Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,

Haiti Earthquake prayers and other worship resources for worship.

Information about giving to Haiti relief. Text money to LWR by simply texting LWR to 40579. Confirm with YES. 

January 24, 2010 – Epiphany 3C

Dios todopoderoso, que gobiernas a un tiempo cielo y tierra, escucha paternalmente la oración de tu pueblo y haz que los días de nuestra vida se fundamenten en tu paz. Por nuestro Señor Jesucristo.


·         SUNDAY: 1/17, 4 p.m. Houston Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion Celebration – Rostered leaders are encouraged to robe and process. The Houston celebration of the Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion will be Sunday, January 17, 2010, 4 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Methodist, Houston. Bishop Janice Huie and Mike Rinehart presiding. This takes place on the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This will be a great time to celebrate our unity in Christ.

·         NEXT WEEK: 1/25-27, 2010. THEOLOGICAL CONFERENCELa Vida de Fe, San Antonio. I HOPE you’ll treat this as a winter retreat – a time to relax, be with colleagues, reflect theologically. During our time together, I will share updates from the Conference of Bishops, and we will have a special guest: Bishop Golicke, from The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic will be with us.

·         2/14: Love Changes Everything. I’m asking you to pick a Sunday in February or March to focus on the “welcome the stranger” texts of the Bible. We’re suggesting February 14, the last Sunday in the Epiphany Season. Study these texts for yourself, and reflect theologically on what they mean homiletically. Here are some worship resources in pdf for those who choose to do so. Consider reading They are Us.

·         2/17: Ash Wednesday. For those with the new ELW, the liturgy is on pages 251-255. The rubrics invite you to consider not having communion. I have always found this liturgy to be a bit cluttered, last year I experienced it without communion as laid out in ELW, and it flowed nicely. Now’s a good time to make ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday palms. Do it in the parking lot with the youth group. (Fire is cool.) It’s a great tactile teaching moment. Strain the ashes when cool. A small amount of oil can be used to help them adhere. Not too much.

·         2/19-20: DIANA BUTLER BASS speaks at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church: CHRISTIANITY FOR THE REST OF US. This is the book we gave to every rostered leader last year. We had tried to get Dr. Bass here, but her schedule wouldn’t permit. Join me for this opportunity.

Summer College-student Intern?

Maddie Schneider, a high school senior at Living Word, Katy is looking for a church where she might do a summer internship. She is discerning the call to become a pastor, and would like some experience working with other congregations to discover more about this commitment before going to seminary. Call her at 281-395-8216 if you have a spot.

Pat Robertson and Stupid American Religion

Disappointing comments made this week, uttered inanely in the midst of indescribable suffering, embody the reason for the decline of worship attendance in America. Religious leaders like Robertson say things like he said, and people say, “That’s the church.” Rush criticized the administration for reacting more quickly to this than the terrorist incident in Detroit. Well of course. No one died in Detroit. 100,000 died in Haiti. That he and others don’t see that is part of the problem. It’s offensive what passes for morality in America. We’re more worried about who’s in bed with whom than we are millions suffering from hunger, disease and disaster. Jesus weeps. Some would have you believe the church’s decline is because society has abandoned traditional values. So would the Taliban. Our neo-Puritan guilt kicks in. But talk to the unchurched and dechurched, and you hear a different story. They’re fed up with hypocrisy and judgmentalism in the church. It’s this very thing that kills the church. Rather than cater to this small, loud segment of society, why not angle to the 60% of society that scratch their head at American organized religion? They came; they saw; they left. What gives people hope is to see the heart of the church: its compassion. They will come when the see the church doing what they know full well the church should be doing, and sounding more like Jesus, even in the face of an obnoxious vocal minority.


Compassion went viral this week when people texted the Red Cross $5M for Haiti. Those who texted HAITI (all caps) to 90999 were able to instantly give $10. It shows up on their cell phone bill. Generosity is contagious. This is the viral power of lavish generosity, in the public square. Early Christianity went viral. It spread like wildfire, this religion that shared (charity was uncommon in the Roman Empire) and welcomed  those who were nothing: women, slaves, non-citizens, telling them they were citizens and saints of a greater kingdom/empire, where hope, generosity and love reigned.

Epiphany at-a-glance

Epiphany reaches from the Magi on January 6 this year, to the Transfiguration on February 14. Consider Love Changes Everything material provided, to pray about and discuss immigration in the context of the biblical injunction to love the stranger.

January 6 – Epiphany (Eastern Magi pay homage to Jesus)
January 10 – Epiphany 1C (Baptism of our Lord)
January 17 – Epiphany 2C (Water into Wine)
January 24 – Epiphany 3C (Jesus in his hometown synagogue: The Spirit has anointed me…)
January 31 – Epiphany 4C (Jeremiah’s call. Jesus in his hometown: No prophet is without honor.)
February 7 – Epiphany 5C (Isaiah’s call. Jesus teaches from a boat. The great catch.)
February 14 – Epiphany 6C (Transfiguration or Love Changes Everything emphasis on welcoming the stranger)

In Epiphany the Magi come to Christ. Pagans. Foreigners. We remember that the gospel is for the Gentiles as well. In the last days, God’s Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh. We also focus on calling. Jesus’ call in his baptism, voiced through the prophet Isaiah. Jeremiah’s call. Isaiah’s call. This is a great time to talk about calling, vocation, mission, purpose, as individuals and as communities.


Cheng Hsi Pan was born in January 12, 1941 in Taiwan. It was a difficult pregnancy for his mother, and so it was decided that Cheng Hsi would have to die, so that his mother could live.

When he was removed from the womb, the doctors thought he was dead but his grandmother , not willing to accept this, prayed and massaged him, beating him, until suddenly, he cried out.

As a child in Taiwan, Cheng Hsi’s mother often took him to the temple to worship the idols. One day he met a Lutheran missionary, who sent him a Bible correspondence course, and introduced him to The Lutheran Hour.  The missionary, Dr. Erhard Riedel, sent him a copy of the Book of Concord and a book on justification by faith, in a Chinese Translation. These captivated him.

Cheng Hsi (Jesse) came to United States on September 11, 1972. He studied at the University of Miami in an intensive English program. One hot afternoon he was resting outside of Rogate Lutheran Church in Clearwater, Florida. The Vicar saw him, opened the door and said, “Come into the air conditioning and have some water.” He was surprised by the hospitality of this stranger that he had never met before. That evening, the Vicar and the Senior Pastor came to visit him where he lived.

From that day on, he no longer felt like a stranger. They gave him rides every Sunday. Cheng Hsi was soon confirmed, and he eventually applied to attend Concordia Lutheran Seminary, where on August 28, 1974, he began his studies. He graduated in 1977. But there was no placement.  But on November 1978 Rogate Lutheran Church in Florida called him to be an assistant to the pastor, and on May 20 of the following year (1979) he was ordained.

On April 24, 1985 Cheng Hsi Pan was called to serve at the Chinese Christian Church in Buffalo, New York. He served as pastor there for eight years until 1993 when he received a call from Chinese Lutheran Church in Houston Texas. This weekend after 17 years, Pastor Pan Retires. Pastor Pan says, “Now it is time to let me retire and refire, and continue to serve the Lord in new ways.”

Epiphany is a great time to talk about calling. Our texts highlight Jesus’ call in the words of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… has anointed me to preach… We have Isaiah’s call. Jeremiah’s call. Why not a series for January 24, 31 and February 7 on recognizing God’s call in your life? People constantly ask how one recognizes God’s will in their lives. Young people struggle with finding their calling. Middle aged wonder how to follow God’s call in lives that seem to already be in cement. Older folks who are retiring wonder how they might serve God in new ways when life shifts.

You are called if 1: You hear God’s call in your life, and 2: You respond, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”  Each of the three sermons could focus on ways we hear God’s call. Choose what has meant the most to you. There are so many ways. Preach your own call story. It’s so personal – so relevant. People want to know how you heard God’s call, and how you responded. Why not give them some food for thought, in the good Ignacian Consciousness Examen tradition?

Here are some of the way’s I’ve sensed God’s call:

Listen for God’s voice. God is speaking all the time. The Holy Spirit is whispering in our ears constantly. We have but to listen. There is too much noise in our lives. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46) If you want to hear God’s voice, take time for prayer. Make time for quiet time every day. Empty yourself. Mother Teresa used to say, “God cannot fill what is full.”

Listen to your life. What recurring themes have resurfaced in your life, over and over again? Where has God been present in your life? Where has God shown up in surprising ways? When have you sensed God’s absence? What suffering has shaped your life? What drives you nuts? What bothers you so much that you simple must act?! That is the Holy Spirit talking.

Listen to others. What have people told you about yourself in the past? Write it down. God uses other people to call us.

Listen to God’s word. Take time to read the Bible every day. These are spiritual stories. They will work their way into your soul. God will speak to you through the words of Scripture.

Listen to your dreams. Have you ever noticed how often God speaks to people in dreams? Spend an entire sermon on dreams in the Bible.

1.       The first dream in the Bible is Jacob’s ladder. Alone and running for his life after having duped his brother, he stops at Bethel to sleep and dreams a dream of God’s promise in his life. I will give you this land, and your ancestors will number like the grains of sand and through you I will bless all people. Jacob is called to re-imagine his life in light of God’s promise.
2.       In a dream Pharoah is called to prepare for a famine. He is invited out of his world of safety and privilege into an alternate world of need, trouble and deprivation.
3.       In a dream or rather a vision, Isaiah’s unclean lips are touched by a hot coal carried from the altar by a six-winged seraph.
4.       In a dream Mary is called to be the mother of Jesus.  “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel came to Mary. ‘Hail, favored one… The Lord is with you… the Holy Spirit will come upon you…You will conceive a bear a child, and his name shall be Jesus…’”
5.       In a dream an angel appears to Joseph, who is about to divorce Mary. He is told this is all to fulfill the words of the prophets. And when he awakes, he changes his mind.
6.       In a dream the Magi are warned of Herod, so they returned home by another way.
7.       In a dream Paul is called to go to Macedonia.

Listen to your dreams. God will speak. When you wake up, write them down. When God speaks, take good notes! Your dreams represent your deepest hopes and fears. They are often the way God speaks to us. What do you dream about? God is there.

Listen to in prayer. Listen to your life. Listen to others. Listen to God’s Word. Listen to your dreams. Listen, listen, listen, and you will hear God’s call in your life. I promise you.

Here I am; send me. End each sermon with a sending. Hearing God’s call is not enough. Calling happens when we respond, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” 

Isaiah, in his vision, hears God say, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And he responds: “Here I am; send me.” You are chosen when you say, “Here, I am; send me.”

Mary, in her dream, hears God’s call and she responds with words that I find astounding: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your will.” Can you imagine what it would be like if every follower of Christ in the world were to say these words and mean them: “Let it be done to me according to your will.” What if every person in this church were to submit to God’s will in that way?

This is precisely what Jesus did. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” He could do no other. Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel…” Jesus prayed to God, “Let this cup pass from me.” But his final prayer was, “Not my will, but Thy will be done. We pray this prayer every week, when we pray the Lord’s prayer. Some of us pray it every day. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
This Epiphany, invite people to wrestle with this: What does it mean for me, right here, right now, in this stage of my life to say these words? “Here I am, servant of the Lord, send me; let it be done to me according to your Word… Thy will be done.”

שלומ     سلام    Peace,

Mike Rinehart

Michael Rinehart, bishop
The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
12707 I-45 North Frwy, Suite 580
Houston, TX 77060-1239               

Time after Epiphany – Year C

January 31, 2010 – Epiphany 4C

February 7, 2010 – Epiphany 5C
Book study: They are Us

February 14, 2010 – Transfiguration
Exodus 34:29-35 – Moses’ face shines when he comes down from Mt. Sinai with the 10 Commandments. He has to veil his face.
Psalm 99 – Extol the Lord our God and worship him at his holy mountain.
2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2 – Paul contrasts the glory of Moses with the glory of Christ. When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
Luke 9:28-36, (37-43) – The Transfiguration foreshadows the resurrection. God affirms Jesus’ identity again, as at Jesus’ baptism.


February 14, 2010 – Love Changes Everything
An opportunity to share the Biblical message of welcoming the alien and sojourner.
Consider reading They are Us.

February 17, 2010 – Ash Wednesday

Deuteronomy 26:1-11 – First fruits giving as a response to God’s awesome acts of salvation, then used to celebrate with the priests and the aliens.
When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, 2you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 5you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. 6When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, 7we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; 9and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. 11Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 (Ps. 91:11) – Eagles’ Wings. Lest you strike your foot against a stone, which the devil quotes to Jesus in the wilderness, in the gospel, below.
1You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
2will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”
9Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place,
10no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.
11For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
12On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
14Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.
15When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.
16With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.
Romans 10:8b-13 – Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Jew and Greek. There is no distinction. But they can’t call upon him if they haven’t heard. Blessed are those who bring good news.
5Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” 6But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 14But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Luke 4:1-13 – Jesus tempted by the devil in the wilderness. The devil quotes Scripture (Ps. 91).
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” 5Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 9Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 12Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18Abram believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Psalm 27 (Ps. 27:5) – The Lord is my light and my salvation. He will hide me in his tent and set me upon a high rock.
1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh— my adversaries and foes— they shall stumble and fall. 3Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. 4One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. 5For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock. 6Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. 7Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! 8“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek. 9Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation! 10If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up. 11Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. 12Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence. 13I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Philippians 3:17—4:1 – Enemies of the cross. Their god is the belly. Their end is destruction.
14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
15Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.
17Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
4Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved
Luke 13:31-35 – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I have longed to gather you as a mother hen gathers her young under her wings.
31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8 (Ps. 63:1)
1 Corinthians 10:1-13 –
 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. 6Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
Luke 13:1-9
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
6Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Joshua 5:9-12
9The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.’ And so that place is called Gilgal to this day. 10 While the Israelites were encamped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. 11On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.
Psalm 32 (Ps. 32:11)
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 – Lost Sheep/Lost Son
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3So he told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 25“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

Isaiah 43:16-21
16Thus says the Lord,
   who makes a way in the sea,
   a path in the mighty waters,
17who brings out chariot and horse,
   army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
   they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18Do not remember the former things,
   or consider the things of old.
19I am about to do a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
   and rivers in the desert.
20The wild animals will honour me,
   the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
   rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21   the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.
Psalm 126 (Ps. 126:5)
A Song of Ascents.
1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
   we were like those who dream.
2Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
   and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
   ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
3The Lord has done great things for us,
   and we rejoiced.
4Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
   like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5May those who sow in tears
   reap with shouts of joy.
6Those who go out weeping,
   bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
   carrying their sheaves.
Philippians 3:4b-14
4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Palm Sunday
Luke 19:28-40 Procession with Palms
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31:9-16 (Ps. 31:5)
Philippians 2:5-11
Luke 22:14—23:56 or Luke 23:1-49


Exodus 12:1-4 (5-10) 11-14
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 (Ps. 116:13)
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Isaiah 52:13—53:12
Psalm 22 (Ps. 22:1)
Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1—19:42

Easter Day
Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (Ps. 118:24)
1 Corinthians 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43
Luke 24:1-12 or John 20:1-18

Acts 5:27-32
When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by