Lectionary: April – June 2019

April 7 – What the World Needs Now
The Wisdom of the Metta Sutta
Let us cultivate boundless goodwill. Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state. Let none in anger or ill-will wish another harm. Even as a mother watches over her child, so with boundless mind should one cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the whole world, above, below, and all around, without limit.

The Wisdom of the Persian Poet Saadi
To worship God is…to serve the people…All peoples are members of the same body, created from one essence. If fate brings suffering to one member the others cannot stay at rest.

+ The Gospel According to Matthew (25.34-40)
Jesus told a parable about a king who promised his loyal subjects great rewards, saying, “I reward you because when I was hungry, you gave me food to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I had no place to stay, you welcomed me into your home. When I was without clothes, you gave me something to wear. When I was sick, you cared for me. When I was in prison, you came to visit me.”
The loyal followers would answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you with no place to stay and welcome you into our home? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?”
And the king would answer, “The truth is, anything you did for any of my people in need, you also did for me.”

Prayer after readings: Divine Love, we are the channels through which you flow. Our hands are your hands. We are how you touch hurting people with compassion and kindness. Remind us that we are to be love in action; and as we show love, may those who have known pain find hope again. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: God’s love blesses me, and through me, God’s love blesses others. And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “Pure love is a willingness to give without a thought of receiving anything in return.” Peace Pilgrim

April 14 – A House & A People of Prayer
+ The Gospel According to Matthew (21.1-11)
Jesus and his followers were coming closer to Jerusalem. But first they stopped at Bethphage at the hill called the Mount of Olives. From there Jesus sent two of his followers into the town. He said to them, “Go to the town you can see there. When you enter it, you will find a donkey tied there with its colt. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks you why you are taking the donkeys, tell him, ‘The Master needs them. He will send them back soon.’” This [brought to mind] what the [prophets Isaiah and Zechariah] had written:
“Tell the people of Jerusalem,
‘Your Lord is coming to you.
He is gentle and riding on a donkey.
He is on the colt of a donkey.”
The followers went and did what Jesus told them to do. They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus. They laid their coats on the donkeys, and Jesus sat on them. Many people spread their coats on the road before Jesus. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Some of the people were walking ahead of Jesus. Others were walking behind him. All the people were shouting,
“Deliver us, Descendant of David! God bless the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise to God in heaven!”
Then Jesus went into Jerusalem. The city was filled with excitement. The people asked, “Who is this man?”
The crowd answered, “This man is Jesus. He is the prophet from the town of Nazareth in Galilee.”

The story continues (Matt. 21.12-17)
Jesus went into the Temple. He threw out all the people who were buying and selling there. He turned over the tables that belonged to the merchants who were exchanging different kinds of money. And he upset the benches of those who were selling doves. Jesus said to all the people there, “It is written in the Scriptures, ‘My Temple will be a house where people will pray.’ But you are changing God’s house into a ‘hideout for robbers.’”
The blind and crippled people came to Jesus in the Temple, and Jesus healed them.
The leading priests and the teachers of the law saw that Jesus was doing wonderful things. They saw the children praising him in the Temple. The children were saying, “Praise to the Descendant of David.” All these things made the priests and the teachers of the law very angry.
They asked Jesus, “Do you hear the things these children are saying?”
Jesus answered, “Yes. Haven’t you read in the Scriptures, ‘You have taught children and babies to sing praises’?”
Then Jesus left and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Prayer after readings: We dedicate anew, dear Lord, this house of worship. Let it be a house of prayer, a place of praise, a community of learning, a space for healing, an assembly ready for sacred action. Bless and anoint these hallowed grounds, and the people who are today on this holy ground. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: God empowers me to do great things. And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “The cultivation of generosity is the beginning of spiritual awakening.” Sharon Salzberg

Easter Sunday (April 21) – Love Lives Forever
The Wisdom of Heather Lynn Hanson
[Ramona and Roberto were sister and brother. They had a wonderful dog] named Feliz.
With their dog, Ramona and Roberto would roam their neighborhood. Sometimes Feliz would [chase] a squirrel. When they went to the pond, Feliz would swim with them. Sometimes they would sit on a tree stump and the dog would sit quietly beside them. His tongue hung out and his tail wagged as he rested. Once in a while, if something sad happened at school, the children would tell Feliz all about it. He would look at them with his brown eyes, and it seemed like he understood. When they walked to the supermarket, sometimes bigger kids would try to tease Ramona and Roberto, but Feliz growled at them, and the bigger kids left the children alone. They learned to walk and not be afraid when they walked with Feliz. They loved Feliz very much, and Feliz loved them.

Then one day something terrible happened. Feliz…died. The children cried and cried. And then they found a place in the garden to bury him and they wrapped up his body in a pretty scarf and covered him up with dirt, and planted a pretty bush by the grave. And they thought about all the fun they had with Feliz and how much they missed him.

A few days later, Ramona was walking home from school, and a dog came bounding toward her, tail wagging. It reminded her a lot of Feliz. “It’s like Feliz is part of that dog, too,” she told her brother.
Roberto saw a squirrel running like crazy across the school yard. It brought back memories of how Feliz chased squirrels. “Do you suppose that squirrel saw Feliz’s ghost?” he said, and the children laughed.

Ramona and Roberto had to walk through the neighborhood where the mean kids lived. The children remembered how confident they used to feel with Feliz at their heels. They decided to pretend that Feliz was walking beside them, and they walked bravely past the other kids. The bigger kids said some things, but Roberto and Ramona kept on going, thinking Feliz would be with them if he could be.

That night they asked their dad: “Do you think dogs turn into ghosts or angels or something when they die?”
“I don’t know,” said dad. “You miss Feliz a lot, don’t you?”
“Yes, I miss brushing his coat.”
“And I miss his silky ears and his waggly tail.”
“Sometimes it seems like he’s here somewhere, but just out of sight.”
“Sometimes I see another dog, and I think it’s Feliz,” said Ramona.

Mother said, “You still imagine him sometimes, don’t you? How he was so friendly and playful—all the ways he was special to you? You can see him even when he isn’t here.” The children nodded.
“You can feel happy for the wonderful dog he was, even though you are sad, too. His love lives on in your memory…When you remember Feliz, part of him lives again in you.”
“I like that,” said Ramona and Roberto. And they smiled.

+ The Gospel According to Matthew (28.1-10)
The day after the Sabbath day was the first day of the week. That day at dawn Mary Magdalene and the other woman named Mary went to look at the tomb.
Suddenly an angel of the Lord came from the sky, and there was a huge earthquake. The angel went to the tomb and rolled the stone away from the entrance. Then he sat on top of the stone. The angel was shining as bright as lightning. His clothes were as white as snow. The soldiers guarding the tomb were very afraid of the angel. They shook with fear and then became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, the one who was killed on the cross. But he is not here…Go quickly and tell his followers, ‘Jesus has risen from death. He is going into Galilee and will be there before you. You will see him there.’” Then the angel said, “Now I have told you.”
So the women left the tomb quickly. They were afraid, but they were also very happy. They ran to tell his followers what happened. Suddenly, Jesus was there in front of them. He said, “Hello!” The women went to him…Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go tell my followers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.”

Prayer after readings: Omnipresent, divine Love – you are everlasting, and we are forever in your embrace. Our hearts are full of joy today, and so it is that we rejoice. Alleluia! Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: Resurrection Power blesses my life. And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.” Walt Whitman

April 28 – Sharing Good News
The Wisdom of Vernon Shields
“Today I recognize God as my Senior Partner, not apart from me but ever with me. No matter what the concern may be, I find immediate strength and confidence as I return my attention to God’s Presence ever with me.”

The Wisdom of Ernest Holmes
“We believe in the direct revelation of truth through our intuitive and spiritual nature, and that anyone may become a revealer of truth who lives in close contact with the indwelling God.”

+ The Gospel According to Matthew (21.16-20)
The eleven followers went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. On the mountain the followers saw Jesus…But some of the followers did not believe that it was really Jesus. So he came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them…[and] teach them to follow everything that I have told you to do. You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of time.”

Prayer after readings: Let us embrace hope and joy in our lives, and let us share those gifts with a world in need. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I focus on the healing, transforming love in me, and I share my love gladly. Amen.

Stewardship Thought: “Giving a tenth of your…income to God’s good work…is one of the surest ways to verify within your own consciousness that God is the source of your supply, and to establish a link with that supply itself.” Rev. John W. Adams

May 5 – God Doesn’t Play Favorites
The Wisdom of Irwin Gregg
“Out of the Infinite Presence proceeds forth all creation…Since God is infinite Perfection and creates in perfection, we are all potentially perfect…”

The Wisdom of Margaret Mattson
“Acceptance…of the truth that God pronounced everything in the universe good, that all is Spirit, created perfect, brings us along the spiritual way to peace.”

The Acts of the Apostles (10.1-17, 34)
One of the centurions of the Italica cohort stationed in Caesarea was called Cornelius. He and the whole of his household were devout and God-seeking, and he gave generously to Jewish causes and prayed constantly to God.
One day at about the ninth hour he had a vision in which he distinctly saw the angel of God come into his house and call out to him, ‘Cornelius!’
He stared at the vision in terror and exclaimed, ‘What is it, Lord?’ The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and charitable gifts have been accepted by God. Now you must send some men to Jaffa and fetch a man called Simon, known as Peter…
When the angel who said this had gone, Cornelius called two of the servants and a devout soldier of his staff,
told them all that had happened, and sent them off to Jaffa.

Next day, while they were still on their journey and had only a short distance to go before reaching the town, Peter went to the housetop at about the sixth hour to say his prayers. He felt hungry and was looking forward to his meal, but before it was ready he fell into a trance and saw heaven thrown open and something like a big sheet being let down to earth by its four corners; it contained every kind of animal, reptile and bird.
A voice then said to him, ‘Now, Peter, kill and eat!’
But Peter answered, ‘Certainly not, Lord; I have never yet eaten anything profane or unclean.’
Again, a second time, the voice spoke to him, ‘What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane.’
This was repeated three times, and then suddenly the container was drawn up to heaven again.

Peter was still at a loss over the meaning of the vision he had seen, when the men sent by Cornelius arrived…
Then Peter addressed them, ‘I now really understand’, he said, ‘that God has no favorites…

Prayer after readings: Mother-Father God, you have created the whole world and you love the whole world. We are all your children, held forever in your heart. Thank you, God. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I am good enough; so is everyone else. And so it is that I rejoice! Amen.

Stewardship Thought: “Those who give offerings of gratitude honor God.” Psalm 50.23

May 12 – Letting God Be More
The Wisdom of W. Waldemar W. Argow
Ancient as the home is the temple; ancient as the workbench is the altar.
Ancient as the sword is the sacrificial fire; ancient as the soldier is the priest.
Older than written language is spoken prayer; older than painting is the thought of a nameless one.
Religion is the first and the last—the universal language of the human heart.
Differing words describe the outward appearance of things; diverse symbols represent that which stands beyond and within. Yet every person’s hunger is the same, and heart communicates with heart.
Ever the vision leads on with many gods or with one, with a holy land washed by ocean waters, or a holy land within the heart. In temperament we differ, yet we are dedicated to one august destiny;
creeds divide us, but we share a common quest.
Because we are human, we shall ever build our altars; because each has a holy yearning, we offer everywhere our prayers and anthems. For an eternal verity abides beneath diversities; we are children of one great love, united in our one eternal family.

The Acts of the Apostles (14.8-15, 18)
At Lystra there was a crippled man, lame from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him, saw that he had the faith to be healed, and called out in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet.” He jumped up and began to walk about.
When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in human form.” They called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes,” because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.
The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “People, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, ‘who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.’” Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

Prayer after readings: As we allow God to be bigger, we find our lives being happier, freer, and full of hope. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I am the child of a great, everlasting Love. And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “Whatever I thankfully receive, as a token of God’s love to me, I part with contentedly as a token of my love to God.” Theophilus Gale

May 19 – How Great We Are
The Wisdom of Nona Brooks
“All humankind has a common Source. Every human being is a Child of God. The nature of every soul is divine…Each person is therefore equipped with all that is needed to lead a wholesome, joyous, useful life.”

The Wisdom of Emma Goldman
“Some day, men and women will rise, they will reach the mountain peak, they will meet big and strong and free, ready to receive, to partake, and to bask in the golden rays of love. What fancy, what imagination, what poetic genius can foresee the potentialities of such a force in the life of men and women.”

+ The Gospel According to Matthew (9.10-13a)
As Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice’…”

Prayer after readings: May we become as good as we are meant to be, and may we see goodness in every person, even as Jesus did; even as God does. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I am getting better all the time! And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “Having received new life through the generosity of God…let us give thankfully and abundantly that we may be called God’s generous people.” June Christine Goudey

May 26 – We Are Part of God
The Wisdom of Martha Dawson
“We are created in the image and likeness of God and are designed to manifest God’s good. Each person is vital to the unfolding of God’s Love, and can affirm, ‘I am important, for God’s expression is through me.’”

The Wisdom of Helen Wilmans
“There is but one Life, of which we are but individual manifestations.”

The Wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God.”

The Wisdom of the Apostle Paul (Romans 8.14-17)
Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Prayer after readings: Let us know today, and every day, that we are in you and part of you and forever loved by you, Holy God! Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I am an individuation of divine Life. And so I am blessed. Alleluia!

Stewardship Thought: “I will present to God a tenth of everything God gives me.” Genesis 28.22

June 2 – Love Isn’t Condemned
The Wisdom of the Apostle Paul (Romans 1.1-4, 7b-9, 11-12, 16)
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which was promised previously through the prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel about God’s Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace to you and peace from God and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I give thanks… for all of you, because your faith is heralded throughout the world. God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in proclaiming the gospel of God’s Son, that I remember you constantly…I long to see you, that I may share with you some spiritual gift so that you may be strengthened, that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith, yours and mine.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God…

The Wisdom of the Apostle Paul (Romans 1.18-24)
The displeasure of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what God has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord God glory…or give God thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning…While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of humans or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.
Therefore, God handed them over to impurity…

Prayer after readings: Give us the grace, courage, and wisdom, to leave our idols behind us and to explore the depths of mystery and wonder, Holy God. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I am not ashamed of the good news of God’s all-inclusive and unconditional love. Amen.

Stewardship Thought: “At its best, giving is an act of worship.” Colonel Cornelius J. Dyck

June 9 – We Are Conduits of Divine Love
The Wisdom of Vernon Shields
“God works by means of us, and especially in those experiences where we are inspired to share a kind word that gives comfort, or courage, or peace of mind to another; a word that inspires another to see life in a new light…when the kind act is free of self, without thought of personal gain, it becomes a thing of beauty and an expression of love that lasts forever.”

The Wisdom of Irwin Gregg
“God is more willing to give than we are to receive. We are God’s children, creative centers in God, right now. We must know that God’s good is ours, not by personal merit, but because we are one with God.”

+ The Gospel According to Matthew (9.35-10.8)
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the [divine] Realm, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers for this harvest.”
Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “…As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The realm of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Prayer after readings: Flow through us, power of God, to bless those around us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I am filled with God’s goodness, and I use that goodness to bless others. And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Jesus (Mark 12.17)

June 16 – God is Good
The Wisdom of Elsie MacKay
“You can never be separated from that which you are, the spiritual Essence of you. Jesus healed those who came to him by calling forth the Essence of each one, the pure spiritual Substance of every atom of being. No matter what untoward circumstance or appearance [we go through], we cannot change the Essence of our being. It is with us always and it is good.”

The Wisdom of the Psalter (Psalm 100)
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before God with joyful song. Know that it is God who made us, we belong to God, we are God’s people, the flock God shepherds.
Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving…[and] praise.
Give thanks to God, bless God’s names; good indeed is the LORD whose mercy endures forever.
God’s faithfulness lasts through every generation.

Prayer after readings: We acknowledge your goodness, O God, and we give thanks that you have made us in your good image. Alleluia! Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: God is always with me and God is good. Alleluia!

Stewardship Thought: “Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging things to grow.” Thornton Wilder, The Matchmaker

June 23 – Keep At It
The Wisdom of Harper Lee
“… real courage is… when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

The Wisdom of Maya Angelou
“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”

The Gospel According to Matthew (10.24-39)
[Jesus said]: A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect?
Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.
Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being…God…holds your entire life—body and soul…
What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. God pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries…
Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.
If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

Prayer after readings: Dear God, give us a dream of what can be, and of how we can be healers in our world. Give us also the courage to follow the dream wherever it may lead. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: God in me gives me courage and strength. And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “Do not give…as a hen that lays her eggs, and then cackles.” Henry Ward Beecher

June 30 – Celebrate Your Life
The Wisdom of James Baldwin
“Somebody, your [parents] or mine, should have told us that not many people have ever died of love. But multitudes have perished, and are perishing every hour–and in the oddest places!–for the lack of it.”

The Wisdom of George Takei
“We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.”

The Wisdom of Pauli Murray
“Hope is the song in a weary throat.”

The Gospel According to Matthew (10.40-42)
Whoever accepts you also accepts me. And whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me. Whoever accepts a prophet because he is a prophet will get the same reward a prophet gets. And whoever accepts a godly person just because that person is godly will get the same reward a godly person gets. Whoever helps any of these little ones because they are my followers will definitely get a reward, even if they only give them a cup of cold water.

Prayer after readings: Rainbow God, you have made us all in your image and filled us all with your spirit and called us all to live in the power of love. Thank you, God, our life and our joy. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: As the person that I am, may God’s blessing be with me. Amen.

Stewardship Thought: “Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost.” Ignatius of Loyola