Some people are apprently not able to get the copy link to work so the August Lectionary is now being republished in a slightly different format.


LECTIONARY Sunday Readings for August 2023 by Buddy Kirwan

6th August: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Genesis 32:22-31                    Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21              Romans 9:1-5              Matthew 14:13-21


We continue to learn from the lives of father-Abraham’s descendants in the Book of Genesis. In today’s reading, we see Jacob, now father of eleven sons and at least one daughter (Dinah); a twelfth son, Benjamin, was born on the return journey to Canaan. These twelve sons became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. On this return journey to Canaan, Jacob experienced the most significant moment of his life at a place he named, “Peniel.” Throughout the night he had a Divine encounter that was not only name-changing (Jacob-Israel) but also life-transforming. The God whom Jacob encountered was none other than the Covenant-making God of Abraham but also the “gracious and merciful” God of the psalmist. Psalm 145 provides the Christian with wonderful words of assurance of the God who loves us. We see then in our continued reading of Romans, that this love of God had so impacted Paul, that he could say, about his kindred: “I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people...” What a deep impression God’s love had made on this man! May we, who also have experienced this immeasurable love of God, be likewise burdened for our neighbours and wider community. The picture of a loving God continues in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 14, as we encounter Jesus, the compassionate Healer and Supplier. Having heard the sad news of John the Baptist’s beheading, “He withdrew… to a deserted place by Himself.” On hearing of his location, once again, the ever needy “crowds” followed him, and despite the sadness of that moment, Jesus’ heart turned to the people and ministered to them: “He had compassion for them and cured their sick.” His compassion for them extended even to their physical hunger and this resulted in one of the greatest recorded signs of his Divinity – the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. May his people, today, share that compassion for our needy generation.


13th August: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28             Psalm 85:8-13             Romans 10:5-15                      Matthew 14:22-33

As we continue to journey with Abraham’s descendants, we come to Genesis 37, and in verse 2 we read: “This is the story of the family of Jacob… Joseph (Jacob’s son) brought a bad report of them (his brothers) to their father.” We are then told that the ‘green-eyed god’ of jealousy, drove the brothers to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, who: “took Joseph to Egypt.” Psalm 85 brings a refreshing respite after the horrific behaviour of Joseph’s brothers in our Genesis reading. We welcome words like: “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky” vv. 10-11. Let us use this passage from Psalm 85, to wash over us like a refreshing stream and then move on to Paul’s wonderful words in Romans 10. Having shared his burden for Israel in chapter 9:1-4, the apostle goes on to outline the message of God’s salvation for all, on a “righteousness based on faith” v. 6a. This short passage might well be described as the gospel according to Paul. Citing Deuteronomy 30, he reminds the Roman believers, and us, that: “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” v. 8. Our passage ends in verses 14-15, with Paul’s call to evangelistic mission. He had already cited these heart-warming words from Joel: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” v. 13, and then invites all believers to mission by asking this question: “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?” v. 14. In our gospel passage we see Jesus exercise divine authority over nature itself: “When they got into the boat, the wind ceased” Matt 14:32a. We end our journey through today’s readings in joining with all Jesus followers across the world as we take the words of v 33 and declare: “Truly you are the Son of God.”


20th August: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Genesis 45:1-15.         Psalm 67         Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32           Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28

You may recall the events of Gen 32 where we read about Joseph’s forced journey into Egypt. In today’s Genesis reading, we witness the emotional turmoil of the brothers, as they come face-to-face with the brother they had hated and sold into slavery, now governor of Egypt. Despite many ups & downs, God’s favour shone through on Joseph’s life, resulting in his elevated position. How striking is this young man’s attitude to his treacherous brothers; note his perception of the events that led him to his current situation: “do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life… So, it was not you who sent me here, but God…”  and later in the Genesis record we hear Joseph again refer to his young life’s experiences in words of covenantal faith: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” Gen 50:50. Surely, despite their horrific treatment of Joseph, the brothers, and Joseph, could pray the words of Psalm 67: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.” In our Romans 11 passage we hear Paul return to referencing his own tribe in relation to God’s salvation. In relation to Israel, he cites Isaiah in chapter Rom 10:21: “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” In line with his argument that God had not rejected his people v. 1, Paul presents himself as part of the remnant, “chosen by grace” v. 5b. In all of this, Paul is seeking to demonstrate the all-embracing love of God, even to us Gentiles, as demonstrated by Jesus to the Canaanite (Gentile) woman in Matthew 15: 21-28. Earlier in the chapter, we read that the Jerusalem Sanhedrin had sent representatives on a 185 km journey to observe and question Jesus. This questioning, in vv. 1-2 results in Jesus’ explaining an essential truth: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person… what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander vv. 11, 18, 19. Using the words of the Brian Doerksen song, ‘Refiner’s Fire,’ we ask God to: ‘Purify my heart, cleanse me from my sin, deep within. Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for you, Lord’.


27th August: Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time


Exodus 1:8-2:10                      Psalm 138                   Romans 12:1-8                        Matthew 16:13-20

The story of Abraham’s descendants continues in Exodus. Fifteen years after arriving in Egypt, Jacob died at age 147. Joseph takes his dad’s body back to Canaan for burial. Joseph himself dies in Egypt at age 110 Gen 50:26. In Exodus 1:8, we read the very concerning: “a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph,” resulting in an oppression which developed into full scale enslavement of Abraham’s descendants. Eventually, the king of Egypt ordered midwives to kill any male Hebrew newborns, but the midwives failed to cooperate with this royal edict because they: “feared God; they let the boys live” 1:17. The King then decreed to: “all his people, (that) every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile” 1:22. God had not forgotten His covenant with Abraham and the process of rescue from this enslavement becomes evident to us with the birth of the future deliverer, Moses. Chapter 2:1-10 tells us about the incredible preservation of baby Moses in the Nile and his adoption by Pharoah’s daughter. God had not abandoned his oppressed people, or to put it in the words of the Psalmist in Ps 138: “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly… Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me” (vv. 6-7). Having referenced the ‘remnant of Israel, the grafting in of the Gentiles and the mystery of Israel’s salvation’, Paul informs the Roman Christians, and us, that the appropriate response to God’s grace is: “to present your (our)bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” Paul then applies a very practical and communal aspect in response to God’s grace: “I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment” v. 3. Continuing his appeal for community harmony, Paul compares the local church to a body: “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” As he refers to the various gifts of the members, he encourages us to exercise them: “according to the grace given us.” We arrive at the end of our lectionary journey for this month as Jesus brings some key kingdom truths to his disciples, including his Messianic role, on which is built the church’s foundation, a church that will not ’buckle’ even under hellish attack against its very existence. May the keys that Jesus gave to his disciples continue to be exercised by his church and followers in this, our day.