Finding the Lessons

I try to post well in advance of the upcoming Sunday.

You will want to scroll down to find the bible study for the lessons closest to the upcoming Sunday.

The blog will be labeled with proper, liturgical date, and calendar date.

You can open the monthly calendar to the left and find the readings in order.

You can also search below by entering the liturgical date, scripture, or proper. This will pull up all previous posts.


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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Baptism of Christ A - First Sunday after the Epiphany - January 8, 2017

Quotes That Make Me Think

"There is something very open-ended about Jesus' experience of baptism. Rather than closing his life, it
opens him to a range of experiences that he will try to understand through the prismatic realities of Servant and Son."

"Water-Fellowship, Water Joy-Divine," Expository Essay, Dr. William R. Long.

"Fulfilling of righteousness requires letting go of our personal sense of what is right and proper in order to let it be God's will that is fulfilled. For Jesus, as at the end, so too at the beginning: a deep and profound aligning of his heart and will with the will and Spirit of God."

Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, Matthew 3:13-17, David Ewart, 2011.

"When we say that Jesus is God's son, going about the family business, we are saying not only that Jesus is like God; we are saying that God is like Jesus."

Dylan's Lectionary Blog, Epiphany 1A. Biblical Scholar Sarah Dylan Breuer looks at readings for the coming Sunday in the lectionary of the Episcopal Church.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from


As we celebrate today the mystery of Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan, renew in us our own baptism: pattern our lives on this Christ, your chosen one, the Child on whom your favor rests, the Beloved with whom you are well pleased.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts on Matthew 3:13-17
Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

The Gospel is one directly related to Mark's account and this connection helps us to understand the import of Jesus' baptism to the earliest of Christians. It is also important in continuing the theme we spoke of during Advent which is the increasing importance and role of the prime actor Jesus in the Gospel narrative and the ever shrinking role of John the Baptist.

Certainly the connection between Jesus' baptism and our own has brought with it questions about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the baptism by water. But I am not interested in this debate, but rather the importance and meaning this story has for the person of Jesus. We are able through the lens of Jesus' baptism to understand how he was viewed by his first followers. It is all to easy to get focused on us and to preach this Sunday on the meaning of our baptism. This gospel lesson is essentially a lesson about Christology.

It is the heavenly voice who makes clear that this is God's Son.

Daniel Harrington writes and gives an explanation for naming this passage the "Jesus made manifest": attempt has been made to be faithful tot eh focus of the biblical account -- the manifestation of Jesus' identity at the very beginning of his public ministry. The baptism of jesus by John in the Jordan River is the occaion for the identification of Jesus by the voice from heaven. Matthew agreed with the other evangelists in this Christological emphasis.
We are given here several other ways to understand the person of Jesus: Son, servant, inaugurator of the new exodus and creation, and the one who fulfills all righteousness.

In our passage today we see these themes continued. Jesus who climbs out of the water is the new Adam (John of Nazianzus -Davies, Matthew, vol 1, 345) and like the creation narrative itself he rises out of the waters of chaos. Jesus' own Red Sea deliverance in baptism reminds us too of the Exodus story. Remember, this story exists in between the flight to Egypt and his journey into the desert to be tested.

We have a unique opportunity in this cycle to read the story of Matthew's Gospel and to recognize that our baptisms and life as Christians are unique only in that they are deeply connected with the very person of Jesus Christ. It is in his identity, in our own Christology that our lives and our ministry have meaning. It will be all to tempting to move quickly into our own baptismal imagery in our preaching. However, we may miss an incredible opportunity to speak to the personhood of Christ and his mission in the world.

I draw our attention to our own Catechism and invite you to consider the questions and answers as they relate in a clear line from Jesus' own personhood and mission to our understanding of ourselves in the waters of baptism.

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only

Son of God?

A We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the

Father, and shows us the nature of God.

Q. What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?

A. God is love.

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus was

conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became

incarnate from the Virgin Mary?

A. We mean that by God's own act, his divine Son received

our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother.

Q. Why did he take our human nature?

A. The divine Son became human, so that in him human

beings might be adopted as children of God, and be

made heirs of God's kingdom.

Q. How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and


A. We share in his victory when we are baptized into the

New Covenant and become living members of Christ.

Q. What is Holy Baptism?

A. Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us

as his children and makes us members of Christ's Body,

the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.
My hope is that we might this Sunday lift our eyes from our own waters of baptism to the heavens and draw apart the veil and explore with our members who we say Jesus is and how his uniqueness in the family of God provides the salvific Good News of God's loving embrace for all people.

Some Thoughts on Acts 10:34-43

Resources for Sunday's Epistle

This is a big Gospel kind of moment!  Cornelius walks into the house and is clear that the Gospel an its messengers are shown by God that they are not to call others "common or unclean." (10.28)  Cornelius then offers a vision of the kingdom of God and shows himself to be a Godfearer and Jesus follower.

Peter then responds "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him." And, "He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Peter is in some very real way summarizing the theme of the Gospel of Luke and Acts: the living out of the message of God to his people.  It is a miniature Gospel if you will.

Peter says:

God shows no partiality.
Those who follow God are acceptable to God.
God is lord of all and that message is spreading even now.
God appears as Jesus Christ and his ministry is one of the Holy Spirit and one of power.
Christ did good work: healing people, freeing people, and releasing people from bondage.
Salvation comes from the cross and resurrection.
Salvation is open to all people.
God's family is made up of every kind of person.

The story of Acts 10 illustrates the difficulty the church has all the time with accepting the movement of the Holy Spirit and God's willingness to accept people into the family.  This is powerful good news. Especially since without this particular moment I would not be here myself and would not have discovered this good news of God in Christ and his love of humanity and desire to reconcile us to him.

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