Here’s something surprising. We are all staying at home — you know, “social distancing” — and I haven’t heard anyone say they have extra time. That strike you as odd? It’s like folks who are retired telling you they are so busy now that they are retired they don’t know how they had time to work! Well, I’m throwing all that to the wind. I am sending you something to fill your time. You say you don’t have time to read it? Okay. You don’t have to. But if you want some form of devotional material in this time of social distancing, this may help. What is it? I’ll tell you. Well, I won’t. I’ll the experts inform us.
Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of weekly lections
used to varying degrees by the vast majority of mainline Protestant
churches in Canada and the United States. The RCL is built around the
seasons of the Church Year, and includes four lections for each
Sunday, as well as additional readings for major feast days. During
most of the year, the lections are: a reading from the Hebrew Bible,
a Psalm, a reading from the Epistles, and a Gospel reading. During
the season of Easter, the Hebrew Bible lection is usually replaced
with one from the Acts of the Apostles. The lections from the Hebrew
Bible are sometimes chosen from the Apocrypha.
I thought folks might want to read one of the assigned readings each day. I know, there aren’t enough to cover all the days in a week, but it’s better than nothing. I also know that some of you are already reading the lectionary readings for each given Sunday. So, I threw in something extra. In red lettering I have included my reflections on each of the readings. Don’t worry. I don’t get all scholarly on you. I’m not sure I could if I wanted to! These are just my first impressions and I offer them to stimulate your own thinking. So, here’s the bottom line. Use this as you see fit. To the extent that it serves to deepen your spiritual life, well and good, and it might be fun to see if the sermon has anything to do with what either you or I were thinking. Be safe and stay well, Pastor Jeff
Easter Day April 12, 2020
Below are all the assigned lectionary readings for Easter Day. I encourage you to read them as a devotional exercise and if you like, read my notes which contain my thoughts about the various readings. The text that is in “red” are my reflections. I hope you are all well and that in this time of social disconnection we might yet stay connected by the Spirit we share one with another.
A Sermon by The Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton Bradford Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ April 5, 2020 “Stop Pointing Fingers”
So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” Matthew 27:24i
In these days of Corona-virus, the shouts of “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:10 NRSV) echo in our ears as a hopeful affirmation of the power of God. How we long for the justice and peace that the reign of God would bring. No more deception, our greed checked by our sense of Divine justice, our destruction of the earth on which we live gone as a distant memory. When Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem, hope ran high.
The conquering generals of His day would ride into the city on a war horse. The people would lay their garments along the path lest the general walked on dirt. Theywould shout Hosanna “…an expression of adoration, praise or joy.”
Jesus could have walked into Jerusalem. Instead, He is mounted not on a grand steed of war, but a donkey. Jesus could have incited a riot when the first thing He did in Jerusalem is overturn the table of the money changers. Jesus could have led a rebellion. The city was waiting, hoping. How they shouted that day, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
This is the second week that I am putting together what I call “Guided Worship.” Some helpful changes are in place. Instead of having to pause and seek a second, third, fourth and fifth video, you’re now able to watch the entire presentation as a whole. That’s good news. I also have changed the format of my presentation. It is my hope that it’s an improvement.
If you remember what I said last week, you know that this Sunday, March 29th, I’m finishing up my reflections on the 23rd Psalm. We were able to get through the third verse last week, so we will be starting at verse 4 and going to the end (verse 6). I think I mentioned last week that it was fortuitous that in this time of uncertainty, the 23rd Psalm was one of our readings. It is one of the most often quoted pieces of scripture and is usually referenced during times of stress, so it fits nicely in this time when our nation and our world move through this time of anxiety. I invite you, therefore, to view this “Guided Worship.” I do ask you, however, to remember that worship is not a spectator sport but an act of participation. One gets out of worship what one’s soul brings to it. With all that said, here’s a copy from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible:
1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; 3he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.