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Revised Common Lectionary: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17
Narrative Lectionary: Ten Commandments series, Exodus 19:1-6; 20:1-2 (Matthew 22:34-40)
Isaiah receives his call to be God’s prophet while beholding a vision of God in heaven among the seraphs. The prophet does not believe he is worthy to behold such a vision or even be near God, but in confessing he is a man of unclean lips, a seraph touches a coal to the prophet’s lips, purifying and cleansing him. When God asks whom shall be sent to speak on behalf of God, Isaiah volunteers, no longer inhibited by his feelings of unworthiness.
The psalmist calls upon the heavenly creatures to worship God in Psalm 29. God is the creator of all things in heaven and on earth. God’s voice, which called forth creation, can also bring destruction, powerful enough to destroy all barriers. The people cannot help but respond in awe, as they exclaim, “Glory!” This is the God who reigns over all of creation, and who will bring peace to the people.
Paul declares in Romans 8:12-17 that as children of God, we inherit not by flesh, but by the Spirit, for God has adopted all of us as children through the Spirit. The Spirit leads us to put away the ways of this world, to bear the fruits of the Spirit instead. Because we are now siblings with Christ, we also suffer with him, and will be glorified with him.
The Pharisee Nicodemus comes to see Jesus by night in John 3:1-17. Though Nicodemus understands that God has sent Jesus, he doesn’t understand what Jesus is saying, that all must be born of the Spirit. That God so loved the world that he sent the Son—God so loved everyone, that everyone now can become children of God, for God didn’t send the Son to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved.
The Narrative Lectionary begins a four-week series on the Ten Commandments. God speaks to Moses on Sinai, that the people are to be a new nation, a priestly nation, treasured out of all the peoples—as long as the people keep God’s commandments. God begins with reminding the people that God is the Lord their God, the one who brought them out of slavery in Egypt. God begins with this commandment so the people know who it is that they are making a covenant with; who it is that indeed delivered them, and is calling them to be God’s people.
For the next four weeks, the second passage for the Narrative Lectionary is Jesus’ declaration of the greatest commandment: to love God with one’s whole being, and the second, which is like the first, is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus declares that on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Since only the Torah and the Prophets had been fully complied at this point as scripture, Jesus is saying this is the summary of the Bible as they know it.
The Bible records our history of our relationship with God. Beginning with Abraham and Sarah, our faith began as a personal faith that grew to be a family, and later into a nation. Through the work of the Spirit, we understand that God is the God of the world, of all of creation, of all nations. The covenant has moved from the personal to the communal to the universal: God is the God of all, and through the Spirit, we know that we are all children of God.
Call to Worship
There is much suffering in this world,
Who does God call to speak? Who will God send?
There is much injustice in our world,
Who does God call to speak? Who will God send?
The Spirit of God is among us, working in us.
God has called us to speak; God has called us to go forth.
Come, worship God, follow Jesus, and trust in the Spirit:
For we are called to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
Creator God, we come before You confessing that we have fallen short of Your intention for us. We have failed to see others as our neighbors. We have failed to see others as Your children. We have failed to see You at work in the people around us. We have made assumptions about others and shared our judgments that are harmful. We have dehumanized the most vulnerable, calling them animals. We repent, O God, of this evil. Call us into accountability when we harm others with our words and actions. Help us to work for justice, to support the marginalized, and to be in solidarity with those who have suffered abuse. In the name of Jesus, who came as a marginalized wandering prophet, who died as a criminal by the hands of the oppressors, we pray. Amen.
God is the God Who Sees, God Who Hears, God Most High, God Almighty. All these names remind us that God is beyond our comprehension and yet, God is deeply personal. God knows you, and God knows your neighbors. God made you, and God made us all. God loves you, through good and bad times, and God will help you to turn to right paths. Go, knowing that God forgives you, and do the work of justice, and restoration that leads to peace. Amen.
Spirit of Life, You are the one who breathed over the face of the deep and brought forth life. You are the one who moved among the followers of Jesus and brought them into a new understanding. You are the one who is moving in us now. You call us together, You breathe new life in us. You are a wonder we cannot fathom, a mystery we do not understand; yet You have come into each of us, binding us together, moving us to love our siblings in the world and granting us gifts to do the work You have entrusted us with. May we trust in You more fully, understand Your love more deeply, and grow in our relationship with You and with others. Spirit of Life, move in us, guide us, and lead us on. Amen.