Sunday, January 16, 2022

Epiphany 3C Readings with Commentary

 The Collect of the Day

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

1st Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

Our first reading is a portion of the report of the priest Ezra’s reading from the “Book of the Law” (probably the Torah) after the return from exile in Babylon.  As the story goes on in chapters 9 and 10, the people engage in fasting and confession and renew the covenant with God.  The “Water Gate” was part of the newly rebuilt walls of Jerusalem.  The rite takes place outside the Temple, however, which would not yet have been rebuilt.  This pattern of reading and interpreting of Scripture would continue and become the core of synagogue worship. It would eventually carry over into Christian worship as well.  Nehemiah 8:13-18 is the establishment of the Jewish festival of sukkot, or “booths.”

8:1 All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. 2 Accordingly, the
priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.
5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 8 So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Psalm 19

The first six verses of Psalm 19 focus on God’s dealings with the creation; verses 7-14 turn to the subject of the Law.  The transition from creation to law has led some to believe this originally was two psalms, but the psalmist seems to be saying that the Law is as natural and necessary for human living as is the creation itself.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, *
        and the firmament shows his handiwork.

2 One day tells its tale to another, *
        and one night imparts knowledge to another.

3 Although they have no words or language, *
        and their voices are not heard,

4 Their sound has gone out into all lands, *
        and their message to the ends of the world.

5 In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun; *
        it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
        it rejoices like a champion to run its course.

6 It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
    and runs about to the end of it again; *
        nothing is hidden from its burning heat.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul; *
        the testimony of the Lord is sure
        and gives wisdom to the innocent.

8 The statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart; *
        the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; *
        the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, *
        sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.

11 By them also is your servant enlightened, *
        and in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can tell how often he offends? *
        Cleanse me from my secret faults.

13 Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
    let them not get dominion over me; *
        then shall I be whole and sound and innocent of a great offense.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight, *
        O Lord , my strength and my redeemer.

 2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Paul has just spoken of the “varieties of gifts but the same Spirit” (12:1-11).  He reiterates that at the beginning of this section.  The Spirit into which we are baptized trumps our ethnic and social differences.  We become one body.  He then takes off on this image of the body to talk about the diversity that does still exist among us.  The body as a metaphor to talk about how the many function as a whole was well known in Paul’s day.  A number of Greco-Roman writers used the metaphor to talk about the functioning of the state.  Paul makes a bold claim here, however: “You are the body of Christ.”  This is beyond metaphor for Paul.  It is a new reality created by baptism.

12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts.

Gospel Reading: Luke 4:14-21

Here we have Jesus participating in synagogue worship on the pattern of his ancestor Ezra.  Many things are going on in this text.  Luke is continuing to emphasize that Jesus was a faithful Jew.  He is also setting up another theme of his, that Jesus is our primary interpreter of Scripture.  Jesus is setting forth his agenda, finding it in Isaiah 61:1, 58:6 & 61:2.  The interjection of 58:6 is significant in that it is a reflection on Leviticus 25:8-12, the description of the year of Jubilee.  The Year of Jubilee was an every-50-year time of liberation from debt (including lost property) and restoration of status.  For Jesus, this is what being the Messiah means—to fulfill this liberation.

4:14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:  18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Scripture quotations (except for the Psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2022 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. www.EpiphanyEsources.com. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Epiphany 2C Readings with Commenary

 The Collect of the Day

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world:  Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

1st Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5

Our first reading is from the section of Isaiah sometimes referred to as “Third Isaiah” (chapters 56-66). These chapters were clearly written after the return of Israel from the exile.  Israel struggled in the years following their return.  Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside had been devastated.  It was probably hard to believe that Israel would ever again rise up in glory.  In our passage this morning such a rising is proclaimed.  God will rejoice over his people, who have been given new names.  The re-naming of people occurs frequently in the Hebrew Scriptures and is always a signal of divine intervention.

62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. 2 The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. 3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her [Hepzibah], and your land Married [Beulah]; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. 5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Psalm 36:5-10

Psalm 36 is a prayer for help that is also a confession of faith.  These middle verses are more the latter.  If there is a theme it is God’s steadfast love (in Hebrew heşed).  It appears in verses 5, 7 and 10 (translated simply “love” and “loving-kindness”).

5 Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, *
        and your faithfulness to the clouds.

6 Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
    your justice like the great deep; *
        you save both man and beast, O LORD.

7 How priceless is your love, O God! *
        your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.

8 They feast upon the abundance of your house; *
        you give them drink from the river of your delights.

9 For with you is the well of life, *
        and in your light we see light.

10 Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, *
        and your favor to those who are true of heart.

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

We will be reading from the latter portion of the first letter to the Corinthians during Epiphany (and the beginning of 2 Corinthians on the seventh Sunday).  Paul talks here about the diversity of spiritual gifts given to God’s people.  He begins, however, by speaking of the common Spirit that allows us all to say “Jesus is Lord.”  Paul’s central understanding of spiritual gifts is that they exist “for the common good,” not as a sign of individual favor.  This truth is because they are gifts from “the same Spirit.”

12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4  ow there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Gospel Reading: John 2:1-11

On the Second Sunday after The Epiphany we always read a passage from the latter portion of chapter one and the beginning of chapter 2 of John’s Gospel, moments of revelation as Jesus begins his ministry.  There are many things interesting about the Cana wedding story.  This is an astounding miracle, but it does not help anyone except the party-givers reputation and the guests continued imbibing.  And what of the strange exchange between Jesus and his mother (who appears here for the first time in John’s Gospel and remains nameless)? Do the wedding guests ever know there has been a miracle?  Perhaps, as the first “sign” in John’s Gospel, the story is meant to tell us that Jesus (and the Gospel) do not play to our expectations.

2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

The Scripture quotations (except for the Psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2022 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. www.EpiphanyEsources.com. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Baptism of Jesus (C) Readings with Commentary

The First Sunday after Epiphany (C)

The Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ

 The Collect of the Day

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

1st Reading:  Isaiah 43:1-7

The portion of the book of Isaiah which begins at chapter 40  is often referred to as “Second Isaiah.” They  are words spoken by a prophet near the end of the exile of Jews in Babylon, preaching hope and the expectation that the time of exile is about to come to an end.  In our reading this morning, God declares that he will save his people because he loves them.  Israel is a people like no other people for God.  And yet, the image of drawing people from all four directions of the compass may indicate that Isaiah expects there will be an expansion of “everyone who is called by my name.”  This would be in line with other passages in Second Isaiah.

43:1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:  Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. 4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; 6 I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth—7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Psalm 29

Psalm 29 is a song of praise.  Its setting is a council of heavenly beings. The word “gods” in the first line is misleading.  In Hebrew the actual term is “sons of god,” and most scholars today translate it as “heavenly beings,” implying angels.  Psalm 29 shares many characteristics with a Canaanite hymn to their “storm god.”  This psalm is probably an appropriation of that hymn, but also a refutation.  Israel’s God is God alone.  The voice of God on the waters both echoes our first reading and anticipates our gospel reading.


1 Ascribe to the Lord, you gods, *
        ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his Name; *
        worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

3 The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
    the God of glory thunders; *
        the Lord is upon the mighty waters.

4 The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice; *
        the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.

5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees; *
        the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, *
        and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.

7 The voice of the Lord splits the flames of fire;
    the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; *
        the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

8 The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe *
        and strips the forests bare.

9 And in the temple of the Lord *
        all are crying, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned above the flood; *
        the Lord sits enthroned as King for evermore.

11 The Lord shall give strength to his people; *
        the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

2nd Reading:  Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17

The deacon Philip’s mission to Samaria (Acts 8:1-13) has borne fruit.  Now the question for the apostles is, “How should we respond?”  They send two of their number and they facilitate the Samaritan converts’ reception of the Holy Spirit.  One of the great significances of this little passage is that this is the first time in the record that non-Jews are accepted into the Christian community.  Granted, they are cousins of the Jews, but they had been clearly excluded under the Law.

8:14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell the story of Jesus’ baptism (John only alludes to it).  Among them, Luke seems especially sensitive to the relationship between John and Jesus.  Jesus’ baptism is narrated without mention of John, indeed Luke has already told of his arrest and imprisonment (in the verses omitted this morning).  The descent of the Spirit on Jesus is different in Luke as well.  It occurs while Jesus is in prayer after the baptism.  The importance of Jesus’ life of prayer will be uniquely important throughout Luke.

3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

The Scripture quotations (except for the Psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2022 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. www.EpiphanyEsources.com. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy or insert digitally into a bulletin for group study.



Monday, December 27, 2021

2nd Sunday after Christmas Readings with Commentary

 The Collect of the Day

"Escape to Egypt" by
Ukrainian artist
Ivanka Demchuk

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature:  Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1st Reading:  Jeremiah 31:7-14

Our first reading is from that portion of Jeremiah often called “the Book of Consolations.” In the midst of an otherwise gloomy book, Jeremiah speaks words of hope and comfort.  Despite Israel’s life in exile there is reason to sing. God is faithful and acting.  This makes this text a Christmas reading.  The Incarnation is God’s fundamental act in creation for us.

31:7 For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.” 8 See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. 9 With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. 10 Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.” 11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. 12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. 13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. 14 I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord.

Psalm 84:1-8

Psalm 84 is a hymn of longing for the Temple. It may have been sung by pilgrims while journeying to celebrate the Feast of Booths (see Deuteronomy 16:13-15).  This song celebrates the nearness of God and the longing that comes from the heart of a pilgrim. 


1 How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! *
        My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord;
        my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

2 The sparrow has found her a house
    and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; *
        by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

3 Happy are they who dwell in your house! *
        they will always be praising you.

4 Happy are the people whose strength is in you! *
        whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.

5 Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs, *
        for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.

6 They will climb from height to height, *
        and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.

7 Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; *
        hearken, O God of Jacob.

8 Behold our defender, O God; *
        and look upon the face of your Anointed.

2nd Reading:  Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a

Paul begins every letter with an expression of thanksgiving and blessing for the community to which he is writing.  Here he writes an extended introduction which goes on for three chapters.  God is to be blessed for his many blessings!  As a Christmas reading, Paul alludes here to the “pre-existence” of Christ: “as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world…”  The early Christians came to believe fervently that Jesus existed as the second person of the Trinity from the beginning; Christ was the Word that spoke the creation.

1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19a and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 2:41-52

This story is unique in that it is the only story in the canonical Gospels concerning Jesus’ childhood.  It is a curious story that attempts to sort out relationships.  Mary refers to “your father and I,” but Jesus refers to “my father’s house,” i.e. the Temple.  That they did not understand his meaning seems very odd considering their awareness of what was happening in all that precedes this passage.  Yet Jesus, even aware of his special relationship with God, is “obedient to them.”  Jesus’ growing awareness of himself did not lead to his challenging the basic order around him, at least until he begins to teach.  One is reminded of Philippians 2:5-11, “he humbled himself…”

2:41 Now every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

Or this

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Our Gospel reading is from the second half of Matthew’s Christmas story (the first half being the visit of the magi).  As the magi had been warned in a dream not to return to King Herod, now Joseph is warned to flee the king’s treachery.  The “Out of Egypt…” quote is from Hosea 11:1.  Then comes the worse that tyranny can dish out—the murder of innocent children (the skipped vv. 16-18).  Herod the Great died in 4 b.c.e. His son was as cruel as his father, although he was replaced as ruler in 6 b.c.e. by a Roman procurator.  Matthew eventually gets the family to Nazareth, where he and Luke agree Jesus was raised.  The quote about being a “Nazorean” has no known source.  Nazareth is not mentioned at all in the Hebrew Scripture.

2:13 After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” 19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20 “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23 There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

Or this

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 2:1-12

In Christmas pageants, elements of this story are tacked onto Luke’s story (2:1-20), but they are very different tales, and the visit of the Magi deserves to be known in all its richness.  The wise men (magoi in Greek) were likely astrologers or emissaries of foreign courts.  They were not “kings” (a later notion).  They also were not necessarily three in number.  The text does not give them a number; we have implied it from the three gifts.  Those gifts are highly symbolic in nature:  gold for a ruler, incense for a priest, myrrh for one who is to die.  Revelation comes to people in the first two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel via dreams (1:20, 2:12, 2:13, 2:19, 2:22).  The prophecy concerning Bethlehem is from Micah 5:2.  That the wise men first went to Jerusalem to consult the current king was only natural, but the “king” they seek is of a very different nature.

2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:  6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The Scripture quotations (except for the Psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2022 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. www.EpiphanyEsources.com. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Sunday after Christmas Readings with Commentary

 The Collect of the Day

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; 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.

1st Reading:  Isaiah 61:10—62:3/4

In the beginning of our first reading, Zion herself speaks, proclaiming the newness that is a gift from God.  This newness will be a witness to all the nations. The prophet then speaks (“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent…”).  He will proclaim to the world what God has done for Zion and tell of her new names: Hephzibah (Delight) and Beulah (Married) [in 62:4, which is added as an optional extension].

61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. 62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. 2 The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. 3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  4 [You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.]

Psalm 147:13-21

Psalm 147 praises the God who reigns over creation and provides for it.  The use of the word “Zion” reflects the first reading.  The origins of the word “Zion” are murky.  It may have originally referred to a fortress.  In 2 Samuel 5:6-10, “Jerusalem,” “Zion,” and “the City of David” are used interchangeably.  “Zion” is most often used as a personification of Jerusalem.


13 Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem; *
        praise your God, O Zion;

14 For he has strengthened the bars of your gates; *
        he has blessed your children within you.

15 He has established peace on your borders; *
        he satisfies you with the finest wheat.

16 He sends out his command to the earth, *
        and his word runs very swiftly.

17 He gives snow like wool; *
        he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.

18 He scatters his hail like bread crumbs; *
        who can stand against his cold?

19 He sends forth his word and melts them; *
        he blows with his wind, and the waters flow.

20 He declares his word to Jacob, *
        his statutes and his judgments to Israel.

21 He has not done so to any other nation; *
        to them he has not revealed his judgments. Hallelujah!

2nd Reading:  Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7

The epistle reading today is Paul’s only direct mention of the birth of Jesus. It is in the context of his ongoing argument about the primacy of justification by faith. Probably the most important thing to note here is that God is the actor. For Paul, the Christmas story is a story about God making himself available to all people. Non-Jews are adopted children and, therefore, joint heirs with Christ.

3:23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian. 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Gospel Reading:  John 1:1-18

Today we read the poetic opening of the Gospel of John in which he proclaims that Jesus, born to a human mother, was also the Word (in Greek, logos) which existed from before the beginning of creation.  John skillfully weaves together here language from the Greek notion of the primal “logos” with the Hebrew figure of Wisdom.  John carefully explains the testimonial place of John the Baptist in verses six through nine.  Jesus is both the Word of God and fully human.  He “lived among us” (literally, “pitched his tent among us”).

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 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.  15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

The Scripture quotations (except for the Psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2021 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. www.EpiphanyEsources.com. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Christmas Day (3 Propers) Readings with Commentary

 The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day

Proper I

 1st  Reading:  Isaiah 9:2-7

In its original context, this passage is an oracle of hope for the kingdom of Judah. The first verse of chapter nine speaks of both a “former time” and a “latter time.” The former time is probably the failed leadership and oppression under King Ahaz (735—715 bce). The promise is now his son, Hezekiah (715—687 bce), prophesied to be a true king of David’s line. Christians have long interpreted the “child…born for us” to be Jesus. Whatever the interpretation, this is a poetic statement of the capacity of God to bring newness out of despair and light out of darkness.

9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Psalm 96

Psalm 96 is an “enthronement psalm,” celebrating the rule of the Lord. Along with Psalms 93, 95, 97, and 99, it may have been originally used at the fall new year festival at which there was a symbolic (re-) enthronement of God. As a response to our first reading this psalm is primarily about the newness God can bring.


1 Sing to the Lord a new song; *
        sing to the Lord, all the whole earth.

2 Sing to the Lord and bless his Name; *
        proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

3 Declare his glory among the nations *
        and his wonders among all peoples.

4 For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; *
        he is more to be feared than all gods.

5 As for all the gods of the nations, they are but idols; *
        but it is the Lord who made the heavens.

6 Oh, the majesty and magnificence of his presence! *
        Oh, the power and the splendor of his sanctuary!

7 Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples; *
        ascribe to the Lord honor and power.

8 Ascribe to the Lord the honor due his Name; *
        bring offerings and come into his courts.

9 Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; *
        let the whole earth tremble before him. 

2nd Reading:  Titus 2:11-14

Titus was a colleague of Paul, who had been sent on mission to Crete at the time of this letter.  The letter is important because Paul provides a basis in theology for living in the way of Jesus.  In this brief passage, Paul proclaims that the purpose of the incarnation (“God has appeared”) is to establish in us a way of life that is attentive to our actions in the present and expectant of God’s complete manifestation in the future. Note that the word translated “salvation” can also be translated “healing.”

The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 2:1-14 [15-20]

Luke begins his birth story by setting it in historical context. The historicity of this “registration” is unclear, but it serves to set up the juxtaposition of the Emperor who was called “lord” and “savior,” under whom the Empire lived in “Pax Augusta,” with the child who was born in weakness who will also bear these titles and be the One who brings true peace. That shepherds were the first to receive the news is an important sign that the gift of this Messiah, the Lord, is for all.

2:1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

[15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.]

Proper II

1st Reading:  Isaiah 62:6-12

This passage comes from the post-exile portion of Isaiah. Israel has returned to Jerusalem and the city rebuilt. It is significant that the sentinels do not have the task of watching for enemies, but that of reminding God to remember his promises, and to keep reminding him until the work is done! Verses 8-9 then are the Lord’s solemn oath that the promise will be fulfilled. The rest of the passage makes clear that the rebuilding of the city (and of the relationship between God and his people) is a two-way street. The Lord will do his part, but Israel must do its part. God will act, but Israel must enact. The final verse is a reiteration of the promise through the giving of a change in name. The final words are crucial for Israel’s future (and perhaps make this passage relevant to our celebration of Christmas:  You will be “not forsaken”).

62:6 Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted sentinels; all day and all night they shall never be silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest,
7 and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned throughout the earth. 8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink the wine for which you have labored; 9 but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in my holy courts. 10 Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples. 11 The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, “See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” 12 They shall be called, “The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord”; and you shall be called, “Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.”

Psalm 97

Psalm 97 is an “enthronement psalm,” celebrating the rule of the Lord.  Along with Psalms 93, 95, 96, and 99, it may have been originally used at the fall new year festival at which there was a symbolic (re-) enthronement of God.  As a response to our first reading this psalm is primarily about the joy brought about by God’s reign.

 

1 The Lord is King; let the earth rejoice; *
        let the multitude of the isles be glad.

2 Clouds and darkness are round about him, *
        righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.

3 A fire goes before him *
        and burns up his enemies on every side.

4 His lightnings light up the world; *
        the earth sees it and is afraid.

5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, *
        at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

6 The heavens declare his righteousness, *
        and all the peoples see his glory.

7 Confounded be all who worship carved images
    and delight in false gods! *
        Bow down before him, all you gods.

8 Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice, *
        because of your judgments, O Lord.

9 For you are the Lord, most high over all the earth; *
        you are exalted far above all gods.

10 The Lord loves those who hate evil; *
        he preserves the lives of his saints
        and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light has sprung up for the righteous, *
        and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.

12 Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, *
        and give thanks to his holy Name.

2nd Reading:  Titus 3:4-7

Titus was a colleague of Paul, who had been sent on mission to Crete at the time of this letter. In this brief passage, Paul connects the incarnation with baptism. Both are profound acts of grace and mercy.

3:4 When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 2:[1-14] 15-20

See text above

Proper III

1st Reading:  Isaiah 52:7-10

In this passage there is an announcement that the Lord has acted decisively, bringing “good news” to Zion (this is Isaiah’s second use of the term “good news”—see Isaiah 40:9).  The Gospel writer Mark will pick up on this announcement and use it to open his story of Jesus (Mark 1:1), and the word will come to define the story of Jesus itself (in the form “gospel”).  Much is tied up in this term gospel:  the return of God to an abandoned people, comfort and the promise of well-being conquering despair, and salvation which will be known to all.

52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” 8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion. 9 Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Psalm 98

Psalm 98 is a hymn to God as ruler of a universal kingdom, in which all nature gives glory to the Creator.  It is a “new song” implying that there was an old song of despair, perhaps even abandonment, by God.  The new song is one of victory and joy. 


1 Sing to the Lord a new song, *
        for he has done marvelous things.

2 With his right hand and his holy arm *
        has he won for himself the victory.

3 The Lord has made known his victory; *
        his righteousness has he openly shown in
        the sight of the nations.

4 He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel, *
        and all the ends of the earth have seen the of our God.

5 Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands; *
        lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

6 Sing to the Lord with the harp, *
        with the harp and the voice of song.

7 With trumpets and the sound of the horn *
        shout with joy before the King, the Lord.

8 Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it, *
        the lands and those who dwell therein.

9 Let the rivers clap their hands, *
        and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord,
        when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world *
        and the peoples with equity.

2nd Reading:  Hebrews 1:1-4, [5-12]

The Letter to the Hebrews begins with a proclamation of the incarnation, which includes the notion (important to our Gospel reading today) that the Son was also the agent of creation, using language much like that used for the figure of Wisdom in the Hebrew Scriptures.  This Son is a greater being than angels, a point which is driven home in the second portion of the passage with seven biblical quotes:  Ps. 2:7, 2 Sam. 7:14, Deut. 32:43, Ps.  104.4, Ps. 45:6-7. Ps. 102:25-27 and Ps. 110:1.

1:1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

[5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? 6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God's angels worship him.” 7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” 8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” 10 And, “In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; 12 like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.”]

Gospel Reading:  John 1:1-14

Today we read not the birth story from Luke, but the poetic opening of the Gospel of John in which he proclaims that this Jesus born to a human mother was also the Word (in Greek, logos) made flesh from before the beginning of creation.  John skillfully weaves together here language from the Greek notion of the primal “logos” with the Hebrew figure of Wisdom.  John carefully explains the testimonial place of John the Baptist in verses six through nine.  Jesus is both the Word of God and fully human.  He “lived among us” (literally, “pitched his tent among us”).

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 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.

The Scripture quotations (except for the Psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2021 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. www.EpiphanyEsources.com. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study.