Monday, February 20, 2017

Last Sunday after the Epiphany Readings & Commentaries

The Collect of the Day
O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain:  Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; though Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The First Reading:  Exodus 24:12-18
In our first reading, Moses is summoned up the mountain to receive “the tablets of stone,” presumably the ten commandments. (This is clearly a separate tradition of the reception of the commandments from that found in Exodus 20). On the seventh day Moses has a theophany, a vision of God’s glory. Moses enters into that theophany and remains there forty days. Forty is a frequent number in the Bible used for a time of trial (there are at least 15 such biblical instances).

24:12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” 15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Psalm 2
Psalm 2 is a royal psalm which proclaims the king as God’s son and anointed (messiah). The latter title is always used in the Old Testament of the present ruler, not a future one.

1  Why are the nations in an uproar? *
            Why do the people mutter empty threats?
2  Why do the kings rise up in revolt,
    and the princes plot together, *
            against the Lord and against his Anointed?
3  “Let us break their yoke,” they say; *
            “let us cast off their bonds from us.”
4  He whose throne is in heaven is laughing; *
            the Lord has them in derision.
5  Then he speaks to them in his wrath, *
            and his rage fills them with terror.
6  “I myself have set my king *
            upon my holy hill of Zion.”
7  Let me announce the decree of the Lord: *
            he said to me, “You are my Son;
            this day have I begotten you.
8  Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for
                                    your inheritance *
            and the ends of the earth for your possession.
9  You shall crush them with an iron rod *
            and shatter them like a piece of pottery.”
10  And now, you kings, be wise; *
            be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11  Submit to the Lord with fear, *
            and with trembling bow before him;
12  Lest he be angry and you perish; *
            for his wrath is quickly kindled.
13  Happy are they all *
            Who take refuge in him!

Or this

Psalm 99
This psalm is an obvious one for Transfiguration Sunday.  It is a vision of the majesty of God, involving Moses, a mountain, and a cloud, all invoking a mysterious vision.
1  The Lord is King;
     let the people tremble; *
he is enthroned upon the cherubim;
let the earth shake.
2  The Lord is great in Zion; *
he is high above all peoples.
3  Let them confess his Name, which is great and awesome; *
he is the Holy One.
4  “O mighty King, lover of justice,
     you have established equity; *
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”
5  Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
     and fall down before his footstool; *
he is the Holy One.
6  Moses and Aaron among his priests,
     and Samuel among those who call upon his Name, *
they called upon the Lord, and he answered them.
7  He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud; *
they kept his testimonies and the decree that he gave them.
8  “O Lord our God, you answered them indeed; *
you were a God who forgave them,
yet punished them for their evil deeds.”
9  Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
    and worship him upon his holy hill; *
for the Lord our God is the Holy One.

Second Reading:  2 Peter 1:16-21
Our second reading references the story of the Transfiguration, the only place outside the Gospels which does so. The writer uses his witness of that incident to prove his trustworthiness in regards to the second coming of Christ. The prophetic witness is reliable. Scripture (the writer would have been referring to the Hebrew Scriptures) is not a matter of individual initiative or interpretation. Both rely on the Holy Spirit, working through the community of those who follow Jesus, understood in these early days of the church as the primary subject of the Hebrew Scriptures.

1:16 We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 17:1-9
Our Gospel reading is Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration. On the mountain with his inner circle, Jesus’ whole being undergoes transformation. The story follows some of the details of Exodus 24, but also echoes the story of Jesus’ baptism. The presence of Moses and Elijah testify to Jesus’ inheritance of the Hebrew tradition (the law and the prophets). Peter’s desire to build booths recalls the Feast of Booths, when Israel celebrated being led by God through the desert. “Tell no one until…” indicates that Jesus understands what has just happened in terms of what he expects to happen in Jerusalem.

17:1 Six days [after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God], Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

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., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translations are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2017, Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved.  Permission is granted to reprint for individual or group study, with attribution.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Religion & Politics: God's Vision for Us

The Rev. Michael W. Hopkins
Christ & Abbot Meno
also known as
The Icon of Christ the Friend
February 2017

A series of propositions to stir up conversation in a difficult climate for faith communities in the United States, written from a Christian and Episcopalian perspective.

  1. God’s sovereignty over life is total.      We pray, “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid…”(The Book of Common Prayer, p. 355). We read, “’I am Alpha and Omega,’ says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come” (Rev. 1:8 & 21:6). The creation is God’s gift to us and we are called to care for it in line with God’s dream for it.
  2. God's vision for humankind is not only heavenly and eternal, but earthly and present.  We pray, “Our Father…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We read, “You shall love the Lord your God…and your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:36-39, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27, where Jesus uses both Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18). How we treat the neighbor is one of the (perhaps “the”) fundamental themes of the Scriptures. It is an unwavering part of our covenant with God (see also the Ten Commandments).
  3. Politics is both an integral part of our life and a vocation to which some are called.
    As does everything, politics falls under the sovereignty of God, and, therefore, it is among the things we think and do to which we are responsible to God. “Politics” is fundamentally how we order our life together, again, being responsible for carrying out God’s dream.
  4. God is no respecter of political parties.      We read, “I (Peter) truly understand that God shows no partiality…” We are, however, responsible for our participation in political parties, as we further read, “…but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).
  5. This “no partiality” applies to the church also.      People from all walks of life are called together to struggle in common to live in the “fear” of God and do “what is right.” “Fear of God” in the Bible does not refer to being frightened by God, but acknowledging that God is, in fact, sovereign over all life and has a vision for how life is to be lived.
  6. Politics, from the church’s perspective, is primarily about relationships.
    One of the ways the church is called to be a light to the world is to be a community where difference is both accepted and celebrated, and where relationships are built across those differences. We are committed as the church to act in “faith, hope, and love” (1 Cor. 13:13) together. There ought to be nothing that is too hard to talk about in church because the members have a first and foremost commitment to love each other. Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
  7. We struggle as friends, not foes, to discover the truth.      As we struggle together to think and do what is right, we acknowledge that discovering the right truth and the right way is often difficult. We acknowledge with Paul that “now we see in a mirror, dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12). None of us has the whole truth or knows precisely the right way. It is easy to turn from struggling together as friends to striving against one another as foes in a contest that is “win/lose.”
  8. We cannot be rid of politics, but we can refuse to be caught in rigid ideologies.      When we become foes, who no longer seek to understand each other, but to win the battle against each other. We assume that we (as opposed to “them”) have found both the truth (meaning there is no more need of searching) and the way (meaning we have been shown the only right path). We must always be ready to “go home by another road” (Matt. 2:12). Ideology is idolatry, being sure of anything more than we are sure of God. (Again, see the Ten Commandments).
  9. Where politics and religion meet for the Christian is in the values we uphold.      The values we uphold as Christian have their basis in truth, though we struggle to more clearly understand and live them, which is never anything but a lifetime’s work. For Episcopalians, the groundwork for these values are found in our Baptismal Covenant (BCP, pp. 304-305). For Jesus, these values always support human beings and not institutions and ideologies, even when the latter are church or Bible-based. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
  10. It is imperative that we have ongoing conversation about those values.      The constant question for the Christian is how our values apply to our daily life, including the political decisions we make or support. To have such conversations we must be ever better practitioners of humility, holding our personal ideas and even convictions “lightly.” This acknowledges that we can be at least somewhat wrong about everything. We must never be ready to cast the first stone (John 8:1-11).
  11. We can dare to have these value conversations.      They may at times be passionate, but we rest in the knowledge that we are all loved by God and are called to love each other as God loves us, with mercy and grace. St. Paul was a passionate man, but he also proclaimed “gentleness” as an essential community value (Phil. 4:5).
  12. In the United States the institutions of religion and government are separated, but the conversation about values must go on.      To avoid such conversation is to invite the hardening of our ideologies and lapse into a system of “ins” and “outs,” where the only value is majority rule. We have been headed in this direction for quite some time; the current tensions did not begin with the latest election cycle. We in the church must call ourselves back to the fundamental question, “What’s love got to do with it?” This is not a conversation to have only if we have time and only if we are feeling especially brave. It is the conversation which our lives are called to be (see, for example how Jesus turns a question about a noun into the necessity of a verb in Luke 10:25-37).

One method of conversation recommended is that of "Continuing Indaba."  

Copyright © 2017 The Rev. Michael W. Hopkins. Published by EpiphanyEsource, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843, Permission to print and share is given, so long as this copyright statement is attached.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Epiphany 7A Readings & Commentaries

First Reading:  Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
The God of Israel is not only holy, he asks for holiness from his people. This comes in the form of their faithful obedience to his commandments. In this passage from the Torah (the five books of Moses), many of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5) are repeated, but in different articulations. The point of the whole is that Israel obeys God in relation to the neighbor. As Walter Brueggeman says, “Holiness in heaven is enacted as justice on earth.” There is no holiness without right relationship with the neighbor.

19:1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them:  You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. 9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. 11 You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. 12 And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord. 13 You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. 14 You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. 15 You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great:  with justice you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord. 17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Psalm 119:33-40
Psalm 119 is the longest of the psalms at 176 verses. It is an acrostic poem in which every eight verses begin with a subsequent letter of the Hebrew alphabet (see how the psalm is laid out in The Book of Common Prayer, beginning on page 763). It is a psalm in the wisdom tradition, extolling the happiness of life lived under the law. Indeed, one characteristic of the psalm is that some synonym of the law is used in every verse.

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, *
and I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; *
I shall keep it with all my heart.
35 Make me go in the path of your commandments, *
for that is my desire.
36 Incline my heart to your decrees *
and not to unjust gain.
37 Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; *
give me life in your ways.
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, *
which you make to those who fear you.
39 Turn away the reproach which I dread, *
because your judgments are good.
40 Behold, I long for your commandments; *
in your righteousness preserve my life.

Second Reading:  1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
Paul has been reacting to the divisions in the Corinthian community, based on loyalty to certain personalities, particularly himself and Apollos. Here Paul argues for unity based on the image of the community (the “you’s” here are all plural) as God’s temple (a similar metaphor to the more well-known “Body of Christ” Paul will use later in this letter). The divisions are also caused by some believing they possess greater wisdom than others. All such boasting is futile, Paul says, because all belong to Christ equally. The quotes are from Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11.

3:10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 5:38-48
We continue reading from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has earlier said that he did not come to abolish the Law (5:17). Indeed, in this passage he radicalizes several laws. “An eye for an eye” is found at Exodus 21:23-24, Leviticus 24:19-20 and Deuteronomy 19:21. “Love your neighbor” is from our Old Testament reading: Leviticus 19:18 (there is no Old Testament command to hate enemies). “Be perfect” is probably inspired by Leviticus 19:2 (above). Luke says “Be merciful” (6:36). “Perfect” is an odd choice of words because it is not an attribute of God’s in the Old Testament, where “holiness” predominates (as in our first reading).

5:38 Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. 43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

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., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2017, Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Epiphany 6A Readings & Commentaries

The Collect of the Day
O Lord God, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing:  Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The First Reading:  Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Chapters 29 & 30 of Deuteronomy are part of a covenant ceremony, wherein Moses is calling upon the people to commit themselves to the way of life about which he has expounded throughout the book. His final message is that living outside this covenant can only lead to death. The Israelites will need constantly to choose life by their obedience.

30:15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Or this

The First Reading:  Sirach 15:15-20
Sirach (traditionally known as “Ecclesiasticus”) is a book of the Apocrypha, a set of books not considered Scripture by Jews, but included in the Old Testament by Roman Catholics. Anglicans read them “for example of life and instruction of manners,” yet not to be used in the establishment of any doctrine. Our passage today emphasizes human responsibility in obeying the commandments.  God does not cause sin.

15:15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. 16 He has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose. 17 Before each person are life and death, and whichever one chooses will be given. 18 For great is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power and sees everything; 19 his eyes are on those who fear him, and he knows every human action. 20 He has not commanded anyone to be wicked, and he has not given anyone permission to sin.

Psalm 119:1-8
Psalm 119 is the longest of the psalms at 176 verses. It is an acrostic poem in which every eight verses begin with a subsequent letter of the Hebrew alphabet (see how the psalm is laid out in The Book of Common Prayer, beginning on page 763). It is a psalm in the wisdom tradition, extolling the happiness of life lived under the law. Indeed, one characteristic of the psalm is that some synonym of the law is used in every verse.

1 Happy are they whose way is blameless, *
who walk in the law of the Lord!
2 Happy are they who observe his decrees *
and seek him with all their hearts!
3 Who never do any wrong, *
but always walk in his ways.
4 You laid down your commandments, *
that we should fully keep them.
5 Oh, that my ways were made so direct *
that I might keep your statutes!
6 Then I should not be put to shame, *
when I regard all your commandments.
7 I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, *
when I have learned your righteous judgments.
8 I will keep your statutes; *
do not utterly forsake me.

The Second Reading:  1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Paul is writing to a divided and conflicted community. The divisions have partially to do with factions loyal to one of their two early teachers, Paul and Apollos. Paul tells them the quarrel is a symptom of their immaturity in the faith. It is simply a matter of one person’s ministry following on another within the purposes of God.

3:1 And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? 4 For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human? 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9 For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

The Holy Gospel:  Matthew 5:21-37
The Sermon on the Mount continues. Jesus has just declared that he has come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it.  Verses 21-48 then offer six examples of that fulfillment (we have four today and two next week). In some cases (murder and adultery), Jesus demands we go deeper into the desires of our hearts. In others (divorce, oaths) he does away with provisions that made some allowances. In bringing these sayings together, Matthew is trying to show that Jesus is the authoritative interpreter of the law. The exhortation to remove body parts that offend was never meant to be taken literally, but is simply Jesus’ use of hyperbole to make a point.

5:21 Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33 Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”

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., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2017, Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved. Copying for study groups is encouraged with attribution.