Narrative Lectionary: Perplexed, Fearful, and Amazed (Luke 24:1-12)

Photo from

Link to the text:;NIV;NLT;GNT;MSG

While most versions title this pericope “Jesus’ Resurrection,” this is a Monday-morning quarterback viewpoint. The Message more accuratelycalls this “Looking for the Living One in a Cemetery.”The women are looking for Jesus’ body to finish what they couldn’t before the Sabbath. They find the body gone and they are “perplexed” (NRSV). This sounds like a puzzle that leads to reasoned consideration in an easy chair with your pointer finger by your mouth, but the Greek means they are thoroughly perplexed and at a complete loss.

While in this state, the women are confronted by two men in blindingly white, glowing clothing. Like all meetings between humans and God’s messengers, the encounter makes them afraid. They bow down, and the two messengers remind them how Jesus spoke of his resurrection. And the women remember Jesus’ words. The women then tell those words to the disciples. The term for the “words” of Jesus and the “words” of the women about their encounter is the same (rhema, v.8 and v.11). Thus, the Greek appears to indicate that the women used the same words as the two messengers did–that they spoke as Jesus spoke and they tell what Jesus had said.

The reactions of the women and the disciples are, of course, quite different. The women appear to believe the messengers, going forward to share this nascent Good News. The text specifically reports that the disciples do not believe the women, thinking their words (rhema) an idle tale. This disbelief is in accord with the legal and cultural norms of biblical times when women were not accepted as witnesses in court and life.

In this part of Luke 24, there are not as yet any eyewitnesses to the risen Christ himself.  Jesus does not appear to anyone. The eyewitnesses have only, as of now, beheld the absence of Jesus’ body. The women find that the body missing and are perplexed. Peter finds the graveclothes empty and is amazed. What we have are eyewitnesses to the sharing of the news. We have messengers (the two men and the women). We have the word of the two messengers reminding the women of Jesus’ words. We have the word of the women telling the disciples what happened. What we have is words about the Word.

This is in some ways just the beginning of the story. The Word is told, it is shared, before it is experienced. It is heard before it is understood. Jesus’ followers have been told the Good News; and shortly they will see and experience the resurrected Jesus themselves. They have been telling Good News and soon they will be living into (but not solving) the mystery of the resurrected life, of new life. But in this passage, the words predicting and proclaiming the resurrection and the absence of the body are what they have.  

Since the Resurrection, we too are witnesses who share words about the Word. Since the Ascension, while believing in the Resurrection, we too are witnesses to an “absent” Jesus with regard to his body.  In the Church, we live out the words about the Word through the preaching of the Word. In the Church, we participate in the absent, ascended, resurrected Jesus through sharing in the body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.  And, in the world, we live out our witness to the Word and to the resurrected Christ by speaking of God’s selfless love and by acting in selfless love as the body of Christ.


This year’s Working Preacher commentary is at Further WP commentaries on this text can be found at

For other ways of looking/thinking about this passage (themes with links expounding on them), see


  1. What does it mean to look for the living among the dead?
  2. How do we use Jesus’ words when we tell the Good News?
  3. Where do we see legal and cultural disbelief of groups of people today?
  4. What does it mean that Jesus’ body is absent but present?
  5. What are the next steps in our own journey to knowing the resurrected Jesus?
  6. How can the church more fully witness to that journey?

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Barb Hedges-Goettl is a Presbyterian pastor and liturgical scholar recently moved to Rehoboth Beach, DE. She works with middle school special ed students in between writing liturgy, spending time with her husband Len, and training their new puppy, Cocoa.


NL: The Greatest Commandment and the Widow’s Mite: Mark 12:28-44 (March 22, 2020/Fourth Sunday of Lent)

Note: This passage raises questions about what Jesus means by noting the widow’s contribution. It is not clear whether he is commending her, condemning the authorities and/or both. We serve a congregation where we have many people living on fixed incomes in homes that are already paid for and who have very little, if any, “expendable” income, so caution and prayer are in order!  For a discussion of the pitfalls of the passage, see devouring the widows as primary to understanding “the widow’s mite”


From Working Preacher from the NL perspective:

Includes addressing the horizontal/neighbor dimension as the necessary corollary to the vertical/Godward directive to love God and the widow’s mite as admirable due to her motivation.

Includes which notes this is (for a change) a friendly scribe. Only addresses vv. 28-34. also addresses only vv.28-34 from the perspective of a communal (rather than individual) identity.

Includes, which notes that widow’s mite is tied to what comes before and, in addition to being about giving one’s all, it exposed the religious leaders for their hypocrisy. And, it may just expose us all! Podcast: If you can’t remember all the commandments, can you at least do two?  Simple—but not easy. vv. 28-34 Podcast addressing the status of the poor widow and the most vulnerable and her living out the loving of neighbor of the great commandment in the context of the temple & Jesus’ interactions with the religious leaders of the day. vv. 35-44.

Other exegetical resources Catholic resource addressing love beyond formalism, love at the heart of our perfection. This sermon includes an illustration and a poem; only addresses vv. 28-34. Sermon addressing loving God in the different ways of the passage (only vv. 28-34). What keeps you from loving your neighbor? Busyness? Not wanting to see need? Uses Bob Dylan’s quote:  “May you always do for others and let others do for you” and has a story illustrating letting others do for you.  “Serving while living with disabilities” Every person is called to serve as they are able. Everybody belongs. Everybody serves. Addresses vv. 35-44. Pastor’s Bible study addressing the synoptic versions of the Great Commandment. Addresses vv. 28-34. Sermon series on loving God and loving neighbor.

Liturgical Resources  Reader’s theater version of Mark 12:28-34

Here’s the link to my bulletin!AuB3z496aTHTgcEOBjQ3Twy3sqAMzQ

Prayer Reflection: Mark 12: 28-34

“Love the Lord, your God
with all your heart
with all your soul
and with all
your mind.”

let this be.
Show us how.

“And love your neighbor as yourself.”

let this be
Take us where
we surely need to go.

your love be
the lens that lets us see,
the power that enlivens our lives,
light that points to the path,
and the very grace
that saves

Kindly fill us with your love.

— A. Osdieck. Copyright © 2011, The Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University. Visit that site for other lectionary-based prayers.

Benediction: The Lord is One

Here’s a closing commission and benediction based on Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Matthew 12:28-34.  It was written by Nathan Nettleton.

Commission & Benediction

(inspired by Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Matthew 12:28-34)

Hear this: the Lord our God is the one and only Lord.
Therefore go out into the world
and love the Lord your God 
with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,
and love others as you love yourself.

And may God give you justice and freedom;
May Christ Jesus set you free for love;
and may the Holy Spirit go where you go
……..and protect you on your way.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Christ. Amen.

~ Copyright © 2000 Nathan Nettleton

Children’s message (includes hymn & prayer of confession, see below)

 Sing one song with which to love God and one about loving each other.  Introduce each identifying its purpose.  Two possibilities:

“For the Beauty of the Earth” for loving God

“Lord Help Us Accept Each Other” for loving each other

>  Base the Prayer of Confession on the two great commandments.  As you do, remember that children respond more to specifics than to generalities.  So you may want to name the currently “in” sport rather than simply “our sports.”  Read the commandments just before the congregation prays as follows

Lord God, we know that you are ONE and that you are the center of the whole universe

but we treat all sorts of things as if

they were more important than the one true God.

We say we give our hearts to you

but often our hearts are more devoted to

what we wear, to our sports, and to our friends.

We pour out our souls to you when we need you

but not when life is smooth and easy.

We mean to love you with all our minds

but our minds stray to what we want

and what others are saying.

We are more likely to use our strength to get what we need and want

than to get what you want for us and those around us.

We love the neighbors we choose to love

and only when they love us back.

Forgive us.  Write your commands on our hearts and souls and in our minds.  Work it into our muscles so that we may truly be your people.

We pray in the name of Jesus who poured out his heart and soul and mind and strength for us and forgives us when we turn on him.  Amen.


Christ is made the sure foundation   ELW 645, H82 518, NCH 400, UMH 559
Blessing and Honor   ELW 854

A new source I just found for contemporary Christian songs that includes the NL passages can be found at:;%20Psalm%2089:1-4%7D

For this pericope, they list:

No Other Gods

By David Moffitt. As performed by ZOE Group.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:28-34
Related to tags(s): Reign (via Mark 12:36);


Love the Lord

By Lincoln Brewster.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:30; Mark 12:33
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);


Hear Our Song

By Jadon Lavik, Marc Byrd, et al.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1-2


Pour My Love On You

By Dan Dean, Gary Sadler.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1
Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);


Sing Of Your Great Love

By Darlene Zschech.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);


Look To You

By Marty Sampson.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:32
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);


While We Still Have Time

By Ted Wortham, Cynthia Biggs. As performed by Cindy & Roy.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:38
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);


You Are The One

By Keith Green, Melody Green-Sievright.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:2
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);


More Love More Power

By Jude Del Hierro.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:30
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);


I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever

By Martin Smith. As performed by Delirious?, SONICFLOOd, Encounter Worship Band.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);


You Are Mine

By Brad Avery, David Carr, et al. As performed by Third Day.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Love (via Mark 12:30);


Come Now is the Time to Worship

By Brian Doerksen.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:30


Beautiful Saviour

By Stuart Townend.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1


Winter Snow

By Audrey Assad.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:33


Back where i belong

As performed by Life Worship.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:4


To Know Your Name

By Matt Crocker. As performed by Hillsong.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Love (via Mark 12:30); Name of Jesus (via Mark 12:35);


Concrete Castle King

By Lloyd Oliver Willis Sr.. As performed by Dennis Brown.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:38


No Greater Love

By Audrey Assad, Chris Tomlin, et al.

Related to tags(s): Poverty (via Mark 12:41); Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);


Kings & Queens

By Chuck Butler, Joel Parisien, et al. As performed by Audio Adrenaline.

Related to tags(s): Poverty (via Mark 12:41); Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Love (via Mark 12:30);


If We Are The Body

By Mark Hall.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Love (via Mark 12:30);


Compassion Hymn

By Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, et al.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);


God Of Justice

By Tim Hughes.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Poverty (via Mark 12:41); Justice (via Mark 12:31);


The Lost are Found

By Ben Fielding, Sam Knock.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Justice (via Mark 12:31);


One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)

By Brian Johnson, Christa Black, et al. As performed by Kristian Stanfill, Jesus Culture, Bethel Live.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30);


Lead Me

By Chris Rohman, Jason Ingram, et al.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);


The Power Of The Cross

By Keith Getty, Stuart Townend.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);



By Vicky Beeching.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);


Oh, Great Love Of God

By David Crowder, Mark Waldrop, et al. As performed by David Crowder Band.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);


My Hope

By Edward Mote, Matt Redman, et al.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Name of Jesus (via Mark 12:35);


This Is How We Know

By Beth Redman, Matt Redman.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);


Ancient Skies

By Michael Gungor, Michael Rossback. As performed by Gungor.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1);


I Will Go

By Allen Salmon, Jon Neufeld, et al. As performed by Starfield.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Poverty (via Mark 12:41);


Rock Of Ages You Will Stand

By Brenton Brown, Paul Baloche.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30);


Micah 6:8

By Charlie Hall.

Related to tags(s): Justice (via Mark 12:31); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Witness (via Mark 12:33);


Jesus You Are Worthy

By Brenton Brown, Don Williams.

Related to tags(s): Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);


Jesus Messiah

By Chris Tomlin, Daniel Carson, et al.

Related to tags(s): Messiah (via Mark 12:36); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);


How Beautiful

By Twila Paris.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);



By Brad Avery, David Carr, et al.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);


I Will Always Love Your Name

By Paul Oakley.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);



By Martin Smith.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Love (via Mark 12:30);


There Is A Redeemer

By Melody Green-Sievright.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Messiah (via Mark 12:36);


How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

By Stuart Townend. As performed by Instrumental Worship.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);


Good To Me

By Craig Musseau.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1);


You Never Let Go

By Beth Redman, Matt Redman.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Love (via Mark 12:30);



By Brenton Brown, Paul Baloche.

Related to tags(s): Judgment (via Mark 12:40); Kingdom (via Psalm 89:4); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1);



By Chris Tomlin. As performed by Encounter Worship Band, Robin Mark.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30);


Amazing Love

By Graham Kendrick.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);


You Are Good

By Israel Houghton.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1);


Sweetly Broken

By Jeremy Riddle.

Related to tags(s): Justice (via Mark 12:31); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Love (via Mark 12:30);


You Bled

By Rend Collective Experiment.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);

NL: Mark 10:17-31 “The Rich Young Man” (March 1, 2020?)!AuB3z496aTHTgcAKyY5pnXsGsK8Axw

Narrative Lectionary: Advent 4 Luke 1:5-25, 57-80 (Psalm 113)

NEWLY ADDED: Word study (from Blue Letter Bible site):!AuB3z496aTHTgbxn81cx4nLTOazOfA


Luke 1:5-25, 57-80

Stresses the parallels between Abraham/Sarai and John/Elizabeth and the long history leading to salvation.

Devotional on Zechariah’s song and John as the last prophet of the Messiah (newly discovered NL site)

This dramatic, scholarly monologue, examines the events that Luke 1 recounts, retelling them from the eyewitness viewpoint of Elizabeth, from a female and gynocentric perspective.

Multiple translations & commentaries of Luke 1 presented in interlinear fashion

Wikipedia on Song of Zechariah

Pope John Paul II on the Song of Zechariah

Exegetical commentary on Song of Zechariah from the Evangelical Free Church tradition

Sermons on Zechariah’s Song by Alistair Begg (see   Sermon: What did Zechariah sing? Includes retelling of story in Buechner-style fashion

Another one that reminds me of Buechner, but more pointed at the listeners than the last

Sermon Zechariah’s song of salvation focusing on the salvation of the listeners

For Psalm 113 resources, see!AuB3z496aTHTrw8s7zJwjvREBpy8

For Psalm 113 bulletin, see!AuB3z496aTHTry3rylKpfkNxFuf6

For a sermon (in two voices) on Psalm 113 focusing on word study, see!AuB3z496aTHTry4vtnRwmk5Lx4b1

For bulletin on Song of Zechariah/Fourth Sunday of Advent which we are treating as joy:    Includes opening prayer, call to worship, rite of confession, hymns, offering prayer, Advent candle lighting (but we are calling this Sunday “joy.”)!AuB3z496aTHTgbxGz2NX22aFtG-eCA


Newly discovered site for NL bulletin covers and other NL resources!!  Look for Zechariah’s song


James Beuaregard’s song is based on Luke 1:67-79; request chords/lyrics/notation from

Chant of Canticle of Zechariah

Vaughn-Williams version of Song of Zechariah

A contemporary take with Powerpoint including lyrics

An animated musical theater-style version of Zechariah’s song (likely entitled “His name is John!”)

Luke 1:57-80 hymns (Presbyterian Hymnal)


1 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

2 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

186 Thy Mercy and Thy Truth, O Lord

204 Psalm 72

205 All Hail to God’s Anointed

230 This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made

236 Now Israel May Say

423 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

601 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus) *

602 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus) *


4 Creator of the Stars of Night

5.3 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

9.2 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

20 Watchman, Tell Us of the Night

30.2 Born in the Night, Mary’s Child

31.3 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

32 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

68.3 What Star Is This, with Beams So Bright

69 O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright

141.2 A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing

301.3 Lord Jesus, Think on Me

454.2+3 Blessed Jesus, at Your Word

462 Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies

463 Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies

506.1+2 Deck Yourself, My Soul, with Gladness

510.1+5 Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts

511.1+5 Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts

548.1+2 O Radiant Light, O Sun Divine

549.1 O Gladsome Light

550.1 O Light Whose Splendor Thrills


Psalm 113 PH


204 Psalm 72

205 All Hail to God’s Anointed

225 Praise the Lord! *

226 Sing Praise Unto the Name of God *

253 I’ll Praise My Maker

254 Psalm 146

600 Song of Mary (Magnificat)


185 Psalm 33

213 God, Our Lord, a King Remaining

214 O Come and Sing Unto the Lord

215 Come, Sing with Joy to God

220 All People That on Earth Do Dwell

227 Not Unto Us, O Lord of Heaven

423 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

477 Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim

491 Stand Up and Bless the Lord


205.3 All Hail to God’s Anointed

229.3 From All That Dwell Below the Skies

423.1 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

473.5 For the Beauty of the Earth

546 The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended


148 At the Name of Jesus

155 Rejoice, the Lord Is King

185.10 Psalm 33

191.3 God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength

194 Peoples, Clap Your Hands!

204.8-11 Psalm 72

205.3+4 All Hail to God’s Anointed

213 God, Our Lord, a King Remaining

227.1 Not Unto Us, O Lord of Heaven

259.1 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God


49.2 Once in Royal David’s City

67.4 Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning

253.2+3 I’ll Praise My Maker

254.9 Psalm 146

332 Live Into Hope

600.4 Song of Mary (Magnificat)


Narrative Lectionary Advent 2: Isaiah 40:1-11 (December 8, 2019)

Image from

This one is less mature/developed than some I have done, but there is a lot out there since this is also RCL.


As if it were designed for a prophetic summary of the New Testament, it begins with that which begins the gospels, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness” (ch. xl. 3), and concludes with that which concludes the book of the Revelation, “The new heavens and the new earth,” (ch. lxvi. 22).


Speak to the heart of Jerusalem (v. 2); speak that which will revive her heart, and be a cordial to her and to all that belong to her and wish her well. Do not whisper it, but cry unto her: cry aloud, to show saints their comforts as well as to show sinners their transgressions; make her hear it:”


We must get into such a frame of spirit as will dispose us to receive Christ and his gospel: “Prepare you the way of the Lord; prepare yourselves for him, and let all that be suppressed which would be an obstruction to his entrance. Make room for Christ: Make straight a highway for him.

(RCL context) Images, juxtapositions and sudden, surprising comfort (RCL context) Three proclamations build on the imperative to comfort God’s people in verse 1: highway in the desert; the Words; heralding good tidings. “Voices Crying Out: Comfort and Transformation in an Age of Mass Incarceration,”

“How might Christians raise awareness of different forms of exile in our nation and world?” (NL context)

Double imperative: Comfort! Comfort! The people of Jerusalem are not “deserving” of comfort according to the norms of retributive justice, but God insists — no, commands — that they be comforted.

Two minute Youtube video on “The people are like grass.”


See complete list of Isaiah 40:1-11 Working Preacher commentaries at


Preaching and Worship resources from Calvin College’s curated resources




Jewish Bible translation

Paraphrase   Go to site: Prophets: Isaiah 40

Word study




speaking comfortably


bringing good tidings






Advent candlelighting; opening prayer; call to worship; rite of confession; hymns; offering prayer; and a confession of faith. Please note **/*** at the end indicating sources and give appropriate credit. If not **/*** then from Barb Hedges-Goettl, please give credit if using/adapting these as well. Thank you.!AuB3z496aTHTgbczUlfR4L9bVY0YzQ



Prayers  Under Prophets: Isaiah: 40


Call to worship


Opening liturgy


More from at

Scroll down to see the Isaiah 40 links


In the context of Blue Christmas/Longest Night; if you’re not doing a separate service, you could provide for folks in need of this kind of a service this week. See




Handel’s “Messiah”



Note: these are copyrighted and available for a fee or if you pay to be a member.

Narrative Lectionary: 1 Kings 12:1-7, 25-29 (October 27, 2019)


A Question/Crisis of Servanthood: 1 Kings 12:1-17; 25-29; (Mark 10:42-44)



The labor protested by the people is depicted in 1 Kings 5

Two golden calves cf Exodus 32

Comparison of Aaron (Ex. 32) and Jeroboam

God’s response to Israel’s request for a king 1 Samuel 8:11-17

The king as the helper of the needy Psalm 72:12-14

Bethel (where Jeroboam puts a golden calf): Genesis 12:8; 28:10-19 and 35:9-15.

Ahijah info:



Servant leadership means that the leaders serve the people rather than vice versa

This means that Christians are called to serve the world, and also to let others help/serve them. (While some help too little, others do not accept help enough.)

Of course there is a whole field in and outside of Christian circles dealing with servant leadership For a general overview, see (not very well-written)

See also noblesse oblige-the duty of the nobility to take care of and serve the people


For a Christian overview, see

This articles focus on learning servant leadership through suffering is an interesting juxtaposition to the response of Rehoboam’s subjects to his inability to hear their cries & respond appropriately to their suffering. Sometimes Christians seem to call one another to suffering as though all suffering is good–some suffering requires protest, leaving, or refusing to participate.


Patheos has numerous articles on Christian servant leadership; see


Theology of Work has a five day devotional on servant leadership

and an article dealing directly with the story of Rehoboam

Other articles by Theology of Work at


Institute of Faith, Work and Economics offers this take



The servants (and lords!) at Downton Abbey, who see service as honorable and rewarding


Public servants today: Marie Yovanovitch (could be contrasted with others!)




Children’s illustration

Servant leadership images




Mighty God, your servant Rehoboam divided your kingdom with his tyranny, yet you remained faithful to both kingdoms, even in the midst of conflict. Show us your presence in conflict, and help us to resolve our differences, uniting this world in your name. Amen.


Built on a rock   ELW 652
God of tempest, God of whirlwind ELW 400

CITY (Presbyterian Hymnal)

348 Christian Women, Christian Men

408 Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life

413 All Who Love and Serve Your City

424 O Jesus Christ, May Grateful Hymns Be Rising

431 O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John

437 Our Cities Cry to You, O God


Also PH 477 Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim


100.2 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

101.2 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

157 Our King and Our Sovereign, Lord Jesus

183.4 In You, Lord, I Have Put My Trust

227.3 Not Unto Us, O Lord of Heaven

252.1 O Lord, You Are My God and King

339 Be Thou My Vision

342.4 By Gracious Powers

343 Called as Partners in Christ’s Service

350 Fill My Cup

364 I Sing a Song of the Saints of God

365 Jesus, Priceless Treasure

369 I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me

370.4 Just as I Am, Without One Plea

372 Lord, I Want to Be a Christian

375 Lord of All Good

384 O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

388 O Jesus, I Have Promised

389 O Jesus, I Have Promised

391 Take My Life

392 Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord

398 There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit

410 When I Had Not Yet Learned of Jesus

354 Index of Topics and Categories

414 As Those of Old Their Firstfruits Brought

427 Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service

447 Lead On, O King Eternal

448 Lead On, O King Eternal

461.4 God is Here!

516 Lord, We Have Come at Your Own Invitation

522 Lord, When I Came Into This Life

525 Here I Am, Lord



132.1 Come, Great God of All the Ages

316.3 Breathe on Me, Breath of God

321 Holy Spirit, Truth Divine

339 Be Thou My Vision

351 Give to Me, Lord, a Thankful Heart

357 O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee

360 Hope of the World

366 Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me

378 Make Me a Captive, Lord

387 Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

396 O for a Closer Walk with God

397 O for a Closer Walk with God

425 Lord of Light, Your Name Outshining

456 Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun

461.4 God is Here!

516 Lord, We Have Come at Your Own Invitation

522 Lord, When I Came Into This Life

535 Go with Us, Lord


333.1 Seek Ye First

398.2 There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit

490.4 With Glad, Exuberant Carolings



Brueggemann on the results of oppressive leadership (last 3 paragraphs deal with this passage):


Working Preacher’s commentaries and podcasts:,%2025-29&cof=FORID:10&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&search_domain=WWW


Working Preacher podcast addressing servant leadership, faithfulness of God, Reformation Sunday setting, and Jeroboam’s actions

Another entry on leadership


Working Preacher podcast addressing bully leadership and how to understand power & God’s power


Working Preacher: The yoke amid the rivalry


America, Trump and the Two Golden Calves. Written right after Trump’s election, this Israel-based evangelical/conservative author proposes the two golden calves, placed by Jeroboam in two very different geographic/socio-political settings could represent the Democrats and Republicans (neither one actually being God!)


Blogging the Bible: Two golden calves. Actually. So, why doesn’t God get angrier about them?  Asks lots of questions about God’s actions in this time period; addresses broader context of chapters 12-16.



Except the Sarasota Statement, these are all by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.


Opening Prayer (Psalm 72:12-14 The Message)

God, our Parent and Creator, you are worthy to rule over us.

You rescue the poor and the destitute.

You open a place in your heart for the down-and-out.

You restore the wretched of the earth.

You free them from tyranny and torture.

You bleed with those who bleed.

You die with those who die.

Teach us, your people, to be more like you.                                                                                  In the name of Jesus, our best example,                                                                                          and in the power of the Spirit, we pray. Amen.



Call to Worship

One: O God, you have served us from eternity.

Many You made us. You provide for us. You watch over us.

You rescue us. You stay with us. You save us.

You have compassion on us. You love us.

And so, O Lord, this day and forevermore

we love and serve you.


*Opening Hymn  O Worship the King, O Glorious Above               Blue Hymnal, 476

*Call to Confession                                                                                             Reader

We are called to serve one another and to serve the Lord. This call is not easy,                      and we do not do it consistently or well. Let us ask for—and receive–God’s forgiveness.

*Prayer of Confession (unison)                                                                           Reader

God, sometimes we are all too human.                                                                                          We hedge our bets by not giving you our all.                                                                            We like to be needed, serving others to feel important.                                                    We like to be in charge, refusing the help offered by others. 

(Silent confession)

Forgive us and cleanse our motives.                                                                              Empower us to serve you fully.                                                                                              Enable us to treat those we help as the important ones.                                          Humble us so that we accept the help of others.

*Assurance of Pardon (Matthew 20:28)                                                                                              The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve,                                                                 and to give his life as a ransom for many.                                                                                Thanks be to God for the Good News: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Offering Hymn Lord of Light, Your Name Outshining                             Blue Hymnal, 425

* Prayer of Dedication (unison)                                                                           Pastor Barb

O God, make us servants of your grace. Use our talents in your service.                       Commission us to fulfill your purpose. Invest these gifts with your love. Amen.                                         

Prayer for Illumination (sung )                                                         Blue Hymnal, #129 v. 3

Come, O spirit, dwell among us; Give us words of fire and flame.

Help our feeble lips to praise You, Glorify Your Holy name.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Three in one: what mystery!

We would sing our loud hosannas Now and through eternity.


Hebrew Scripture Reading: I Kings 12:1-19                                                               Reader

Message Are You Being Served?                                                                   Pastor Barb

*Confession of Faith (Preamble to the Sarasota Statement**)

      We are people of hope who confess Jesus Christ is Lord over a Kingdom                     in which no one is hungry, violence is no more, and all suffering is gone.                     All sit together around a shared table, wolves and lambs enjoy each other’s company, and every tear is wiped away from every eye.

    Our hope is not simply that we will experience this Kingdom in the future,         but that, as Christ’s prayer demands, this Kingdom comes “to earth as it is                    in heaven.” So, we lament any and all instances of its absence. When we witness hunger, injustice, discrimination, violence, or suffering, we grieve deeply and repent of our sins that have enabled such brokenness to persist – knowing that these things should not be.

     Furthermore, we are incited to act and to be vehicles of change through          which God’s Kingdom breaks into the world and our earthly lives.                                    Our commitment is to acts that feed, clothe, instruct, reconcile, admonish, heal,   and comfort – reflecting the power of God’s hope and an eagerness to see  the Kingdom made manifest.

     We believe God’s Kingdom comes not because we are confident in our own capacities, but because we trust in God, who can do more than we can ask                  or imagine. We are humbled and amazed that, in and through the life, death,              and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God includes us in the work of redeeming all creation and reconciling the whole world. And so we thank and praise God. Amen.


*Closing Hymn  Lord, You Give the Great Commission                   Blue Hymnal, 429





Summer Psalm Series #3B-Psalm 27:1-6 Exegesis/Word study

This Sunday we will have a baptism; the verses in this Psalm about enemies, which are omitted from the RCL, align themselves as a compare/contrast to the psalmist’s statements about God. For me, this will be fodder for talking about which kin(g)dom we are choosing by choosing baptism and what we mean by rejecting sin and evil.

There are all kinds of parallels/contrasts in the language used for enemies and for God, such as

salvation has an overtone of freedom, being set loose v. the word for enemies, which has the sense of being hemmed in/in a tight spot

trembling/revering/fearing God v. trembling/revering/fearing enemies

war being lifted up v. the psalmist being lifted up onto the rock and having his (her) head lifted up

the enemies encamping in a temporary sense v. the psalmist dwelling in the house of the Lord foever

the Lord as the heart of the psalmist’s life v. the enemies coming to eat the flesh of the psalmist (this “flesh” can be a euphemism for the genitals as the source of life)


Details below.



v.1 Light as in diffused light, an uncountable noun that is not the same as light(s)/luminaries that grant light. See


v.1 Salvation (cf. Joshua/Jesus)



Outline of Biblical Usage [?]

  1. to save, be saved, be delivered
    1. (Niphal)
      1. to be liberated, be saved, be delivered
      2. to be saved (in battle), be victorious
    2. (Hiphil)
      • . to save, deliver
  1. to save from moral troubles
  2. to give victory to

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

יָשַׁע yâshaʻ, yaw-shah’; a primitive root; properly, to be open, wide or free, i.e. (by implication) to be safe; causatively, to free or succor:—× at all, avenging, defend, deliver(-er), help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, saving





  1. 1 – whom shall I fear


  • to fear, revere, be afraid
    1. (Qal)
      • to fear, be afraid
      • to stand in awe of, be awed
      • to fear, reverence, honour, respect
    2. (Niphal)
      • .to be fearful, be dreadful, be feared
      • to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe
      • to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe
    3. (Piel) to make afraid, terrify
  • (TWOT) to shoot, pour

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

יָרֵא yârêʼ, yaw-ray’; a primitive root; to fear; morally to revere; causatively to frighten:—affright, be (make) afraid, dread(-ful), (put in) fear(-ful, -fully, -ing), (be had in) reverence(-end), × see, terrible (act, -ness, thing).


Also be in awe of, reverence, admire, venerate. See



  1. 1 strength


The KJV translates Strong’s H4581 in the following manner: strength (24x), strong (4x), fortress (3x), hold (2x), forces (1x), fort (1x), rock (1x), strengthen (1x).

Outline of Biblical Usage [?]

  • place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold
    1. place of safety, fastness, harbour, stronghold
    2. refuge (of God) (fig.)
    3. human protection (fig.)

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

מָעוֹז mâʻôwz, maw-oze’; (also מָעוּז mâʻûwz ); or מָעֹז mâʻôz (also מָעֻז mâʻuz; from H5810; a fortified place; figuratively, a defence:—force, fort(-ress), rock, strength(-en), (× most) strong (hold).


  1. 1 – of my life

The word translated “life” also apparently serves as an adjective:



  • living, alive
    1. green (of vegetation)
    2. flowing, fresh (of water)
    3. lively, active (of man)
    4. reviving (of the springtime)

masculine noun

  • relatives
  • life (abstract emphatic)
    • . life
  1. sustenance, maintenance

feminine noun

  • living thing, animal
    • . animal
  1. life
  2. appetite
  3. revival, renewal
  • community

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

חַי chay, khah’-ee; from H2421; alive; hence, raw (flesh); fresh (plant, water, year), strong; also (as noun, especially in the feminine singular and masculine plural) life (or living thing), whether literally or figuratively:— age, alive, appetite, (wild) beast, company, congregation, life(-time), live(-ly), living (creature, thing), maintenance, merry, multitude, (be) old, quick, raw, running, springing, troop.


Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon [?]

  1. alive, living
  2. lively, vigorous
  3. reviving
  4. raw
  5. fresh
  6. life: living/sustenance; refreshment; prosperity/welfare/happiness


v.1 fear: to fear, tremble, revere, dread, be in awe or dread

  1. (Qal)
    • to be in dread
    • to be in awe
  2. (Piel) to be in great dread
  3. (Hiphil) to cause to dread



v.2 “Enemies” is a word that means a tight place; cf. salvation as a wide/free place.

צַר tsar, tsar; or צָר tsâr; from H6887; narrow; (as a noun) a tight place (usually figuratively, i.e. trouble); also a pebble (as in H6864); (transitive) an opponent (as crowding):—adversary, afflicted(-tion), anguish, close, distress, enemy, flint, foe, narrow, small, sorrow, strait, tribulation, trouble.


v.2 foe(s)- one who hates/persecutes the other as an enemy, adversary, foe


v.2 come to eat up my flesh-flesh here includes the possibility of referring to the male “organ of generation”; that is, the genitals, particularly as the source of life.


v.2 Enemies stumble-tremble in the ankles, presumably through weakness, however, maybe this is an echo of the possible fear mentioned above?

כָּשַׁל kâshal, kaw-shal’; a primitive root; to totter or waver (through weakness of the legs, especially the ankle); by implication, to falter, stumble, faint or fall:—bereave (from the margin), cast down, be decayed, (cause to) fail, (cause, make to) fall (down, -ing), feeble, be (the) ruin(-ed, of), (be) overthrown, (cause to) stumble, ×utterly, be weak.





v.2 and fall:

  • to fall, lie, be cast down, fail
    1. (Qal)
      • to fall
      • to fall (of violent death)
      • to fall prostrate, prostrate oneself before
      • to fall upon, attack, desert, fall away to , go away to, fall into the hand of
      • to fall short, fail, fall out, turn out, result
      • to settle, waste away, be offered, be inferior to
      • to lie, lie prostrate
    2. (Hiphil)
      • .to cause to fall, fell, throw down, knock out, lay prostrate
      • to overthrow
      • to make the lot fall, assign by lot, apportion by lot
      • to let drop, cause to fail (fig.)
      • to cause to fall
    3. (Hithpael)
      • .to throw or prostrate oneself, throw oneself upon
      • to lie prostrate, prostrate oneself
    4. (Pilel) to fall

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

נָפַל nâphal, naw-fal’; a primitive root; to fall, in a great variety of applications (intransitive or causative, literal or figurative):—be accepted, cast (down, self, (lots), out), cease, die, divide (by lot), (let) fail, (cause to, let, make, ready to) fall (away, down, -en, -ing), fell(-ing), fugitive, have (inheritance), inferior, be judged (by mistake for 6419), lay (along), (cause to) lie down, light (down), be (× hast) lost, lying, overthrow, overwhelm, perish, present(-ed, -ing), (make to) rot, slay, smite out, ×surely, throw down.



V.3 encamp/pitch a tent-an impermanent kind of dwelling

Fear-same word as in v.1 “whom shall I fear?”


V 3 heart-really the seat of the person/everything/personhood cf. living/life although possibly more internalized?

לֵב lêb, labe; a form of H3824; the heart; also used (figuratively) very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect; likewise for the centre of anything:—care for, comfortably, consent, × considered, courag(-eous), friend(-ly), ((broken-), (hard-), (merry-), (stiff-), (stout-), double) heart(-ed), × heed, × I, kindly, midst, mind(-ed), ×regard(-ed), × themselves, × unawares, understanding, × well, willingly, wisdom.

inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding



  1. inner part, midst
    • midst (of things)
    • heart (of man)
    • soul, heart (of man)
    • mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory
    • inclination, resolution, determination (of will)
    • conscience
    • heart (of moral character)
    • as seat of appetites
    • as seat of emotions and passions
    • as seat of courage


v.3 confident:

בָּטַח bâṭach, baw-takh’; a primitive root; properly, to hie for refuge (but not so precipitately as H2620); figuratively, to trust, be confident or sure:—be bold (confident, secure, sure), careless (one, woman), put confidence, (make to) hope, (put, make to) trust.

Does this echo freedom/being out of a tight spot?


  1. 4 dwell/set up an abode (also used for marrying)-a more permanent kind of inhabiting versus encampment of the enemy above. Continue/rest/tarry/inhabit etc.


  1. 4 house-home, temple, abode, place, household, family


  1. 4 day-year, lifetime, yesterday/today/tomorrow


v.4 life-same as v.1


v.4 see-to see, perceive, look, behold, prophesy, provide

  1. (Qal)
    • to see, behold
    • to see as a seer in the ecstatic state
    • to see, perceive
      1. with the intelligence
      2. to see (by experience)
      3. to provide


  1. 4 beauty-
  • kindness, pleasantness, delightfulness, beauty, favour
    1. delightfulness
    2. symbolic name of one of two staves
    3. pleasantness

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

נֹעַם nôʻam, no’-am; from H5276; agreeableness, i.e. delight, suitableness, splendor or grace:—beauty, pleasant(-ness).


v.4 inquire-

  • to seek, enquire, consider
    1. (Piel)
      • to seek, look for
      • to consider, reflect

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

בָּקַר bâqar, baw-kar; a primitive root; properly, to plough, or (generally) break forth, i.e. (figuratively) to inspect, admire, care for, consider:—(make) inquire (-ry), (make) search, seek out.


  1. 4 temple
  • palace, temple, nave, sanctuary
    1. palace
    2. temple (palace of God as king)
    3. hall, nave (of Ezekiel’s temple)
    4. temple (of heavenly temple)

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

הֵיכָל hêykâl, hay-kawl’; probably from H3201 (in the sense of capacity); a large public building, such as a palace or temple:—palace, temple.


  1. 5 in the time same as days/years/lifetime in v. 4
  2. 5 of trouble


  • bad, evil
    1. bad, disagreeable, malignant
    2. bad, unpleasant, evil (giving pain, unhappiness, misery)
    3. evil, displeasing
    4. bad (of its kind – land, water, etc)
    5. bad (of value)
    6. worse than, worst (comparison)
    7. sad, unhappy
    8. evil (hurtful)
    9. bad, unkind (vicious in disposition)
    10. bad, evil, wicked (ethically)
      • in general, of persons, of thoughts
      • deeds, actions

masculine noun

  • evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity
    • . evil, distress, adversity
  1. evil, injury, wrong
  2. evil (ethical)

feminine noun

  • evil, misery, distress, injury
    • . evil, misery, distress
  1. evil, injury, wrong
  2. evil (ethical)

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

רַע raʻ, rah; from H7489; bad or (as noun) evil (natural or moral):—adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displease(-ure), distress, evil((-favouredness), man, thing), +exceedingly, × great, grief(-vous), harm, heavy, hurt(-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief(-vous), misery, naught(-ty), noisome, + not please, sad(-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked(-ly, -ness, one), worse(-st), wretchedness, wrong. (Including feminine raaah; as adjective or noun.)


  1. 5 house-The KJV translates Strong’s H5520 in the following manner:den(1x), pavilion (1x), tabernacle (1x), covert (1x).

Outline of Biblical Usage [?]

  • thicket, lair, covert, booth

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

סֹךְ çôk, soke; from H5526; a hut (as of entwined boughs); also a lair:—covert, den, pavilion, tabernacle.


Secret-masculine noun

  • covering, shelter, hiding place, secrecy
    1. covering, cover
    2. hiding place, shelter, secret place
    3. secrecy
      • secrecy (of tongue being slanderous)


feminine noun

  • shelter, protection

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

סֵתֶר çêther, say’-ther; or (feminine) סִתְרָה çithrâh; (Deuteronomy 32:38), from H5641; a cover (in a good or a bad, a literal or a figurative sense):—backbiting, covering, covert, × disguise(-th), hiding place, privily, protection, secret(-ly, place).



  1. 5 tabernacle (covers from tent to permanent installation!) Transliteration



ō’·hel (Key)

Part of Speech

masculine noun

Root Word (Etymology)

From אָהַל (H166)

Dictionary Aids

TWOT Reference: 32a

KJV Translation Count — Total: 345x

The KJV translates Strong’s H168 in the following manner: tabernacle(s) (198x), tent(s) (141x), dwelling (2x), place(s) (2x), covering (1x), home (1x).

Outline of Biblical Usage [?]

  • tent
    1. nomad’s tent, and thus symbolic of wilderness life, transience
    2. dwelling, home, habitation
    3. the sacred tent of Jehovah (the tabernacle)

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)



v.5 set me up

The KJV translates Strong’s H7311 in the following manner: (liftholdetc…) up (63x), exalt (47x), high (25x), offer (13x), give (5x), heave (3x), extol (3x), lofty (3x), take (3x), tall (3x), higher (2x), miscellaneous (24x).

Outline of Biblical Usage [?]

  • to rise, rise up, be high, be lofty, be exalted
    1. (Qal)
      • to be high, be set on high
      • to be raised, be uplifted, be exalted
      • to be lifted, rise
    2. (Polel)
      • .to raise or rear (children), cause to grow up
      • to lift up, raise, exalt
      • to exalt, extol
    3. (Polal) to be lifted up
    4. (Hiphil)
      • .to raise, lift, lift up, take up, set up, erect, exalt, set on high
      • to lift up (and take away), remove
      • to lift off and present, contribute, offer, contribute
    5. (Hophal) to be taken off, be abolished
    6. (Hithpolel) to exalt oneself, magnify oneself
  • (Qal) to be rotten, be wormy

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

רוּם rûwm, room; a primitive root; to be high actively, to rise or raise (in various applications, literally or figuratively):—bring up, exalt (self), extol, give, go up, haughty, heave (up), (be, lift up on, make on, set up on, too) high(-er, one), hold up, levy, lift(-er) up, (be) lofty, (× a-) loud, mount up, offer (up), presumptuously, (be) promote(-ion), proud, set up, tall(-er), take (away, off, up), breed worms.


Note that the enemies rising up in war is kuwm in v.3, a rhyming that would echo in Hebrew for the listeners, who are used to the word play made possible by the various vowel pointings for shared tri-literal roots in Hebrew


  1. 5 rock-also strength

צוּר tsûwr, tsoor; or צֻר tsur; from H6696; properly, a cliff (or sharp rock, as compressed); generally, a rock or boulder; figuratively, a refuge; also an edge (as precipitous):—edge, × (mighty) God (one), rock, × sharp, stone, × strength, ×strong. See also H1049.


v.6 lifting up head is same verb as in latter half of v.5 where God sets me up

v.6 enemies-personal and/or national

  1. 6 joy

The KJV translates Strong’s H8643 in the following manner: shout (11x), shouting (8x), alarm (6x), sound (3x), blowing (2x), joy (2x), miscellaneous (4x).

Outline of Biblical Usage [?]

  • alarm, signal, sound of tempest, shout, shout or blast of war or alarm or joy
    1. alarm of war, war-cry, battle-cry
    2. blast (for march)
    3. shout of joy (with religious impulse)
    4. shout of joy (in general)



Narrative Lectionary for 5-5-19 Acts 10: Peter and Cornelius

This pericope invites thinking about who is “in” and who is “out” and who decides.

Discussion of the above painting of the Last Supper with odd revelers and the changing of its title to “Feast in the House of Levi” when artist confronted by the  Inquisition about including strange characters in a painting of this holy, solemn occasion

See also in Wikipedia:


HYMN Come, Brother, Sit with Me                                                                                     Written music:

Audio on youtube


Fullsome exploration of hospitality, including references to Peter/Cornelius  in six lessons or sections with links to further resources and all that is listed above at                                                                   



New Yorker cartoon about hate as a family value/holding hate in common

This pericope lends itself to resources dealing with issues of inclusion and exclusion, a topic dealt with in the Belhar Confession of Faith. Link to the Confession as accepted in the PC(USA) Book of Confessions at

See original liturgical resources inspired by Belhar below.

Call to Worship

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting: “By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

Leader: We share one faith. We have one calling. We are of one soul and one mind.

People: We are one people. We have one God and Father.

Leader: We are filled with one Spirit. We are baptized with one baptism.

People: We eat of one bread and drink of one cup.

Leader:  We are one people. We confess one name.

People:  We are obedient to one Lord. We work for one cause.

ALL: Thanks be to God!


Prayers of the People:

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl.  Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

All: We share one hope; together coming to know the height and the breadth and the depth of the love of Christ

[Prayers of thanksgiving and joy/petitions for love and hope]

All: Together we know and bear one another’s burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another; and that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness.

[Prayers for those in need]

All: Together we are built up to the stature of Christ, to the new humanity. We pray together. Together we serve God in this world. Together fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity.

[Prayers for the Christian community to live up to its calling]

Leader: In the name of Christ Jesus, who unites us in the prayer that he taught us….

[The Lord’s Prayer]


Confession of Sin #1

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

Call to Confession: God calls the church to follow him, standing by those who suffer and are in need, so that justice may roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Let us confess the ways in which we do not follow God’s call.



One: O God, you bring justice to the oppressed and give bread to the hungry.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You free the prisoner and restore sight to the blind.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You support the downtrodden and protect the stranger.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You block evildoers and help orphans and widows.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You stand against injustice. You stand with the wronged.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You condemn those who seek their own interests, controlling and harming others.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You bring about justice and true peace among people.

All: God, forgive us when we do not follow you.

Grant us your grace. Embolden us that, as your people, we may stand where you stand.


Assurance of Forgiveness

One: God’s life-giving Word and Spirit enable us to live in a new obedience, opening new possibilities of life for society and the world. Thanks be to God for the Good News:

All: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven


Prayer of Confession #2

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”


The gift and obligation of unity is given and commanded by God for the Christian church, yet the one worldwide community of believers is not visibly and consistently united. Let us confess our need for God’s grace.

Prayer of Confession: God, forgive us. Our communion is not always visible to the world. We allow threats to unity to enter the church, making it hard to see that we are your community. At times we act as though we do not need each other. We do not always love one another. Sometimes we do not know and bear one another’s burdens. At times we fail build each other up. We do not always give ourselves willingly and joyfully to one another.  Forgive and strengthen us so that we may live in the unity that you grant us.

Assurance of Forgiveness

One: By Christ’s work, we are reconciled and united with God and with one another. Thanks be to God for the Good News:   All: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of Confession #3

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

Call to Confession:

One: God has given the church the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ, but we fall short of God’s call to be salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Prayer of Confession:

All: God, our fears and prejudices run deep. Sometimes we can only see our own point of view.

We stick with those who are like us, rarely venturing outside our comfort zones. We do not hear

those crying for justice and true peace. We blame those who are suffering and in need instead of standing by them. We deny the power of your gospel to unite us with those who are different from us.

Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Use us to open new possibilities of life for all of your people.

Assurance of Forgiveness

One: We are reconciled with God and with one another through Christ’s work. Thanks be to God

for the Good News: All:  In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.


Statements/Confessions of Faith

Confession of Faith #1 from article 1 and the beginning of Article 2 of the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

We believe in God–the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

who gathers, protects and cares for the church.

We believe the church is one worldwide communion of saints,

called from the entire human family.

We believe the church is the single community of believers,

reconciled with God and with one another.

We believe that through the working of God’s Spirit,

unity is a binding force and also that we must seek this unity,

which must become visible to the world. We believe that the sin of division, separation and hatred between people and groups has been conquered by Christ.

We commit ourselves to protecting the unity of the church universal.

We pledge to make this unity active in all of our words, thoughts and deeds.



Confession of Faith #2

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

It is through Christ’s reconciling work that we are the church united to God and to other believes.

As the church, we are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world.

We are entrusted with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ.

As the church, we are witnesses by both word and deed.

We proclaim the new heaven and the new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

As the church, we proclaim that God’s life-giving Word and Spirit has conquered sin and death.

God conquers irreconciliation, hatred and bitterness.

As the church, God’s life-giving Word and Spirit enable us to live in a new obedience,

God opens new possibilities of life for society and the world.

We declared ourselves ready to venture out on the road of obedience and reconciliation,

servants of God, who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people.



Confession of Faith #3/Litany

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

The three parts of this litany may be used separately or in flexible combinations.


One: We believe that unity is both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ.

Many: Through the work of God’s Spirit, unity is a binding force.

One: At the same time, unity must also be earnestly pursued and sought.

Many: We must be continually built up to attain this unity.

One: Our unity must become visible to the world.

Many: Separation and hatred between people and groups is sin, already conquered by Christ.

One: Anything threatening our unity has no place in the church.

Many: We commit ourselves to resisting anything that threatens our unity.

One: The unity of the people of God is active and made manifest.

All: Thanks be to God.

(For this next section it works well for the two groups to make the proclamations below to each other.)

Group One: The communion of saints called from the entire human family is united by God.

Group Two: As the people of God, we love one another.

Group One: We experience, practice, and pursue community with one another.

Group Two: We give ourselves willingly and joyfully to one another.

Group One: We are a benefit and blessing to one another.

Group Two: We share one faith and have one calling.

Group One: We are one body, and are of one soul and mind.

Group Two: We have one God and Father.

Group One: We are filled with one Spirit.

Group Two: We are baptized with one baptism.

Group One: We eat of one bread and drink of one cup.

Group Two: We confess one name and are obedient to one Lord.

Group One: We work for one cause and share one hope.

All: Thanks be to God.



All: Together we confess that God unites us in faith.

Together we come to know the height, and the breadth, and the depth of the love of Christ.

Together we are built up to the full stature of Christ.

Together we know and bear one another’s burdens.

We admonish one another. We comfort one another. We suffer with one another.

We need one another and we build up one another.

Together we pray. Together we serve God in this world.

Together we fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity.

Thanks be to God for drawing and keeping us together.


Eucharistic Resources from The Confession of Belhar                                                                      by Catherine J. Purves, published online at

Invitation to the Lord’s Table (See Luke 13: 29)

Friends, this is the joyful feast of the people of God! They will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.                                             All will be together there at the table; all will be reconciled.                                                       God’s justice will be established, and we will be at peace in Christ.

This is the Lord’s table.                                                                                                                       Our Savior invites all those who trust in him to share the feast which he has prepared.

Invitation to the Lord’s Table (See Ephesians 4: 4-5)

This is the table of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here the community of faith gathers.                    United in baptism, we eat of one bread and drink of one cup, we confess one name,             are obedient to one Lord, and share one hope. Come to the table where our unity in Christ becomes visible, and where the triune God gathers, protects, and cares for the church.

Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you. And also with you.                                                                                      Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the  Lord.                                                                            Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.                                                                                            It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We praise you O Living God, by whose purpose and will all things came into being.          In a gracious act of love you formed a people, gathering, protecting and caring for them through Word and Spirit. You called us to be the light of the world, a reflection                    of your glory and compassion, your justice and your love. When we allowed prejudice, fear, selfishness, and unbelief to lead us from the path of obedient faithfulness, again and again you sent prophets who called for justice and reconciliation.  When our need was greatest, you did not abandon us, but sent us your Son,  our Lord and Savior, so that we might be reconciled with you and with one another, one church, united in worship with all the faithful of every time and place singing forever to the glory of your name:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.                                                                                                            Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.                                                                  Hosanna in the highest.

We praise you, O God, for your grace embodied in Jesus Christ.                                                   In him,  humanity has been restored and we are a new community.                                         In him, the powers of separation and division and hatred have been defeated.                     In him, the reign of righteousness and truth, freedom and justice has drawn near.

Through his life and ministry, his death and resurrection, his ascension and his lordship, we are now certain of our hope and live in anticipation of his kingdom of peace                  and justice. Remembering all that you have done for us, and knowing that you are still      at work in the world, we take this bread and we share this cup, giving thanks                      for our redemption and reconciliation now complete in Jesus Christ.                                    And we offer up our lives as a proclamation of his lordship, celebrating his promises      of unity, reconciliation, justice and peace. Praise to you, Lord Jesus:

Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life.                                                      Lord Jesus, come in glory. Come, Holy Spirit.

Let these gifts of bread and wine be for us the body and blood of Christ.                                In this sharing may we be united with him and with one another.                                  Reconciled, forgiven, united, and fed, send us out to live in obedience and sacrifice,   until that day when all will gather at your table in glory, proclaiming: Jesus is Lord! Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, in the holy church, all glory and honor are yours, almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer After Communion

Holy and just God, at this our Lord’s table we have known the power of your promises and the mystery of his presence. We have seen that we are one in him, reconciled with our sisters and brothers, united in praise and in service. Being fed and fortified, lead us now into the world to proclaim your justice and to work for your peace, that all would come to see and know that Jesus is Lord and Savior.  To him be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.


Hymns Related to the Themes of the Belhar Confession

Taken from The Presbyterian Hymnal, Glory to God


“In Christ There Is No East or West”  # 317, # 318

“The Church’s One Foundation”   # 321

“What Does the Lord Require of You?”   # 70

“We Are One in the Spirit”   # 300

“We Are One in Christ Jesus”   # 322  (Latin American tune) *

“Help Us Accept Each Other”   # 754

“Come!  Live in the Light!”   # 749  (Micah 6: 8)

“Called as Partners in Christ’s Service”   # 761

“Faith Begins by Letting Go”   # 684  (familiar tune)

“Let Us Build a House:  All Are Welcome”   # 301 *

“O Christ, the Great Foundation”   # 361

“O for a World”   # 372

“O God, We Bear the Imprint”   # 759

“We Gather Here in Jesus’ Name”   # 501  (Communion) *

“We Shall Overcome”   # 379


“Come Now, O Prince of Peace”   # 103  (Korean)

“Dream On, Dream On”   # 383  (Korean – difficult tune, good words)

“Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive”   # 444 *

“I Come with Joy”   # 515  (Communion)

“O Day of Peace”   # 373  (tune:  Jerusalem)

“When God Restored Our Common Life”   # 74  (not completely sure about this one)


“For the Healing of the Nations”   # 346

“Lord, You Give the Great Commission”   # 298

“My Song Forever Shall Record”   # 67  (Psalm 89, familiar tune)

“My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout:  Canticle of the Turning”   # 100  (Magnificat,          Irish Ballad tune)

“My Soul Gives Glory to My God”   # 99  (Magnificat)

“Show Us, O Lord, Your Steadfast Love”   # 449  (Psalm 85)

“Sing Praise to God, Whose Mighty Acts”   # 356  (Psalm 9)

“The Days Are Surely Coming”   # 357

“There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy”   # 435


The above liturgical resources related to the Belhar, plus others from the PC(USA), may be found at

Other Belhar resources may be found at


Exegetical resources

This story is more about the conversion of Peter than about that of Cornelius    Gives historic background regarding Cornelius as a centurion, and then addresses possible themes of where the spirit is leading us today and how to have genuine dialogue across differences. Calvin’s Commentary on Acts Detailed analysis of the Greek (1930) Acts challenges the assumptions of the early Christians regarding who the gospel is for, shocking those who are already in the church                           Examines the story in the context of the larger narrative of Acts and Peter’s ministry overall.                                                                                        Christians of Jewish descent are “astounded” that the Holy Spirit of God is being given to “even” the Gentiles.                                                              In usual circumstances Peter, as a Jew, would never have gone into Cornelius’ home.

The practice of welcoming travelers was a tactic to neutralize potential threats;here hospitality changes how Jewish Christians see Gentile converts. How is Christian community blocked today?







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