United Church of Christ

Sermon Seeds March 31, 2018

Holy Saturday Year B


Lectionary citations:
Job 14:1-14 or Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24
Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16, 1 Peter 4:1-8
Matthew 27:57-66 or John 19:38-42

(See lectionary citations for Easter Vigil below)

Worship resources for Holy Saturday Year B are at Worship Ways

Lectionary texts

Job 14:1-14

"A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last. Do you fix your eyes on such a one? Do you bring me into judgment with you? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one can. Since their days are determined, and the number of their months is known to you, and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass, look away from them, and desist, that they may enjoy, like laborers, their days.

"For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant. But mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they? As waters fail from a lake, and a river wastes away and dries up, so mortals lie down and do not rise again; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep. Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If mortals die, will they live again? All the days of my service I would wait until my release should come."


Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24

I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God's wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked. The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."

Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16

In you, O God,
  I seek refuge;
do not let me ever be put
  to shame;
in your righteousness
  deliver me.

Incline your ear to me;
  rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
   a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock
  and my fortress;
for your name's sake lead me
  and guide me,

take me out of the net
  that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.

My times are in your hand;
  deliver me from the hand
of my enemies
  and persecutors.

Let your face shine
  upon your servant;
save me
  in your steadfast love.

1 Peter 4:1-8

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry.

They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Matthew 27:57-66

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise again.' Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, 'He has been raised from the dead,' and the last deception would be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.


John 19:38-42

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Easter Vigil

Choose a minimum of three pairs of readings from the Old Testament. Exodus 14 is always used.

Old Testament:
Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26;
Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13 and Psalm 46;
Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16;
Exodus 14:10-31, 15:20-21 and Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18;
Isaiah 55:1-11 and Isaiah 12:2-6
Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21, 9:4b-6 and Psalm 19;
Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalms 42, 43
Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143;
Zephaniah 3:14-20 and Psalm 98

New Testament:
Romans 6:3-11 and Psalm 114
Mark 16:1-8

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so. God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so.

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,


Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

O give thanks to God,
  for God is good,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever.

O give thanks
  to the God of gods,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever.

O give thanks to the Sovereign
  of sovereigns,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever;

who alone does great wonders,
  for God's steadfast love
endures forever;

who by understanding
  made the heavens,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever;

who spread out the earth
  on the waters,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever;

who made the great lights,
   for God's steadfast love
endures forever;

the sun to rule over the day,
   for God's steadfast love
endures forever;

the moon and stars to rule
  over the night,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever;

It is God who remembered us
  in our low estate,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever;

and rescued us
  from our foes,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever;

who gives food
  to all flesh,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever.

O give thanks to the God
  of heaven,
for God's steadfast love
  endures forever.

Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13

Then the Lord said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground."

And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

On the very same day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons entered the ark, they and every wild animal of every kind, and all domestic animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of every kind—every bird, every winged creature. They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.

The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters.

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent out the dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set its foot, and it returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took it and brought it into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more.

In the six hundred first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and saw that the face of the ground was drying. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.

Then God said to Noah, "Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh — birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth — so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth." So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."

God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.


Psalm 46

God is our refuge
  and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,
   though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake
   in the heart of the sea;

though its waters roar
  and foam,
though the mountains tremble
  with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams
  make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of the city;
   it shall not be moved;
God will help it
   when the morning dawns.

The nations are in an uproar,
   the empires totter;
God's voice resounds
   and the earth melts.

The God of hosts is with us;
  the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of God;
  see what desolations God has brought
on the earth.

God makes wars cease
  to the end of the earth;
God breaks the bow,
  and shatters the spear;
God burns the shields with fire.

"Be still,
  and know that I am God!
 I am exalted among the nations,
   I am exalted in the earth."

The God of hosts
  is with us;
the God of Jacob
  is our refuge.

Genesis 22:1-18

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you."

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you." Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together. When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided."

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice."


Psalm 16

Protect me, O God,
  for in you I take refuge.

I say to God,
  "You are my God;
I have no good
  apart from you."

As for the holy ones
  in the land,
they are the noble,
  in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god
  multiply their sorrows;
their drink offerings of blood
  I will not pour out
or take their names
  upon my lips.

God is my chosen portion
  and my cup;
you hold my lot.

The boundary lines have fallen for me
  in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.

I bless God who gives me counsel;
  in the night also my heart instructs me.

I keep God always before me;
  because God is at my right hand,
I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad,
  and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.

For you do not give me up
  to Sheol,
or let your faithful one
  see the Pit.

You show me the path
  of life.
In your presence there is fullness
  of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures
Exodus 14:10-31, 15:20-21

As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, 'Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." But Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still."

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers." The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh's horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt." Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers." So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: "Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea."


Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: "I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. "Pharaoh's chariots and his army he cast into the sea; his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power — your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries; you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble. At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up, the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, 'I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.' You blew with your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. "Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them. "In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed; you guided them by your strength to your holy abode. You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession, the place, O Lord, that you made your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established. The Lord will reign forever and ever."

Isaiah 55:1-11

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.


Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4

Hear the commandments of life, O Israel;
   give ear, and learn wisdom!
Why is it, O Israel, why is it
   that you are in the land of your enemies,
   that you are growing old in a foreign country,
that you are defiled with the dead,
   that you are counted among those in Hades?
You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom.

If you had walked in the way of God,
   you would be living in peace for ever.
Learn where there is wisdom,
   where there is strength,
   where there is understanding,
so that you may at the same time discern
   where there is length of days, and life,
   where there is light for the eyes, and peace.

Who has found her place?
   And who has entered her storehouses?
But the one who knows all things knows her,
   he found her by his understanding.
The one who prepared the earth for all time
   filled it with four-footed creatures;
the one who sends forth the light, and it goes;
   he called it, and it obeyed him, trembling;
the stars shone in their watches, and were glad;
   he called them, and they said, 'Here we are!'
They shone with gladness for him who made them.

This is our God;
   no other can be compared to him.
He found the whole way to knowledge,
   and gave her to his servant Jacob
   and to Israel, whom he loved.
Afterwards she appeared on earth
   and lived with humankind.

She is the book of the commandments of God,
   the law that endures for ever.
All who hold her fast will live,
   and those who forsake her will die.
Turn, O Jacob, and take her;
   walk towards the shining of her light.
Do not give your glory to another,
   or your advantages to an alien people.
Happy are we, O Israel,
   for we know what is pleasing to God.


Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6

Does not wisdom call,
  and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
  at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
  at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
"To you, O people, I call,
  and my cry is to all that live.
O simple ones, learn prudence;
  acquire intelligence, you who lack it.
Hear, for I will speak noble things,
  and from my lips will come what is right;
for my mouth will utter truth;
  wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are righteous;
  there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
  and my yield than choice silver.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
  along the paths of justice,
endowing with wealth those who love me,
  and filling their treasuries.

To those without sense she says,
  "Come, eat of my bread
   and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Lay aside immaturity, and live,
  and walk in the way of insight."


Psalm 19

The heavens are telling
  the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims
  God's handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech,
   and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech,
  nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out
  through all the earth,
and their words to the end
  of the world.

In the heavens God has set a tent
  for the sun,
which comes out like a beloved
  from a wedding canopy,
and like an athlete runs its course
  with joy.

Its rising is from the end
  of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
  and nothing is hid from its heat.

The law of God is perfect,
   reviving the soul;
the decrees of God are sure,
   making wise the simple;

the precepts of God are right,
   rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of God is clear,
   enlightening the eyes;

the fear of God is pure,
   enduring forever;
the ordinances of God are true
   and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold,
   even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
   and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them
  is your servant warned;
in keeping them
  there is great reward.

But who can detect their errors?
   Clear me from hidden faults.

Keep back your servant also
  from the insolent;
do not let them have dominion
  over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
  and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth
  and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O God,
  my rock and my redeemer.

Ezekiel 36:24-28

I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.


Psalm 42

As a deer longs
  for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you,
  O God.

My soul thirsts for God,
  for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
  the face of God?

My tears have been my food
  day and night,
while people say to me continually,
  "Where is your God?"

These things I remember,
   as I pour out my soul:

how I went with the throng,
  and led them in procession
to the house of God,

with glad shouts and songs
  of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down,
  O my soul,
and why are you disquieted
  within me?
Hope in God;
  for I shall again praise God,
my help and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
  therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
  from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep
   at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
   have gone over me.

By day God commands
  God's steadfast love,
and at night God's song is with me,
  a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock,
  "Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
   because the enemy oppresses me?"

As with a deadly wound in my body,
   my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
   "Where is your God?"

Why are you cast down,
  O my soul?
why are you disquieted
  within me?

Hope in God;
  for I shall again praise the one,
who is my help
  and my God.

Psalm 43

Vindicate me, O God,
  and defend my cause
against an ungodly people;
  from those who are deceitful
and unjust deliver me!

For you are the God
  in whom I take refuge;
why have you cast me off?

Why must I walk about mournfully
  because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out your light
  and your truth;
let them lead me;
  let them bring me
to your holy hill
  and to your dwelling.

Then I will go to the altar
  of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
   and I will praise you
with the harp, O God,
  my God.

Why are you cast down,
  O my soul,
and why are you disquieted
  within me?

Hope in God;
  for I shall again praise the one,
who is my help
  and my God.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, "Mortal, can these bones live?" I answered, "O Lord God, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord." So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, "Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act," says the Lord.


Psalm 143

Hear my prayer,
  O God;
give ear to my supplications
  in your faithfulness;
answer me
  in your righteousness.

Do not enter into judgment
  with your servant,
for no one living is righteous
  before you.

For the enemy has pursued me,
  crushing my life to the ground,
making me sit in darkness
  like those long dead.

Therefore my spirit faints
  within me;
my heart within me
  is appalled.

I remember the days of old,
  I think about all your deeds,
I meditate on the works
  of your hands.

I stretch out my hands to you;
  my soul thirsts for you
like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, O God;
  my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face
  from me,
or I shall be like those who go down
  to the Pit.

Let me hear of your steadfast love
  in the morning,
for in you I put my trust.

Teach me the way I should go,
   for to you I lift up my soul.

Save me, O God,
  from my enemies;
I have fled to you
  for refuge.

Teach me to do your will,
  for you are my God.
Let your good spirit lead me
  on a level path.

For your name's sake, O God,
  preserve my life.
In your righteousness bring me out
  of trouble.

In your steadfast love
  cut off my enemies,
and destroy all my adversaries,
  for I am your servant.

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.


Psalm 98

O sing to God
  a new song,
for God has done
  marvelous things.

God's strong hand
  and holy arm
have gotten God the victory.

God has made known God's victory,
  and has revealed God's vindication
in the sight of the nations.

God has remembered
  having steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth
  have seen the victory
of our God.

Make a joyful noise to God,
  all the earth;
break forth into joyous song
  and sing praises.

Sing praises to God
  with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound
  of melody.

With trumpets and the sound
  of the horn
make a joyful noise before the Ruler,
  the Sovereign.

Let the sea roar,
  and all that fills it;
the world and those
  who live in it.

Let the floods clap their hands;
  let the hills sing together for joy

at the presence of God,
  for God is coming to judge the earth.

God will judge the world
  with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

Romans 6:3-11

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.


Psalm 114

When Israel went out
  from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people
  of strange language,

Judah became God's sanctuary,
  Israel became God's dominion.

The sea looked and fled;
  Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
  the hills like lambs.

Why is it, O sea,
  that you flee?
O Jordan,
  that you turn back?

O mountains,
  that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?

Tremble, O earth,
  at the presence of God,
at the presence of the God
  of Jacob,
who turns the rock
  into a pool of water,
who turns the flint
  into a spring of water.

Mark 16:1-8

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Notes on the Lectionary and Liturgical Colors
by the Rev. Susan Blain, Curator for Worship and Liturgical Arts (mailto:blains@ucc.org)
Faith Formation Ministry, Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ

(Essay based on an article by Laurence Hull Stookey: "Putting Liturgical Colors in their Place" in Calendar: Christ's Time for the Church ©1996 Abingdon Press.)  

The use of colors to differentiate liturgical seasons is a custom in use among some Western churches for hundreds of years. Although the custom of using colors is an ancient one, there has not always been agreement on what the colors should be. The Council of Trent in 1570, a Roman Catholic response to the Reformation, codified the colors for the Roman Catholic Church. When we talk about "traditional" colors today, we usually are referring to that codification. There were four basic colors in that codification: purple (penitence), red (Spirit or Martyrs memorials), green (long season after Pentecost) and white (festivals). Other colors, or no color at all, were acceptable variants in some regions.

The Reformation of course was a watershed for Christian ritual practice. Anglican and Lutheran churches often used some form of liturgical colors; however, the Reformed tradition of churches, where the UCC falls, for the most part did away with the custom of using colors, opting for much more simplicity. During the ecumenical liturgical movement of the mid-20th Century, Protestant churches began to look back at some of the ritual and colorful practices of the past with an eye toward reclaiming them to help give expression to feeling, tone, and imagery underlying the lectionary stories.  
Before the Reformation's iconoclasm, and Trent's code, practices varied from place to place, often depending on what was available. Indeed, in some places the custom was to organize vestments into practical categories of "best," "second best," and "everyday"--not depending on the color at all. For Christmas and Easter the "best" vestments were used, no matter the color! Other, less prominent feasts or Sundays got "second best" or "everyday."