Heaven’s Joy

Watching for the morning of September 15

Year C

The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 19 / Lectionary 24

English: Children dancing, International Peace...

English: Children dancing, International Peace Day 2009, Geneva. Français : Enfants dansant, Journée internationale de la Paix 2009, Genève. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday, with the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin, we will hear Jesus speak the first two of three parables about the joy of heaven at the gathering of the “sinners and outcasts” and the restoration of the community of Israel (and ultimately of the human community).  In our other readings, Moses intercedes for a rebellious Israel that is dancing around the golden calf – and God relents on his expressed intention to destroy them.  Paul speaks of his former life as one who persecuted the nascent Christian community and of God’s amazing grace.  David offers his prayer of confession after Nathan has confronted him with his crime with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah.

Repentance rattles around in these texts, but our penitence is not the issue.  What lies at the center is the mercy and reconciling work of God – and whether we wish to turn and be a part of God’s reconciled community.

The Prayer for September 15, 2013

God of all joy,
the heavens resound with song
where the wounds of the broken are tended
and the lost and alone are gathered in.
Help us to rejoice in what pleases you,
and to know the joy of your reconciling love.

The Texts for September 15, 2013

First Reading: Exodus 32:7-14
“The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely.”
– Moses is on Mt. Sinai receiving God’s commands when the Israelites begin to worship the golden calf.  God threatens to destroy them and create a new people from Moses’ descendants, but Moses intercedes on their behalf.

Psalmody: Psalm 51
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.” – This exquisite prayer of confession is attributed to David after the prophet Nathan exposed David’s sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.

Second Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
15The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the foremost.”
– The letters to Timothy are penned by Paul or in his name as parting words of advice to his protégé, Timothy.  Here Paul speaks of the mercy he received though he initially persecuted the church.

Gospel: Luke 15:1-10
“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” – The first two of three parables speaking of God’s joy in gathering the outcast and restoring the community of Israel – indeed the whole human community.