psalms

Luke 3:3-4 – [John the Baptist] went into all the regions around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”

If time and weather permit, consider changing the location of your walk today. Walk a new path and imagine you are John the Baptist walking in the wilderness. How does your life proclaim, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord?’ Consider praying for your neighborhood as you walk today.

From the Episcopal Church - TURN - Where did you struggle this week? Do you have amends or apologies or adjustments you need to make? Ask God to open your heart and mind to those opportunities for reconciliation and growth. Thank God for the gifts of mercy and love, and the courage to make the changes necessary. And then do your best, with God’s help, to make those changes.

Gracious God, thank you for giving strength to my voice so that I might better proclaim your truth. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 11, 2021 Selections - Haggai 2:1-19, Revelation 3:1-6, Matthew 24:1-14, Morning and Evening Psalm

Luke 3:5-6 - “’Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Have you ever walked in mud, loose gravel or a dry, sandy beach and noticed how quickly you get tired? Compare that vision to one of walking on a gymnasium floor or a freshly paved road. Are there people in your life whose faith is like walking on loose gravel? Pray for guidance so that you might help them find a firmer footing.

From the Episcopal Church - "REST" - Set aside 30 minutes to spend in silence with your best friend today. Sure, it may feel a little weird to be silent on th phone or while sitting next to each other on the couch or across the table. Just give it a try. Make sure to set aside time after your silence t pray for each other and to say thanks for the time of rest.

Loving God, help me be a better voice of your will, of your message, of your peace. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 12, 2021 Selections - Zephaniah 3:14-20, Canticle 9 The First Song of Isaiah Ecce, Deus Isaiah 12:2-6, Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18

Zephaniah 3:15 – The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.

As you walk today, walk with an attitude of confidence even if you lack it yourself. God wants you to live with confidence in yourself and in the promises God has made for you. Pray today for God to remove unneeded anxiety from your life.

From the Episcopal Church - WORSHIP - Imagine the faces you’d like to see at church — an all-star list of folks you want to worship with. This could be people you know from summer camp when you were a kid, people who might have already died, people you work with — all your favorites. Commit to pray for those folks this week. And make a commitment to ask one of your all-stars to come to church with you in the next month

Almighty God, help me remember that you are always shouldering burdens with me, so that I am never alone. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 13, 2021 Selections - Zechariah 1:7-17, Revelation 3:7-13, Matthew 24:15-31, Morning and Evening Psalms

Zephaniah 3:16 – On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak.

Whether you are praying or helping a neighbor, your hands are an important element in your service to God and others. Make a fist as tight as you are able, then spread your hands as wide as you can. If this does not hurt, repeat it several times throughout the day.

From the Episcopal Church - GO - Take a new or different route to work, or school, or out to run errands. See how using a different route requires you to see the world differently — to pay a different kind of attention. What do you notice along the way that makes you stop and take a second look? Does anything on this new route inspire your faith journey or remind you of lessons learned?

Gracious God, I thank you today for hands that can serve you in a variety of ways. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 14, 2021 Selections - Zechariah 2:1-13, Revelation 3:14-22, Matthew 24:32-44, Morning and Evening Psalms

Zephaniah 3:19 – I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.

Everyone comes in contact with outcasts, even if the outcast in your life is just the awkward and insecure person who makes people uncomfortable whenever he or she is around. Do you interact with such people in positive ways or do you help add to their feelings of separation?

From the Episcopal Church - LEARN - Read Luke 1:59-80. When Zechariah’s speech returns, he praises God. If you lost the power to speak for nine months like Zechariah did, what would be your first word of praise? Share this with your family, friends, and on social media.

Understanding God, help me see your imprint on each person who comes before me this day. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 15, 2021 Selections - Zechariah 3:1-10,Revelation 4:1-8, Matthew 24:45-51, Morning and Evening Psalms

Isaiah 12:2-3 – Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Imagine a time when you were very thirsty, maybe even dehydrated. As you begin to sip on water, you feel your body coming back into balance. As you drink water today, think of how this is a wonderful metaphor of our salvation.

From the Episcopal Church - PRAY - Pray along with the Collect for Advent 3,

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

How will prayer guide you through the rest of the week? Set aside special time today to focus your intentions on stirring up peace and spreading joy.

Creator God, thank you for life-giving water that quenches the thirst of my Spirit. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 16 2021 Selections - Zechariah 4:1-14, Revelation 4:9-5:5, Matthew 25:1-13, Morning and Evening Psalms

Philippians 4:5 – Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

Is your gentleness like a light hidden under a basket? Do not hide the concern, the care, you have for others. Walk through each day as though the Lord is near and be willing to make yourself vulnerable to others.

From the Episcopal Church - BLESS -Spend a significant amount of time today discerning if there is a special blessing or gift you can share with your church, a local ministry, or with your community. Ask God to inspire and equip you with the fortitude and tools to make this gift something truly memorable and heartfelt.

God of peace, as I walk among your children today may they see your face in mine. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 17,2021 Selections - Zechariah 7:8-8:8, Revelation 5:6-14, Matthew 25:14-30, Morning and Evening Psalms

Philippians 4:6-7 – 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.

Advent is a short journey within the larger context of your life. But travel is almost always more fulfilling when you are joined by someone else. This passage notes that your life should be an ongoing conversation with God, that you are never alone on your journey.

From the Episcopal Church - TURN - Turn away from the busyness of the world right now. Turn your heart and mind toward giving thanks for this time of reflection, refreshment, and renewal. Turn your attention toward how you will be resting tomorrow, and put things in place so you can make the most of your sabbath time.

God of my past, present and future, incline my ears to you so that I might hear your still small voice guiding me. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 18,2021 Selections - Zechariah 8:9-17, Revelation 6:1-17, Matthew 25:31-46, Morning and Eveningi Psalms

Luke 3:10-11 – And the crowds asked [John the Baptist], “What should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

You are approaching a season of gift giving. Consider taking this passage literally. Take a few moments to clean out your closet of unneeded clothing or your pantry of food you do not need. If you do not know a family in need, share these items with a local church, clothes closet or food pantry.

From the Episcopal Church - REST - Spend at least 45 minutes outside today, without doing yard work or fixing lights or redoing bows on the garland. Take some time to just sit outside and let the air wash over you, taking away the stress and worry of the moment. Read Psalm 100 before and after your outside time. See how this psalm may help you rest and recharge your spirit.

Merciful God, in this season of giving, help me be mindful of the needs of my brothers and sisters. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 19,2021 Selections - Micah 5:2-5, Canticle 15 The Song of Mary Magnificat Luke 1:46-55, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-55

Micah 5:2 – But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.

It is easy to feel insignificant in this world. We are preparing to celebrate a young girl in a small town giving birth to a little boy in whom the hope of the world will come to rest. God can do extraordinary things through unlikely people – including you.

From the Episcopal Church - WORSHIP - Linger before leaving your worship time today. How is God calling you to hear and sing along with Mary’s Song? Read Luke 1:39-55 This is the famous Magnificat.

Almighty God, mold me and use me as an instrument of your will. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 20,2021 Selections - Zephaniah 3:14-20, Titus 1:1-16, Luke 1:1-25, Morning and Evening Psalms

Luke 1:46b, 48-49 – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

As part of your meditative time today, consider gifts you have received from God, maybe even writing them down. Throughout the day, consider this list, and thank God for all he has done for you.

From the Episcopal Church - GO - Go out into your neighborhood today. Where is God at work? Ask God to show you how you can celebrate that good work and name God’s presence in your community.

Generous God, thank you for the many blessings you have poured out on me. May I remain forever grateful of your generosity. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 21,2021 Selections - Habakkuk 2:1-4, Psalm 126, Hebrews 10:35-11:1, John 20:24-29

Luke 1:52-53 – “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

You are approaching a season of great feasts when many good things will be on your table. Yet our feasts often fall short when it comes to the health considerations of those around the table. Will there be people around your table watching their cholesterol or their fat intake? Will you host anyone with diabetes? Be mindful of the health concerns around your Christmas table and plan today for choices that all can enjoy.

From the Episcopal Church - LEARN - Read Habakkuk 2:1-4. Does this reading remind you of Thomas the disciple? Why do you think the folks who organized the lectionary picked this reading from the Old Testament for this friend of Jesus?

Loving God, help me create a Christmas season that is welcoming to and mindful of all who might visit. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 22,2021 Selections - 2 Samuel 7:1-17, Titus 2:11-3:8, Luke 1:39-56, Morning and Evening Psalms

Micah 5:4-5 – And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace.

Your Advent journey has come to an end, but your journey with God has begun anew. God incarnate will be here soon. Be fervent in your prayers, gentle with one another and know that God, your Creator, remains steadfast by your side today and always.

From the Episcopal Church - PRAY - Pray along with the Collect for Advent 4,

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Pick three or four of your beloveds to focus your prayers on today. Make sure to leave some silent space for God to offer you some wisdom about what they may need right now.

Gracious, loving God, you have always been with me, but I am often blind to your presence. Guide me where you would have me go. Help me to move closer to you and your plan for me. AMEN.

Micah 5:4-5 – And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace.

Your Advent journey has come to an end, but your journey with God has begun anew. God incarnate will be here soon. Be fervent in your prayers, gentle with one another and know that God, your Creator, remains steadfast by your side today and always.

Gracious, loving God, you have always been with me, but I am often blind to your presence. Guide me where you would have me go. Help me to move closer to you and your plan for me. AMEN.

Lectionary for December 23,2021 Selections - 2 Samuel 7:18-29, Galatians 3:1-14, Luke 1:57-66, Morning and Evening Psalms

Matthew 10:17-22 – Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

What is the connection between Bethlehem and Calvary – the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and his passion and death on a cross? The very reason the Son of God took on flesh and became a man for our sake was to redeem us from slavery to sin and death and to give us new life as the adopted children of God. The way to glory in the kingdom of God is through the cross. If we want to share in Jesus' glory, then we, too, must take up our cross each day and follow in his footsteps. Jesus never hesitated to tell his disciples what they might expect if they followed him. Here Jesus says to his disciples: This is my task for you at its grimmest and worst; do you accept it? This is not the world's way of offering a job. After the defeat at Dunkirk, Churchill offered his country blood, toil, sweat, and tears. This is not the message we prefer to hear when the Lord commissions us in his service. Nonetheless, our privilege is to follow in the footsteps of the Master who laid down his life for us. The Lord gives us sufficient grace to follow him and to bear our cross with courage and hope. Do you know the joy and victory of the cross of Jesus Christ?

From the Episcopal Church - BLESS - Make sure to pick up an extra present or two — a nice candy sampler or a warm pair of slippers or pajama pants, just in case you have extra friends or guests drop by. Ask God to bless those who travel and those who may be alone in the coming days. Take some bottled water and sports drinks over to your local community cold weather shelter.

"Lord Jesus, your coming in the flesh to ransom us from slavery to sin gives us cause for great rejoicing even in the midst of trials and pain. Help me to patiently and joyfully accept the hardships, adversities, and persecution which come my way in serving you. Strengthen my faith and give me courage that I may not shrink back from doing your will".

Lectionary for December 24,2021Selections - Baruch 4:36-5:9, Galatians 3:23-4:7, Matthew 1:18-25, Morning and Evening Psalms

John 20:1a, 2-8 – 1a Now on the first day of the week 2 [Mary Magdelan] ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3 Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5 and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7 and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

What was it like for those who encountered the Son of God in human form? John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, wrote his gospel as an eye-witness of the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us, and who died and rose for our salvation. John was the first apostle to reach the tomb of Jesus on Easter Sunday morning. Like the other disciples, he was not ready to see an empty tomb and to hear the angel's message, Why do you seek the living among the dead (Luke 24:5)? What did John see in the tomb that led him to believe in the resurrection of Jesus? It was certainly not a dead body. The dead body of Jesus would have disproven the resurrection and made his death a tragic conclusion to a glorious career as a great teacher and miracle worker. When John saw the empty tomb he must have recalled Jesus' prophecy that he would rise again after three days. Through the gift of faith John realized that no tomb on earth could contain the Lord and giver of life. John in his first epistle testifies: What we have seen, heard, and touched we proclaim as the word of life which existed "from the beginning" (1 John 1:1-4). John bears witness to what has existed from all eternity. This "word of life" is Jesus the word incarnate, but also Jesus as the word announced by the prophets and Jesus the word now preached throughout the Christian church for all ages to come. One thing is certain, if Jesus had not risen from the dead and appeared to his disciples, we would never have heard of him. Nothing else could have changed sad and despairing men and women into people radiant with joy and courage. The reality of the resurrection is the central fact of the Christian faith. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord gives us "eyes of faith" to know him and the power of his resurrection. The greatest joy we can have is to encounter the living Christ and to know him personally as our Savior and Lord.

From the Episcopal Church - TURN - If you are gathering with friends and family today, consider taking time during the meal to turn to the folks on your right, and then on your left, to thank them for their love in your life. See how this might spread some joy and comfort around the table — or maybe even ease some potentially prickly guests.

"Lord Jesus Christ, you have triumphed over the grave and you have won new life for us. Give me the eyes of faith to see you in your glory. Help me to draw near to you and to grow in the knowledge of your great love and power."

Lectionary for December 25,2021Selections- Isaiah 9:2-7, Psalm 96, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-20

Matthew 2:13-18– 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son." 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more."

Who can explain suffering, especially the suffering of innocent children? Herod's massacre of children who gave their lives for a person and a truth they did not know seemed so useless and unjust. What a scandal and stumbling block for those who can't recognize God's redeeming love. Why couldn't God prevent this slaughter? Suffering is indeed a mystery. No explanation seems to satisfy our human craving to understand. What does Paul the Apostle mean when he says: We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called to his purpose (Romans 8:28)? These innocent children and their parents suffered for Christ. Suffering, persecution, and martyrdom are the lot of all who chose to follow Jesus Christ. There is no crown without the cross. It was through Jesus' suffering, humiliation, and death on a cross, that our salvation was won. His death won life – eternal life for us. And his blood which was shed for our sake obtained pardon and reconciliation with our heavenly Father. Suffering takes many forms: illness, disease, handicap, physical pain and emotional trauma, slander, abuse, poverty, and injustice. Jesus exclaimed that those who weep, who are reviled and persecuted for righteousness sake are blessed (Matthew 5:10-12). The word blessed [makarios in the Greek] literally means happiness or beatitude. It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life. There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord. Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that "no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take way. Do you know the joy of a life fully surrendered to God with faith and trust?

From the Episcopal Church - REST - The conventional wisdom is that new parents should rest when the baby is resting. Make sure you take some time out to rest with Baby Jesus — and marvel in the wonder of a fresh, new, clean, shiny, tiny, precious start. Take a nap and thank God for the gift of Jesus and for peace at Christmas.

"Lord, you gave your life for my sake, to redeem me from slavery to sin and death. Help me to carry my cross with joy that I may willingly do your will and not shrink back out of fear or cowardice when trouble besets me."