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Event Series Event Series: Proper 13 – Year B

Proper 13 – Year B

4 August All day

Below you will find the Bible readings set for this occasion in the Revised Common Lectionary, with our Australian idiomatic paraphrases of them, plus prayers and sermons based on them.

Bible Readings (paraphrased)

Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary. Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts(CCT) P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.

The news that Uriah had been killed in battle reached his wife, Bathsheba, and she went into mourning. When the customary time of mourning was over, King David arranged for her to move into the palace. She became his wife, and a son was born to them. But David’s actions had put him off side with the LORD.

The LORD sent the prophet Nathan to speak to David. Nathan addressed the King saying:

Consider this case, your Majesty. Two men lived on neighbouring properties. One of them was filthy rich. He owned huge mobs of sheep and cattle, and plenty of land to graze them on. The other man was dirt poor. He rented his land and owned only one small lamb. The lamb was like a pet to him and his children. It even used to eat at their table and sleep on the end of their bed. People used to joke that he treated the lamb like one of his daughters. One day the rich man had a guest from out of town. He was too stingy to butcher any of his own animals to prepare a meal for his guest, so he sent a servant over the fence to steal the poor man’s lamb. He had the lamb roasted and carved up for the evening meal.”

David was so outraged he nearly exploded! He thumped the table and said, “I swear by God, such a cruel and callous crime will not go unpunished. Hanging’s too good for a man like that! I order that he be made to pay compensation at four times the value of what he stole.”

Nathan looked David straight in the eye and said, “You are the man! You stand condemned by your own words! Now listen to what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to you:

I chose you to be king of Israel. When Saul was trying to kill you, I rescued you. I gave you his throne and his wives and made you king over both Israel and Judah. If that wasn’t enough, you should have said so. I would have gladly given you whatever you asked for. So why do you spit in my face now? Why have you rejected what I taught you and committed such a horrible crime? You murdered Uriah the Hittite so you could get your hands on his wife. He was fighting for you against the Ammonites – he shouldn’t have had to guard his back against you! And now the cat’s out of the bag. Your despicable behaviour will sow seeds of violence and betrayal that will tear apart your family generation after generation. Watch your back. Rebellion will come from within your own family and I’ll hand over your wives to the rebel before your very eyes. He’ll have sex with them right out in the open. Your crime was hidden away where no one could see, but your humiliation will happen in public where everyone can see.”

David cried out to Nathan, saying, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

O God, your love never gives up.
Have mercy on me now!

I’m relying on your record of generous mercy:
please wipe my slate clean!

Scrub away the filth I’ve been living in;
Scour away the stain of my sin.

I know only too well what I’ve done;
my sins stare me in the face.

It is you I’ve double-crossed, you I’ve betrayed;
I’ve done things which I knew you despised.

You have all the facts and you know what I deserve;
what ever you decide is fair enough.
I’ve been on the wrong side of you forever.
I turned my back on you before I was born.

You want honesty that comes from deep within,
so teach me your wisdom,
let it take root in my heart.

Get the bleach out and give me the treatment!
Soak me and wash me
until I’m as white as snow.

Open my ears to laughter and music.
Though you ground me into the dirt,
let me now rise to the sounds of joy.

Turn a blind eye to my record;
disregard my prior convictions.

Renovate me from the inside, O God;
rebuild my heart and rewire my brain;
install in me a new fault-free operating system.

Don’t cut me off from you now,
or withdraw your Holy Spirit from me.

Rekindle in me the joy of being safe in your care,
and fill me with an insatiable desire to follow you.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

I am still in this detention centre, locked up for the Lord, but you are free to live out the life God has called you to. It’s a high calling, but on bended knee I beg of you — live up to it. Give it everything you’ve got! Don’t let your zeal make you aggressive though. In all your dealings, stay humble, gentle, patient. Even when things get rocky among you, hang in there with each other. Don’t let your love give up. In the Spirit you are one people, held together in peace. Put every effort in to making sure that that vision is a lived reality and not just a pious ideal.

This unity is evident in everything. The Spirit is one; the body into which we have been incorporated is one; and the quest we are called to is one. We have only one Lord; we share one faith; and we all came into it through the one baptism. We are all children of the one God, who surrounds everything, permeates everything, and embraces everything.

That doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of clones though. In his extraordinary generosity, Christ takes care to give us each the gifts that are just right for us. As the scriptures say,

“When he rose to the heights
he took confinement itself a prisoner,
and handed out gifts to the people.”

Now, when you think about it, it becomes clear that if he ‘rose to the heights’ he must first have come down to the earth — right down into the depths of the earth. He who plumbed the depths and he who rose to the heights are one and the same, and he fills everything in the universe with his presence.

It was he who ‘handed out gifts to the people’. He gifted some to be apostles and some to be prophets; others to be missionaries; and still others to be pastors and teachers. All these gifts are given for the task of equipping everyone in the church for the work of ministry. In this way the church, as the body of Christ, can grow strong and healthy. The work continues until we are all truly one — united by the shared experience of knowing and trusting the Son of God. That’s our destiny — full maturity — the realisation of our quest to live up to our role-model, Jesus Christ.

So it’s time immaturity became a thing of the past. We’ve been as gullible as little children, easy prey to those who offer sugar-coated deceptions. Racketeers and snake-oil merchants are always offering yet another new gimmicky life-change plan for those who fall for one scam after another. It’s time we grew up! It’s time we had the guts to face the truth, and to speak it with love. That’s what it will take for us to grow to be like Christ, to be part of Christ. We’ve got to let him call the shots. He is like the brain, which communicates through the nervous system to keep every organ and muscle functioning harmoniously. Only with every part answering to him will the conditions be right for the body to grow strong and robust, bulked up in love.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

When the crowd who Jesus had fed realised that he and his disciples were gone, they piled into the boats and headed across to Capernaum to look for him.

When they tracked him down on the far side of the lake, they questioned him, “Rabbi, when did you arrive here?”

Jesus took them to task, saying, “If the truth be known, you’re not looking for me because you saw signs of God in what I did, but simply because you got a free meal out of me. You’ll never satisfy your real hunger with a belly full of food, no matter how much effort you put into it. Put your energy instead into finding the life-giving food that will never stop nourishing you. The New Human will give it to you, and he has been guaranteed by God the Father.”

Hearing that, they asked, “What do we have to do to get in on what God’s doing?”

Jesus replied, saying, “This is all God asks: that you stake everything on the One he has sent.”

But they began beating around the bush, saying, “Show us a sign. What proof can you give us so that we’ll know it is right to commit ourselves to what you say? Show us what you can do. Moses brought down bread from heaven for our ancestors to eat in the desert. It says so in the scriptures.”

Then Jesus set them straight: “If the truth be known, Moses wasn’t the one who gave you the bread from heaven. It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. The bread that God is offering you is the real stuff — bread direct from heaven that gives life to the world.”

“We’ll take it, Sir!” they said. “Give us this bread from now on.”

Jesus said to them, “It’s me. I am the bread of life. Anyone who comes on board with me will never hunger or thirst again. Put your trust in me and you will always be satisfied.”

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Prior to the revision of the Lectionary in 1992, the 1st reading and the psalm that responded to it were chosen to link thematically with the gospel reading. After hearing the critique of those who said that the Hebrew Scriptures, from which the first reading is usually chosen, should be allowed to speak with their own voice rather than just add support to the gospel reading, the Lectionary was revised so that during Ordinary Time, the 1st reading runs in its own semi-continuous series, working through various books of the Hebrew Bible. The older themed series continues to be available as an alternative.

The weekly prayers offered here at LaughingBird Resources are based on the four readings above, and do not draw on the themed 1st reading and psalm.

Once they were on their own in the outback, the Israelite people began to lose their nerve and worry about how they were going to survive, and the whole crowd started whingeing and criticising Moses and Aaron. The people were saying, “We would have been better off waiting for the LORD to kill us back in Egypt. At least there was always a pot of stew on the boil there, and as much bread as we could eat. But you two have dragged us out into the scrub so that you can starve us all to death out here.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to make bread fall from the sky like rain for you. Each day the people are to go out and collect enough for that day only. I am going to test out the people to see whether or not they will do what I tell them. They are not to stockpile it.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Give this message to the whole Israelite congregation: ‘Draw close to the LORD, for the LORD has listened to your complaints.’”

And even as Aaron was addressing the gathered people, they looked out across the desert and witnessed an awesome display of the LORD’s glory in the clouds.

The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “Because I have listened to the people’s problems, I want you to give them this message: ‘At sundown you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have plenty of bread. Then you will know for sure that I am the LORD your God.”

That evening, an enormous flock of game birds came in and settled all over the camp where the people could pick them off with ease. Then in the morning, the ground was covered in dew, and as the dew dried, it left a layer of fine flaky stuff on the ground. It looked like a light sprinkling of snow on the desert floor. When the people saw it, they had no idea what it was and began to ask one another, “What on earth is this stuff?”

Moses told them, “This is the bread that the LORD has provided for you to gather up and eat.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

LORD, when our ancestors were wandering in the outback
you gave orders to the sky,
and opened the storerooms of heaven;
you rained down manna for them to eat,
the grain of heaven as a gift to them.

Mere human beings ate the bread of angels,
for you sent them all the food they could eat.

You set the wind blowing in the sky,
gusting from south and east with your power;
and on the wind you sent more food still;
game birds coming in like wind-blown sand,
falling thick on the ground around the camp,
meals-on-wings landing on their doorstep.

The people stuffed themselves happily, LORD,
because you had given them just what they were craving.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


Let us lift up our hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for you have sent us bread from heaven
to give life to the whole world.

You are above all and through all and in all,
and by your word all things were created.
You fed your people with manna from heaven,
and even when they defied you,
if they turned from their callous ways,
you fed them again with your wisdom and truth.

In your Son, Jesus Christ,
you have offered yourself to us as the bread of life
that we might be nourished and built up
as one body in the bond of peace.
Though he was murdered by those he fought to save,
you raised him from the depths of the earth
to fill the whole universe with his gifts
and baptise all things into one body,
held together by one spirit, under one Lord.

Therefore with .....

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

We give thanks for your Son, Jesus Christ,
in whom you offer yourself to us as the bread of life
that we might be nourished in truth
and baptised into one body,
held together by one spirit, under one Lord.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

(Preface reformatted for use apart from communion)

We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for you have called us to the one hope;
one Lord, one faith and one baptism.

You are above all and through all and in all,
and by your word all things were created.
You fed your people with manna from heaven,
and even when they defied you,
if they turned from their callous ways,
you fed them again with your wisdom and truth.

Your Son, Jesus Christ, came among us
doing your works
and speaking your truth in love
that we might be bound together
as one body in the bond of peace.
Though he was murdered by those he fought to save,
you raised him from the depths of the earth
to fill the whole universe with his gifts
and baptise all things into one body,
held together by one spirit, under one Lord.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

God, in tender mercy, does not cast us aside,
or withdraw the Holy Spirit from us,
but saves us, washing away our sin
and cleansing us from our guilt.

Sisters and Brothers,
  your sins are forgiven;
    be at peace.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Go out from here and live lives worthy
of the one calling which we all share.
In humility, gentleness and patience,
speak only what is true and loving
and so grow into the unity that is ours in Christ.

And may God the creator reshape your hearts;
May Christ Jesus, the bread of life, sustain you always;
and may the Holy Spirit unite you in the bond of peace.

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

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


Sermons will open in new tabs from our SYCBaps church website.

  1. Love that Body!
    A sermon on Ephesians 4:1-16 by Nathan Nettleton
  2. Bread and Circuses
    A sermon on John 6:24-35 & 2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13a by Nathan Nettleton
  3. Grow Up
    A sermon on Ephesians 4:1-16 & John 6:24-35 by Nathan Nettleton
  4. Confronting the Almighty
    A sermon on 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a, Ephesians 4:1-16 & John 6:24-35 by Nathan Nettleton
  5. A Question of Repentance
    A sermon on 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a by Nathan Nettleton
  6. Thank God for Painful People!
    A sermon on Ephesians 4:1-16 by Nathan Nettleton


4 August