Proper 25

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Prayer of the Day
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what your command; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22
{7} Although our iniquities testify against us, act, O LORD, for your name's sake; our apostasies indeed are many, and we have sinned against you. {8} O hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler turning aside for the night? {9} Why should you be like someone confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot give help? Yet you, O LORD, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us! {10} Thus says the LORD concerning this people: Truly they have loved to wander, they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them, now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins…. {19} Have you completely rejected Judah? Does your heart loathe Zion? Why have you struck us down so that there is no healing for us? We look for peace, but find no good; for a time of healing, but there is terror instead. {20} We acknowledge our wickedness, O LORD, the iniquity of our ancestors, for we have sinned against you. {21} Do not spurn us, for your name's sake; do not dishonor your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us. {22} Can any idols of the nations bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Is it not you, O LORD our God? We set our hope on you, for it is you who do all this.

[1-6: These verses describe the drought and its consequences which form the background of the apparently insincere confessions and repentance of the nobles of Jerusalem, who seek to induce Yahweh to bring rain.]
7. our iniquities…apostasies…we have sinned against you: The nobles of Judah (14:1 f.) confess their sin, and plead by Yahweh will act to end the drought that afflicts Jerusalem.
for your name’s sake: Either "for the sake of your honor," or "as an expression of your gracious nature."
8-9. why should you be like a stranger in the land…like a traveler. Why should you be like someone confused…a mighty warrior who cannot give help: The nobles offer images of incompetence or indifference as a reason for Yahweh’s inaction.
10 Thus says the Lord: Yahweh responds that he will not accept them (and by implication he will not accept their repentance and confession), but he will remember their sin and punish them.
11-18: Yahweh instructs Jeremiah not to pray for the people. The prophets, he says, prophesy lies of peace; they will perish by the sword, and the people will perish as well.
19-21. Have you completely rejected Judah?: The nobles imply that Yahweh cannot be sincere about rejecting his people. They confess their guilt, and remind him of his covenant with them.
22: Two rhetorical questions express the conviction that the "non-gods" of the nations cannot break the drought.
We set our hope on you: The nobles continue to confess their confidence in Yahweh in spite of his clear rejection of their appeals for help. Though the reading stops here, Yahweh continues to refuse to act mercifully toward his sinful people. He will not be deceived by smooth words intended to delude him. Not even Moses and Samuel can change his mind.

Or Sirach 35:12-17
12 Give to the Most High as he has given to you, and as generously as you can afford. 13 For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold. 14 Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it; 15 and do not rely on a dishonest sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with him there is no partiality. 16 He will not show partiality to the poor; but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged. 17 He will not ignore the supplication of the orphan, or the widow when she pours out her complaint.

12-13. as generously as you can afford: One should give to God as God has given; and God will repay seven-fold.
14-15. a bribe…a dishonest sacrifice: God will not respond to bribes like a dishonest judge. A lavish sacrifice will not influence him against "one who is wronged."
16-17. He will not show partiality to the poor: He will not take sides against the poor as the parallel "he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged" demonstrates. The widow and the orphan are identified as ones whom God does not reject. Together with the "stranger," that is resident aliens, the widows and orphans are the groups for whom the book of Deuteronomy seeks special protection because they have no one to plead their case.

Psalm 84:1-7
{1} How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! {2} My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. {3} Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. {4} Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah {5} Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. {6} As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. {7} They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

     "The singer of Psalm 84 has in mind a pilgrim who has arrived in Jerusalem and now, in full view of the sanctuary, intones (v. 1) a song of praise to the "dwelling places of Yahweh ‘Sabaoth.’" [1]
1. O Lord of hosts: "It is likely that that the title was first used at Shiloh in association with the ark. In that period the ark was called by its full name, ‘the ark of . "It is likely that that the title was first used at Shiloh in association with the ark. In that period the ark was called by its full name, ‘the ark of YHWH Seba’ot who sits enthroned upon the cherubim’ (cf. 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 1 Chr 13:6; Isa 37:16). [2] In verse 3 Yahweh is further identified as "my King and my God." Both Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5) and Michaiah ben-Imlah (1 Kings 22:19) saw Yahweh in his heavenly court enthroned as king.
4. those who live in your house: Probably priests; also beyond that "the righteous" who may dwell in the Temple (Psalm 15:1; 92:12 ff; 23:6; 27:4; 65:4; Luke 2:36f.)
6. the early rain also covers it [the valley of Baca] with pools: The "early rain" ends the dry season and marks the beginning of the rainy, winter season and prepare the ground for plowing and sowing. "…the giving or withholding of rain is generally seen in the Bible as a sign of God’s favor or disfavor, in the OT…." [3] The mention of the "early rains" may point to the Psalm’s connection with the Feast of Tabernacles celebrated in the fall.
the God of gods will be seen in Zion: Some believe that Yahweh’s kingship was celebrated in the fall, and that Yahweh was seen in a theophany during the festival. We should not too easily dismiss the reality of the appearance of Yahweh in the ritual of the festival.

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
{6} As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. {7} I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. {8} From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing…. {16} At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! {17} But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. {18} The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

6: Paul contrasts Timothy’s opportunity to proclaim the Gospel with the end of his own ministry.
7-8: Paul picks up the athletic metaphors he used in 1 Corinthians 9:26 and applies them to himself as descriptive of the effectiveness of his ministry.
16. my first defense…all deserted me: This probably refers to Paul’s defense before the Emperor (Nero?), or the Emperor’s examiners in Rome (see 1:17). Demas is explicitly mentioned has having deserted Paul (4:10); Crescans, Titus and Tychicus are engaged in mission activity (4:10, 12); only Luke is with Paul (4:11). The reference to a "first" defense anticipates a "second."
17. I was rescued from the lion’s mouth: In 1 Corinthians 15:32 Paul says that he "fought with wild animals at Ephesus," perhaps ten years though this reference may not be connected with that event. Like Daniel in Daniel 6:16-22 Paul escaped through divine intervention.
18: Paul declares his confidence that God will protect him from every attack and allow him a place in his heavenly kingdom.

Luke 18:9-14
{9} He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: {10} "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. {12} I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' {13} But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' {14} I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."

9. some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: Self-satisfaction and contempt of others are common to those to whom the parable is told. That attitude is developed in verse 11. All whose religious life is dominated by their own righteousness should take note.
13. the tax collector: As a counterpart to the one who trusted in himself and despised others the tax collector begs for mercy from God.
‘God be merciful to me, a sinner: Psalm 51:1.
14. all who exalt themselves…all who humble themselves: The fortunes of those who exalt themselves and those who humble themselves will be reversed by God. Thereby the proud are warned and the humble are encouraged by Jesus’ words. See also Luke 14:11; Matthew 23:12.

Reflection [4]
     The first lesson and its alternate both reveal a God who will not be fooled by false repentance and confessions of sin which are not sincere. He will not be deceived or bribed by such charades. In the Gospel the contrast is not between tax collectors and Pharisees, but between those "who trust in themselves and despise others" and those who know that they are sinners, the proud and the humble. Other Pharisees may well have prayed for God’s mercy just as this tax collector did, and other tax collectors could have thought quite highly of themselves, even as the judge in Luke 18:1-8 did, and despised Pharisees. Even good Christians have been known to think so highly of themselves that they despise others.

Hymns [5]
With One Voice (e.g. 762v), Hymnal Supplement 1991 (e.g. 725s) and LBW (e.g. 32).
E=Entrance; D=Hymn of the Day; I=First Lesson, P=Psalm; II=Second Lesson; G=Gospel

778s --E--Gather Us In (718v)
310 --D--To You, Omniscient
684v --I--Spirit, Spirit
412 --P--Sing to the

461 --II--Fight the Good Fight
340 --II--Jesus Christ, My
296 --G--Just as I Am,
91, 805s, 344, 291

Prayers of the People [6]
P or A: In our prayers we ask God to send his Holy Spirit, that we may be strengthened, refreshed, and guided in our daily lives. We pray "Send us your Spirit, Lord", and respond, "Amen. Come, Holy Spirit."
A: We pray that we might learn to join the wisdom of our elders with the visions of our youth, so that we may do the whole of your will. Send us your Spirit, Lord. Amen. Come...
A: You are the hope of all the ends of the earth, creator God. May we your people live in awe of your creation, and in a proper, respectful relationship with all that you have made. Send us your Spirit, Lord. Amen. Come...
A: You are gracious and merciful, forgiving our sins when we fall short of your will. Give us your grace, O God, that we might forgive others when we feel wronged. Send us your Spirit, Lord. Amen. Come...
A: Caring Father, many of your servants suffer illness and despair. Strengthen those whom we name before you now : __________ , and all whom we name in our hearts... . Send us your Spirit, Lord. Amen. Come...
A: Fill us with your Spirit and free us from our pride. Give us grateful hearts for life's blessings, and wisdom to discern that all our blessings are unearned gifts of your grace. Send us your Spirit, Lord. Amen. Come...
P: Spirit of gentleness, you moved over the waters in the beginning and you move among us today. Open us to receive you, that we might be filled with greater love for Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.


Presider or deacon
Let us cry out to God for peace and a time of healing.
Deacon or other leader For N our bishop and N our presbyter, for this holy gathering, and for the people of God in every place.
For mercy, justice, and peace among all peoples.
For good weather, abundant fruits of the earth, and peaceful times.
For our city and those who live in it, and for our families, companions, and all those we love.
For all those in danger and need: the sick and the suffering, travelers and strangers, and all with heavy burdens.
For those who rest in Christ and for all the dead.
For our deliverance from all affliction, strife, and need.
Lifting our voices with all creation, let us offer ourselves and one another to the living God through Christ. To you, O Lord.
God of sinners, hear the prayers we offer this day, rescue us from every evil, and save us for your heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U. S. A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
[1] Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 60-150: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1989, p. 167.
[2] C. L. Seow, “HOSTS, LORD OF,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary ed. by David Noel Freedman, et al.), New York: Doubleday, 1992, vol. 3, p. 304.
[3] Frank S. Frick, “RAIN,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary ed. by David Noel Freedman, et al.), New York: Doubleday, 1992, vol. 5, p. 612.