Year C – Fourth Sunday After Epiphany – Jeremiah 1:4-10

Jer.1:4-10 NRSV

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

Summary – Jeremiah prophesied from the time of King Josiah to the Babylonian Captivity in 586 BC. God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet to tell Judah that she was going into exile into Babylon because of her sins. Jeremiah did not think he could speak the powerful words of a prophet because he was still a young man. A prophet is a person who can destroy and create worlds with God’s Word. He plucks up and pulls down, destroys and overthrows, builds and plants kingdoms and nations (Jer. 1:9-10). That is a very big job to do. No wonder Jeremiah thought he could not do it. But God gave Jeremiah the words to say, and promised to be with him.

Insight – Telling people bad news is never fun. Doctors have to tell people bad news, they tell people that they are sick or even worse, dying. But doctors also tell people how to get better. Jeremiah was much like a doctor in this way. He told Judah that they were so sick from their sins that they were going to die in exile in Babylon. But since Jeremiah was a good doctor, he also gave them good news. God was going to bring Judah back to life, by returning them back to their land (Ezek. 37)! God was rebuilding His kingdom. Judah’s story is much like our own. Because of our sins our spirits were dead in sin (Eph.2:1). But Jesus is the great doctor who brings us back from the dead, and builds us into a beautiful kingdom that will one day fill the whole earth (Matt. 13:31-33).

Catechism – What is a prophet? A prophet is a person who can destroy and create worlds with God’s Word.

Discussion – How is Jesus the greatest prophet of all? What does Jesus use to build His kingdom? How can we be like the prophets?

Prayer – Almighty God, you created Heaven and Earth with your powerful word. Please grant to your Church the wisdom to build your Kingdom though out the earth by the power of your word, the Bible. In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, Amen.

Submitted by Michael Shover

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Year B – Epiphany 4 – Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Deuteronomy 18:15-20  – The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.  This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the LORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.”  Then the LORD replied to me: “They are right in what they have said.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.  Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.  But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak–that prophet shall die.”

Summary – Deuteronomy is to Moses what Ecclesiastes is to Solomon.  This book contains the words of Moses at the end of his life.  He often looks back on the mighty works God performed for Israel and the lessons they learned from them.  But he also looks forward in hope for the future when he will not be there, but when God will continue to faithfully care for His covenant people.  This is one of those passages.  God promises to raise up another Prophet when Moses is gone.  He will be like Moses, a brother to them, and will continue to speak God’s Word in a way they can hear and understand.  God would judge those who refused to hear and obey his words.  They were to judge those who counterfeited them.
Insight – When he was asked about Tim Tebow’s prayerful quarterbacking, Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said, “The universe has a trillion stars. Ninety-five percent of it is dark matter.  It’s hubris [foolish pride] to think the Creator of all wants the Broncos to win a football game.”  To an unbeliever, the universe is a vast expanse of cold silence – mostly dark matter.  But this is a lie.  To paraphrase Francis Schaeffer, “God is there and He has NOT been silent!”  God has gone to great lengths to speak to His People.  His Word has always been a priority.  It is the food by which He faithfully feeds those who fear Him; He doesn’t forget His covenant.  In the context, Joshua was that prophet to Israel … a lesser Moses.  But this passage points beyond the first Joshua to another Who would come as the Greater Moses.  He would not only bring the Word as one having authority, He would be the Word made flesh.  During Epiphany, we celebrate God Who ‘told the gospel word to the nations who’d not heard.’  In Christ, we who begged for the crumbs from the table have been brought to the feast of the Word as sons.
Children’s Catechism –  How did God promise to speak His word to Israel after Moses died? By sending another prophet.
Discussion – In what ways does God speak to His people today?  Are there prophets that tell the future today?
Prayer – Kind Father, You have exalted above all things Your holy name and Word.  Thank you for giving that Word as a gift to feed us by His death.  Cause our hearts to burn in love of Your Word and to be enlarged to return our gifts to You and to the nations, for Your glory, in the name of Your Son, our Lord, the Word made flesh. Amen.
Contributed by Ben Rossell

Year A – Palm Sunday – Isaiah 50:4-9

Palm Sunday – Liturgy of the Word
Isaiah 50:4-9a: The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens- wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backwards. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Summary – Isaiah explains how God sustains him through the Word. Like a teacher, Isaiah is able to share this Word to help others. Each day Isaiah hears God’s voice. The next verses provide a Messianic image, fulfilled in the trial of Jesus: “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.” Yet this Messiah is determined and will be vindicated since the Lord is with Him. One can hear echoes of Paul in 1 Cor. 1 and Romans 8: 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Romans 8:33 – “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.” This passage concludes with the picture that the enemies of Messiah will all pass away.

Insight – Have you ever looked carefully at a nice woven rug or a tapestry? There are usually recurring patterns. The Bible is full of patterns, too. This passage provides us with a pattern that is deeply woven into the experience of God’s people. Isaiah begins by receiving the Word from the Lord, then giving it to others. In so doing, Isaiah moves to reflect upon his own suffering for the sake of that Word. As he explains this, he moves into Messianic territory, prophesying the very events of Christ’s life. These events took place  in Christ’s trial and crucifixion. The pattern seems to be 1) receiving the Word. 2) Suffering because of the Word. And 3) Identification with Messiah. The apostles experienced a similar pattern. As they went out proclaiming the good news, they were often rejected and suffered (e.g., Acts 16 in Philippi), but as a result they knew more of Christ. One important application is that we grow in receiving God’s Word. That is, we should increase our intake of Scripture and listen for His voice as we do so. Then we will perhaps be able to harvest the fruit of that Word as we speak with  others. But remember that as you do so, you will likely experience some kind of persecution. Still, the result is a deeper experience of identifying with the One who was struck, beaten, spit upon, and finally crucified for you.

Child’s Catechism – How should we grow? By hearing more of God’s Word and sharing it with others.

Discussion – What are some ways that you could to know and grow in the Word even more?

Prayer – God of the covenant, in the glory of the cross your Son embraced the power of death and broke its hold over your people.In this time of repentance, draw all people to yourself, that we who confess Jesus as Lord may put aside the deeds of death and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.

Year B – Lent – 5 – Jeremiah 31:31-34

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt–a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

Summary – As we draw near to Passion Week, the lectionary texts become increasingly more focused on Christ’s death for our redemption and forgiveness.  This week’s selections do just that, and forgiveness of sins is the theme that runs through all four.  This passage from Jeremiah is the key to so much of the Bible, especially New Testament, as it falls in the context of the later and increasingly more evil kingdoms of Judah and Israel, especially during over-rule and some captivity by the Babylonians.  Jeremiah, seeing this bleak situation, prophetically looks to the future and to the coming of the Messiah who would initiate the New Covenant.  Of note, too, is the fact that this passage is fully quoted in Hebrews 8; the longest unbroken quote of the Old Testament in the New Testament.

Insight – I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old playing at a family reunion and one of my 2nd cousins told me he was eleven.  ELEVEN!  Wow, that seemed so old and grown up to me.  I had no idea what it would be like to be eleven, or if I would ever make it there, it seemed so far away.  Now of course, looking back, it is hard for me to imagine being less than eleven.  I’m sure most of you have had something like that–maybe a birthday you were looking forward to–where you knew it was coming, but had only a small picture of what it would be like.  For us, it seems so obvious and normal that Jesus has come to earth to die for us, but for those who lived before He came, it was not so.  They related to God partly through anticipation of His coming work, while we think more in terms of recollection of His past work.  Their covenant was founded on commandments carved into tablets while ours is written on our hearts; they had to learn to “Know the Lord” through sacrificing animals which gave them a picture of who Jesus would be while we know Christ because He has come and made Himself known to us, from the least to the greatest.  They anticipated the forgiveness He would bring; we now share in that actual forgiveness!

Child Catechism – How do you know God?  Because He sent Jesus to Earth for me.

 Discussion – What are some other ways the Old Covenant was different from the New Covenant we live in today?  What are some ways that they are the same or similar?

Prayer – Thank you Lord for remembering your promises.  You promised your people in the Old Testament that you would forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.  Now you have proven yourself truly faithful as you have fulfilled your promises in Christ.  In His Name we ask for faith to believe your promises as we remember your faithfulness to us.  Amen.

-JHerr

Year B – Transfiguration Sunday – 2 Kings 2:1-12

“1Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”4Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”6Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. 9When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.”

Summary – Elijah, knowing that he was about to be taken up by God and prompted by the Holy Spirit goes on a journey. He is depicted here as wanting to go off to a quiet place and he is accompanied by his understudy Elisha. He does however ask Elisha if he realizes that his master is about to be taken up. Elisha acknowledges but makes it clear that his loyalty to Elijah will supersede Elijah’s request for him to stay behind and so they press on together passing through the region served. In addition, fifty other men “of the company of prophets” also follow but at a distance as though curious but still showing respect. Elijah when arriving to the Jordan in similar fashion as Moses by the Spirit parts the water and they cross together on dry ground. Elijah asks Elisha if he has a parting request from his master. Elisha’s request is for a “double share of your spirit.” Elijah assures him that if it is to come to fruition it will be of God not him and then states: “yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” They are then separated by the horses and Chariot of fire and Elijah departs to the heavens in a miraculous whirl wind. Elisha then rends his clothes as an expression outwardly of his grief and loss inwardly.

Insight – The miraculous event had been made known to the prophet Elijah. However, unknown to him, it had also been revealed to his disciples and to Elisha who in particular was determined to remain by his side until Elijah’s final departure. Gilgal was near Ebal and Gerizim; a school of the prophets was established there. At Beth-el there was also a school of the prophets, which Elijah had founded. In travelling to these places inspired by the Holy Spirit Elijah would pay a farewell to those institutions. They were also on the way to the place of his ascension. At the same time and from a feeling of humility and modesty Elijah was, wanting to be where there would be no eye-witnesses of his glorification. However, all his efforts to have Elisha remain behind were fruitless. Elisha knew that the time was at hand and at every place the sons of the prophets spoke to him of the approaching removal of his master. Their last stage on the journey was at the Jordan where they were followed by fifty scholars/students who sought to witness the miraculous translation of the prophet. The revelation of this striking event to so many was a necessary part of what would be visible historical proof of the continuation of promised supernatural events that would take place in the fulfillment of the covenant promises and a type of the resurrection of Christ the perfect and final fulfillment of God’s promise to His covenant people for their salvation eternal by grace alone through faith alone and as we hear and read by the Word alone.

Childs Catechism – What promises can we know and trust God for? We can know and trust God for all His promises.

Discussion – How did God translate or change Elijah? Why did God translate Elijah to depart this realm without seeing death?

Prayer – Dear Lord God and heavenly Father, thank you Lord for your Word which teaches; gives demonstration and proof of Your miraculous supernatural intervention in Your creation and our lives as we both retrospectively witness with trust and faith the fulfillment of your promised Messiah and the inward testimony we have today by the indwelling of Your Holy Spirits as we now through Christ are temples of You O God, and “the temple of God is Holy,” and that is what we are by grace alone through faith alone according to Your Word alone, O God, AMEN.

Contributed by Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Epiphany 4 – Deut 18.15-20

Deuteronomy 18:15-20  The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.  This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the LORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.”  Then the LORD replied to me: “They are right in what they have said.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.  Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.  But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak–that prophet shall die.”

Summary:  Deuteronomy is to Moses what Ecclesiastes is to Solomon.  This book contains the words of Moses at the end of his life.  He often looks back on the mighty works God performed for Israel and the lessons they learned from them.  But he also looks forward in hope for the future when he will not be there, but when God will continue to faithfully care for His covenant people.  This is one of those passages.  God promises to raise up another prophet when Moses is gone.  He will be like Moses, a brother to them, and will continue to speak God’s Word in a way they can hear and understand.  God would judge those who refused to hear and obey his words.  They were to judge those who counterfeited them.
Insight: When he was asked about Tim Tebow’s prayerful quaterbacking, Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said, “The universe has a trillion stars. Ninety-five percent of it is dark matter.  It’s hubris [foolish pride] to think the Creator of all that wants the Broncos to win a football game.”  To an unbeliever, the universe is a vast expanse of cold silence – mostly dark matter.  But this is a lie.  To paraphrase Francis Schaeffer, “God is there and He has NOT been silent!”  God has gone to great lengths to speak to His People.  His Word has always been a priority.  It is the food by which He faithfully feeds those who fear Him; He doesn’t forget His covenant.  In the context, Joshua was that prophet to Israel … a lesser Moses.  But this passage points beyond the first Joshua to another Who would come as the Greater Moses.  He would not only bring the Word as one having authority, He would be the Word made flesh.  During Epiphany, we celebrate God Who ‘told the gospel word to the nations who’d not heard.’  In Christ, we who begged for the crumbs from the table have been brought to the feast of the Word as sons.
Children’s Catechism:  How did God promise to speak His word to Israel after Moses died? By sending another prophet.
Discussion:  In what ways does God speak to His people today?  Are there prophets that tell the future today?
Prayer:  Kind Father, You have exalted above all things Your holy name and Word.  Thank you for giving that Word as a gift to feed us by His death.  Cause our hearts to burn in love of Your Word and to be enlarged to return our gifts to You and to the nations, for Your glory, in the name of Your Son, our Lord, the Word made flesh. Amen.