Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Thirst for Leadership

This next Sunday, we come again upon a scene in which the people are complaining; this time because of the terrible thirst they experienced in the wilderness. God acts again, much as he did when they hungered for bread, and God fed them with the "Bread of Angels" (Psalm 8); and when they hungered for meat God provided quail for them to eat.
In the case of thirst, God again provided for the people.
Last week at Coffee Plus we had some conversation about the nature of sanctification. As the people consecrated themselves, they found that God also provided for them in new and transformational ways.
We hunger now for leadership.
We hope for a president who will lead us out of our current hardships.
But if we ever hope to be led, we'll also have to find a way to follow.
That is a tricky dynamic...leadership and its relationship to discipleship.
It is on the fulcrum of this dynamic that the well being of the parish, the church, the community and the nation depends.
Will we rise to the occasion?
That's a question well worth considering.
Lets give that some thought as we prepare for next week's readings, sermon and "Coffee Plus".
The readings for next Sunday are printed below for your convenience.
Fr. Paul

XX Pentecost
September 28, 2008

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Exodus 17:1-7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?" But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?" So Moses cried out to the Lord, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me." The Lord said to Moses, "Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink." Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?"

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16 Page 694, BCP
Attendite, popule
Hear my teaching, O my people; *
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable; *
I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.
That which we have heard and known,
and what our forefathers have told us, *
we will not hide from their children.
We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the LORD, *
and the wonderful works he has done.
He worked marvels in the sight of their forefathers, *
in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
He split open the sea and let them pass through; *
he made the waters stand up like walls.
He led them with a cloud by day, *
and all the night through with a glow of fire.
He split the hard rocks in the wilderness *
and gave them drink as from the great deep.
He brought streams out of the cliff, *
and the waters gushed out like rivers.

Philippians 2:1-13
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death--
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Matthew 21:23-32
When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" Jesus said to them, "I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, `From heaven,' he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, `Of human origin,' we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
"What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, `I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him."

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Lavish Generosity of the Land Owner

And so the people complain.
With all the miracles of life, may I suggest that rather than complaint as the center and core of our life, perhaps gratitude and thanksgiving would redound more helpfully to the soul's health.
A few examples of what I mean follow.
Illustrations for September 21, 2008

Illustration #1

We live in an age of anxiety. I remember as a child in the early 1950’s hiding under our school desks in case of nuclear attack. I also remember Joe McCarthy ranting and raving about the ubiquity of Communists, and how they had infiltrated every corner of American life. And now we life with the ever present threat of terror.
Getting stuck in anxiety is a recipe for disaster. Rather let it be an occasion for something new and hope filled; it was Jesus who repeatedly said “Fear not” and T. S. Elliot who wrote “Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity”

Illustration #2

When the weather is cold, people complain.
When it is hot and humid, people complain.
When it rains day after day, people complain.
If God came down and divided the Red Sea for us so that we could walk on dry land while the waters stood up like walls on the left and on the right hand, sooner or later we’d complain.
Even when we eat the bread of angels we’d complain that there was no meat to eat.
And then when the birds of the air satisfied our hunger, even then we would find something to complain about.
It is the universal condition to complain, even when God acts so decisively in our lives.
We’re always looking for something else.
And if we are not careful the complaint will blind us to the miracle staring us in the face that God gives us every day.

Illustration #3

Like the lavishly generous land owner, a good mother will listen to a child’s cry night after night, and still cradle the gentle creature in her tender and loving arms. And when there are long sleepless nights, with ear infections, colds, and sore gums from teething, still a loving mother will lavish her child with patience. She will change diapers, feed hundreds of meals, bind up scrapes and wounds and suffer scores of anxious moments for her child. And when those teen years come along, there will be baffling moments of trial, insult, and insensitivity, and still the mother is there with an uncommon love.
Who can explain such love and such generosity either of a mother or of the landowner in today’s Gospel unless such love is of God?

An Anxious or Generous Heart?

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Exodus 16:2-15
The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."
Then the LORD said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days." So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaining against the LORD. For what are we, that you complain against us?" And Moses said, "When the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the LORD has heard the complaining that you utter against him-- what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the LORD."
Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, `Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.'" And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. The LORD spoke to Moses and said, "I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, `At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'"
In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat."

Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45 Page 738, BCP
Confitemini Domino
Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name; *
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him, *
and speak of all his marvelous works.
Glory in his holy Name; *
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Search for the LORD and his strength; *
continually seek his face.
Remember the marvels he has done, *
his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,
O offspring of Abraham his servant, *
O children of Jacob his chosen.
He led out his people with silver and gold; *
in all their tribes there was not one that stumbled.
Egypt was glad of their going, *
because they were afraid of them.
He spread out a cloud for a covering *
and a fire to give light in the night season.
They asked, and quails appeared, *
and he satisfied them with bread from heaven.
He opened the rock, and water flowed, *
so the river ran in the dry places.
For God remembered his holy word *
and Abraham his servant.
So he led forth his people with gladness, *
his chosen with shouts of joy.
He gave his people the lands of the nations, *
and they took the fruit of others' toil,
That they might keep his statutes *
and observe his laws.

Philippians 1:21-30
For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God's doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well-- since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, `You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o'clock, he did the same. And about five o'clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, `Why are you standing here idle all day?' They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, `You also go into the vineyard.' When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, `Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.' When those hired about five o'clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?' So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Forgiveness Rule

How important do you think the law of forgiveness is to God? Here are the readings for September 14. Read them over carefully. I'll bet you have some questions about these readings when we come to "Coffee Plus" next week.
(Coffee Plus is our adult discussion forum at St. Peter's, Salem...we usually take some time after church to talk about the scripture readings, the sermon, or other subjects that seem to come up. This week should be interesting!)

The Lessons Appointed for Use on the

Sunday closest to September 14
Year A
Proper 19

O God, because without you we are not able to please you mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Exodus 14:19-31
The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh's horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the Israelites, for the LORD is fighting for them against Egypt."
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers." So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the LORD tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the LORD did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the LORD and believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

Psalm 114 Page 756, BCP
In exitu Israel
When Israel came out of Egypt, *
the house of Jacob from a people of strange speech,
Judah became God's sanctuary *
and Israel his dominion.
The sea beheld it and fled; *
Jordan turned and went back.
The mountains skipped like rams, *
and the little hills like young sheep.
What ailed you, O sea, that you fled? *
O Jordan, that you turned back?
You mountains, that you skipped like rams? *
you little hills like young sheep?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, *
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
Who turned the hard rock into a pool of water *
and flint-stone into a flowing spring.

Romans 14:1-12
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,
"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God."
So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Matthew 18:21-35
Peter came and said to Jesus, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, `Pay what you owe.' Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

Who Do You Trust?

Remember the old Johnny Carson quiz know the one he had before he became famous? I dating myself...anyway, that's the phrase that came to be because of the collect for this Sunday. And then, of course, with the ubiquity of politics, the question seems then based on the reading below is today's sermon...September 7, 2008

Who Do You Trust?
The Democratic and Republican conventions are now over…you may cheer if you wish. So now the question comes to us; “Who do you trust with your vote.” That is certainly a question of consequence. It is a question of importance. The nation is at war and our economy is in a down turn, the credit markets and especially the mortgage markets are in nothing short of crisis mode. It appears that the Federal Government is poised to rescue both Freddie Mac and Fannie those quasi governmental agencies that were supposed to guarantee affordability of housing to the average American. Now it appears that some questionable mortgage writing practices have put millions into a foreclosure mode. Thus how we vote will matter significantly. Mind you, just as a cautionary note; even the candidate of your choice may not be able to keep all the promises he or she makes. Surprise!

So that brings us back to the question; “Who do you trust?” Today’s collect begins with these words; “Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts” When we think of the question of trust, we quite naturally think of loved ones, but not always politicians and used car salesmen. There are so called “Trust” companies, but that’s a different kind of trust. There are clergy, some of those can be trusted, but we’ve seen examples where our trust can be put to the test even there. There are teachers, members of the extended family, there’s the boss, there’s co-workers, and then there’s my best friend. It is good to be back here at the altar and in this pulpit after a nice vacation period. I feel a kinship and a friendship growing between us. I feel that the very trust of friendship growing between us.
We are now half way through our contract dates…some of us are beginning to ask what of that period…and what happens then? In all cases, there are a variety of ways in which we can gauge our trust levels. It takes a while for instance for a priest and a congregation to build up trust levels to the point where we can really move ahead together and get serious about setting forth the praise of Almighty God through our service to our community and those in need. It takes time. And it doesn’t take much for that trust to be broken or to be put to the test.

Before we get to that question though, we continue on task to do what God formulated in our early conversations
1. First to continue the work of healing among our people and to recruit into this fellowship those committed to the mission of this church.
2. Secondly to live into our mission statement; to be “A house of prayer for all people”,
3. And thirdly to find a way to make ourselves good stewards of all that God has given this church; and that before the end of our three year contract to make significant progress to become a self supportive congregation, joyfully generous to the point that our budget is balanced and focused not on survival but on mission.

God has called us into relationship. God has built a goodly level of trust between us and thus we now enter into this new season and we continue to celebrate this congregation’s 275th Anniversary.

Our history as a people of God goes back much further than just the history of this church. Think of the faith of our ancestors and how that was put to the test. They fled the Egyptian army in haste and Moses stretched out his arms and the Red Sea parted and the children of Israel walked on dry land as the waters stood up like two tempestuous walls one to the right and the other to the left. The children of Israel were free. And Pharaoh’s chariots sank into the depths like a stone. So far; so good! Ah but then the reality of wandering aimlessly in the desert for 40 years began to set in. And the faith of the people in God and in Moses was put to the test. The people murmured and complained in the hearing of God and in the presence of Moses. And the patience of both was put to the test. And yet out of the fullness of that life together God’s law grew in the people’s hearts…the concept of justice grew and the trust of God and God’s people for one another also grew. It is in the crucible of that history that we became the people of God. And so the first lesson teaches us to remember what God has done in our lives. The Passover of the Lord is that memorial and this Eucharist is the Passover over of Chist who was sacrificed for us.

So as we learn the message of trust we learn likewise to honor God’s law and in doing so, to owe nothing to one another but to love one another. This is the fulfillment of all God’s law. First to love God and likewise to love one another. Those two commandments are not just like one another they are congruent with each other. It is in the reality of that love that we thus form a deep and abiding trust of one another and God.

So what then do we do when that trust is broken? Folks that are very close to us can break our trust, so can those in more formal relationships. Jesus gave us clear directions on that one. If somebody causes an offense against you, you then must bring that offense to the attention of the one who committed it. Ninety percent of the time a direct and forthright conversation will win over the offender. With a bit of patience, inner self control and prayerful wisdom, this stratagem will most often effect the reconciliation and restoration of trust so necessary in a world so beset with alienation.

We don’t always to this. It is often easier to talk about someone than it is to talk to that very person. This can be someone we love very much. Something in our own insecurity causes us to feel very vulnerable to direct and honest conversation. And so rather than be reconciled to our loved one we allow the distance between us grow even further apart. Alienation takes hold and grows by the hour.

In a community of the people of faith this is not how we act toward one another. Instead the husband says to the wife; you know we have to talk. The friend says to his or her best friend, want a cup of coffee…or maybe I’ll buy you a drink. Maybe you can even begin with an apology and take the high road…how often that wins the soul.

The winning of the soul also wins the practice of the presence of God. For in that truth, in that moment of coming together and reconciliation, in that time where forgiveness once again overcomes guilt and unity overcomes estrangement, it will always be in a moment like that when God becomes palpably real. For when two or three are gathered together in God’s name…there Jesus is too.

So who do you trust? I know who I trust in the current political campaign. But I’m not saying who right here and right now. You’ll have to drag that out of me…kicking and screaming. There are any number of people I trust, because we have forged strong relationships over the years based on an honest sharing of our deepest experiences. The more we practice this kind of life, the more we come to know that God is indeed in our midst.

So who do you trust today?

Monday, September 01, 2008

A new season is upon us

Next Sunday we begin a new season in our journey together as priest and people. I do hope to see you all in church of course.
As we prepare for the new season lets also discipline ourselves to remember that we are all students of Jesus, The Teacher and of the record we have of his life among us.
As we enter the new season we do so, of course, with the sacred writings of the ancients as our guide.
They too are our companions along the way.
As they looked into their experiences and their lives, they saw God's life living and breathing within their hearts.
We shall do nothing less.
Here then are the readings for next Sunday.
Have a look, and then next week we'll see where all this takes us.
In Sunday's lessons we'll hear about the significance of marking a memorial of God's Passover in the run up to the liberation of Israel from slavery. That permanent memorial will in history mark the liberation of all peoples from every form of slavery. It will factor significantly in American history. It was at the center of Christ's redeeming work in freeing us from the bonds of sin and death.
The Psalm sings a new song to God. We'll be singing a new creed on Sunday. It is a wonderful melody. As we learn our new songs, we also learn how to sing of our love for God and one another in our hearts on a daily basis.
Paul continues the theme by inviting us to owe nothing to one another except the love we are bound to bear to one another. We discover this kind of love as we put off the works of darkness and take on the deeds of the light. Thus we put on Christ as we would any fine garment, and our lives become adorned with something beautiful for God.
The Gospel is an interesting redactor. Still the authority of Jesus is clear, however you want to date the passage...if someone sins against you, first talk to that person. Let's face it, it is easier to talk about someone than it is to talk to them directly. When we do, we almost always win their hearts. But not always. Conflict occasionally runs deep. In cases where that is so Jesus would have us take our case to "arbitration", and if that fails to the whole church. If that doesn't work even then...well...treat them like you would a sinner or a tax collector.
And so how does Jesus treat sinners and tax collectors?
Ah, you get the point!
See you all Sunday.
Fr. Paul

The Lessons Appointed for Use on the

The 17th Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 18
Year A

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Exodus 12:1-14
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Psalm 149 Page 807, BCP
Cantate Domino
Sing to the LORD a new song; *
sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in his Maker; *
let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise his Name in the dance; *
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people *
and adorns the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in triumph; *
let them be joyful on their beds.
Let the praises of God be in their throat *
and a two-edged sword in their hand;
To wreak vengeance on the nations *
and punishment on the peoples;
To bind their kings in chains *
and their nobles with links of iron;
To inflict on them the judgment decreed; *
this is glory for all his faithful people.

Romans 13:8-14
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet"; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Matthew 18:15-20
Jesus said, "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."