Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.
A Calm Heart in Troubled Waters
“The Lord is our refuge and help in times of trouble (Psalm 9:9-20). With God, the impossible becomes possible (1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49). What have we to fear, knowing God has power even over the wind and waves (Mark 4:35-41)? Let us open our hearts to the Lord, trusting him for all things (2 Corinthians 6:1-13).” -Thomas Oden, Ancient Christian Devotional
The Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of Holy Scripture readings that follow the Sundays, festivals, and seasons of the Christian liturgical year. It was compiled in 1992 by the ecumenical Consultation on Common Texts to provide a balanced scriptural guide for weekly worship that ensures exposure to the main themes of Christian faith and worship. It is ecumenical in nature and overlaps heavily with the Roman Catholic lectionary.
Four texts are assigned for each Sunday and festival:
The first reading usually comes from the Old Testament but is replaced by a reading from Acts during the season of Easter
A reading from an Epistle or other New Testament writing
A reading from a Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John).
The three-year lectionary cycle (A, B, and C) focuses on different portions of the Gospels in each year:
God made us and we are His (Psalm 100), the sheep of His pasture who worship Him and take comfort in his guidance (Psalm 95). Our Good Shepherd will look after, and search for, His lost sheep (Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24). We pray for wisdom and enlightenment so that we may know Christ better (Ephesians 1: 15-23), longing for Christ to come and say, “You who are blessed, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world (Matthew 25:31-46).”
Today celebrates the cross as a symbol of Christ’s triumph over death. The history behind this day can be traced back to the time of Constantine. Holy Cross Day is celebrated on September 14th because it was on this day in 335 A.D. that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was dedicated in Jerusalem.
Many Christian traditions use the sign of the cross as a physical act of prayer that brings to mind Christ’s sacrifice and the continuing call to discipleship. This practice has a rich history. Here is an extended quote from James Keifer explaining its historical and biblical significance:
“Tertullian, in his De Corona (3:2), written around AD 211, says that Christians seldom do anything significant without making the sign of the cross. Certainly, by his time the practice was well established. Justin Martyr, in chapters 55 and 60 of his First Apology (Defence of the Christian Faith, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius and therefore written between 148 and 155 AD), refers to the cross as a standard Christian symbol, but not explicitly to tracing the sign of the cross as a devotional gesture… Continue reading Holy Cross Day 2017→
Jacob deeply desired that God would bless him (Genesis 32:22-32). We can count on God to watch over those who love him with compassion and mercy (Psalm 17 and Psalm 145); Paul mourned that so many of the Jews did not acknowledge Christ (Romans 9:1-5). Jesus cares for our earthly needs and has power over all things, as evinced in the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21). -Thomas Oden in Ancient Christian Devotional
Pursuing the Kingdom of God with Patience and Trust
Jacob suffered wrong and sacrificed much to win Rachel’s hand in marriage (Genesis 29:15-28). Wisdom and fulfillment are often the fruit of patient waiting and righteous pursuits (Psalm 128 and 1 Kings 3:5-12). These things may seem out of grasp, but we can still trust God to fulfill his covenant and bring about his purposes in the end (Psalm 105:1-11 and Romans 8:26-39), even in spite of human oppression and unfulfilled desires (Psalm 119:129-136). Followers of Christ are called to seek God’s kingdom with all the faith they have, wisely pursuing what will last (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52).
From the beginning, God has kept the covenant promises he made to His children and their offspring (Genesis 28:10-19a). He knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139) and through His greatness has offered us mercy and hope (Psalm 86). The Holy Spirit bears witness that we are God’s children through Christ (Romans 8:12-25). All of the creation is waiting for Christ to come again and eradicate the things that destroy life (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). We wait patiently in the midst of suffering because, as the children of God, we have hope.
Out in the rain a world is growing green,
On half the trees quick buds are seen
Where glued-up buds have been.
Out in the rain God’s Acre stretches green,
Its harvest quick tho’ still unseen:
For there the Life hath been.
If Christ hath died His brethren well may die,
Sing in the gate of death, lay by
This life without a sigh:
For Christ hath died and good it is to die;
To sleep whenso He lays us by,
Then wake without a sigh.
Yea, Christ hath died, yea, Christ is risen again:
Wherefore both life and death grow plain
To us who wax and wane;
For Christ Who rose shall die no more again:
Amen: till He makes all things plain
Let us wax on and wane.
Resources for engaging the Revised Common Lectionary