Sunday, January 17, 2021

Epiphany 3B Readings with Commentaries

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:  Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Jonah had resisted God’s first attempt to send him to Nineveh, in part because he knew God would show mercy to those who were Israel’s enemies, and he did not want to do it.  Nineveh was a great city of the Assyrian Empire.  Jonah relents the second time (after being saved from the belly of a great fish) and the city repents, and God forgives, just as Jonah had feared.  The story continues with Jonah’s bitter complaint against God.  But God’s mercy prevails, even over Jonah. 

3:1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2 “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. 10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

Psalm 62:6-14

Psalm 62 is a personal testimony of trust in God.  As a response to the first reading, the last line is interesting since God decides not to repay the Ninevites “according to their deeds.”  Perhaps the ways of God are not as simple as either Jonah or the psalmist imagines! 



6 For God alone my soul in silence waits; *
        truly, my hope in in him.

7 He alone is my rock and my salvation, *
        my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.

8 In God is my safety and my honor; *
        God is my strong rock and my refuge.

9 Put your trust in him always, O people, *
        pour out your hearts before him,
        for God is our refuge.

10 Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath, *
        even those of low estate cannot be trusted.

11 On the scales they are lighter than a breath, *
        all of them together.

12 Put no trust in extortion;
    in robbery take no empty pride; *
        though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it.

13 God has spoken once, twice I have heard it, *
        that power belongs to God.

14 Steadfast love is your, O Lord, *
        for you repay everyone according to his deeds.

2nd Reading:  1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Paul, like most early Christians, believed that Jesus’ return in glory was imminent.  In this context, the following reading makes perfect sense. Paul exhorts the followers of Jesus to rid themselves of all distractions from focusing on the glory that is to come.  Jesus, however, would not come again soon, so what does this reading have to offer us?  There is a sense in which God calls us to a certain detachment from even those things and people we most cherish, lest we lose sight of the One who is always coming into our lives.

7:29 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

Gospel Reading:  Mark 1:14-20

As is typical for Mark, our short Gospel reading packs in a lot of information.  After John the Baptist’s arrest, Jesus begins his public ministry with a message of (in Greek) metanoia (repent, turn around, change your mind).  The kingdom of heaven is at hand. He then calls his first disciples who all leave to follow him “immediately” (a favorite word of Mark).

1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed 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 and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are by Epiphany ESources, E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843, www.epiphanyesources.com , copyright © 2021.  All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Epiphany 2B Readings with Commentaries

 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:  1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]

Our first reading is the call of the prophet Samuel while he was a boy serving under the priest Eli.  Samuel’s mother Hannah had dedicated him to the Lord’s service after his miraculous birth. His first prophetic act is to deliver a harsh message to his mentor, signaling the end of Eli’s priestly line.  God is about to do a new thing in raising up a king to rule over Israel.  Samuel will become God’s “kingmaker.”

3:1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3 the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

[11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.” 15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” 17 Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.” 19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.]

Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17

Psalm 139 is an amazing reflection on the relationship between God and the individual.  God is shown to be as much seeking relationship with us as we are with God. God’s presence is shown as deep and lasting; it is the context for both our creation and our living.



1 Lord, you have searched me out and known me; *
        you know my sitting down and my rising up;
        you discern my thoughts from afar.

2 You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
        and are acquainted with all my ways.

3 Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
        but you, O Lord, know it altogether.

4 You press upon me behind and before *
        and lay your hand upon me.

5 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
        it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

12 For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
        you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

13 I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
        your works are wonderful, and I know it well.

14 My body was not hidden from you, *
        while I was being made in secret
        and woven in the depths of the earth.

15 Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
    all of them were written in your book; *
        they were fashioned day by day,
        when as yet there was none of them.

16 How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
        how great is the sum of them!

17 If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; *
        to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.

2nd Reading:  1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Paul begins this passage with a quote that may represent the understanding of some Corinthians. There was confusion about Paul’s message of salvation by grace and not by works. Some took that to mean, “All things are lawful.” All things may be lawful, Paul says, but not all things are helpful. One’s body is to be revered as a temple of God’s Spirit, and so should not be used for “fornication.” The context suggests that this word covers any sexual act that does not intend, or is not an expression of, the unity of the partners.

6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” 17 But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

Gospel Reading:  John 1:43-51

The great tragedy in John’s Gospel is “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him” (1:11).  Here the facts about Jesus do not impress Nathanael. The Hebrew Scriptures do not even mention Nazareth, so how can the Messiah come from there?  Nathanael changes his mind when he meets Jesus and Jesus reaches through his bravado for relationship.  The invitation, “Come and see,” comes before the more imperative, “Follow me.”

1:43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

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 and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are by Epiphany ESources, E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843, www.epiphanyesources.com , copyright © 2021.  All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study, with attribution.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Baptism of Jesus B Readings with Commentaries

 First Sunday after Epiphany (B)

The Baptism of Jesus

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:  Genesis 1:1-5

The Bible begins with a faith statement:  “In the beginning God…”  There is nothing to prove here, just something on which to stake one’s worldview.  “Wind” and “spirit” are the same word in Hebrew, so there is a double-meaning in what is sweeping over the waters.  Notice it is water whose creation is not told.  It is the substance “before all things came to be.”  Then light is the first created thing.  Water and light are the two predominant images of this day, and, arguably, of the biblical record.

1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

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 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 19:1-7

A follower of Jesus from Alexandria named Apollos had been preaching in Ephesus and a small community formed there.  In encouraging new believers to Baptism, he spoke only of the Baptism of John.  Soon afterward, Paul made his first trip to Ephesus and teaches them about Baptism in the Name of Jesus with the Holy Spirit, who would empower them for ministry.  Through the Spirit they would join in God’s revealing of himself to the world.

19:1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2 He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John's baptism.” 4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied—7 altogether there were about twelve of them.

 Gospel Reading:  Mark 1:4-11

Our Gospel reading is Mark’s version of the story of Jesus’ baptism.  It is spare, just three verses, and, unlike the accounts in Matthew and Luke, only Jesus himself sees the phenomena and hears the voice.  Mark clearly understands this event as the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, his revelation to the world.

 1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 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 and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are by Epiphany ESources, E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843, www.epiphanyesources.com , copyright © 2021.  All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study with this attribution.

Friday, January 1, 2021

The Epiphany Readings with Commentaries

 The Epiphany

The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles

 The Collect of the Day

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth:  Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 1st Reading:  Isaiah 60:1-6

Light is the primary image of this feast.  In this reading, Isaiah prophecies that the people themselves are to be a light to all the nations.  This was one of two lines of thought in post-exilic Israel.  The other, represented by the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, was to strengthen the barrier between Israel and the nations.  Isaiah imagines the nations being drawn to Israel and Israel’s God.  This reading also includes images that appear in the Gospel story, camels bringing those from far away bearing gifts.

60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. 3 Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 4 Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. 5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Psalm 72 is a royal psalm, perhaps from the coronation liturgy.  It lays out the king’ responsibilities, i.e., justice and righteousness for all his people.  Again there is imagery of people from far away coming to bear gifts.  Note they do so because they are attracted by the king’s extraordinary treatment of those who are weak, needy, or oppressed.

1     Give the King your justice, O God, *

          and your righteousness to the King’s Son;

2     That he may rule your people righteously *

          and the poor with justice;

3     That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, *

          and the little hills bring righteousness.

4     He shall defend the needy among the people; *

          he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

5     He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure, *

          from one generation to another.

6     He shall come down like rain upon the mown field, *

          like showers that water the earth.

7     In his time shall the righteous flourish; *

          there shall be abundance of peace till the moon shall be no more.

10   The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute, *

          and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.

11   All kings shall bow down before him, *

          and all the nations do him service.

12   For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, *

          and the oppressed who has no helper.

13   He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; *

          he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

14   He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence,

           and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

2nd Reading:  Ephesians 3:1-12

Paul speaks eloquently of the plan of God to reveal himself to the Gentiles, the plan he believes always existed but was hidden until the coming of Christ and the mission Paul has been given.  This radical plan is that Jews and Gentiles become one.

 3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:  6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 2:1-12

In Christmas pageants, elements of this story are tacked onto Luke’s birth story (2:1-20), but in reality they are very different stories 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 notion that came from the Isaiah reading and the psalm for today).  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 and the Psalm are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are by Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843, www.epiphanyesources.com , copyright © 2020.  All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy or insert digitally into a service leaflet for congregational use, with attribution.

Monday, December 28, 2020

2nd Sunday of Christmas Readings with Commentaries

The Collect of the Day

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 a very 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 a song 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 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, 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:  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:  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 2:1-12

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 Psalms) 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 and the Psalms are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are by Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843, www.epiphanyesources.com , copyright © 2020.  All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study, with this attribution.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Christmas Day (All Propers) Readings with Commentaries

 The Collect of the Day

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light:  Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns now and for ever.  Amen.

Or this

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ:  Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Or this

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure virgin:  Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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 commentary 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 Psalms) 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 Collects and the Psalms are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are by Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843, www.epiphanyesources.com , copyright © 2020.  All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study, with attribution.