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Baptism of the Lord (Cycle A)

The message of Matthew 3:13-17 is expressed most clearly in the voice from the heavens, changed slightly from its Markan source from “You are my beloved Son,” to “This is my beloved Son.” Jesus is proclaimed in this text to be God’s special, beloved Son, and God is said to be pleased with him. This quotation adapted from Psalm 2:7 and from Isaiah 42:1 indicates that Jesus was proclaimed in the Synoptic communities to be a combination of God’s chosen kingly figure (Psalm 2) to rule in God’s great kingdom and of the Servant figure (Isaiah 42:1) who does everything in a way that is pleasing to God.

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First Sunday after Christmas, Cycle A

Within our Church Year schedule, already within a week after the birth of Jesus, our texts remind us that Jesus was born to suffer and to die. Our theology, if it is to be faithful to the texts, must be a theology of the cross, a theology of God in Christ suffering with us for our redemption.

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Nativity of Our Lord

Isaiah 9:2-7
The usage of religious traditions affects the form and even the content of those traditions. For example, usage of evergreen trees that are brought into our homes, stores, and churches during the season of Christmas over periods of time has affected the trees themselves.

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Advent 4, Cycle A

The comforting message of each of these texts selected for us for the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year is that God is present with us. The expectation level for this is very high. It is almost Christmas, but not quite. Something must be held in suspense in anticipation of Christmas.

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Advent 3, Cycle A

The primary theme of the texts for the Third Sunday of Advent for this year is that the Lord is coming and has come to relieve the suffering of those who are suffering political, economic, social, and religious oppression and those who are disadvantaged by a variety of afflictions.

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    Mary Austin
    Do I Have to Invite Jesus Over for Thanksgiving?
    Matthew 10:24-39; Genesis 21:8-21

    Daytime talk shows, podcasts, and reality TV shows remind us every day that family drama is common, even normal. Advice columns are full of questions about where to place our loyalty. What are our obligations to in-laws, stepchildren, and extended family? What about the troublesome family? The abusive family? None of these questions would have made any sense in Jesus’ day, where loyalty to family was a sacred obligation and duty to family was clear. Family strife may have been normal, but there was no option to check out of the family and find a new one.
         The question of who belongs comes at us constantly, in a world where we can select our own tribe. We can choose to live near people who share our economic status, work with people who share our values, and vacation with people who love the same places. We can eat with people who follow the same eating plan, and shop with people who share our taste. At the ballgame, we sit with people who have the same loyalties. Our news comes slanted to our particular taste.
         But Jesus pokes his way into our cocoon, raising the question of who belongs in a wider family of faith; and Abraham and Sarah, believing they’re following God’s plan, make a choice to exclude rather than include. So who belongs? Who gets to come over for a family dinner?...more
    Proper 7 | OT 12
    The Gospel assigned for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost comes out of the heart of Matthew 10. Last week's text brought us through Chapter 10:23. In the optional verses from 10:9-23 we heard Jesus give additional words of instruction for the disciples as they are set to carry out their mission to Israel. In 10:16-23 there begins a section of Jesus' call and commissioning that portends a mission that will be very difficult....more
    Mark Ellingsen
    Living in Jesus can ease our anxieties
    In accord with the overall theme of the Pentecost season, all the texts for this Sunday pertain to living the Christian life (sanctification), specifically with how Christian life is easy, for it is not our work but the result of God’s grace....more
    C. David McKirachan
    Going Native
    Matthew 10:24-39
    A few years ago, when I’d been in my then church about 10 years, I took a continuing education course called Renewal in the Long Pastorate. Walter Wink and Roy Oswald came at the attendees from both directions, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. To get in you had to be in your present parish at least eight years....more
    Janice Scott
    Steven couldn't believe his luck. He'd been slouching around the shopping centre with his hands in his pockets feeling miserable because he had no money. There was a new computer game he was desperate to buy, because all his friends had it and were raving about it. Steven had been wandering around the shop gazing longingly at the game, but he had no means to buy one....more
    Arley K. Fadness
    No Fear
    Object: Football or bicycle helmet

    Have I got something to show you today! But first I have a question.
    Are there things that make you afraid?  (children answer)
    Are you afraid of the dark? Are you afraid of thunder?
    Are you afraid of getting sick or hurt in sports?...more

Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen