All posts by Matt

Matt Ritchie is a practicing civil litigator, who lives in Texas, where he and his family are members of the spiritual community at St. Paul United Methodist Church. He has been reading, talking, teaching, and blogging about Christian spirituality in the emerging culture for over five years. His other interests include technology, quantum physics, PC gaming, and seriously geek-ish board games.
Hand on Bible

David’s Throne – This Week’s Lectionary Texts

This week’s lectionary texts focus on God’s promise to maintain the line of David’s kingship throughout time. Although David’s line is portrayed only as being a king over Israel/Judah, Christian theologians have come to see both David and Israel as representative of all mankind. Thus, Jesus is both the King of Israel and – simultaneously – the true Lord over all of the Earth. Here are the texts:

  • Psalm 89:1-4, 8-11
  • 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

If you are reading along with the Extended Lectionary, you should also read the entirety of Psalms 88 and 89.

Advent Candles

“Deliver Us” – A Prayer for This Week

Come quickly, Lord, and through your great power and love, help and deliver us from our wrongful ways.

Traditional:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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Good News to the Poor – This Week’s Lectionary Texts

This week’s lectionary texts are:

  • Psalm 126
  • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
  • I Thess. 5:16-24
  • John 1:6-8, 19-28

There are no additional texts in the Extended Lectionary for this week. However, I believe that the cutting of Isaiah 61 was unnecessary. I recommend that you read the entire text, which paints a remarkable picture of God’s agent/servant, who will return to our world to set matters right.

Advent Candles

To Hear the Prophets – A Prayer for This Week

Merciful God, you sent the prophets as your messengers to teach humanity how to change its ways and enter into your new world of peace and equality; give us grace to listen to their warnings, abandoning our ways of injustice and oppression, so that – when Christ returns in glory – we will be ready and eager to greet him.

Traditional:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Advent Candles

Grace for Advent – A Prayer for the Week

Here is the prayer for the week:

Almighty God, we long for the day when Jesus will return to set our world right, and to raise us into the life of your new creation. As we anticipate that day, help us to follow his example by setting aside the things that harm ourselves and your creation, and embracing those things that bring life and joy.

Traditional:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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“Restore Us” – This Week’s Lectionary Texts

This upcoming Sunday represents the start of Year B in the calendar for the Revised Common Lectionary. During Year B, the gospel texts will be drawn from Mark. The Old Testament texts will eventually include extensive readings form the life of David, in 1st and 2nd Samuel.

Here are the lectionary texts for this week:

If you are reading through the entire Bible using the Extended Lectionary, you should read all of Psalm 80.

Psalm 80 sets the perfect note for a new Advent, with its liturgical refrain that calls on God to act to restore Israel (vv. 3, 7, 19). The “shine” of God’s face, implying a turning of God’s attention to the plight of the people, serves to re-emphasize the point.

The puzzlement of Psalm 80 is also worth noting. Why would God bother to select a people and carefully tend to them as one might tend to a vineyard, only to later abandon them? Hearing this dissonance is essential to fully comprehending the Old Testament. Most of us struggle to embrace it, even though it reflects our own experiences.

Prayer for the Week

United in Christ – A Prayer for This Week

Almighty God, you seek to restore all things in and through your Son. Look upon humanity in mercy. Free us from those things that keep us divided, and bring us together under the gentle and gracious rule of Jesus, our true King and Lord.

Traditional:

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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“Him Who Fills All in All” – This Week’s Lectionary Texts

This upcoming Sunday is Reign of Christ Sunday, the final Sunday in the liturgical year. The texts begin with a call to all people to praise God because of God’s goodness. The Ezekiel text then continues with a promise that God will act decisively to bring back all of those “lost sheep” who have been pushed out of the fold by the powerful. The Ephesians text is one of the more notable “Cosmic Christ” texts – assuring its recipients that Christ is not only placed in authority over all the worldly powers, but that he now “fills all in all.”

Finally, in the gospel text, we are transported to a day of Christ’s judgment, but Matthew offers a twist on the expected narrative. Those who have pleased Christ during his “absence” are not defined by their beliefs, their race, or even their familiarity with Jesus. They are instead defined by their passion for doing justice. As the Ephesians text reminded us, Christ was never really absent. He is  present in everything, so the way we treat others is tantamount to the way we treat Christ.

Again, Matthew returns to this astounding theme that we have seen over and over this year – we make our own rules in life . What we put into it is what, in the end, we will receive from it.

Here are the texts:

  • Psalm 100
  • Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
  • Ephesians 1:15-23
  • Matthew 25:31-46

If you are reading through the entire Bible by using the Extended Lectionary, you should begin at Matthew 25:31, and read through the end of Chapter 28.

Prayer for the Week

Abiding Hope – A Prayer for the Week

Here is the prayer for the week of November 16:

Lord, your gift of holy Scripture brings us life and light. As we hear and reflect on its words, help us to embrace an abiding hope for your new world.

Traditional:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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“The Scorn of Those at Ease” – Texts for November 16

The Lectionary Texts for the week leading up  to November 16 are…

  • Psalm 123
  • Judges 4:1-7
  • I Thess. 5:1-11
  • Matthew 25:14-30

If you are reading with the Extended Lectionary, you also should all of I Thessalonians 5.

I also put together a YouTube video discussing the Revised Common Lectionary texts for November 16. I probably won’t do these every week, but I’m hoping to do them periodically.