Scripture Paraphrases

The Laughing Bird Scripture Paraphrases were inspired by “The Message”, the scripture paraphrase work of Eugene Peterson, and in many places is indebted to that work. During the Easter season, 2000, our congregation tried using “The Message” for the scripture readings in worship and found that while its contemporary idiom and vivid imagery made the lections more lively and confronting, there were two problems. Firstly, The Message seems to have been written for private reading rather than for reading out loud. Peterson often renders ideas by using newly hyphenated words or visual emphases that which work very well to the eye but are difficult to read in a way that carries to the ear. Secondly, being an idiomatic paraphrase, it was very American and often used idioms or words that were unfamiliar to Australian ears. So, being unable to find an Aussie equivalent, we began producing one. These readings are deliberately Australian and are written for reading out loud. It probably won’t ever be a full Bible, but it now covers everything included in the Revised Common Lectionary. Our experience is that they arrest people’s attention and demand a hearing when read out loud, but we don’t recommend making them generally available to people for use in their personal Bible study. There is still something important about wrestling with the strange “otherness” of the scriptures.

This passage is set for the following occasions:
Trinity Sunday in Year A
-the Great Paschal Vigil
-t
he Feast of the Baptism of our Lord in Year B (1:1-5)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

At the outset, when God created the universe,
the earth was lifeless and shapeless;
a deep ocean of chaos, shrouded in darkness;
brooded over by the Spirit of God.

Then God called for light,
and light appeared.
God saw that light was a good thing,
and separated it from the darkness.
God named the light Day,
and the darkness Night.
Evening passed and morning came;
the first day was done.

Then God called for a clear space
to keep out the water on either side.
God made the clear space
and the water was split in two, above and below.
That is what happened,
and God named the space Sky.
Evening passed and morning came;
the second day was done.

Then God called for the waters under the sky
to be pooled into one place
and for dry land to appear elsewhere.
That is what happened,
and God named the dry land Earth
and the pooled waters Sea.
God saw that this was a good thing.

Then God called for the earth to produce vegetation:
plants and trees, rich with fertile fruits and seed,
and that is what happened.
The earth burst forth with vegetation of every kind;
grasses and vines, shrubs and trees,
fertile with seeds and fruits of every kind.
God saw that this was a good thing.
Evening passed and morning came;
the third day was done.

Then God called for lights in the space called sky;
lights to shine from above and light up the earth,
to separate day from night,
and to mark out the months, seasons and years.
That is what happened;
God made stars to fill the sky
and two big lights:
a bright one to dominate the day,
and a soft one to take over at night.
God set them all in the sky
to light up the earth and determine day and night;
to separate out the light from the darkness.
God saw that this was a good thing.
Evening passed and morning came;
the fourth day was done.

Then God called for the waters to fill with living creatures,
and for the skies to fill with birds flying over the earth.
God created all the creatures that live and move in the water,
the enormous monsters of the sea and the teeming fish,
and every kind of bird that wings its way through the air.
God saw that this was a good thing
and set them up for life,
encouraging the fish to multiply and fill the seas
and the birds to multiply all over the earth.
Evening passed and morning came;
the fifth day was done.

Then God called for the earth to bring forth all sorts of living creatures:
insects, reptiles, mammals;
animals of every kind, tame and wild.
That is what happened;
God made wild animals of every kind to fill the earth,
every kind of herd and flock,
and every creature that runs or jumps or crawls on land.
God saw that this was a good thing.

Then God said:
“We will make people in our own image,
modelling them on ourselves.
We will entrust to them the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, the flocks and herds,
and all the wild animals and creepy-crawlies.”

So God created people as a reflection of God,
created them to be like God,
created them male and female.

God set them up for life,
and encouraged them to multiply and fill the earth.
God told them to exercise control over the earth
and to manage the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air and every living thing on earth.

God said to the people:
“Look, I have given you the grain crops
that grow and reproduce themselves all over the earth,
and all the trees that grow from seed and bear fruit;
they are all yours for food.
I have also provided vegetation galore
as food for the animals, birds and creepy-crawlies,
for everything that lives and breathes.

So it all happened, just as God said.
Everything God had made was there to be seen
and God was delighted with it all.
Evening passed and morning came;
the sixth day was done.

With that, the universe was complete,
along with everything that fills it.
With the work finished,
God took the seventh day off.

After all the work God had done,
the seventh day was a well earned rest.
So God made the seventh day special,
a sacred day,
because that day was God’s day off
after all the work of creating everything.

So that’s the family lineage of the universe;
the story of how everything came to be.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- 1st Sunday in Lent in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD God put the humans in the garden of Eden so that they could tend the garden and look after it. The LORD God gave them these instructions: “You are free to eat the fruit from every tree in the garden except one. There is one tree whose fruit you must not eat, for just one bite of it and your minds will start dividing everything up into good and evil. The day that happens, you lose your life.”

Now, among the wild animals which the LORD God had made, the most devious of all was the snake. The snake approached the woman one day and said, “Did God tell you you couldn’t eat fruit from the trees in the garden?”

The woman replied, “We are free to eat fruit from any tree in the garden except for one tree in the middle. God told us not to eat its fruit or even touch it because if we do we will die.”

But the snake said to the woman, “You would not die. God knows very well that if you eat that fruit you will be able to see what you cannot yet see. You will be like God, because you be able to judge good and evil.”

Then the woman stared at the fruit on the tree. It was beautiful, and not only looked delicious, but now it looked to her like a desirable shortcut to great wisdom, so she took a piece of the fruit and ate it. The man was with her, so she gave some to him and he ate it too. Suddenly they saw everything through different eyes. Feeling exposed, and needing to cover up, they sewed fig leaves together to hide their nakedness.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 22 in Year B (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After creating the man, the LORD God said, “It is a bit tough for the man to be all alone. I will make a partner for him, to share the load.”

So getting to work, the LORD God formed from the ground all the land animals and the birds of the air. The LORD brought them to the man to see what he would make of them. The man gave each living creature its first name, and the names stuck. He named them all: the wild animals, the farm animals, and the birds of the air. But none of them made the grade as a suitable partner for the man. So the LORD God put the man into a deep sleep, out for the count. While the man was under, the LORD removed one of his ribs and sealed up the flesh where it had come from. And then, using the rib from the man’s side, the LORD God fashioned a woman, and brought her to the man. This time the man said,

“Yes! At last! One of my own kind!
My own flesh and blood!
This one will be called Woman,
because there is a part of me in her from the start.”

That is why men and women leave their parents and tie the knot with one another. They become an item — one flesh.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 5 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

In the cool of the evening breeze, Adam and Eve heard the LORD God walking towards them in the garden. They panicked and hid behind the some trees, trying to avoid coming face to face with the LORD God. But the LORD God was looking for them, and called out to them, saying, “Where are you?”

The man said, “I heard you coming through the garden and I panicked because I was stark naked, so I dived for cover.”

The LORD God asked, “Who pointed out that you were naked? It never bothered you before. Have you eaten fruit from the tree that I clearly told you not to eat from?”

The man said, “It wasn’t my fault. You put this woman here with me. She gave me the fruit and I ate it.”

So the LORD God turned to the woman and said, “What’s the story? What have you done?”

The woman replied, “I was tricked into eating it by the snake.”

So the LORD God passed sentence on each of them, beginning with the snake, saying,

“A curse upon you for what you have done.
You of all the animals, cursed!
You of all the wild creatures, cursed!

Down on your belly you go!
Face down: you can eat dust
for the rest of your life!

You and the woman will be sworn enemies.
There will always be war
between your offspring and hers.

Her offspring will go for your head
and you will go for his heel.

©2014 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 9th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
- Proper 4 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

This is the story of Noah. Noah was a man who always did the right thing by everybody: the only person of real integrity on the earth in that generation. Noah and his wife had three sons named Shem, Ham and Japheth.

The rest of the human race had become totally corrupt and violent, and God was sick of the sight of it. Seeing how depraved everyone had become, God spoke to Noah and said:

“I have made up my mind to wipe the human race off the face of the earth, because they have made the earth a violent and heartless place. So now I am going to destroy them and wipe the planet clean, ready for a fresh start. Build yourself an enormous lifeboat according to these specifications. Use marine-quality timbers for the construction and apply a waterproof lining of tar, inside and out. Build it with three deck levels and many cabins. The overall dimensions are to be as follows: a length of 150 metres; a width of 25 metres; and a height of 15 metres. Build a roof over the top with a half metre clearance between it and the top of the side walls. Build the lifeboat with a single entrance on the side.

“What I am going to do is completely flood the earth with water to wipe out everything that lives and breathes on it. Every creature on earth will die. But I am going to form a new alliance with life on earth, setting it up with you. You are to move into the lifeboat along with your wife, your sons, and their wives. You are also to take on board a male and a female of every kind of living creature to keep them alive with you. Every kind of bird, every kind of animal, and every kind of creepy-crawly on earth: take with you a breeding pair of each to keep them alive. You are also to store a full range of food on board the life-boat; enough to feed your family and all the animals.”

So Noah went ahead and followed God’s instructions to the letter. Sure enough, the swollen waters flooded the earth for one hundred and fifty days. Even after that, everyone had to stay on board for nearly three months more while the earth dried out. Eventually God said to Noah:

“It is time for you and your whole family to leave the lifeboat. Unload all the living creatures that are with you; all the birds and animals and creepy-crawlies of every kind. Release them so that they can breed like rabbits and restock the earth.”

So Noah disembarked with his wife and their sons and their son’s wives. And out of the lifeboat with them came all the animals, all the creepy-crawlies, and all the birds – breeding pairs of every kind of creature that lives on the earth.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Great Paschal Vigil
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD said to Noah:

“I want you and your family to board the giant lifeboat you have built, because you are the only person alive who does the right thing in my eyes. It is time to move the animals on board too. Take seven breeding pairs of every kind of animal that can be offered in worship, one breeding pair of every kind that cannot, and seven pairs of every kind of flying bird. In this way we will ensure the survival of all their species on the earth. You’ve only got seven days before the rain starts, so get cracking. I will make it bucket down, day and night, for forty days, to wipe every living thing from the face of the earth, everything I have created.”

So Noah got stuck into it and followed the LORD’s instructions to the letter. Noah was six hundred years old at the time, and sure enough, on the seventeenth day of the second month that year, great torrents of water came flooding up from beneath the ground and the clouds burst from above. Rain bucketed down, day and night, for forty days. The very day it began, Noah finished loading the lifeboat and moved in with his wife, his three sons — Shem, Ham and Japheth — and their three wives. On board they had loaded every kind of animal, wild and domestic, every kind of creepy-crawly, and every kind of bird and flying animal. There were breeding pairs of every species that lives and breathes on the earth, and they all went on board the lifeboat with Noah. Noah had rounded them all up and herded them into the boat, just as God had instructed him, and when they were all aboard, the LORD closed the door to keep them in.

The flood waters surged over the earth for forty days, and as the waters rose the lifeboat floated up well clear of the ground below. The waters continued to swell, becoming deeper and deeper over the earth, but the lifeboat floated safely on the surface.

When the rain stopped after forty days, Noah opened a window in the lifeboat he had built, and released a crow. It never came back, but kept flying back and forth until the waters had dried up. So Noah released a pigeon, in order to find out whether the waters had subsided enough to find dry land. But the pigeon returned to the boat, because the water was still too deep and it couldn’t find anywhere else to land. Noah put out his hand for the bird to land on and brought it back inside. He waited another seven days and then released the pigeon from the boat again. That evening the pigeon came back carrying a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak, so Noah knew that the waters had subsided enough for the land to begin drying out. Seven days later he released the pigeon again, and this time it never came back.

They had been in the lifeboat for nearly a year before the flood was gone completely. It was New Year’s Day when Noah opened up the roof of the boat and took a look around. He could see that the ground was still soggy, but drying fast. Eventually, on the twenty seventh day of the second month that year, the earth was dry enough, and God said to Noah:

“It is time for you and your whole family to leave the lifeboat. Unload all the living creatures that are with you; all the birds and animals and creepy-crawlies of every kind. Release them so that they can breed like rabbits and restock the earth.”

So Noah disembarked with his wife and their sons and their son’s wives. Then God said to Noah and his family:

“I, myself, am forging an alliance with you, and with all your descendants to come, and with every living creature; all the birds, domestic animals, and wild animals of the earth who came out of the lifeboat with you. In the terms of this alliance which I am forging with you, I am giving you my word that never again will all life be wiped out by a flood. There will never be another flood that will totally destroy the earth. I am making this alliance between me and you and all the living creatures that are with you, and I am signing it in the clouds. The rainbow that I have put in the clouds for you all to see is my signature on the alliance between me and the earth.”

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 1st Sunday in Lent in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

God said to Noah and his family:

“I, myself, am forging an alliance with you, and with all your descendants to come, and with every living creature; all the birds, domestic animals, and wild animals of the earth who came out of the lifeboat with you. In the terms of this alliance which I am forging with you, I am giving you my word that never again will all life be wiped out by a flood. There will never be another flood that will totally destroy the earth. I am making this alliance between me and you and all the living creatures that are with you, and I am signing it in the clouds. The rainbow that I have put in the clouds for you all to see is my signature on the alliance between me and the earth. Whenever I make the clouds gather and my rainbow signature becomes visible there, I will remember the alliance that governs my relationship with you and with every living creature on earth. I will remember, and the waters will never again become a flood that wipes out all life on earth. I will see the rainbow which I have signed in the clouds and remember that I am party to a permanent binding alliance with every living creature of every kind on the earth. I assure you, Noah, that with this signature that you see in the clouds, I have sealed the alliance between me, God, and the entire community of living creatures on the earth.”

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
-the Day of Pentecost in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

In ancient times, everyone in the whole world spoke the same language and could understand each other clearly. As the human race spread out towards the East, they settled the plains region in an area known as Shinar. Once there, an enormous project was proposed:

“Come one and all, let’s build ourselves a great city with the world’s tallest skyscraper. Let’s use the latest technology: kiln-fired bricks instead of stone, and bitumen instead of mortar. Let’s earn ourselves a global reputation for innovation and excellence. If we don’t, we’ll be nothing but mediocre little mobs, scattered all over the world!”

So the project was begun, and the LORD came down for a look. Seeing the construction of the city and the skyscraper underway, the LORD said:

“Look, these people are getting too big for their boots, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. United by a common language and common ambition, there will be no stopping them. Come, let us go down and reprogram their tongues so that they will begin to speak in different languages and not be able to understand each other.”

So the LORD split them up into different language groups and scattered them across the face of the globe. The construction of the city was abandoned. The place came to be known as Babel because it was there that the peoples’ languages became like confused babble to one another and they split up into separate tribes that kept away from each other.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 5 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD spoke to Abram, and said:

“Get up and leave your country, your relatives and the family of your parents, and move to the land that I will show you. I will make things go well for you and see that your descendants become a great nation. I will see to it that you are remembered as one of the greats; as one whose life was a blessing to others. I will do good to those who do good to you, and I will pull the rug out from under anyone who pulls the rug out from under you. Life will be better for everyone on earth because of you.”

So, at the age of seventy five, Abram got up and left Haran, just as the LORD had told him to. He took with him his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all their labourers. They packed up all the possessions they had accumulated over the years in Haran, and set out for the land of Canaan.

When they arrived in the land of Canaan, Abram pushed on as far as Shechem, to the sacred site known as the tree of Moreh. The Canaanite people were living in the land at the time, but the LORD turned up and made a promise to Abram, saying, “I will give this land to your descendants.”

Abram built a monument to the LORD there, so that the place where the LORD had appeared to him might be a place for offering worship. After that, he set out again and headed into the hill country to the east of Bethel. He set up camp between Bethel and Ai, and there he built another monument to the LORD and called on the LORD in prayer. From there, Abram pushed south towards the Negeb Desert, making the journey one stage at a time.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 2nd Sunday in Lent in Year C
Proper 14 in Year C  (v.1-6) (Themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD spoke to Abram in a vision, saying, “Abram, don’t you worry about a thing. I am your armour-plated protection and you will be greatly rewarded for your loyalty to me.”

But Abram said, “Thank you, Lord GOD, but the only thing I really want is the one thing you’ve never given me: children. I have longed for children of my own but you have not given me any. When I die, there will be no one to carry on my family name, and since the only person born in my house is Eliezer, my Turkish servant; he will inherit everything I own.

But the LORD spoke to Abram again, saying, “Eliezer will not be your heir. You will be able to pass on your property to a child of your own.”

The LORD took Abram outside and said, “Look at the night sky, Abram. See if you can count how many stars there are. You can’t, can you? Well, your descendants will be as uncountable as the stars in the night sky.”

Abram took the LORD’s word on trust, and for that the LORD regarded him as a good man.

The LORD spoke to Abram further, saying, “It was me who brought you safely here when you emigrated from the Chaldean land of Ur. It was me who gave you this land.”

But Abram said, “Lord GOD, how can I know for sure that this land is mine to keep?”

The LORD replied, “Okay, I’ll go through the ritual of a binding promise. On pain of death, you will have my word. You go and set up what is customary for the ceremony.”

So the next morning, Abram slaughtered three animals: a heifer, a ram, and a female goat — each three years old. He cut them in half and laid the halves opposite each other in two lines. He also killed a turtledove and a pigeon and laid one in each line. For the rest of the day, while he waited for the ceremony to commence, he was kept busy protecting the carcasses from the birds of prey.

When the sun went down, Abram was surrounded by a dense and awesome darkness, and he fell into a deep sleep. When the last glow was gone from the sky and everything was pitch black, the presence of the LORD appeared as a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, and passed between the pieces of animal carcass. That completed the ritual, and in that way, the LORD made a binding promise to Abram, saying, “You have my word that I will give this land to your descendants, all the way from the Egyptian border to the great Euphrates river.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 2nd Sunday in Lents in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

One day, when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD turned up and spoke to him, saying, “I am God Almighty. You are to live your life openly before me, with absolute integrity. I will put in place an alliance between me and you, and under its terms, I will make sure you have a huge number of descendants.”

Abram dropped in his tracks with his face to the ground as God continued to speak to him, saying:

“I, myself, am forging this alliance with you: I am promising that you will be the ancestor of a whole bunch of nations. You are not to be known by the name Abram anymore. From now on, your name will be Abraham, because it means ‘the father of many’, and that is what you will be. I will make everything go well for you, and your family will multiply rapidly. From among your offspring, whole nations and kings will emerge. I will put this alliance in place between me and you and all who are to come in your family line through all generations. This alliance will last forever, committing me to being God to you and to your descendants after you for all time.

Your wife Sarai is in on this alliance too. However her name is to change too. From now on her name will be Sarah. I will see to it that things go well for her, and what’s more, she and you will conceive a child together and she will give birth to a son. I will make things go well for Sarah, and in time, nations and great rulers will trace their family line back to her.”

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 6 in Year A
Proper 11 in Year C  (18:1-10a) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

One blazing hot summer afternoon, Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent, when the LORD appeared to him. Looking up, Abraham saw three strangers approaching him. He immediately jumped up and hurried to welcome them as honoured guests. He said, “Please allow me the honour of sharing the hospitality of my home with you. Come in. Take a bath. Put your feet up for a bit. Let me serve you up a meal so that you can leave refreshed and strengthened. I would count it a favour to have the opportunity to serve you in this way.”

So they said, “Thank you, we accept.”

Abraham hurried into the tent and said, “Sarah. Quick! Knock up a batch of scones while I organise the barbecue.”

Then he ran out to his grazing herd and butchered a prime calf. He instructed one of his workers to prepare the best cuts for the barbecue. When it was all ready, he served it up for his guests with a yoghurt dip and plenty to drink, and waited on them while they ate.

During the meal, they said to him, “Where is your wife, Sarah?”

Abraham replied, “She’s inside; in the tent.”

Then one of the three said, “Mark my words! I’ll be back this way in about a year’s time, and by then your wife Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was in the tent behind them as they talked, and she overheard this. Knowing well that she and Abraham were both elderly, and that she had long since passed menopause, she laughed to herself, saying, “Fat chance! Am I going to have such pleasure at my age; and with my husband past it too?”

The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and question whether she can have a child at her age? Is there any good thing that the LORD is incapable of doing? I will be back this way in about a year’s time, just as I said, and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was shocked that she had been caught, and blurted out, “I didn’t mean to laugh.”“Yes, but you did laugh,” replied the LORD.

The LORD was good to Sarah and followed through on the promise made to her. Sarah fell pregnant to Abraham and gave birth to a baby son. This happened when they were both old and grey — Abraham was already one hundred years old when the child was born. Sarah gave birth to their son right at the time that God had spoken about. Abraham named his son Isaac, and circumcised him when he was eight days old, because that is what God had told him to do. Sarah said, “Now God has given me something to laugh about! And everyone who hears the news will laugh with me! Once no one would have dared raise the topic of me having a baby with Abraham, but now I have given birth to the old man’s son!”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
Proper 12 in Year C (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD said to Abraham, “The reports I am hearing about the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are full of allegations of callous depravity and corruption. I have decided to go down and see for myself whether the situation is really as horrendous as the reports make out. Perhaps the people are really not so bad, but I need to know.”

So the visitors set off in the direction of Sodom, leaving Abraham in the presence of the LORD. Abraham turned to the LORD and said, “Surely you wouldn’t just wipe out everybody; the good along with the bad? What if there are fifty decent, honest people in the city? Will you still go ahead and wipe out the city instead of sparing it for the sake of the fifty good people who live there? Far be it from you to be so indiscriminate, to lump the good people in with the evil, and punish them all the same. How could you? You are the one who sits in judgment over all the earth; surely you must be seen to be fair in your own actions.”

The LORD replied, “If I find fifty decent, honest people in Sodom, I will pardon the whole city for their sake.”

Abraham spoke up again, saying, “I know I am way out of line challenging you, Lord — mere mortal that I am — but what if the count falls five short? Would five people make such a difference that you would go ahead and destroy the whole city?”

The LORD replied, “I will hold fire if I find forty-five decent people.”

Abraham pressed on: “What if you could only find forty there?”

The LORD replied, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.”

Then Abraham said, “Forgive me for pushing the issue, Lord, but what if you can only rustle up thirty?”

The LORD replied, “I will hold fire if I find thirty of them.”

“Maybe I’m pushing my luck, speaking to you like this, Lord,” said Abraham, “but let’s say you found only twenty. What then?”

The LORD replied, “For the sake of twenty I will spare the city.”

Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time; but what if you can find only ten good people in Sodom?”

“Then for the sake of those ten,” the LORD answered, “I will not destroy the city.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 7 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Sarah nursed her son Isaac until he was about three years old, and on the day he was weaned, his father Abraham threw a big party to celebrate. But Sarah saw Ishmael — the son of Abraham and his Egyptian servant, Hagar — laughing with Isaac. She said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. I don’t want my son Isaac having to share his inheritance with the son of a slave woman. Kick them out of here.”

Abraham felt really cut up over this, because both of the boys were his sons. But God said to him, “Don’t stress over your servant and her son. Go along with whatever Sarah demands of you, because it is Isaac’s descendants who will be known as your offspring. But I know that Ishmael is also your son, so I will make sure his descendants become a great nation too.”

So, early the next morning, Abraham got up and packed some food and water into a backpack and put it on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her and the child away. She left and wandered aimlessly in the desert wilderness known as Beer-sheba. The water Abraham had packed for them soon ran out and, in despair, Hagar abandoned the child under a bush. She herself went and sat down about a hundred metres away because she couldn’t bear to watch the child die there in the desert. As she sat there, she cried loudly and bitterly. God heard the sounds of distress from the child and sent a messenger from heaven to speak to Hagar. The messenger said, “What is the matter, Hagar? You have got nothing to fear, because God has heard the boy crying where you left him. Come on. Pick the child up and don’t let go of him again, because I will make him the father of a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she spotted a small water hole. She refilled her water containers with clean water and gave the boy some to drink.

God was on-side with Ishmael, and he grew up living in the wilderness where he became an expert bushman and hunter. He lived in the desert at Paran, and his mother got a wife for him from her homeland, Egypt.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-the Great Paschal Vigil
- Proper 8 in Year A   (v.1-14)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

This is the story of how God put Abraham to the test to find out whether he really had what it takes.

God called to him, saying, “Abraham!”

“At your service,” Abraham replied.

God said, “Go and get Isaac, your son, your only son whom you love. Take him to the mountain that I will point out to you in the land of Moriah. There you are to sacrifice him to me on an altar as a burnt offering.”

So Abraham got up early the next morning and chopped wood for the fire on the altar. He saddled his donkey and set out for the place that God had told him to go with Isaac and two of his hired hands. After three day’s journey, Abraham could finally see their destination in the distance. He said to the two hired hands, “Wait here with the donkey while the boy and I go on up there to worship. We will then return and meet you back here.”

Abraham got Isaac to carry the wood for the burnt offering, and he himself carried the knife and the coals for starting the fire. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac spoke to Abraham saying, “Father!”

“At your service, son,” Abraham replied.

“Haven’t we forgotten something?” Isaac asked. “We’ve got everything we need to get the fire going, but we haven’t brought a lamb to sacrifice as a burnt offering.”

Abraham said, “God will personally provide the lamb for the sacrifice, my son.”

So the two of them walked on together. When they arrived at the spot that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar and stacked the wood on it ready for the fire. Then he tied up his son Isaac, and laid him on top of the wood on the altar. He took the knife in hand and was about to kill his son, when the messenger of the LORD called to him from heaven, saying, “Abraham, Abraham!”

“At your service,” he replied.

The messenger said, “Put down your knife and don’t hurt the boy in any way, for now I know what I needed to know. Since you have not even drawn the line at giving up your only son for me, I know that you trust God, no matter what.”
As he looked up, Abraham saw a ram with its horns entangled in the scrub. So he went and got it, and offered up the ram on the altar as a burnt offering in place of his son.

From then on, Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide,” and a saying was coined that you still hear today: “On the LORD’s mountain all will be provided.”

The messenger of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven again, saying, “This is what the LORD says to you:

I swear to you, and give you my personal guarantee, that because you have done what I told you to do, and not even drawn the line at giving up your only son for me, I will do the right thing by you and set you up for life. I will see to it that your descendants become as countless as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the seashore. They will defeat their enemies and take over their cities and towns. Through your offspring, a better life will be available to everyone on earth, because you obeyed when I spoke to you.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton Laughingbird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 9 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Abraham’s trusted servant addressed Rebekah’s family, saying:

“I work for Abraham and he has sent me here. The LORD has set my boss up very nicely. He has become a very wealthy man, with huge holdings of livestock, investments in silver and gold, a large workforce, and convoys of transport animals. My boss and his wife Sarah became the parents of a son in their old age, and they have signed over their entire fortune to him. My boss has given me the job of finding a suitable wife for his son, but he made me promise that I would not let him marry one of the local Canaanite girls. Instead he has sent me to find a wife for his son from here among his own relatives.

“So, when I pulled up at the waterhole here today, I prayed that the God of my boss would put me on the right track. I said, ‘O LORD, I have arrived here at this waterhole where the young women come to collect water. I will ask the first one who comes for a drink, and she will offer me a drink and offer to draw water for my camels as well. LORD, let her be the one you have chosen to be the bride of my boss’s son.’

“Even before I finished my prayer, Rebekah came out to fill her water container. After she had gone down to the waterhole and collected her water, I asked her for a drink. Without hesitation she offered me a drink from her water container and then offered to draw more water for my camels. So I accepted the drink and she watered my camels. Then I asked her whose daughter she was, and she told me that her father was Bethuel, the son of Nahor and Milcah. I knew then that she came from among my boss’s relatives, so I put on her the ring and the jewellery he had sent. Then I bowed my head and gave thanks to the LORD, the God who my boss Abraham worships. The LORD had put me on the right track so that I could find a suitable wife for my boss’s son from among his own people.

Now then, let me know whether you will do the right thing by my boss. Or if not, tell me straight, so that I will know which way to turn.”

So the family called Rebekah and asked her, “Are you willing to go with this man?”

“I am,” she said.

So they farewelled their sister Rebekah, and sent her off with Abraham’s servant and his drivers. They also sent with her the family servant who had been her childhood nanny. They gave Rebekah their blessing, saying to her,

“Sister, may you become the mother of millions;
may your descendants triumph in everything they do.”

With that, Rebekah and the servant girls who were going with her got up and were seated on the camels. They set off, following Abraham’s servant as he headed for home; mission accomplished.

Now Isaac was living in the southern part of Canaan, near a waterhole called ‘the Eye of God’. One evening as he was out walking to unwind at the end of the day, he looked up and saw the convoy of camels approaching. Rebekah saw him in the distance, and quickly slipped off her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man coming towards us?”

The servant replied, “That’s him, Master Isaac.”

So she made herself ready, with her veil over her face. The servant told Isaac all about the success of his mission. Then Isaac met Rebekah and took her home and she became his wife. As the new leading woman of the tribe, she was given the home that had belonged to Isaac’s late mother, Sarah. Isaac loved Rebekah greatly, and she was a comfort to him as he grieved the death of his mother.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton Laughingbird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 10 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

This is the story of the children of Isaac. Isaac was the son of Abraham, and he was forty years old when he married Rebekah. Rebekah was the daughter of Bethuel and the sister of Laban – Arameans from northern Syria. Despite many years of trying, Isaac and Rebekah were unable to get pregnant, so Isaac prayed to the LORD for help. The LORD granted his request, and Rebekah fell pregnant. Her pregnancy was so difficult that it seemed as though there was a war going on in her womb and she felt like she would be better off dead. In desperation she went to ask the LORD what was going on, and the LORD said to her:

“You are going to have twins who will grow into two nations;
two peoples who will always be at each other’s throats.
The firstborn will have brute strength on his side,
but he will end up serving the younger one.”

Sure enough, when the time came for her to give birth, she delivered twins. The first one was such a hairy baby that he looked like he was wrapped in a red rug. They named him Esau. His brother followed him out of the womb with his hand holding tightly on to Esau’s heel. They named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when his sons were born.

As the boys grew up, Esau proved to be the rugged outdoors type; a skilled bushman and hunter. Wild game-meat was Isaac’s favourite food, so Esau’s hunting skills made him the favourite with his father. Jacob, on the other hand, was the quiet type who spent most of his time around the home, and he became his mother’s favourite.

One time when Esau came in from the bush, he was famished, and he found Jacob cooking up a pot of lentil stew. “Give me a plate of that red stuff,” Esau said to Jacob. “I’m starving to death!” (That’s how he got his nickname, “Edom” or “Red”.)

Jacob said, “You are not getting any of this until you sign over to me your privileges and inheritance as the firstborn.”

Esau said, “What good is my inheritance to me when I’m about to starve to death?”

Jacob said, “Sign on the line first.”

So Esau put pen to paper and signed over to Jacob the privileges and inheritance that were his as the firstborn. Then Jacob served him up a meal of bread and lentil stew. Esau ate and drank, and then got up and went about his business as though his birthright had meant absolutely nothing to him.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton Laughingbird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 11 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Jacob was travelling from Beer-sheba to Haran, and was camping out each night on the way. One night he set up camp in a suitable place, and bedded himself down using a rock that he found there for a headrest. In a dream he saw a ramp spanning the gap between earth and heaven, and God’s messengers were using the ramp to go up and down between the two. As he looked at it, the LORD came and stood beside him and said:

“I am the LORD, the God of your fathers, Abraham and Isaac. I will give to you and your descendants the land on which you are now camped. Your descendants will multiply like a cloud of dust, spreading out in all directions and settling all over the world. Life will be better for all the peoples of the world because of you and your descendants. And you can know for sure that I am with you. I will look after you wherever you go and I will get you safely back to this land. I will stick with you and make good on all my promises to you.”

Jacob woke up suddenly and said, “No bull, the LORD is right here in this place, and I didn’t realise it!” And he was shaking in his boots at the thought of it. “This place makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck,” he said. “This must fair dinkum be the house of God – the front gate of heaven itself!”

So when Jacob got up early the next morning, he took the stone he had used for a headrest and set it up as a monument. He poured oil on top of it to dedicate it to the LORD. He named the place ‘Bethel’, which means ‘House of God’.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton Laughingbird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 12 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

To fulfil a promise to his father, Jacob travelled to his grandfather’s homeland to find a wife from among his own tribal group. He boarded there with his uncle, Laban, and when he had been there for a month, Laban said to him, “You shouldn’t have to work for me for nothing, just because you are related to me. Tell me what you think would be a fair wage.”

Now Laban had two grown daughters named Leah and Rachel. Leah was the older of the two and had a nice personality, but Rachel had a gorgeous face and a shapely body, and Jacob fell head-over-heels in love with her. So when Laban asked him about wages, he said, “I want to marry your younger daughter, Rachel, and I will work for you for seven years as the dowry payment.”

Laban replied, “You’ve got a deal. I’d much rather give her to you than have her marry some stranger.”

So Jacob put in seven years’ hard work in order to gain Rachel as his wife, but it seemed a small price to pay for one he loved so much, and the time flew. Then one day, Jacob said to Laban, “I’ve fulfilled my side of the deal. It is time for you to give me my wife in marriage so that I can make love with her.”

So Laban gathered together all the locals for a huge wedding feast, and they ate and drank long into the night. But the veiled woman who Laban gave away and who Jacob took to his bed and made love with, was Leah. When the morning sun came through the window, he discovered he was lying next to the wrong woman! He stormed off to Laban to demand an explanation. “What’s going on here? We made a deal that I was working for you in return for Rachel, so why have you conned me?”

Laban calmly replied, “It is not the done thing in this neck of the woods to marry off a younger daughter while her older sister is still unmarried. Do the right thing by Leah, and take her on her honeymoon, and as soon as you get back, I’ll let you marry Rachel as well. Then you can work for me for another seven years to pay off the second dowry. So Jacob copped it sweet and fulfilled his obligations to Leah. When their honeymoon was over, there was another wedding and Laban gave his daughter Rachel to Jacob to be his wife.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton Laughingbird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 13 in Year A
- Proper 24 in Year C   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

As he returned from his self-imposed exile, Jacob set up camp for a night at the place where the road crossed the Jabbok Creek. During the night, he got up and decided that it would be safer to shift everyone across to the other side of the creek. So he sent his two wives, his two maids, his eleven children, and all their belongings across the creek while he stayed on alone at the original campsite. There in the darkness, he suddenly found himself wrestling with a stranger. The fight continued until the first light of dawn. Unable to subdue Jacob, the stranger swung a low blow that caught Jacob off-guard and dislocated his hip. Still Jacob would not give up, and the stranger said, “Call it quits! The sun is coming up and you’ve got a big day ahead of you, so let me go.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not release my grip until you give me a blessing.”

So the stranger said, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he replied.

“Not any more,” the stranger said. “From now on you will be known as Israel, because you have struggled against God and against people and you have held your own.”

Then Jacob said to the stranger, “Please tell me your name.”

“Do you really need to ask who I am?” the stranger replied, and then gave Jacob a blessing.

As the stranger departed, Jacob said to himself, “I have come face to face with God and survived to tell the tale!” So he named that place ‘Peniel’ which means ‘face of God’. The sun was fully risen as he left Peniel, walking with a painful limp because of his dislocated hip.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 14 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

This is the story of the family of Jacob, who made his home in the land of Canaan where his father had settled as a migrant.

Jacob and his four wives had many children, but his favourite was Joseph who had been born to him when he was already an old man. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he was working with four of his brothers herding sheep, and he dobbed them in to their father over some things they did wrong. Joseph was already offside with his brothers because of the favouritism their father showed him. They were especially galled that Jacob had singled out Joseph with a gift of a very classy coat. Things got to the stage where his brothers hated him and couldn’t say a civil word to him.

On one occasion, Joseph had stayed at home while the rest of his brothers went droving towards Shechem in search of good pasture for the sheep. Jacob called Joseph and said, “I’ve got a job for you.”

“No worries. I’m free,” said Joseph.

“Your brothers are droving the sheep out near Shechem,” said Jacob. “Go and track them down and see if all is well with them and the sheep, and then come back and let me know.”

So Joseph headed off from the Hebron Valley and began his search. While he was hunting high and low around Shechem, a man asked him what he was looking for, and he replied, “I am looking for my brothers who are droving sheep out this way. Can you tell me where they might be?”

The man replied, “They were here, but they are gone. They said they were going out Dothan way.”

So Joseph headed off on the trail of his brothers and found them out at Dothan. They saw him coming from a distance, and before he arrived, they put their heads together and plotted murder. They said to one another, “Here he comes; the one who dreams of lording it over us. Let’s knock him off and dump his body down a mine shaft. We can report that a wild animal dragged him off. Let’s see what comes of his dreams then!”

But when Reuben heard what they were up to, he stepped in to spare Joseph, saying, “Let’s not kill him. We don’t want his blood on our conscience. Why don’t we just put him down a mine shaft out here in the desert and leave him there?”

Reuben was actually thinking that he could make a hero of himself by coming back later and taking Joseph home to his father, but the suggestion seemed good to his brothers. So when Joseph pulled up alongside them, they tore off his coat – the classy coat that he like to strut around in – and dropped him down an empty mine shaft. There was no water in the mine shaft, but there was no way out either.

A short time later, as they were sitting down eating lunch, they saw a convoy of Ishmaelite traders coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded up with raw materials bound for processing in Egypt. Seeing them, Judah said to his brothers, “Hey, we could do better for ourselves than killing our brother and having to dispose of his body. We could make a nice profit on him if we sold him to the Ishmaelite traders. Then we wouldn’t have to live with the thought of having killed one of our own flesh and blood.”

The rest of the brothers were all in favour of this idea, so they flagged down the traders and struck a deal with them. They pulled Joseph out of the mine shaft and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. The Ishmaelite traders took Joseph to Egypt where they sold him in the slave markets.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 15 in Year A
- 7th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C   (v.3-11, 15)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

As his brothers spoke, Joseph was getting very emotional, and he didn’t want his servants to see him crying so he ordered them all out of the room. Once he was alone with his brothers, he blurted out the truth about his identity. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, and promptly burst into tears. His sobbing was so loud that his Egyptian servants heard it from outside and sent a message about it to the Pharaoh’s palace.

Amidst his tears, Joseph asked his brothers whether his father was still alive, but they were in such a state of shock and panic that they couldn’t even answer him. Joseph called them to gather close around him and, when they did, he said:

“I am your brother, Joseph: the one you sold to the Egyptian slave traders. But don’t panic! Despite what you did, it has worked out for the best. Your actions played into God’s hands, because God was bringing me here so that I could save many lives. The land has been in the grip of drought and famine for two years already, and it’s only going to get worse. It will be another five years before crops can be sown and harvested again. You and your families would have all perished if God hadn’t brought me here ahead of you, but now you will be among the survivors. So, don’t kick yourselves: it was not you, but God, who brought me here. Because of what God has done, even Pharaoh looks up to me now. I run all his business for him, both in the palace and in the whole land of Egypt.”

Joseph then told his brothers that he wanted them to get home as quickly as possible and deliver a message to his father. This is what it said: 

“Dear Dad, I am your son, Joseph, and I am alive! God has put me in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Move down here at once. I will set aside land for you in the region of Goshen so that you can live near me. There will be plenty of room for you, and for your children, your grandchildren, all your livestock, and all your possessions. The drought will last for another five years, but I will provide for you and all your family and livestock so that you will be protected from starvation.”

Joseph said to his brothers, “Now all of you, and especially my brother Benjamin, can see from what I’ve said that I really am Joseph. So don’t waste any time. Get back to my father and tell him what a big man I’ve become here in Egypt and bring him down here as soon as possible.”

Then Joseph threw his arms around Benjamin and wept openly. Benjamin, too, was crying as he hugged his brother. With tears flowing freely, Joseph hugged and kissed all his brothers, and they finally loosened up and were able to talk with him.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 19 in Year A  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After Jacob’s funeral, Joseph’s brothers began to worry that Joseph might still be carrying a grudge against them for selling him into slavery and faking his death all those years before. They were afraid that he might have just been waiting until their father was dead before taking his revenge. So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Shortly before he died, your father put a message in his will for you, saying, ‘To my son, Joseph, I beg you to forgive your brothers for their horrendous crime against you and for all the hurt they caused you.’ So please forgive us for our crime against you. We too are in the service of the God of your father.”

Joseph broke down in tears when he got the message. His brothers came and fell to their knees before him, saying, “We are here at your mercy to do whatever you demand of us.”

But Joseph spoke to them kindly and bent over backwards to reassure them, saying, “Relax! You’ve got nothing to fear from me. I’m not setting myself up as God, so get up off your knees! I know you meant the worst for me then, but God was at work to make the most of what you did. To this day,  God is working through what you did to keep the growing multitude of God’s people safe. So don’t worry. I will personally set you up for life, you and your families.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 16 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

A new king came to power in Egypt, and he knew nothing of Joseph’s place in the history of his nation or why the Israelite people had been welcomed to live there. In his speeches to his people, he appealed to nationalist sentiments and stirred up racial hostility, saying:

“Look at what is going on. There are too many of these Jews in our country and they are getting to powerful. We need to exercise sound management to ensure that the situation does not get out of hand. Otherwise these people will overrun us, and in the event of war they will side with our enemies, fight against us, and escape, leaving our economy in ruins.”

So the Egyptian authorities brought in a policy of oppression, forcing the Israelites into slave labour gangs with harsh taskmasters cracking the whip. These labour gangs were used in the king’s huge infrastructure program, and among other things, they built the massive royal storage facilities in the cities of Pithom and Rameses. However, the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more land they occupied, and that in turn fuelled the fear and hostility towards them. The taskmasters became increasingly ruthless in the way they worked the labour gangs, and life for the workers became a bitter misery as they were worked to the bone on the building sites and in every kind of heavy outdoors work. The productivity targets were outrageous and the treatment of the workers was utterly inhumane.

The policies of oppression became increasingly genocidal. The two Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, were given orders from the king that when they assisted Hebrew women giving birth, they were to kill all the male babies born and allow only the female babies to live. But the midwives cared more about about what God thought than what the king said, so they did not obey the order and continued to let the all the babies live. When he realised that his order had not been carried out, the king called in the midwives and demanded an explanation: “Why have you allowed these baby boys to live?”

The midwives answered, “The Hebrew women seem to have more oomph than the Egyptian women. They pop their babies out so quickly that by the time we arrive, it’s all over.”

And so because the midwives had done the right thing by God, God did the right thing by them and enabled them to have families of their own. The Hebrew people continued to multiply and become a more powerful presence within the country. Eventually the king issued a new order to everyone in his nation: “You are to throw every Hebrew boy that is born into the Nile River. Only the girls are allowed to live.”

A man and a woman from the tribe of Levi got married and fell pregnant. When the child was born, it was a strong and healthy baby boy, and his mother kept him hidden for three months. When he became too boisterous to keep him hidden, she made a little lifeboat for him by plastering a cane basket with tar. She placed him in the little lifeboat and floated it among the reeds near the bank of the river. The baby’s older sister kept watch from a distance to see what would happen to him.

Before long, the daughter of the king came down and took a dip in the river while her bodyguards walked along the bank. She spotted the little lifeboat among the reeds and sent one of her servant girls to get it. When the king’s daughter opened the lid and saw the baby crying inside, she began to feel all clucky. “This must be one of the slave children,” she said.

Then the baby’s sister spoke up and asked the king’s daughter, “Would you like me to go and find a slave woman to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes,” said the king’s daughter. “Go and get one right away.”

So the girl went off and came back with the baby’s mother. The king’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse it for me. I will pay you to be his nanny.”

So the mother took the baby home and raised him. When he had grown up enough, she delivered him back to the king’s daughter, who adopted him as her own. She named him Moses, because it sounded a bit like the word meaning to pull someone out of the water.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 17 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Moses married the daughter of a Midianite priest named Jethro, and worked for him droving his sheep. One day he drove the sheep out back of beyond, and he ended up grazing them on the slopes of Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. While he was there, he saw a bush burst into flames and the messenger of the LORD appeared in the fire. As Moses watched the fire, he was amazed to see that although the fire was intense, the bush was not being burned up and reduced to ash, so he decided to go closer to see if he could work out what was going on. Having got Moses’ attention, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

“At your service,” Moses replied.

“Don’t come any closer!” God said. “And take your boots off, because you are standing on a sacred site. I am the God of your ancestors; the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

At that, Moses pulled his coat over his face because he was afraid to stand face to face with God. Then the LORD said:

“I have seen how my people have been chewed up and spat out in Egypt. I have heard their desperate cries for help as the slave-drivers work them into the ground. The truth is, I know what their suffering is like, and I have come down to break them free, and to bring them up out of the land of slavery. I will bring them into good land of wide open spaces, a land rich with milk and honey. It is presently occupied by the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, but I will give it to my people. The cries of the Israelites have gotten through to me, and I have seen how the tyrants are grinding them into the dirt. So come on Moses, up and at it. I will send you to the king of Egypt to bring my people, the Israelites, out of slavery in his country.”

But Moses said to God, “Hang on a minute! Why me? I must be about the least qualified person on the face of the earth for the job of negotiating with the king of Egypt for the release of his Israelite slaves!”

But God replied, “I will be with you! And this is how you will know that I have been with you: when you have got the people out of Egypt, you will worship me right here on this mountain.”

But Moses continued to protest, saying, “If I go to the Israelites and try to tell them that the God of their ancestors has sent me to them, they’ll never believe me. They will say, ‘And what name does this God go by?’ What am I to tell them then?”

God replied, “I AM who I AM. So you go and tell the Israelites that the one named I AM the LORD has sent you to them. And you can further tell them that the LORD, the God of their ancestors; the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent you to them. This is my name forever; this is how I am to be addressed from now on.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Thursday of Holy Week (Maundy Thursday)
Proper 18 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After the King of Egypt had refused to listen to all the warnings, the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron again, saying:

“Rewrite your calendars — from now on, this month is to be the beginning of the new year. Put the word out among all the Israelite people that on the tenth day of the month, each household is to obtain a lamb or a young goat to be eaten. Small households can combine with their neighbours to share one, dividing it up so that there is enough for everyone to have some. The lamb must be a healthy male yearling with no deformities — not a runt. Having obtained the lamb, the household is to keep it at home for four days. Just after sunset on the fourteenth, all the Israelites are to slaughter the lambs ready for cooking. Take some of the blood and paint it on the frame of the front door of the house where you are eating the lamb. Cook and eat it that night. Don’t serve it raw or boiled. Don’t even cut it up or gut it. Spit-roast it whole over the fire and serve it with unleavened flat-breads and bitter herbs. Eat it all that night. If there is any left over in the morning you are to burn it. When you eat it, you are to eat as though you were in a hurry and about to leave on a journey. You should be dressed and packed, with your walking boots on and your stick at hand. In this way you are to keep the feast of Passover in honour of me, the LORD.

That night, I will pass through Egypt, killing the firstborn sons of every family and the firstborn male animals. I am the LORD, and I will carry out the sentence I have passed on the gods of Egypt this night. The lamb’s blood painted on your door frames will be the sign that your households are to be exempted. I will pass over every house that I see marked with the blood, and you will not be touched by the plague that will strike down the Egyptians.

Remember this day and, in every generation to come, celebrate it as an annual festival to honour me, the LORD.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Great Paschal Vigil
- Proper 19 in Year A (14: 19-31)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

When the Israelites stopped near the Red Sea, they looked back over their shoulders and saw the King of Egypt and his whole army in hot pursuit. They began to cry out in panic:

“God help us! What are you doing to us, Moses? Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Weren’t there enough graves there, so you had to take us off to be slaughtered in the outback? Didn’t we tell you it would come to this, when we were still safe in Egypt? We said ‘Don’t rock the boat, Moses. Leave us be. We are better off working as slaves in Egypt than ending up dead in the outback.’ Didn’t we tell you?”

But Moses replied in a speech, saying:

“Don’t panic! Hold your nerve, and you will see the LORD take action to rescue you, right here and now. Take a last look at your oppressors while you can, because you will never see them alive again. The LORD will fight this battle for you. That should shut you up!”

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

“Why all this whingeing to me? Tell the Israelites to get travelling. Hold up your walking stick and stretch out your hand towards the sea. Slice it open, so that the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on a dry track. The Egyptian army are so pig-headed that they will go in after the people, and when they do, I will cover myself in glory by defeating the King of Egypt and all his armoured vehicles and soldiers. Then all Egypt will understand that I AM the LORD.”

    The angel of God who had been in front of the Israelites now moved around and took up a new position, covering them from the rear. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front of them and settled in a position behind them, making it impossible for the Egyptians and the Israelites to see each other. The cloud shrouded the Egyptian camp in darkness and lit up the night over the Israelite camp, and the night passed without any contact between the two camps.

Then Moses stretched out his hand towards the sea, and, with a violent wind that blew all night, the LORD forced back the sea, carving out a track of dry ground right through the middle of the water. The Israelites trooped into the sea on the dry track with the angry waters towering over them on either side. The Egyptian soldiers gave chase, charging into the middle of the sea aboard their horses and armoured vehicles. Just before dawn, the LORD looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and began to wreak havoc among them, bogging their vehicles and leaving them stuck in the middle. In panic, the soldiers began shouting, “Run for your lives! Get away from these Israelites because the LORD is on their side fighting against us!”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand towards the sea again so that the water will surge back over the Egyptian army and all their soldiers and armoured vehicles.”

So Moses stretched out his hand towards the sea, and as the dawn broke, the sea came crashing back down on top of the fleeing army. The LORD trapped the soldiers in the middle of the sea, and when the waters had closed over and returned to normal, there wasn’t a soldier or a vehicle left. The Israelites had walked through the sea on a dry track with the angry waters towering over them on either side, but the entire army of the King of Egypt had been swallowed up by the sea while pursuing them.

So that day the LORD rescued the people of Israel from their oppressors, and the people saw all the dead soldiers washed up on the shore. When they saw the power of the LORD’s action against their oppressors, the people were in awe of the LORD and put their trust in the LORD and in Moses who was working for the LORD.

Then the prophet Miriam, who was Aaron’s sister, led the women in a dance of celebration, playing tambourines and singing:

“Our song is for you, LORD,
for you have won a glorious victory!
You have tossed the soldiers and warhorses into the sea!”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 19 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The prophet Miriam, who was Aaron’s sister, led the women in a dance of celebration, playing tambourines and singing:

Our song is for you, LORD,
for you have won a glorious victory!
You have tossed the soldiers and warhorses into the sea!

We would be nothing without you, LORD,
but with you, we are strong.
You are our God, and we sing your praises;
the God of our ancestors,
and we applaud you long and loud.

You are the greatest hero, LORD;
LORD by name, LORD by reputation.

You swept the tyrant’s armoured vehicles and soldiers into the sea;
all his top brass disappeared beneath the waves.

The surging waters closed over them,
and they sank like a stone into the murky depths.

With your bare hands, LORD,
you put on an awesome display of power;
you rolled up your sleeves and decimated the enemy.

With the full force of your majestic power,
you defeated your opponents;
they ignited your anger
and were gone like dry grass in a bushfire.

The fearsome blast of your fury cut a swathe through the waters;
the surging depths were heaped up on each side;
the wild ocean set like jelly, all the way down.

The tyrants said, “We’ll give chase, we can catch them.
All that they have will be ours, all we could ever want.
We will turn our weapons on them and wipe them out.”

You sent your wind howling after them and closed the sea over them;
they sank like a stone and were never seen again.

You are in a league of your own, LORD;
Nothing else is worthy of our devotion.
Nothing can compete with you for awesome grandeur;
Nothing else can match your record
for getting the job done against the odds.

Our song is for you, LORD,
for you have won a glorious victory!
You have tossed the soldiers and warhorses into the sea!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Great Paschal Vigil
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The prophet Miriam, who was Aaron’s sister, led the women in a dance of celebration, playing tambourines and singing:

Our song is for you, LORD,
for you have won a glorious victory!
You have tossed the soldiers and warhorses into the sea!

We would be nothing without you, LORD,
but with you, we are strong.
You are our God, and we sing your praises;
the God of our ancestors,
and we applaud you long and loud.

You are the greatest hero, LORD;
LORD by name, LORD by reputation.

You swept the tyrant’s armoured vehicles and soldiers into the sea;
all his top brass disappeared beneath the waves.

The surging waters closed over them,
and they sank like a stone into the murky depths.

With your bare hands, LORD,
you put on an awesome display of power;
you rolled up your sleeves and decimated the enemy.

With the full force of your majestic power,
you defeated your opponents;
they ignited your anger
and were gone like dry grass in a bushfire.

The fearsome blast of your fury cut a swathe through the waters;
the surging depths were heaped up on each side;
the wild ocean set like jelly, all the way down.

The tyrants said, “We’ll give chase, we can catch them.
All that they have will be ours, all we could ever want.
We will turn our weapons on them and wipe them out.”

You sent your wind howling after them and closed the sea over them;
they sank like a stone and were never seen again.

You are in a league of your own, LORD;
Nothing else is worthy of our devotion.
Nothing can compete with you for awesome grandeur;
Nothing else can match your record
for getting the job done against the odds.

When you got involved, LORD,
the planet opened its mouth and swallowed up our oppressors.

With love and loyalty, you led the people you had reclaimed;
with protective strength, you guided them to your sacred home.

You brought them home to your holy mountain, LORD,
and let them put down roots in the place you call your own,
the sacred place that you built with your own hands.

May you rule forever and ever, LORD!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 20 in Year A
Proper 13 in Year B (v.2-4, 9-15  themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

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, except on the day before the Sabbath day off, when there will be twice as much as usual for them to collect and prepare.”

So Moses and Aaron spoke to the people saying, “You have been whingeing about the LORD, and the LORD has heard you and is going to do something about your complaint. This evening you will be convinced that it was the LORD who got you out of the land of slavery, and in the morning you will witness the glory of the LORD. So stop giving us such a hard time.”

And Moses added, “You will know that it is the LORD's doing when you have meat for dinner in the evening and all the bread you can eat in the morning, because the LORD has listened to your complaints and responded. Then you will realise that we had nothing to do with it, and that your whingeing has not been about us but about the LORD.”

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

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 3rd Sunday in Lent in Year A
- Proper 21 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The whole gathered people of Israel pushed on from the Sen Desert, making the journey in manageable stages as the LORD directed them. At the end of one stage, they set up camp at a place called Rephidim, only to find that there was no drinking water in the area. The people started getting stuck into Moses again and demanding that he provide them with water to drink. But Moses said to them, “What are you taking it out on me for? Are you trying to provoke the LORD into losing patience with you?”

But the people’s thirst was becoming severe, and the more desperate they became, the more they blamed Moses. “Now look at the mess you’ve got us into,” they said. “Is this what you dragged us all out of Egypt for: to watch us die in a parched desert, and our children and livestock with us?

So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What am I supposed to do with these people? They are nearly ready to tear me limb from limb.”

The LORD replied, “Take some of the Israelite tribal leaders with you, and go on ahead of the people. Take your hiking stick with you — the same one you used to strike the waters of the Nile. I will be waiting for you at the rock at Mount Sinai. Give the rock a good thump with your stick, and water will come pouring out of it for everyone to drink.”

In full view of the tribal leaders, Moses did as the LORD had told him, and sure enough, there was water for everyone. From then on, Moses referred to that place by either of two names: Massah, which means ‘testing’, because the people had tested the LORD’s patience; and Meribah, which means ‘dispute’, because the people had questioned the LORD’s loyalty.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 6 in Year A   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The Israelites left their camp near the Red Sea and travelled into the Sinai desert, where they camped at the foot of the mountain. Moses went up the mountain to meet with God. The LORD spoke to him there and said:

“Give this message to the people of Israel.
‘You have all seen what I did to the people who kept you in slavery. And you have all seen how I swooped down like an eagle to rescue you from them and make you mine. So now this is the deal: if you live the way I tell you to live, and continue to be true to the alliance I have made with you, then you will belong to me and be my most cherished possession. Of course the whole earth belongs to me, but you will be a nation set apart and dedicated to me, serving as my priest in the world.’
Go now, Moses, and tell the Israelites what I have said.”

So Moses went back down the mountain and called together the Israelite tribal elders. He told them everything that the LORD had told him to say. The people of Israel were unanimous in their reply: “We will do everything that the LORD is asking of us.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 22 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

God spoke the following words to the people:

I am the LORD your God; the one who brought you out of the land where you were oppressed, and freed you from a life of slavery. You are not to have any other gods ahead of me.

You are not to make anything else into an object of devotion ahead of me. I don’t care whether it is some heavenly presence, or something in the world around you, or something deep at the centre of everything; you are not to dedicate yourself to such things or to worship them.

You are not to exploit my name. I am the LORD your God, and I will not let anyone get away with dragging my name through the mud.

Keep up the practice of making Saturday a dedicated rest day. You are to work on your business, projects, and chores on the other six days, and keep the seventh day as a rest day, dedicated to me, the LORD your God.

Treat those who have raised you with due respect, and your future will be secure in the land that I, the LORD your God, am giving you.

Do not kill anyone.

Do not engage in any relationship that betrays or trivialises anyone.

Do not steal what rightly belongs to others.

Do not sacrifice the truth about someone else in order to win your case.

Do not desire things that belong to other people. Do not go wishing you could get your hands on someone else’s home or lover or employees or assets or anything else.

As God spoke these words, thunder crashed, lightening flashed, trumpet blasts rang out, and smoke poured from the mountain. The people were terrified by all this, and stood at a distance, quaking in their boots. They begged Moses to do something, saying, “You tell us what God wants us to hear and we will listen; but we will die if you let God go on speaking to us directly.”

Moses replied, “There is no need to be afraid. God has come simply to make sure that you are for real. This will bring you to your knees before God and keep you on the straight and narrow.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 3rd Sunday in Lent in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

God spoke the following words to the people:

I am the LORD your God; the one who brought you out of the land where you were oppressed, and freed you from a life of slavery. You are not to have any other gods ahead of me.

You are not to make anything else into an object of devotion ahead of me. I don’t care whether it is some heavenly presence, or something in the world around you, or something deep at the centre of everything; you are not to dedicate yourself to such things or to worship them. I am the LORD your God, and I want your undivided love. If people reject me, they will cop the consequences for their betrayal, and their children will be copping it for several generations to come. But those who love me and live by my instructions will enjoy my rock-solid love and loyalty for a thousand generations.

You are not to exploit my name. I am the LORD your God, and I will not let anyone get away with dragging my name through the mud.

Keep up the practice of making Saturday a dedicated rest day. You are to work on your business, projects, and chores on the other six days, and keep the seventh day as a rest day, dedicated to me, the LORD your God. You are not to do any work that day, and you are not to ask anyone else to work either — not your family, not your employees, not the migrant workers who live down the street, and not even your animals. I am the LORD, and I spent six days making the earth, sea and sky and everything in them, and then took the seventh day off. That is why I made the dedicated rest day so special, and set it apart as a sacred day.

Treat those who have raised you with due respect, and your future will be secure in the land that I, the LORD your God, am giving you.

Do not kill anyone.

Do not engage in any relationship that betrays or trivialises anyone.

Do not steal what rightly belongs to others.

Do not sacrifice the truth about someone else in order to win your case.

Do not desire things that belong to other people. Do not go wishing you could get your hands on someone else’s home or lover or employees or assets or anything else.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Transfiguration Sunday (last Sunday before Lent) in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up onto the mountain and wait for me there; and I will give you the two slabs of stone on which I have written the instructions for how my people are to live.”

So Moses and his right-hand-man, Joshua, set out for the mountain to meet with God. Before going up the mountain, Moses called together the tribal leaders and said, “Stay put here until we get back. I’m leaving Aaron and Hur in charge. You can ask them to sort out any problems that occur while we are away.”

Then Moses began his climb up Mount Sinai, and cloud engulfed the mountain. The mountain top lit up with the glorious presence of the LORD. To the Israelite people watching from below, it looked like a raging bushfire and the whole mountain was engulfed in thick cloud for six days. On the seventh day, the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. Moses went into the cloud and right up onto the top of the mountain. He stayed on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 23 in Year A 
Proper 19 in Year C   (v.7-14) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Moses was on the mountain with the LORD for such a long time that the people gave up on him. They turned to Aaron and said, “It’s up to you now. Give us a god who we can follow on our journey from here on. Moses led us out of the land where we had been slaves, but now he is missing, presumed dead.”

Aaron said to the people, “Collect up all the gold jewellery that you and your families possess, and bring it all to me.”

So the people took up a collection of all the gold jewellery that they had been wearing, and brought it all to Aaron. He took all the gold, melted it down, and recast it in the shape of a calf. When the gold calf was put on display for the people, they began to shout, “Here is our god, the god who brought our nation out of the land of slavery!”

When Aaron saw how popular it was, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow we will hold a festival in honour of the LORD.”

The festivities started early the next morning. The people sacrificed the traditional burnt offerings on the altar and offered the customary gifts to celebrate good times. Then they ate and drank and partied hard, really letting their hair down.

The LORD said to Moses:

“Get back down there on the double! That mob of yours, who you brought out of the land of slavery, have gone completely off the rails. In the blink of an eye, they have turned their backs on the path I set them on. They have cast an idol in the shape of a calf, and they are worshipping it and giving offerings to it as expressions of their devotion. They are saying that it is the god who brought the nation out of the land of slavery. I have had a gutful of this people. They are always kicking against the traces. Now stand aside and let me give full vent to my blazing anger and blast them off the face of the earth. I’ll start again with you and build a great nation from your offspring.”

But Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, saying:

“LORD, why are you letting your anger at your people burn out of control? You proved yourself to be the strongest and the greatest when you brought these people out of the land of slavery. Are you now going to turn around and give our enemies grounds to accuse you of planning genocide from the start? They will allege that you only took the people into the outback to slaughter them. Swallow your anger! Rethink this, and don’t stamp out your people. Follow through on the promises you made to your trusty servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You gave them your word, your personal guarantee. You said, ‘I will multiply your descendants until they outnumber the stars in the sky, and they will inherit the land I promised to give to your family forever.’”

And so the LORD was persuaded to rethink the situation and to abandon the plan to wipe out the people with a disaster.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-
Proper 24 in Year A,
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Moses said to the LORD, “Look here. You have given me the job of getting this people from one place to another, but you have not given me any idea who you are going to send with me to back me up. You have told me that you know me inside out and that I am in your good-books. So if you are so on-side with me, let me know you. Let me see what makes you tick, so that I can really know you and do the right thing by you. And this is not just about me; keep it in mind that these people belong to you.”

The LORD replied, “I will go with you myself, and I will give you a place of rest.”

But Moses continued, saying, “If you are not going to stick with us for the long haul, then don’t even move us from here. After all, how will anyone be able to tell that I and your people are in your good-books unless you go with us all the way? It is your presence with us that will distinguish us from all the other peoples on the face of the earth as the one who belongs to you.”

The LORD said to Moses, “Okay, I will do for you exactly what you have asked for, because you are in my good-books and I know who you really are.”

Moses said, “Let me see you in all your glory. Please!”

The LORD replied;

“With your own eyes, you are about to see the full extent of my goodwill to all life. With your own ears, you will hear me, the LORD, and you will know who I really am. I will put in my good-books the one I choose to put in my good-books. I will let off the hook the one I choose to let off the hook. But you can not see me face to face in all my glory, because no one could survive such an encounter. Look here, though. There is a place just over here where you can stand on the rock. I am going to pass by in all my glory, and while I do, I will put you in a hole in the rock and shield you with my hand until the danger has passed. Then I will take away my hand and you will see my rear end; but you will not see me face to face.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Transfiguration Sunday (last Sunday before Lent) in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two slabs of stone on which he had written the terms of the Alliance with God. Although he didn’t know it, his face was lit up like a lantern because God had been speaking to him directly. When Aaron and all the Israelite people saw how his face was aglow, they were too scared to even go near him. However, Moses called together Aaron and the leaders of the people and spoke with them. After that, he called together an assembly of all the Israelite people, and spelled out for them the laws that came from what the LORD had told him on Mount Sinai. Once Moses had finished addressing the people, he hid his face with a scarf. Whenever he entered the sacred place to speak with the LORD, he would take off the scarf. When he came out again and told the Israelites whatever God had told him to tell them, they could see that his face was aglow. Moses would then put the scarf back over his face and wear it until the next time he went in to speak with the LORD.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 7th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
- Proper 25 in Year A (v.1-2, 15-18) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

Gather the whole congregation of my people and tell them this: You are to be utterly dedicated to doing what is right, because I am the LORD your God, and I am utterly dedicated to doing what is right.

When you harvest the crops on your land, you are not to be too thorough. Whether it is your grain fields, your vineyards, or your orchards, just go over them once and don’t go back for anything you dropped or missed. You are to leave it so that the poor and the refugees can come and gather what they need. Why? Because I am the LORD your God.

You are not to steal; you are not to swindle anybody; and you are not to deceive one another. And you are not to drag my name through the mud by quoting it to convince someone that you are being honest when you are not. Why? Because I am the LORD.

You are not to commit fraud or theft to get your hands on what rightly belongs to someone else. You are not to hold back the wages of your workers beyond their regular pay day. You are not to take advantage of the disabilities of others, or to make them the butt of cruel jokes. Why? Because if you do, you’ll have me to answer to, and I am the LORD.

You are not to pervert the course of justice in the courts. Your decisions must be fair and transparent, not showing bias either to the poor or to the powerful. You are to be absolutely fair in your judgments, without fear or favour. You are not to go spreading malicious stories about anybody; and you are not to seek to profit from the misfortune of another. Why? Because I am the LORD.

You are not to harbour hatred in your heart towards anyone in your community. If someone you know does the wrong thing, speak up and sort it out, or you will end up being held responsible yourself. If anyone among your people has wronged you, you are neither to bear a grudge, nor try to get even. Instead you are to love your neighbour as attentively as you love yourself. Why? Because I am the LORD.

©2006 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Feast of the Holy Name
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD told to Moses to pass on the following instructions to Aaron and his sons for their work as priests:

“These are the words of blessing you are to use when you bless the Israelite people:
May the LORD set you up for life and look after you;

May the LORD smile upon you and be generous to you;

May the LORD keep an eye on you
and give you a life in which all is well.
With these words you will remind my people who they belong to, and I will bless them.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 21 in Year B (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

As the people travelled through the wilderness, a group of rabble rousers among them began to stir up trouble over the lack of meat to eat. Before long all the Israelites were craving meat and whingeing about it endlessly:

“What wouldn’t we give for some decent food?! Remember how good the food was back in Egypt: mouth-watering fish, and a wonderful selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. We ate like kings! But now we are wasting away out here with nothing to eat but manna for breakfast, lunch and tea.”

Everywhere he went in the camp, Moses heard the people standing around their tents whingeing and moaning about it. He was angry and embarrassed that the people under his leadership were causing such offence to God, so he went and spoke to the LORD saying:

“Why have you got it in for me? What did I do to deserve being made responsible for these people? They weren’t conceived or born because of anything I did, so how come you have made it my job to nurse them like babies and carry them on my shoulders like toddlers. It was you, not me, who sealed the deal with their ancestors, promising to give them this land, so why is it my job to get them there? Where am I supposed to get meat to feed them all and stop them from whingeing to me all day about how hungry they are? The responsibility for these people is more than I can handle. I’m not up to the job. If you can’t treat me any better than this, just kill me now! Do me a favour and put me out of my misery.”

So the LORD said to Moses, “Gather together seventy of Israel’s most respected and influential tribal elders, and get them to assemble with you at my Sacred Tent.”

So Moses went out and told to the people what the LORD had said. He sent for seventy key tribal elders and had them assemble in a circle around the Sacred Tent while he went inside. The LORD came down, hidden in cloud, and spoke with Moses. As they talked, the LORD touched the seventy elders with the same spirit that was at work in Moses. During the short period of time that the spirit rested on them, they were all shouting words of prophesy.

Two of the seventy elders who Moses had sent for were named Eldad and Medad. They had not made it to the Sacred Tent, but the spirit touched them just like the others and they began shouting words of prophesy right where they were in the camp. A young man ran and reported this to Moses, saying “Eldad and Medad are shouting like prophets in the camp!”

Joshua son of Nun, who served as right hand man to Moses, said, “You can’t let them do that, Boss. Have them stopped.”

But Moses replied, “Why? Are you worried about protecting my position? I only wish that the LORD would give the same spirit to all the people so that the whole lot of them would become prophets!”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
-the Day of Pentecost in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Acting on the LORD’s instructions, Moses sent for seventy of Israel’s most respected and influential tribal elders and had them assemble in a circle around the Sacred Tent while he went inside. The LORD came down, hidden in cloud, and spoke with Moses. As they talked, the LORD touched the seventy elders with the same spirit that was at work in Moses. During the short period of time that the spirit rested on them, they were all shouting words of prophesy.

Two of the seventy elders who Moses had sent for were named Eldad and Medad. They had not made it to the Sacred Tent, but the spirit touched them just like the others and they began shouting words of prophesy right where they were in the camp. A young man ran and reported this to Moses, saying “Eldad and Medad are shouting like prophets in the camp!”

Joshua son of Nun, who served as right hand man to Moses, said, “You can’t let them do that, Boss. Have them stopped.”

But Moses replied, “Why? Are you worried about protecting my position? I only wish that the LORD would give the same spirit to all the people so that the whole lot of them would become prophets!”

After that, Moses and the tribal elders all returned to the camp.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 4th Sunday in Lent in Year B
- the Feast of the Holy Cross
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The people of Israel wanted to skirt around the land of Edom, so when they set out from Mount Hor they took the Red Sea track. As they travelled, the people began losing the plot and mouthing off against God and Moses. They were whinging, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt if we are just going to die out here in the desert? There is no food. There is no water. And we can’t stand this lousy stuff we’ve got to eat.”

At that, the LORD let loose some dangerous snakes among the people. The snakes had a fiery venom and many people were bitten and died. The people came to Moses and pleaded with him, saying, “We were wrong to mouth off against the LORD and against you. Please ask the LORD to get rid of the poisonous snakes that are plaguing us.”

So Moses prayed for the the people, and the LORD spoke to him, saying, “Make a statue of a poisonous snake, and set it up on a pole where the people can see it. Whenever anyone is bitten, they are to look at the statue of the snake, and they will survive.”

So Moses made a snake out of bronze, and set it up on a pole. Whenever anyone was bitten by one of the snakes with the fiery venom, they would fix their gaze on the bronze snake, and they would live.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 17 in Year B  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Moses addressed the people, saying:

"Listen up, people of Israel. I am laying down the law on how you are to live. Get these things clear in your heads and put them into practice. That way you will have life and be able to make yourselves at home in the land that is being given to you by the LORD, the God of your ancestors. The directions I am spelling out to you are from God, and you must not go adding new rules of your own, or cutting out bits that don’t suit you. Follow everything the LORD your God is asking of you, just as I have told you. Follow these instructions consistently and you will become known for your wisdom and good judgement. Other nations will hear of the standards you live by and say, “What a great nation: you can back their judgement every time.” Our God is always there for us when we cry out for help. Can any other nation boast of that? And these directions that God has given us today cover everything we could possibly need to know. Does any other nation have anything as good as that?

"But take care and keep a close eye on yourselves. Don’t forget the things you have seen God do. Don’t forget them as long as you live. Pass on the stories to your children and to your children’s children."

©2012 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- the 9th Sunday between Epiphany & Lent in Year B
Proper 4 in Year B (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Keep up the practice of making Saturday a dedicated rest day, as the LORD your God has told you to do. You are to work on your business, your projects, and your chores on the other six days, and keep the seventh day as a rest day, dedicated to the LORD your God. You are not to do any work that day, and you are not to ask anyone else to work either — not your family, not your employees, not the migrant workers who live down the street, and not even your bullocks, horses, dogs, or any other animal you own. All who work for you need rest, just as you do. Always keep in mind that you were forced to work as slaves in a foreign land, and the LORD your God bared his arm and reached out and rescued you from there. That is why the LORD your God told you to keep the dedicated rest day.

©2013 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 26 in Year B  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Moses said to the people, “I’m laying down the law to you here with a set of principles and a code of ethics. The LORD your God has given me the job of teaching you to live by these things in the land that you are about to move into and live in. Learning to live this way will be for the best for you, and for your kids and grandkids after you. Learn to honour and respect the LORD your God as long as you live, and stick to the principles and ethics that I have spelt out to you on God’s behalf, and you will live long and happy lives. So listen up, people of Israel. Put these things into practice without cutting corners, and you will reap rich rewards. You will flourish and prosper in a land of peaches and cream, just as the LORD promised your parents you would.

Listen carefully, O people of Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD and no other. Therefore you will love the LORD your God with everything you are, with all your heart and soul and strength. Do whatever it takes to keep these things I am teaching you now fixed in your minds. Repeat them over and over to your kids. Talk about them everywhere and all the time, at home, at work, on the road, morning, noon and night. Write them on the back of your hands; wear them as a badge stuck on your forehead, hang them over your front doors, put them up on a billboard at the entrance to your town so that you will be reminded of them as you come and go. Do whatever you have to do to keep them fixed in your minds.

©2012 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 4th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Moses said to the people, “The LORD your God will raise up someone from among you to be a prophet for you. This prophet will be from the same mould as me, and you are to carefully follow what such a prophet says. You yourselves asked the LORD your God to do this for you. Back on the day when we gathered at Mount Sinai, you all said that you would die if you were ever again directly exposed to the sound of the LORD’s voice or the glare of the LORD’s fiery presence. The LORD told me you were right, and said this to me:

I, the LORD, will raise up someone from among their own people to be a prophet for them. This prophet will be from the same mould as you, Moses. I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, and the prophet will tell the people everything I say they are to be told. Anyone who does not take any notice of what the prophet says on my behalf, will have to answer to me. But by the same token, if any prophet claims to represent some other source of truth, or makes out that they are speaking on my behalf when I have not told them to say anything, such a prophet must die.”

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 1st Sunday in Lent in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD your God is giving you the land, and soon you will take ownership of it, settle down there, and plant your crops. When you begin harvesting each crop, you are to take a basketful of the first pickings and take it to the place chosen by the LORD as the place of worship. You are to present yourself to whoever is the priest at the time, saying, “I am here to give thanks to the LORD our God, for I have put down roots in the land that the LORD promised to our ancestors.”

Then the priest will accept the basket of produce from you and place it in front of the sacred altar of the LORD. As he does, you are to pray to the LORD in the words of the prayer which tells the story of your people:

“I am descended from a refugee,
an Aramean who settled in Egypt.
His family was small when we arrived,
but we expanded quickly in numbers and power.
We were forced into slavery to keep us in check;
the labour was hard and the treatment was harsh.
We cried out to you, LORD, God of our ancestors,
and you heard our prayers;
you saw how we were oppressed,
and felt the weight of our suffering.
You rescued us from the land of slavery, LORD.
You broke us free and got us out
with miraculous signs and a terrifying display of strength.
You brought us here to this wonderful land,
a land of peaches and cream.
So now, LORD, I am here to say thank you;
I give you the first of my crops,
the pick of all you have given me.”

After your basket has been placed in front of the altar, and you have prayed this prayer, you are to bow down and worship the LORD your God. Then, with your whole community, throw a big party to celebrate and enjoy the good harvest which the LORD God has given you. Don’t forget to send an open invitation to share in the celebration to the attendants from the place of worship and to any refugees who have settled in the neighbourhood.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 10 in Year C  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

If you turn your lives around and commit yourselves completely — heart and soul — to the LORD your God, and live by all the instructions written in The Book of God’s Law, then the LORD your God will make sure that everything you do prospers. Everything you touch will turn to gold: your children will be many; your livestock will be healthy and multiplying; and your crop-lands will be fertile and productive. The LORD enjoyed blessing the endeavours of your ancestors and will take just as much pleasure in blessing everything you do.

Surely what the LORD is telling you today is not beyond you or too tough for you. It is not as though it is a bunch of secrets kept in heaven and you can excuse yourselves on the grounds that it is out of reach and no one can explain to you how to live by it. Neither is it bound up in some foreign language and culture; so you can’t excuse yourselves on the grounds that it can only be understood and practised by those who can travel overseas to study it. No, God’s Word is right here in your midst. You know it by heart and can speak it fluently. All you have to do is live by it!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 6th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
Proper 18 in Year C  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

“Take note that today I, the LORD your God, have laid out the choices clearly before you. You can choose life and good times or death and hard times. If you live by the rules that I have given you today — if you love me, do things my way, and follow my rules, guidance and instructions — then you will live and flourish. I, the LORD your God, will look after you and make you strong and prosperous in the land I am about to give you.

On the other hand, if you reject me and refuse to listen to me, it will be a very different story. I am warning you in no uncertain terms that if you pursue other objects of devotion and serve them instead of me, your lives will be ruined. You will not last long in the land I am about to give you on the other side of the Jordan River.

Here and now I call on the earth and sky to witness that I have laid out the choices clearly before you; choices between life and death, between being blessed and being cursed. Choose life! Choose life so that you and your children and grandchildren can flourish. Commit yourself to me, the LORD your God, in love and loyalty. Obey what I say and stick with me, because that is the sure-fire recipe for a long and satisfying life in the land that I promised to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 25 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The people of Israel were camped on the Plains of Moab outside the promised land, with Jericho opposite them on the other side of the river. Moses went off by himself and climbed to the top of Mount Nebo in the Pizgah Ranges. From there the LORD showed him the whole of the land: as far across Gilead to the west as Dan, Ephraim, and the Mediterranean sea; as far south as the Negev Desert; and as far north as Manasseh and Naphtali. He could see the land of Judah all the way south to Zoar, including the valley of Jericho with its city of palm trees. The LORD said to Moses, “What you are looking at is the land which I promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that I would give to their descendants. I have allowed you to see it with your own eyes, even though you will not set foot in it.”

Then, after a lifetime of working for the LORD, Moses died there in the land of Moab, as the LORD had decided. His body lies buried there in a valley, somewhere beyond Beth-peor, but to this day, no one knows the exact location of his grave. Moses had lived for one hundred and twenty years, and right up till the end his eyesight was sharp and he was as fit as a fiddle; as full of life and energy as ever. The Israelites stayed put on the plains of Moab while they grieved the death of Moses and observed the customary thirty day period of mourning.

Moses had laid his hands on Joshua, the son of Nun, appointing him as his successor. As a result, the spirit of wisdom filled Joshua, and the Israelite people readily took their orders from him, just as the LORD had commanded through Moses.

The world has never seen another prophet in the same league as  Moses, for the LORD dealt with him in person, face to face. No one else has ever done anything to equal the miraculous things he did when the LORD sent him to bring the people out of the land of slavery. Never again has anyone seen anything like the terrifying acts of power that God’s people saw Moses execute against the tyrant king and against his officers and his land.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 4 in Year A   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Moses said to the people:

“Take to heart these teachings I have passed on to you from the LORD your God. Do whatever you need to do to keep them fixed in your minds: write them on the back of your hands; wear them as a badge stuck on your forehead. Teach them to your children and talk about them morning, noon and night, at home or wherever you go. Hang them over your front doors, put them up on a billboard at the entrance to your town so that you will be reminded of them as you come and go. That way you will be assured of a long and happy life in the land that the LORD promised to your ancestors. Your children will enjoy the same, and their children too, as long as the earth keeps turning.

“Take note. Today I have taught you how the LORD your God wants you to live, and now it is in your hands. Your life can be blessed or cursed; the choice is yours. Everything will work out well for you if you live the way the LORD your God has told you to live. But everything will fall apart for you if you turn your back on the way that the LORD your God has told you to live and take off after other ways and other objects of devotion.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 26 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The LORD said to Joshua:

“Today I am going to begin making a hero of you in the eyes of the people, so that they will recognise that I am with you in the same way that I was with Moses. You are the one who will give the order to the priests who carry the sacred Ark of the Covenant, telling them to step into the waters of the Jordan with the Ark and then stand still in the river.”

So Joshua called an assembly of the people, and said to them:

“Gather round and hear what the LORD your God wants to say. The living God is in your midst and is ready to clear the way for you by driving out the seven nations that are occupying the land. This is how you will know it is true. Today, the Ark of the Covenant — the sacred possession of the Lord of all the earth — will be carried into the Jordan River before your very eyes. And the minute the priests who carry the Ark of the LORD step into the water, the flow of the river will be cut off upstream and the water will pile up in a heap. You are to select one person from each of the twelve tribes of Israel to participate in marking this occasion.”

So the people packed up their camp and got ready to cross the Jordan River into the land, with the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant at the front. Now it was the wet season and the Jordan was in full flood, breaking its banks in all directions. But when the people reached the river’s edge, and the priests carrying the sacred Ark took their first steps into the water, the swollen waters rushing down from upstream stood still, and piled up in a heap up near Adaam, a city near Zarethan. The waters flowing towards the Dead Sea were turned off like a tap, leaving the riverbed dry, and so the people were able to cross the river opposite Jericho. The entire Israelite population crossed through the river on a dry track while the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD stood on the dry riverbed in the middle of the Jordan. They stayed there, with the Ark, until the whole nation had passed through the Jordan to the other side.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 4th Sunday in Lent in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

When the people of Israel had set up their first camp after crossing the river into the promised land, the LORD said to Joshua, “You all lived with the disgrace of being slaves in Egypt, but today I am wiping away your disgrace.”

The place where they were camped has been known as Gilgal ever since, because it sounds like the Hebrew word meaning “wiped away”.

They were still camping there at Gilgal in the flat country near Jericho on the fourteenth day of the month — the time set for the celebration of the sacred feast of Passover. That evening, they kept the feast for the first time in their new homeland. The very next day, the manna, which God had been giving them to eat, stopped appearing from heaven each morning. From then on they ate food produced on the land, there in Canaan. They began roasting grain and making flat-breads from the grain-crops growing in the land, and the manna was never seen again.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 27 in Year A
Proper 16 in Year B  (v.1-2a, 14-18  themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel together at Shechem. He called a meeting of their leaders — the tribal elders, the clan chiefs, the judges, and the civil officials — and they gathered under the authority of God. Joshua addressed them, saying:

“The LORD, the God of Israel, wants you to hear this. Back in the dark ages, your ancestors — Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor — lived in the land beyond the Euphrates river and served other gods. Then the LORD led your father Abraham out of that land and into the land of Canaan, and gave him a huge mob of descendants. So now, treat the LORD with due respect, and be absolutely fair dinkum and rock-solid in your commitment to doing all that the LORD asks of you. Have nothing more to do with any of the other objects of devotion that your ancestors worked for back in those days, or when they were in Egypt. Put yourselves wholly at the service of the LORD. But if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, then you can make up your own minds what you are going to devote yourselves to: the ignorant ways of your ancestors back there in the dark ages; or the trivialities of the culture around you here. But I have made up my mind for myself and for my family; we will devote ourselves to the LORD.”

When Joshua finished his speech, the leaders replied, saying:

“There is no way we would turn our backs on the LORD and devote ourselves to other gods. It was the LORD who broke us free from slavery and did such spectacular things before our very eyes in the land where we had been oppressed. As we travelled, the LORD looked after us every step of the way and kept us safe from hostile nations. It was the LORD who made room for us by driving out the nations who were occupying this land. Therefore we will serve the LORD, for the LORD is our God.”

But Joshua challenged them saying, “You lot haven’t got what it takes to serve the LORD, for the LORD has the most uncompromising standards. The LORD demands your undivided devotion, and will not tolerate or forgive any unfaithfulness or breach of trust. If you do the wrong thing by the LORD and go running around after some other object of devotion, the LORD will turn on you and do you some serious harm. The LORD will quit looking after you and destroy you instead.”

But the leaders of the people all insisted, “No, we will serve the LORD!”

So Joshua said, “You people are all witnesses that you made this choice with clear heads and sound minds. You all understand that you are choosing to serve the LORD alone.”

“We know what we are saying,” they replied.

Then Joshua said, “Well then, get rid of any other objects of devotion that you have in your lives, and give your hearts wholly and solely to the LORD our God.”

And the people answered Joshua, saying, “The LORD our God is the only one we will serve and the only one we will obey.”

So Joshua ratified the alliance between God and the people that day, and there at Shechem he spelt out the terms and conditions of the alliance.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-
Proper 28 in Year A,
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The death of Ehud left the Israelite people leaderless, and before long corruption and immorality had got the better of them again. The LORD couldn’t stand the sight of their evil ways, and abandoned them to the advancing army of King Jabin of Canaan, who ruled from the city of Hazor. King Jabin’s troops, under the command of General Sisera, were a hardened fighting unit equipped with the latest in military hardware. Their harsh and oppressive rule was like a boot on Israel’s throat for the next twenty years, and the people cried out to the LORD for help.

During that era, a prophet named Deborah emerged as a leader in Israel. She was a fiery woman, and the Israelite people looked to her to arbitrate whenever disputes and conflicts flared up among them. She based herself in the hill country of Ephraim and held her hearings under a palm tree between Ramah and Bethel. The people came to her there, and the place became known as the Palm of Deborah.

One day, Deborah sent a message to a man named Barak telling him to report to her. Barak was the son of Abinoam, and came from the town of Kadesh in Naphtali. When he arrived, Deborah said to him:

“I have a command for you from the LORD, the God of Israel. You are to mobilise ten thousand soldiers from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun, and take position at Mount Tabor. The LORD will incite Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to come out and tackle you. He will come with all his troops and his fancy military equipment, and there will be a battle near the Kishon River. The LORD will hand you a complete victory over Sisera.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 26 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Long ago in the days before the Jewish people had a king, a severe drought caused a famine in the land of Judah. There was a man named Elimelech, from the tribe of Ephrath, living in Bethlehem with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. When their crops failed, they fled the famine and settled in the land of Moab. While they were there, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi to raise their sons alone. In time, the young men both married Moabite women, one named Orpah, and the other named Ruth. Within ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left destitute with no husband and no sons.

Naomi got word that the LORD had blessed her homeland with good rains and good crops again, so she decided to pack up and move back home. Her two daughters-in-law, now widows too, prepared to go with her. They left their home in Moab and set out for Judah, but before they had gone very far, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “This is crazy. It makes no sense for you to come with me. Why not go home to your own mothers and live among your own people? You have been very kind to me, just as you were always kind to my husband and my sons. May the LORD be just as kind to you and enable you to marry again and have homes and families of your own.”

With that she kissed them both, and they were all in tears. But the two young women refused to go, saying, “We want to go with you and live among your people.”

But Naomi leaned on them to change their minds saying, “Don’t be stupid, my daughters. What good will it do you to come with me? It’s not as though I’m going to have any more sons for you to marry. You’ve got your whole lives ahead of you. Go back and get a life. I’m over the hill, and even if I could promise to get a new husband tonight and get pregnant straight away with twin boys, you could hardly put off marrying while you waited for them to grow up, could you? Of course not. My daughters, your lives are a bed of roses compared to mine, because the LORD has written me off.”

The tears flowed freely again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth dug her heels in. Naomi tried one more time: “See, your sister-in-law has seen sense. She has gone back to her own people with their own ways and their own religion. Follow her lead — go back home.”

But Ruth said,

“Don’t try to change my mind about this,
or pressure me into giving up.
I’m coming with you, wherever you go.
Wherever you live, I’m going to live too.

Your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
I’m with you for life,
and in death I’ll be buried right alongside you.

I’m giving you my word on this, cross my heart.
May the LORD punish me from now to kingdom come
if I let even death get between us!”

When Naomi saw that Ruth’s mind was made up, she backed off and let her have her way.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 27 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi had settled back in Judah and were eking out a living there. One day Naomi said to her:

“My daughter, it’s time I found you a husband so that you can have a home of your own and a secure future. You can’t just look after me forever. I think Boaz is the man for you. You have been working alongside the young women he employs and you know he has treated you well. He is a relative of mine too, so he has some responsibilities toward you. I’ve got a plan. Boaz is threshing grain at the moment, so he’ll be sleeping out at the threshing shed tonight. Go and have a bath, get your hair done and put on perfume and make-up. Dress up in something flattering. Then tonight, get yourself down to the threshing shed. Keep your eyes open but stay out of sight until he has finished eating and had a few drinks. Watch carefully and see whereabouts he lies down to sleep for the night. Then when the lights are out, it’s time to make your move. Tiptoe up, open up his swag from the foot and sleep with him. When he wakes again, it’s his call. See what he decides you should do.”

Ruth replied, “If you think it’s for the best, I’ll do just as you say.”

Well, the upshot of it all was that not long afterwards, Ruth and Boaz were married. The LORD blessed their love-making so that Ruth became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When he was born, the local women celebrated with Naomi, saying:

“The LORD be blessed! Today God has blessed you with a grandson to take care of you in your old age. May he grow up to be a man of renown, looked up to everywhere in Israel! He’ll sure put the smile back on your face and the spring back in your step. He’ll be there for you when you need him in your twilight years. He’s bound to be — it’s in his genes — he’s Ruth’s son and her love has been of more value to you than the love of seven sons.”

Naomi loved the boy to pieces, and from day one he was Grandma’s little boy. The local women all gathered for the naming ceremony and he was given the name Obed. The women still just called him “Naomi’s Boy” though. When Obed grew up he had a son of his own, named Jesse, and Jesse in turn had a son named David, who went on to become the King of Israel.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 28 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

In the days before Israel had a king, there was a woman named Hannah who was married to a man named Elkanah. Hannah had never been able to have children even though Elkanah tended to favour her over his other wife, Peninnah, who had several children. Elkanah provided well for both his wives and all his children, but he really doted on Hannah.

Peninnah used to deliberately torment Hannah about her infertility, taunting her with suggestions that the LORD had dried out her womb. The nastiness was at its worst when they went up to Shiloh each year to offer sacrifices to the LORD, perhaps because that was when Elkanah’s favouritism was most obvious. So the annual visit to Shiloh was always a miserable time for Hannah. She would go off her food and be in tears all the time. Her husband Elkanah tried to comfort her, saying, “Hannah, cheer up? Why won’t you eat something? Look on the bright side. Aren’t I worth more to you than a big mob of sons?”

One year in Shiloh, after they had offered the sacrifices and eaten a meal together, Hannah got up and went back to pray to the LORD by herself. The only other person in the place of worship was Eli the priest who was sitting near the door. Hannah was at her wit’s end and wept bitter tears as she prayed to the LORD. She tried to bargain with God, praying, “O LORD, you rule over everything! Have pity on me, your servant. Don’t write me off in my misery. If you will give me the gift of a baby boy, then I will see to it that he joins the religious order of the Nazarites and never touches drink or drugs or has his hair cut.”

As she was praying silently, Eli could see her lips moving and her tears, but since he couldn’t hear her saying anything, he jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He got up and said to her, “Time to go home and sober up, woman. You can’t keep making a drunken spectacle of yourself in here. On your way, and get yourself on the wagon!”

But Hannah defended herself, saying, “No, Reverend Sir, please don’t write me off as a hopeless case. I’m heartbroken, but I haven’t sought solace in the bottle. I’ve been pouring my heart out to the LORD – all my agony and fears – trying to get everything off my chest.”

Then Eli answered, “Go in peace. May the LORD, the God of Israel, go with you and take care of whatever it is that is bothering you.”

“Thank you for being so kind to me, Reverend Sir,” said Hannah. She went back to where she was staying and cheered up no end. She even had a good meal with her husband.

The next morning the whole family got up early and worshipped the LORD. Then they packed up and went back home to Ramah. The LORD remembered Hannah’s prayer and the next time she and Elkanah made love, she fell pregnant. She gave birth to a baby boy and named him Samuel. She often spoke of him as an answer to her prayer.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
Proper 28 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After the birth of her son, Samuel, Hannah prayed the following prayer:

“Thanks to you, LORD, I am full of joy;
thanks to you, I can stand strong and proud.
I can return the insults that were hurled at me,
and kick up my heels, because you have set me free.

There is no other god like you, LORD,
no one who can hold a candle to you;
not even the ancient rock is as dependable as you.

I can tell the proud to stop their boasting;
tell the arrogant to put a sock in it.
You, LORD, know us inside and out;
you see whether or not we live up to our words.

You, LORD, disarm the powerful,
and redistribute their strength to the helpless.
Those who consumed to excess are now queuing at soup kitchens,
but those who were deprived now feast in splendour.
Infertile couples are having children, one after the other,
while those who flaunted their children
find their families falling apart.

Life is yours to give or to take, LORD;
you can send someone to the land of the dead,
and you can bring them back again.

You, LORD, can make us or break us;
you can put us on a pedestal or knock us off.
You lift up those who have been trodden into the dirt;
you put the poor and outcast back on their feet.
You give them a place among the guests of honour,
a seat with the dignitaries and celebrities.
You can do all this because the earth is yours;
you set it up and you wrote the rules.

To those who are faithful, you guarantee safe passage;
those who are corrupt soon lose sight of any light to steer by,
for no matter how strong people are,
they can’t make it alone.

You are the LORD!
Those who try to obstruct you
find that it is like standing in the path of a train
as you thunder towards your destination.
You, LORD, have the final word on all that is done on earth.
You will give strength and power to your chosen ruler.”

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- the 1st Sunday of Christmas in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

While he was still a young boy, Samuel served the LORD on the staff of the place of worship in the town of Shiloh. When he was working he wore a special religious cape over the robes his mother made for him. Hannah used to make small copies of the robes the priests wore, and bring them to him each year when she and her husband came up to Shiloh for the annual sacrifice. When they came, Eli the priest would give Elkanah and Hannah a blessing, saying, “You have given your son as a gift to the LORD. May the LORD reward the two of you with more children to take his place.”

After Eli had blessed them, Elkanah and Hannah would return home to their own town. Year by year Samuel continued to grow into an impressive young man. Everybody liked him and the LORD was pleased with him.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- the 2nd Sunday between Epiphany & Lent in Year B
Proper 4 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Samuel grew up in the Temple at Shiloh, working as an apprentice to Eli the priest, in the service of the LORD. In those days, the people had completely lost touch with God, and messages or visions from the LORD were rare. The light of God had not gone out, but Eli’s failing eyesight had left him unable to see.
One night, Eli had gone to bed in his room, and Samuel was lying down in the Temple of the LORD near the sacred Ark of God. The LORD called out, “Samuel! Samuel!”
“At your service,” said Samuel, jumping up and running into Eli’s room. “You called me and here I am, at your service.”
But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.”
So Samuel went and lay down again, and the LORD called out again, “Samuel!”
Samuel got up and went to Eli, saying “You called me and here I am, at your service.”
But Eli said, “I didn’t call you, my son. Go back to bed.”
Now it was no surprise that Samuel didn’t understand what was going on, because he did not yet know the LORD, and his mind had not yet been opened to what the LORD had to say. The LORD called Samuel a third time, and again he got up and went to Eli, saying “You called me and here I am, at your service.”
Finally the lights went on for Eli and he realised that it was the LORD who was calling the boy, so he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if you hear the call again, say, ‘Speak to me, LORD. I’m at your service, and I’m all ears.’ ”
So Samuel went and lay down again in the same place. The LORD came and stood alongside him, calling out as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel replied, “Speak to me. I’m at your service, and I’m all ears.”
The LORD said to Samuel, “Look, I am about to do something that  will make the hair stand up on the back of everyone’s necks when they hear about it. On that day I will follow through on everything I have ever said I would do to Eli and his offspring. I have told him that I am about to bring down a permanent punishment on his family, because his sons have been dragging my name through the mud and even though he knew about their corruption, he didn’t crack down on them. So now I swear to Eli’s family that the charge of corruption will stand against them forever, no matter how many apologies, sacrifices or gifts they offer.”
Samuel had a restless night after that! When he got up in the morning to open the doors of the house of the LORD, he was afraid to say anything about the vision to Eli. But Eli wanted to know, and called him, saying, “Samuel, my son.”
“At your service,” Samuel answered.
“What did the LORD have to say to you?” Eli asked. “Don’t keep me in the dark. May God punish you big time, if you don’t tell me every detail of what was said to you.”
So Samuel told him the whole lot, every last detail, and when he had finished, Eli said, “The LORD has spoken. I will have to cop whatever the LORD sees fit to do.”
As Samuel grew to be a man, the LORD kept a guiding hand on his shoulder, and saw to it that when he spoke, not a word was wasted. Before long, the whole land, from one end to the other, knew that Samuel was the real deal – a messenger of the LORD who could be trusted.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 5 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

A gathering of the most influential people of Israel made arrangements to meet with the prophet Samuel at Ramah and present their demands. They said to him, “You are getting too old to lead the nation, and the way your sons are going, they’ll never be up to it. It is time for a change of system. We want you to appoint a king to deal out justice for us. Every other nation has a king, and we want one too.”

Samuel was horrified by their demand for a king and he went straight to the LORD in prayer about it. But the LORD answered him saying, “Go ahead and give them what they want. It is not only you they are turning their backs on; it’s me. They don’t want me as their ruler. This has been going on ever since I rescued them from their slave-drivers in Egypt. Over and over again they have turned their backs on me and run off after other gods. Now they are doing the same thing to you. So go ahead and give them what they want, but before you do, spell out to them in no uncertain terms what kings are really like once they are in power.”

So Samuel went back to the people who were demanding a king and passed on the LORD’s message. He said, “Let me warn you what sort of ‘justice’ your king will deal out once he takes power. He will conscript your sons into his army, some as foot soldiers, some as drivers, some on horseback. He will appoint officers of various ranks to give them orders and lead them off to war. Of those who do not go off to war, he will press some into service on his farms to produce food for the troops, and others he will put to work manufacturing weapons and equipment. He will take your daughters too and set them to work cooking and baking and powdering the noses of the noblewomen.

“He will seize the best of your land, your best fields, vineyards and olive orchards, and hand them over to his cronies. He will tax you heavily, taking a big cut of everything you produce and giving it to the freeloaders who serve him as officers and officials. He will help himself to the best of everything you have, your workers, your livestock, your equipment, everything. He will be constantly looking to squeeze a bit more out of you. It will be like being slaves all over again. Then you’ll be sorry and you’ll be begging to be rescued from your king, but it was your idea to have a king, so there will be no point expecting the LORD to do anything about it.”

But everything Samuel said fell on deaf ears and the people continued to say, “No! Our mind is made up. We want a king and we will have a king. We want to be just like the other nations with a king to rule over us and rally the troops and lead us into war.”

So Samuel said to the people, “Come on then. Let’s go to Gilgal and set a king on a throne for you.”

So all the people gathered at Gilgal and there at the sacred site they crowned Saul as their first king. They offered up sacrifices to the LORD, asking for success and prosperity. When it was done, King Saul and all the Israelite people celebrated long and hard.

©2012 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
Proper 6 in Year B
- 4th Sunday in Lent in Year A   (16:1-13)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After King Saul had broken the command of the LORD, he went home to Gibeah, and Samuel the prophet went to Ramah, and they never again set eyes on each other. Samuel was filled with grief over what Saul had become, and the LORD regretted having ever made Saul king over Israel.

One day the LORD said to Samuel, “It is time for you to get over your misery about Saul. I have had a gutful of him and I am going to end his reign. Fill up your flask with olive oil ready to anoint a new king. Go to Bethlehem and find a man named Jesse there, for I have chosen one of his sons to be my king.”

Samuel protested, “How can I do that? If Saul gets wind of it he will kill me.”

But the LORD replied, “Take a calf with you and tell everyone that you have come to a hold a feast offered in honour of me, the LORD. Invite Jesse and his family to join you for the feast, and then I will let you know what to do next. I will pick out one of Jesse’s sons, and you are to pour the oil on his head to mark him out as the next king.”

Samuel followed the LORD’s instructions and went to Bethlehem. The town officials were unnerved by his arrival, and went out to meet him asking, “What brings you to town? Have we done something wrong, or are you just passing through in peace?”

Samuel replied, “Nothing’s wrong. I am here to offer a feast to the LORD. Go and prepare yourselves properly and then come and join me for the occasion.”

Samuel also invited Jesse and his family to the feast and instructed them to prepare themselves properly. When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab, and thought to himself, “He has got to be the one the LORD has chosen.”

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t be fooled by how big and impressive he looks. He is not the man for me, because I, the LORD, am not impressed by the same things that impress you people. People judge others by their outward appearance, but I look beneath that and see what makes them tick.”

Then Jesse introduced Samuel to his next son, Abinadab, but Samuel said, “No, this is not the one the LORD sent me to find.”

Jesse introduced his next son, Shammah, but Samuel said, “This is not the one the LORD sent me to find either.”

Jesse introduced seven sons to Samuel, but Samuel was convinced that none of them was the one the LORD had chosen. So he asked Jesse, “Are all your sons here?”

Jesse replied, “My youngest boy is not here. He is out on the farm taking care of some sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send someone to get him as quickly as possible, for we will not sit down to this meal until he arrives.”

So Jesse sent someone to get his youngest son, David, and bring him to the feast. David was a good-looking, fresh-faced kid, and his eyes were full of life. As soon as he walked in, the LORD said, “Samuel, get up and anoint him, because this is the one I have chosen.”

So Samuel took out his flask of oil and poured it on David’s head in full view of his brothers. The Spirit of the LORD took hold of David and was powerfully at work in him from that moment on. With his mission accomplished, Samuel got up and headed back home to Ramah.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 7 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The Philistines were ready for war and their troops took up positions for an attack on the Judean town of Socoh.

The Philistine army had a champion named Goliath who came from Gath. He was a mountain of a man, towering over everyone around him. He was kitted out in the latest military gear with heavy bronze armour on his chest and legs and a gleaming helmet on his head. His chest armour alone was heavier than most men could lift. He carried a bronze sword strapped to his back. His spear was too thick for the average man to get his hand around and it had a head like a sharpened shot put. Another soldier walked in front of him carrying a huge shield.

Goliath strutted out from among the ranks and shouted at the Israelite army:

“Why should we waste time with a full battle? Let’s put up two men to have it out for us – winner takes all. I’m ready to represent the Philistines. Why don’t you lot in Saul’s army choose yourselves a champion to come down and take me on? If your man can kill me, then our army will surrender and our people will be your slaves. But if I win, then you’ll be our slaves. So come on, let’s see what you Israelites are made of. Send down your best man and we’ll see if he has what it takes to match me!”

Goliath’s defiant taunting threw Saul and his army into a panic. Scared witless, they couldn’t do a thing.

While all this was happening in the Elah Valley, David was back home, working on his father’s sheep station. Early one morning, at his father’s request, he left the sheep in someone else’s care and headed off to deliver some extra rations to his brothers in the army. He reached the army camp just as they were taking up their positions and sounding the battle cry. There was a stand off as the Israelite army and the Philistine army faced each other. David left the rations with the supply officer, and then ran up to the ranks to find his brothers and see how they were getting on. While he was talking with them, Goliath stepped forward from among the Philistine army, and began taunting the Israelites again. When David heard Goliath’s scoffing and saw the fear among the Israelite soldiers, he went and addressed King Saul, saying, “Your majesty, why are we letting this Philistine make our army look like a bunch of wimps. I’ll go out and deal with him for you!”

Saul replied, “You’ve got to be kidding. You’d have Buckley’s. You’re only a kid and he’s a top-gun, an elite soldier with more scalps to his name than you’ll ever have.”

But David held his line:

“Your majesty, I work sheep for my father; and whenever a lion or a bear drags off one of those sheep, I go after it and beat the living daylights out of it until it gives up the sheep. And if it makes the mistake of turning on me, I grab it by the throat and kill it. I have killed both lions and bears; and this godless Philistine will be a piece of cake. No one defies the army of the living God and gets away with it! The LORD didn’t let the lions or bears get their claws into me. The same LORD is more than a match for this Philistine.”

“All right,” said Saul, “Go and fight him, and God help you! You’ll need it.”

Saul offered David his own uniform and armour, and even his bronze helmet. But when David put on the armour and strapped on Saul’s sword, he could hardly walk. So he said to Saul, “I can barely stand up in this stuff because I haven’t trained in it,” and he took it all off. Instead he headed out carrying nothing but a hiking stick, a sling shot, and five smooth stones from the creek bed which he popped into his pockets. Out he marched, ready to face Goliath!

Goliath strutted arrogantly towards David, with the soldier carrying the shield still in front of him.  When he got close enough to get a good look at David, he laughed out loud because David looked just like any other fresh-faced kid. “What do you think I am? A dog? Do you think I might heel and roll over for you if you wave your little stick around?!”

And he called down curses from his gods on David and threw every insult in the book at him. “Come on then,” he sneered, “Let’s have you. I’ll make dog meat out of you. I’ll hang you out for the crows to pick your bones.”

But David was undaunted and spoke back:

“You are so sure of yourself, trusting as you do in your fancy weapons of war. But I don’t need them, because my trust is in the LORD who commands the armies of heaven. This is the God you have insulted – the God of the armies of Israel.  You’ve seen your last sunrise, Mister. With the help of the the LORD, I’ll knock you down for the count. I’ll cut off your head, and the only dog meat here will be you. The crows can feast on the carcasses of your Philistine mates. Then the whole world will know that the real God is Israel’s God. Everyone here will see that the LORD doesn’t need weapons to save his people. This battle is all over, bar the shouting, because the LORD has got your measure.”

At that, Goliath started towards David. David ran forward to meet him and reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a stone for his sling shot and let fly. He only needed one shot. It hit Goliath square on the head and cracked his skull. One small stone, and the giant fell on his face, as dead as a doornail.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 7 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After killing Goliath the Philistine, David was granted an audience with King Saul. He was still carrying the severed head of the Philistine when he was introduced to the King by Abner, the commander of the army. Saul asked him, “Whose people do you come from, young man?”

David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse, from Bethlehem.”

After David had finished speaking to Saul, he met Saul’s son Jonathan. The two were soul mates from the word go, and Jonathan loved David as much as his own life. From that day on, Saul gave David a position in the royal household and would not let him return to his family home. Jonathan bound himself to David in a formal alliance, because he loved him so much. He took off his own royal robe and put it on David, and handed over to him his own military uniform and weapons.

Saul sent David out on numerous military campaigns, and wherever he went, he was successful. As a result, Saul gave him command of the whole army. David was becoming so popular with all the people that even Saul’s closest officials approved of his promotion.

However, David’s popularity started to get under Saul’s skin. One day an evil spirit from God seized him and he lost the plot completely, raving like a madman in his house. David was there playing some soothing music for the king on his lyre, as he did each day. Saul had a spear in his hand, and in his madness he twice threw it, trying to pin David to the wall, but David managed to duck clear each time.

Saul was increasingly afraid of David, because it was clear that the LORD had given up on Saul and was now backing David. So Saul kicked him out of the house and put him in command of a thousand soldiers on the front line. David led the unit out, and before long he was back with another great victory under his belt. He had success in everything he took on, because the LORD was backing him. When Saul saw how successful he had become, he was quaking in his boots. But all the people of Israel and Judah worshipped the ground David walked on, because it was him who led them into battle and brought them safe home again.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 8 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

David returned from a successful campaign against the Amalekite army, and during a two day break in Ziklag he received news that King Saul had been killed in battle. David composed a song of lament in memory of Saul and his son Jonathan. He called it “The Song of the Bow” and it was written down in the Book of Jashar. David gave orders to his army musicians to teach the song to everyone in Judah. The words went like this:

Israel, your most decorated soldiers
lie dead on the hills!
Your glorious heroes have been cut down!
Don’t let news of this reach the streets of Gath;
don’t breathe a word of it in Ashkelon,
or the godless Philistine women
will mock us in our misery,
gloating and dancing with joy.

A curse on Mount Gilboa
where our heroes’ blood was spilt:
may the sun never shine there,
and the rain never fall;
may it never see a flower bloom again.
Cursed be the place where Saul bit the dust,
where his polished armour
was smeared with blood.

Our great heroes never flinched under fire:
with bow in hand,
Jonathan’s aim was deadly;
with sword in hand,
Saul cut the enemy to pieces.

Saul and Jonathan, how easy it was to love them!
Like father, like son, in life and in death;
they made eagles look slow,
and lions look weak.

Women of Israel, cry your eyes out for Saul!
It was him you had to thank
for your stunning wardrobes,
your designer gowns
and your elegant jewellery.

Our finest men have fallen,
cut down in the heat of the battle!

Jonathan lies dead on Mount Gilboa.
My heart is broken for you, my brother Jonathan;
I loved you more than words can say.
Your love was my greatest delight,
more precious than the love of women.

The heroes who filled us with pride have fallen.
Their weapons, once feared,
are tossed on the scrap heap!

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 9 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After David had been king of Judah for some time, the leaders of the tribes of Israel came to meet with him at Hebron. They addressed him, saying:
“Look, we are family – your own flesh and blood. For a long time, even though Saul was officially our king, it has been you that we all looked up to, and you that we took our marching orders from. The LORD promised that it was only a matter of time before you would rule Israel and be the caretaker of all God’s people.”

During this meeting at Hebron, the tribal elders of Israel negotiated a deal with David and signed it in a sacred ceremony, with the LORD as their witness. As part of the deal they crowned David king of Israel, pouring sacred olive oil on his head to show that he was the chosen one.

David was thirty years old when he became king, and his reign lasted forty years. For the first seven and a half years, while based in Hebron, he only ruled over Judah. Then for a further thirty-three years he ruled over both Israel and Judah from his new capital in Jerusalem.  The fortified centre of Jerusalem had held out against David, but he eventually captured it and moved in, declaring it to be the city of David. He had the city rebuilt around it starting from the landfill area on the east side.

David’s position was becoming stronger all the time, because the LORD, the ruler of everything, was on his side.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 10 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

David called up thirty thousand top soldiers, the cream of Israel’s army, and led them up to Baalah in Judah to collect the sacred Ark of God. The Ark bore the name of the LORD who rules over everything, and the gold cherubim on its top were recognised as God’s throne on earth.  They removed the Ark of God from the house of Abinadab, secured it on a new cart, and set off down the hill with it. Abinadab’s two sons, Ahio and Uzzah, were at each end, steering the cart which carried the Ark of God. A crowd of Israelite people accompanied them, forming a joyful procession, all singing and dancing in honour of the LORD. David led them with great enthusiasm, and they were accompanied by all sorts of musical instruments.

They parked the Ark of God in the house of Obed-edom for a while after an accident, but eventually they were ready to set out again and bring it to the city of David. It was a huge celebration. This time the Ark of God was carried on the shoulders of some chosen men. Each time they had taken six paces, they would stop and David would sacrifice a bullock and a prime-beef yearling. Bare chested and with only a linen cloth round his waist, David danced with uninhibited joy and great energy to honour the LORD. To the sounds of trumpets and loud cheering, David and all the people of Israel brought the Ark of the LORD up into Jerusalem.

As they came through the city gates, David’s wife Michelle was watching from a window. She was the daughter of Saul, and when she saw King David making such a display of himself, leaping around in his dance, she was disgusted.

David had set up a special marquee for the sacred Ark of the LORD, and they carried it in and set it in its place. David led the people in worship, offering animal sacrifices to the LORD by burning them on an altar. When the offerings were over, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD who rules over everything. He sent them all on their way with gifts of food. Every man and woman in Israel was given a platter laden with bread, roast beef, and fruit cake. So, with the celebrations over, everyone headed home.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-
the 4th Sunday of Advent in Year B,
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

King David made himself at home in his new palace and, thanks to the LORD, there was no trouble from Israel’s enemies for some time.  One day the King consulted Nathan the prophet, and said to him, “It doesn’t seem right for me to be living it up in a palace built of the finest materials while the sacred Ark of God is still in a tent. It’s as though God was sleeping rough!”
Nathan replied, “The LORD is with you, so go ahead and do whatever you think should be done.”
But Nathan had spoken too soon. That same night, the LORD gave him a different message to pass on to King David. This is what it said:

David, I am the LORD and you are my servant, so listen to what I have to say to you. What makes you think that you are the one to build my house? I’ve been on the road with nothing more than a tent ever since I led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. I didn’t need a house then and I don’t need one now. You’re not the first caretaker I’ve appointed for the tribes of Israel, and you won’t be the last, so think about it – have I ever gone whingeing to any of them and demanded a fancy house?
Now listen to me, and listen good. I am the LORD who rules over everything. I made you what you are today – the leader of my people. If it wasn’t for me you’d still be cleaning up after the sheep. I’ve never let you down, wherever you’ve gone. Whenever enemies have attacked you, I’ve dealt with them, right before your eyes. Thanks to me, you will be known as one of the most famous people who ever lived.
I have chosen a place for my people Israel, a place where they can put down roots, a place to call their own. They won’t need to be looking over their shoulders all the time, because there won’t be any more trouble from the barbarians who have plagued them for so long. For the first time since the days when I sent the legendary heroes to bring justice to my people, Israel will be at peace.
What’s more, I the LORD give you my word that I will make you the foundation stone of a great house. I will keep my eye on your family and your kingdom and keep them safe. I will see to it that there will always be one of your descendants on your throne.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 11 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

King David made himself at home in his new palace and, thanks to the LORD, there was no trouble from Israel’s enemies for some time.  One day the King consulted Nathan the prophet, and said to him, “It doesn’t seem right for me to be living it up in a palace built of the finest materials while the sacred Ark of God is still in a tent. It’s as though God was sleeping rough!”

Nathan replied, “The LORD is with you, so go ahead and do whatever you think should be done.”

But Nathan had spoken too soon. That same night, the LORD gave him a different message to pass on to King David. This is what it said:

David, I am the LORD and you are my servant, so listen to what I have to say to you. What makes you think that you are the one to build my house? I’ve been on the road with nothing more than a tent ever since I led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. I didn’t need a house then and I don’t need one now. You’re not the first caretaker I’ve appointed for the tribes of Israel, and you won’t be the last, so think about it – have I ever gone whingeing to any of them and demanded a fancy house?

Now listen to me, and listen good. I am the LORD who rules over everything. I made you what you are today – the leader of my people. If it wasn’t for me you’d still be cleaning up after the sheep. I’ve never let you down, wherever you’ve gone. Whenever enemies have attacked you, I’ve dealt with them, right before your eyes. Thanks to me, you will be known as one of the most famous people who ever lived.

I have chosen a place for my people Israel, a place where they can put down roots, a place to call their own. They won’t need to be looking over their shoulders all the time, because there won’t be any more trouble from the barbarians who have plagued them for so long. For the first time since the days when I sent the legendary heroes to bring justice to my people, Israel will be at peace.

What’s more, I the LORD give you my word that I will make you the foundation stone of a great house. I will see to it that by the time your number’s up and you’re buried alongside your ancestors, you will have fathered your own successor.  Yes, a son of yours will be king. I will back him all the way, anchoring his kingdom and establishing his dynasty forever.  He is the one to whom I shall give the privilege of building my sacred temple. I will be a father to him, and he shall be my son.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 12 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The onset of spring seems to arouse powerful men, and military campaigns were usually undertaken after the winter ended. One year, King David sent out the Israelite army under the command of Joab and his officers. They decimated the Ammonite army and marched on their capital city, Rabbah.

David himself had his feet up in Jerusalem while his troops laid siege to Rabbah. Late one day, after an afternoon siesta, David wandered out onto his rooftop balcony. Looking down into the homes of his neighbours, he spied a woman undressing to take a bath. He couldn’t take his eyes of her beautiful body. His lust got the better of him, and he sent a servant to check out who she was. The servant reported back, saying, “Your Majesty, her name is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam. She is married to Uriah the Hittite who is presently serving in your army.”

David was unperturbed and hastily arranged for her to be brought to meet him. She arrived at the palace and was left alone with the King. He had sex with her and then sent her home again. If he wanted to get away with it, he had picked the wrong time of the month. A few weeks later he received a message from Bathsheba saying, “I am pregnant with your baby.”

David hatched a scheme to cover his tracks. He contacted Joab and arranged for Uriah the Hittite to be sent as a courier with military reports for the palace. When Uriah arrived, David made a great show of asking him all about the war and how Joab and the troops were getting on. Then he said to Uriah, “You’ve earned some leave. Go home, enjoy a night with your wife, and I’ll send you back in a day or two.”

Uriah left and David even had the palace kitchen send food and wine around to his house. But Uriah didn’t go home to his wife. He spent the night in the barracks of the palace guard. When David heard about it in the morning he sent for Uriah and said, “I gave you some leave, Soldier. You’ve been on a tough assignment. Why didn’t you go home?”

Uriah replied, “It wouldn’t be fair to my mates. They’re all out there in tents – the whole army, Joab and the other commanders, and even the sacred Ark. How could I go home to eat and drink and sleep with my wife when they’re still roughing it? On a stack of bibles I swear to you, I couldn’t do it.”

David was getting desperate. He said to Uriah, “I need you to stay here another day and then tomorrow you can take a delivery back to Joab.”

So Uriah hung around in Jerusalem as instructed. David invited him to dinner and made sure that his glass was never empty. By the time Uriah left that evening, he was quite drunk, but he still didn’t go home to his wife. He slept on a stretcher in the barracks again.

David had only one card left. In the morning he sent Uriah back to the front with a dispatch for Joab. It included a royal order saying, “Send Uriah to attack the enemy’s strongest defence post. Then, pull back the rest of the troops so he’ll be stranded and killed.”

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
Proper 13 in Year B  (v.11:26 - 12:13a)
- Proper 6 in Year C  (v. 11:26 - 12:10, 13-15) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

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.”

Nathan replied, “You most certainly have, but the LORD is willing to give you another chance. You will not die for your sin as you deserve. However, you have treated the LORD with utter contempt and the damage is done. The child that is soon to be born to you will not survive.”

With that, Nathan left and went home. Uriah’s wife gave birth to David’s son, but the child was struck down by serious illness right from day one.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 14 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

King David’s army, led by Joab and his officers, was preparing for battle against the Israelites who had rebelled with Absalom. David briefed them before they marched out, saying, “Absalom is still my son, so for my sake, capture him unharmed.” He gave these orders to the commanders, and all the troops heard what he said about Absalom.

With that, they headed out against the Israelite army. The battle was fought in the Ephraim forest and it spread out on several fronts. David’s men defeated the Israelite army that day, but it was a horrible bloodbath. Twenty thousand men died in the carnage and the dangerous forest terrain claimed as many victims again.

Absalom ran into a patrol of David’s men, led by Joab. He was pushing through a narrow track on his mule alone. As he passed under a great oak tree, Absalom’s thick hair got caught in the low branches and dragged him off the back of the mule which continued on its way. Absalom was left hanging in mid air, unable to get up or down. The patrol found him hanging there and they killed him. Joab thrust the first spear in and then ten of his men surrounded him and finished Absalom off.

An Ethiopian runner was sent to David to report on the outcome of the battle. He said to David, “Your Majesty, I bring you good news! The LORD has set things right for you today, making you safe from those who rebelled against you.”

The king said to the messenger, “What about Absalom? Is he okay?”

The Ethiopian answered, “May all your enemies and anyone who wishes you harm, my king, meet the same fate that Absalom has met today.”

The king was distraught. He disappeared into the nearest room, overcome with grief. Through his tears he cried out over and over, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son, Absalom! If only I could have died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
Proper 29 (Christ the King) in Year B

and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The God of Jacob, the mighty One of Israel,
chose David, the son of Jesse,
loved him, and raised him up to be a great King.
At the end of his reign,
David spoke these final words from his death bed:

The Spirit of the LORD speaks through me.
The words that roll from my tongue come from God.
A message comes from the ancient solid Rock,
from the God of Israel, saying to me:

“A true leader has a heart for justice
and exercises power with the constant awareness
of being under the eye of God.
Such a leader is as welcome as the dawn,
as popular as sunshine on the weekend,
as valuable as spring rains on the wheat fields.”

I, David, have established my dynasty on this principle,
and God has made a permanent alliance with me,
signed, sealed and delivered.
Surely then I can depend on God to stand by me
and make my hopes and dreams come true.

Leaders who shun God are a very different story.
You wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole.
They are a plague on the land, like feral blackberry vines,
which can only be dealt with by bulldozing them into a pile
and burning them on the spot.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 15 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

King David died and was buried in Jerusalem. He had ruled over Israel for forty years; seven years from Hebron, and then thirty-three from Jerusalem. David’s son Solomon inherited the throne, and he had a firm grip on the kingdom.

Solomon honoured the LORD and lived as his father David had taught him. In addition he offered sacrifices and burned incense at some of the sacred sites in the hills. The most important of these sacred sites was at Gibeon and Solomon offered more than a thousand sacrifices on the altar there.

One night, while he was staying over in Gibeon, the LORD God appeared to Solomon in a dream. God said to him, “Solomon, what would you most like me to give you?”

Solomon answered God, saying:

You always loved my father, your servant David. Your love was solid and unshakable, because he was good and honest and did what was right by you. As a sign of your love and loyalty to him, you gave him a son to inherit his kingdom. So here I am, LORD God. I am your servant, and you have made me king in place of my father, even though I’m little more than a boy and have no idea how to conduct myself properly. I am your servant and you have given me the job of ruling your chosen people, even though they are a great nation and there are more of them than anyone can count. So then, what I would most like you to give me is a sharp mind to rule justly and to be able to pick the difference between right and wrong every time. Without such a gift, no one could ever hope to rule your people.

The Lord was most impressed with Solomon’s request, and said to him:

You could have selfishly asked me to give you a long life, or to make you the richest man on earth, or to wipe out your enemies. But instead you have asked me for the wisdom to make the right decisions for my people. You have chosen well and I will give you exactly what you have asked for. You will have more wisdom and insight than anyone else who has ever lived or ever will. And to top it all off, I will also give you what you could have asked for, but didn’t. All your life you will be extraordinarily rich, and you will be greatly honoured by everyone. No other king will be able to hold a candle to you. And if you do things my way and play by the rules I have given you, much as your father did, then I will give you a long and healthy life.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 12 in Year A   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

One night, while Solomon was staying in Gibeon, the LORD God appeared to him in a dream. God said to him, “Solomon, what would you most like me to give you?”

Solomon answered God, saying:

You always loved my father, your servant David. Your love was solid and unshakable, because he was good and honest and did what was right by you. As a sign of your love and loyalty to him, you gave him a son to inherit his kingdom. So here I am, LORD God. I am your servant, and you have made me king in place of my father, even though I’m little more than a boy and have no idea how to conduct myself properly. I am your servant and you have given me the job of ruling your chosen people, even though they are a great nation and there are more of them than anyone can count. So then, what I would most like you to give me is a sharp mind to rule justly and to be able to pick the difference between right and wrong every time. Without such a gift, no one could ever hope to rule your people.

The Lord was most impressed with Solomon’s request, and said to him:

You could have selfishly asked me to give you a long life, or to make you the richest man on earth, or to wipe out your enemies. But instead you have asked me for the wisdom to make the right decisions for my people. You have chosen well and I will give you exactly what you have asked for. You will have more wisdom and insight than anyone else who has ever lived or ever will.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 16 in Year B
- 9th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C  (v.22-23, 41-43)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The sacred Ark of the Covenant had been kept on Mount Zion in the City of David. When King Solomon was ready to move it into the newly completed Temple, he called all the elders and tribal leaders of Israel to come to Jerusalem for the occasion. The priests carried the sacred Ark into the Temple and placed it in the most holy place, beneath the wings of the cherubim in the inner sanctuary. No sooner had they placed it there than a dazzling cloud filled the Temple. The awesome presence of God was so overpowering that no one could bear to stay inside. Even the priests had to make a hasty exit.

Outside, Solomon stood in front of the altar of the LORD and, with his hands raised high, he led the gathered people in prayer. He prayed:

“O LORD, God of Israel, you are one of a kind! No other god in the universe is like you. Your love is rock-solid and you never forget the alliance you have made with those who follow you whole-heartedly. You made an alliance with my father David, and today you have proven true to your word. Everything you promised him you have now put in place.

O LORD, God of Israel, you promised my father that his descendants would occupy the throne of Israel forever, so long as they stuck to your ways and kept nothing hidden from you. May this be true, O God, for my father David was your servant. May you always back up your promise to him.

But, how could you possibly live on earth, O LORD my God? You could hold the entire universe in your hand, so how can we expect this little temple I’ve built to have enough room for you! But today I ask you to listen to my prayer, for I am your servant. Hear me and answer me, O God. This place bears your name because you have chosen it as the place for people to worship you. So keep your eye on it, O LORD, twenty four hours a day. Whenever I turn towards this place to pray, lend me your ear. I am your servant, and these people belong to you, so any time one of us faces this Temple and prays, hear us from your heavenly home and forgive any offence we have caused.

And don’t stop with just us – foreigners will no doubt hear about you too. Attracted by your reputation and by news of the awesome things you do, they will come from all sorts of far flung places to live among your people and offer their prayers within sight of this Temple. When they do, listen to them from your heavenly home and answer their prayers. That way everyone on earth will hear of you and give you the same respect that your people Israel do. They will know that this Temple which I have built carries your authority.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
Proper 27 in Year B  (v.8-16) (themed series)
- Proper 5 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

During the terrible drought, Elijah got word from the LORD saying, “Go and live in the Sidonian town of Zarephath. There is a destitute widow there who I have told to feed you.”

So Elijah hit the road and headed for Zarephath. When he arrived on the outskirts of the town, he saw a destitute widow gathering firewood. He called out to her, saying, “Could you please bring me a cup of water; I need a drink.” As she went to get the water, he called out again, saying, “And grab me a chunk of bread too, please.”

But she stopped and said, “I swear by God, the LORD your God, that I haven’t got any bread to give you. I am down to the last handful of flour in my jar and the last dribble of oil in my jug. With them and the firewood I am collecting here, I will prepare one last meal for myself and my son, and when we’ve eaten that, we will starve to death.

Elijah said to her, “Don’t worry; it will be okay. Go and make the bread as you planned, but make two loaves. Bring one to me, and then share the second one with your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, is promising you: “The flour jar will never be empty and the oil jug will never run dry until the day that the LORD sends down rain on the land.”

She went and made the bread as Elijah had said, and they all had enough to eat for many days. The flour in the jar never ran out and the oil in the jug never ran dry. It was just as Elijah had said: the LORD had given his word.

Some time later, while Elijah was still staying in the woman’s house, the woman’s son fell sick. He got sicker and sicker and eventually he breathed his last. The woman turned on Elijah, saying, “What did I do to deserve this, you man of God? Have you come to drag up my sin from the past and make my son die for it?”

But he said to her, “Here, give me your son.”

He took the child from her arms, carried him upstairs to the room where he was staying and laid his body on the bed. He cried out to the LORD, saying, “O LORD, my God, what are you doing? Are you even bringing disaster on the widow who is putting a roof over my head by striking down her son?”

Then he pressed himself against the child three times, crying out to the LORD, “O LORD, my God, give this child back his life again.”

The LORD listened to Elijah’s prayer: the child came back to life and began breathing again. Elijah took the child back downstairs to the main room of the house and gave him back to his mother, saying, “Look, your son is alive.”

At that, the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you really are a man of God, and that when you say you are speaking the word of the LORD, it is for real.”

©2007 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 4 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

At Elijah’s suggestion, King Ahab called all the prophets of the god Baal to an assembly on Mount Carmel, and advertised it throughout Israel. When the crowd had gathered, Elijah stepped forward and addressed them saying, “How long are you going to keep trying to play for both sides? Make up your minds and follow the real God. Is it going to be the LORD or Baal?”

But there was silence. No one moved one way or the other.

So Elijah threw down the gauntlet, saying, “I’m here as the last remaining prophet on the LORD’s side, but there are four hundred and fifty prophets here on Baal’s side. Bring us two bulls for a sacrifice. Baal’s mob can choose the bull they want. They are to butcher it and lay it out on the firewood on their altar, but they are not allowed to light the fire. I will prepare the other bull the same way, laying it out on the wood but not lighting the fire. Then they can call out to their god and I will call out to the LORD, and we’ll see which god can prove himself by sending down fire.”

The gathered crowd thought this was a great idea.

Elijah turned to the prophets of Baal and said, “There are lots of you, so you can go first. Choose your bull, prepare it for the sacrifice, and start praying to your god. But you are not allowed to light the fire yourselves.”

So they took one of the bulls and butchered it for the sacrifice. From morning till midday they prayed to Baal, crying out, “O Baal, god of fire, answer us.” But nothing happened. There was no answer, not so much as a whisper. They prayed harder and harder as they marched around the altar which they had made.

Come midday, Elijah started making fun of them. “Come on,” he said. “Shout louder! What kind of god is he? Maybe he’s dreaming. Perhaps he’s nicked out to the dunny. Could he have wandered off somewhere? Maybe he’s fallen asleep, and needs to be woken up.”

So they prayed louder and louder and more and more desperately. They slashed themselves with swords to offer up their own blood, as was their custom, and soon there was blood all over the place. They continued this well into the afternoon, trying everything they could to get an answer out of their god, but still there was nothing. Not a whisper, not a spark, no answer of any kind.

Then Elijah called the people to gather around him, and they crowded in close. The altar of the LORD that had once stood on the mountain was in ruins, so Elijah rebuilt it in honour of the LORD using twelve large stones. Each stone represented one of the twelve tribes descended from the sons of Jacob to whom the LORD had given the name Israel. When Elijah finished building the altar, he dug a trench around it, deep enough to hold several buckets of water. He arranged the firewood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid it on the wood. Then he said, “Fill four buckets of water and pour it all over the offering and the wood. When they had done it, he said, “Do it again”, so another four buckets were poured over it. Then he said, “Do it a third time,” so four more buckets full were poured over it so that everything was completely soaked. The whole altar was dripping wet and the trench was flooded.

At the usual time of the evening sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stood with the people and prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, prove to everyone now that you are the real God in Israel, and that I am serving you and acting on your authority. Answer me, LORD. Show these people what you are made of, so that they will know that you are the real God and that you are winning their hearts back to you.”

With a flash, the LORD’s fire fell and incinerated the lot: the meat, the wood, the stones, and even the water in the trench. There was nothing left but scorched dirt. When the people saw it happen, they fell on their faces in awe, saying “The LORD is the true God! The LORD is the true God!”

©2013 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 7 in Year C
Proper 14 in Year B (v. 4-8) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

King Ahab told his wife Jezebel how Elijah had made a mockery of the prophets of Baal and then killed them all. Jezebel was outraged and sent a message to Elijah, saying, “I’ll see that by this time tomorrow you suffer the same fate as the prophets you killed. May the gods strike me down if I don’t.”

Elijah was terrified and hit the road – running for his life. He made it to the Judean town of Beersheba where he parted company with his servant. He then went off-road and pushed on alone into the scrub. After a day of that, he was in utter despair. He collapsed under the only tree for miles that offered any shade and spilled his guts, saying, “I can’t take any more, LORD. Just kill me now! I’m as good as dead anyway.”

Exhausted, he fell asleep where he lay. Suddenly someone tapped him on the shoulder, saying, “Get up and eat.”

Elijah looked around and there, just near his head, was a cake of damper bread and a full water bottle. He ate and drank and then went back to sleep. The messenger of the LORD came to him again, tapping him on the shoulder and saying, “Get up and eat, or you’ll never survive the journey ahead.”

So Elijah got up and ate and drank his fill. That meal gave him the strength to push on for forty days and nights until he reached Mount Sinai – God’s own mountain. When he got there, he spent the night in a cave.

The next morning, the LORD spoke to him, saying, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”

Elijah answered, “I’ve given my all for you, LORD God, ruler of everything. The people of Israel have turned their backs on their alliance with you. They have demolished the places of worship and massacred your prophets. I am the only one left and now they are hunting me down to kill me too.”

The LORD said, “Go outside and stand to attention on the mountain, because I am about to pass in front of you.”

As Elijah stood there, a cyclone hit the mountain, shattering the rocks and splintering the trees; but the LORD was not in the cyclone. After the cyclone, the mountain was shaken by an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a raging bushfire; but the LORD was not in the bushfire. Then, after all that, there came a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his coat over his face and stood stock still outside the entrance of the cave. Then, from the silence, came a voice, saying, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”

Elijah answered, “I’ve given my all for you, LORD God, ruler of everything. The people of Israel have turned their backs on their alliance with you. They have demolished the places of worship and massacred your prophets. I am the only one left and now they are hunting me down to kill me too.”

Then the LORD said to him, “Off you go. Head back down to the desert near Damascus.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 14 in Year A   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After walking forty days to reach Mount Sinai, Elijah spent the night in a cave. The next morning, the LORD spoke to him, saying, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”

Elijah answered, “I’ve given my all for you, LORD God, ruler of everything. The people of Israel have turned their backs on their alliance with you. They have demolished the places of worship and massacred your prophets. I am the only one left and now they are hunting me down to kill me too.”

The LORD said, “Go outside and stand to attention on the mountain, because I am about to pass in front of you.”

As Elijah stood there, a cyclone hit the mountain, shattering the rocks and splintering the trees; but the LORD was not in the cyclone. After the cyclone, the mountain was shaken by an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a raging bushfire; but the LORD was not in the bushfire. Then, after all that, there came a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his coat over his face and stood stock still outside the entrance of the cave. Then, from the silence, came a voice, saying, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”

Elijah answered, “I’ve given my all for you, LORD God, ruler of everything. The people of Israel have turned their backs on their alliance with you. They have demolished the places of worship and massacred your prophets. I am the only one left and now they are hunting me down to kill me too.”

Then the LORD said to him, “Off you go. Head back down to the desert near Damascus. When you get there, you are to crown Hazael as the new king of Syria. Then you are to crown Jehu, the son of Nimshi, as the new king of Israel. Finally, you are to appoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat, to be your successor as my prophet. Hazael will begin wiping out all those who worship Baal. Any who escape him will fall to Jehu, and Elisha will finish off any who escape Jehu. But there are seven thousand people in Israel who have not bent their knees to Baal or kissed his statues, and they will survive the purge.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 8 in Year C  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

On Mount Sinai, the LORD spoke to Elijah, saying, “Off you go. Head back down to the desert near Damascus. When you get there, you are to crown Hazael as the new king of Syria. Then you are to crown Jehu, the son of Nimshi, as the new king of Israel. Finally, you are to appoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat, to be your successor as my prophet.”

So Elijah set out as he had been told, and found Elisha, the son of Shaphat. Elisha was working a paddock with a plow pulled by a pair of bullocks. He was the twelfth in a line of men, each plowing with a pair of bullocks. Elijah picked him out and as he walked past he threw his own prophet’s coat over him. Elisha dropped what he was doing and ran after Elijah, saying, “Let me just go and kiss my parents goodbye, and then I’ll come with you.”

Elijah replied, “Off you go. Have I done anything to stop you?”

Elisha went home and severed all his ties. Burning his plow and slaughtering his bullocks, he gave a farewell barbecue for the people he had lived and worked with. Then, putting his old life behind him, he hit the road with Elijah and became his apprentice.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 6 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

A man named Naboth owned a vineyard in his hometown of Jezreel, not far from King Ahab’s palace. One day King Ahab decided that he wanted to add Naboth’s vineyard to his own property, so he went to Naboth and said, “Since your vineyard is so near my house, I’d like to have it for a vegetable garden. Sign it over to me and I’ll give you a better vineyard, or if you prefer, I’ll pay you a good price – cash up front.”

But Naboth replied, “God forbid! I could never let go of this land. My family roots are deep in the soil that God has given us.”

Ahab stomped off home in a sulk and stewed all afternoon over Naboth’s refusal to part with his family vineyard. He lay on his bed, scowling at the wall, and wouldn’t even eat. His wife Jezebel came in and demanded, “What has got you so down in the dumps that you’re off your food?”

Ahab replied, “It’s because of Naboth. I wanted to take over his vineyard, and I offered him a good price or even another vineyard in exchange, but he wouldn’t part with it for love nor money.”

Jezebel retorted, “Well, are you the king, or aren’t you? Get up; eat, drink and be merry. I’ll get Naboth’s vineyard for you.”

So Jezebel wrote some letters on the king’s letterhead, signed his name to them and sent them to the leaders of Naboth’s local community. The letters contained the following orders: “Call all the people together for a day of prayer and fasting. Seat Naboth up front and pay a couple of unscrupulous characters to raise accusations against him. Have them accuse him of insulting God and defaming the king. Then take him to the place of execution and stone him to death.”

The community leaders followed Jezebel’s orders to the letter. Just as she had written, they called the people together for a day of prayer and fasting. They gave Naboth a seat of honour up the front. Two paid liars stood up in front of everyone and accused Naboth to his face of having bad-mouthed God and the king. An angry mob dragged Naboth outside the town and stoned him to death. They then sent word to Jezebel that Naboth had been executed.

As soon as Jezebel got the news of Naboth’s death, she went and said to Ahab, “Go and take over Naboth’s vineyard. He won’t cause you any more grief. He’s dead.”

The minute he heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab jumped up and headed off to stake his claim to the vineyard.

Meanwhile, the LORD spoke to Elijah the prophet, saying:

“Go down and confront King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria. At this very moment he is in Naboth’s vineyard, taking it over as his own. Go and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Have you murdered a man and now you’re stealing his property as well? You will pay for what you have done: in the very same spot where the dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, so too will they lick up your blood, Ahab.’”

    So Elijah went and confronted Ahab in Naboth’s vineyard. Before he could say anything, Ahab saw him coming and said, “So my enemy, have you found me out?”

Elijah answered, “Yes, I have found you out. You have sold yourself over to the ways of evil. You have done things the LORD can’t stand to see and, as a result, disaster is coming your way.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Transfiguration Sunday in Year B  (v.1-12)
- Proper 8 in Year C  (v.1-2,6-14)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Shortly before the LORD sent a whirlwind to take Elijah into heaven, Elijah and Elisha headed off on a journey from Gilgal. Elijah had tried to talk Elisha out of coming, saying, “The LORD wants me to go to Bethel, but there is no need for you to come. You can stay here.”

But Elisha said, “I’m sticking with you, come hell or high water!”

So they travelled together down to Bethel. There was a community of prophets in Bethel, and they came out and asked Elisha, “Do you realise that today the LORD is going to take your boss away from you?”

“I know,” Elisha replied, “but shut up! I don’t want to talk about it.”

Elijah said, “Elisha, you stay put. The LORD wants me to go on to Jericho, but there is no need for you to come.”

But Elisha said, “I’m sticking with you, come hell or high water!”

So they were still together when they arrived in Jericho. There was a community of prophets in Jericho, and they came out and asked Elisha, “Do you realise that today the LORD is going to take your boss away from you?”

“I know,” Elisha replied, “but shut up! I don’t want to talk about it.”
Elijah said, “Elisha, you stay put. The LORD wants me to go across the Jordan River, but there is no need for you to come.”

But Elisha said, “I’m sticking with you, come hell or high water!”

So the two of them continued on together. A group of fifty prophets followed them, keeping their distance but not letting them out of their sight. When they arrived at the Jordan River, Elijah took off his coat, rolled it up, and slapped the water with it. The water immediately parted to form a dry path through the middle of the river and the two of them crossed over. When they reached the other side, Elijah said, “Elisha, our time together is almost up. What would you most like me to do for you before I am taken away?”

Elisha replied, “Please make me your successor by leaving to me the largest share of the spirit that empowers you.”

Elijah responded, “That’s a tough ask! But if you actually see me being taken away from you, then you’ll get your wish. If you don’t, you’ll miss out.”

The two of them continued to walk along, deep in conversation, when suddenly a chariot of fire drawn by two blazing horses charged between them and Elijah was sucked up in a whirlwind and taken into heaven. Elisha saw the whole thing and kept crying out, “Father! Father! You are gone with the defenders of Israel, God’s mounted warriors!”

When Elijah disappeared from sight, Elisha was torn apart with grief. When he had pulled himself back together, he picked up the prophet’s coat which Elijah had dropped, and headed back to the river bank. He rolled up Elijah’s coat and, slapping the water with it as Elijah had, called out, “Are you with me now LORD, God of Elijah?”

Sure enough, when he struck the water, a dry path opened up through the Jordan River again, and Elisha crossed over to the Jericho side again.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 12 in Year B (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

During the famine, a man arrived from Baal-shalishah, bringing a sack of food as the required offering to God from the first fruits of his harvest. He gave the offering to Elisha, as God’s representative. The sack contained twenty loaves of barley bread and some fresh ears of grain. Elisha told his servant to give it to the hungry people outside so that they could eat. But his servant said, “There’s a hundred people outside. How am I supposed to give this to them without it seeming like a cruel joke?”

But Elisha stood his ground, saying, “Give it to the people and let them eat. It will be enough for them all and they’ll have some left over. We have the LORD’s word for it.”

So the servant handed it out to the people. They all ate and there was some left over, just as the LORD had promised.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 6th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year B
   (v.1-14)
- Proper 9 in Year C   (v.1-14)
- Proper 23 in Year C   (v.1-3, 9-15c) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The commander of the Syrian army was a man named Naaman. Naaman was very popular with his king, because under his command, the LORD had given Syria a string of military victories. Although he was a great soldier and a highly decorated commander, Naaman suffered from leprosy. Naaman’s wife had a young Israelite girl among her servants who had come to Syria as a prisoner of war after a military raid. One day the girl said to her mistress, “If only your husband could meet the prophet who lives in Samaria. I’m sure he would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman spoke to the king about what the girl had said, and the king gladly gave him leave to go. He also provided him with a letter of referral, addressed to the king of Israel.

Naaman headed off, loaded up with money and expensive gifts of jewellery and fine clothing. Arriving in Israel, he delivered the letter to the king. It read, “The bearer of this letter is my trusted servant, Naaman. I have sent him to you to have his leprosy cured.”

When the king of Israel read the letter, he was beside himself with fear; tearing his hair out over what to do. “What does the king of Syria think he’s doing?” he shouted. “Does he think I’m God or something, that I can cure lepers at his request? It looks like he’s trying to pick a fight with me.”

News of this got to Elisha, the prophet of God in Samaria. He sent a message to the king saying, “Why are you tearing your hair out? Get a grip on yourself and send the man to me so that he can find out for himself that there is a real prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman and his whole entourage pulled up in the street outside Elisha’s house. Elisha sent an errand boy out to Naaman with a message, saying, “Go down to the Jordan River and wash yourself in it seven times. That will cure you and your skin will be as clean and clear as a child’s.”

Naaman felt deeply insulted and drove off in a huff, saying, “You’d think that for a man of my standing he could have come out and talked to me himself. I thought that he would at least stand and call on the LORD his God, and wave his hand over my skin to bring about the cure! What’s so special about their scummy Israelite river? Aren’t the two great rivers of Damascus much bigger and better? Couldn’t I wash in them and be clean?”

So he stormed off, seething with rage. But his servants spoke up and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something really difficult, you would have done it, wouldn’t you? So surely you have got nothing to lose but your disease if you do what he said and wash yourself in the river.”

So Naaman relented and, wading out into the Jordan River, he immersed himself seven times in the water, just as the prophet of God had instructed him. Sure enough, he was cured instantly, and his skin became as clear and healthy as a child’s.

He and his entourage immediately returned to Elisha. Standing before the prophet of God, he declared, “Now I know that there is no other God in all the world except the God of Israel.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 3rd Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

(The people of Jerusalem had returned home from exile and rebuilt the walls of the city.) On the first day of the seventh month they all gathered in the park near the Water Gate. Ezra, the Bible teacher, was there. At the people’s request, Ezra brought out a copy of the book of the law of Moses. The people wanted him to read out the teachings that the LORD had given to Israel. They set up a stage for Ezra to stand on and all the people gathered around – men, women and all the children who were old enough to make sense of it. Early in the morning Ezra took his place on the stage, opened the book of the law and began reading it to the crowd. When he opened the book, everybody stood up in honour of what they were about to hear. Ezra read non-stop until lunch time, and all the people paid close attention to everything they heard from the law. When Ezra had finished reading, he stood up and led the people in a prayer, giving thanks to the LORD, the great God. The people raised their hands in prayer and responded saying, “Yes, LORD! Amen!” Then they all dropped to their knees and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

So in this way the people were brought up to speed with all that was contained in the book of God’s law. A number of other Bible teachers were on hand to move among the crowd and explain things to people so that everyone could understand what was being read. As the teachings began to sink in, many people began sobbing as they realised how far Israel had strayed from the law of the LORD. Seeing their distress, Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest, and the other Bible teachers addressed the crowd, saying:

“This is a special day, dedicated to the LORD your God. This is not a day for mourning and crying but for celebration. Go home and party! Indulge yourselves with good food and fine wine, and share some with those who don’t have enough. This is how we should celebrate a day dedicated to the LORD. So cheer up! Celebrate the LORD who makes us strong!”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 21 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

(When Xerxes was King of Persia, his prime minister, Haman, conspired to exterminate the entire Jewish population in a single day. The King’s wife, Esther, was Jewish, and she and her cousin Mordecai set out to thwart Haman’s genocidal plan.)

Queen Esther put on a special dinner and invited the King and Haman to join her. As they were enjoying the fine wine at the end of the meal, the King said to Esther, “You had something you wanted to ask me, Esther my queen. What is it? I’d be happy to give you whatever you want, even half my Kingdom if it would make you happy.”

Queen Esther answered, “Your Majesty, if you really love me and you want to do something for me, you can save my life and the lives of my people. That’s all I ask. A price has been put on our heads, mine and all my people. The order has been given to wipe us out, to eradicate us like vermin. We are to be marched off to our deaths, exterminated. I would have kept my protest to myself if we were only to be sold as slaves – I couldn’t expect a king to be concerned over so small a matter, but we are about to be massacred!”

The King nearly exploded. “Who is responsible for this outrage?” he demanded. “Name names.”

Esther replied, “The treacherous enemy is right here, your Majesty. This murdering mongrel, Haman!”

Haman didn’t know where to look. He just froze on the spot between the king and queen, like a scared rabbit. Then one of the King’s personal servants, a eunuch named Harbona, spoke up. “Your Majesty, if you look out your window you will spot the biggest gallows you have ever seen right outside Haman’s house. He built them to hang Mordecai the Jew – the very same Mordecai who warned you of the plot to assassinate you.”

“Right,” said the King. “String Haman up on his own gallows!”

So the guards dragged Haman out and hanged him on the gallows he had built to get rid of Mordecai. That satisfied the King’s anger.

Mordecai kept written records of all that had occurred. He sent letters to all the Jewish communities in the empire with the following instructions:

In the sixth month of each year, declare a long weekend on the 14th and 15th. Hold celebrations to remember that these were the days on which we Jews were saved from our persecutors. This month began in fear and grief but it has become a time of joy and celebration. So make these days a festival – throw parties, eat and drink, sing and dance, give presents to one another, and see that you include the poor in your giving.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 22 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Once long ago, in the land of Uz, there was a man named Job who had a deep respect for God. He had a clean record, always doing the right thing by everybody and having nothing to do with evil.

One day in Heaven, all the beings who watch over the earth gathered to report to the LORD. The Accuser came with them to make his report. The LORD asked the Accuser, “Where have you been?”

The Accuser replied, “I have been wandering around on the earth, going wherever I please.”

The LORD said to the Accuser, “Have you checked out the form of my servant Job? No one else can hold a candle to him. His record is spotless. He honours me, he does the right thing by everyone, and he stays out of anything corrupt. Even after he was wiped out – his property trashed and his family killed – for no other reason than that you slandered him and persuaded me to allow him to be put to the test, even then he didn’t miss a beat. He proved himself to be a man of integrity and he continues to trust me.”

But the Accuser spoke back to the LORD, saying, “Ha! Everyone has their price. You can get anyone to sell out if their life is on the line. Just try it – a direct hit. When his own body is wracked with pain, he’ll curse you to your face.”

The LORD replied, “Okay, we’ll see. You can make him suffer as much as you want, but you’re not allowed to kill him.”

So the Accuser headed off immediately and got stuck into Job. Horrific sores and lesions appeared all over Job’s body, from the top of his head to the tip of his toes, and the pain was excruciating. Sitting outside on the scrap heap, he scratched, and tried every lotion he could get his hands on, but nothing helped. He was in agony. His wife said to him, “Are you just going to cop this and let God get away with it? You’re a goner anyway – just curse God and die and get it over with.”

But Job said to her, “You’re talking through your hat, woman. If we are going to welcome all the good things that God gives us, we’ve got to take the bad with the good. We can’t spit the dummy the moment trouble arrives.”

Despite everything that had happened to him, Job didn’t speak a word against God.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Holy Saturday
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Job addressed God saying:

What happened to dying ‘old and full of days’?
‘Few of days and full of grief’
seems to be the lot of everyone born.
Like flowers, we’re lucky to survive the heat of a single day;
like shadows, we never survive the fall of night.

So why have you set your sights on me?
Why are you dragging me into court as though I was your equal?
How can anyone like me, born in the gutter,
expect to come out clean on legal street? Not a chance!

The length of our lives is already set.
You have decided how long we’ve got,
and when our number’s up, there is nothing we can do about it.
So why not back off and give us a break?
Can’t we do our time without you standing over us?

A tree can still have hope
even if it is cut down in its prime.
There is every chance
that it will sprout again and flourish.
Even if its stump rots away
and its roots wither in the ground,
it only needs a whiff of water and it buds again
and comes up strong like a young plant reborn.

But we mere mortals die, and that’s it.
Dead and buried, no human is ever seen again.

Just like a lake drying out in a never ending drought,
or a river fading to a trickle and then its gone,
so too we mortals crumble to dust
with no hope of a second time round.
We think we’ll wake up in the morning,
but no way! Not till hell freezes over.

If only the land of the dead was just a prison
and you could lock me safely away till your anger cools down.
You could fix my sentence
and remember me when my time was done.
Then I could serve my time and hang on to hope,
as I counted down the days till my release.
Wishful thinking!
When we mere mortals die, that’s it, isn’t it?

©2013 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
Proper 27 in Year C   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

If only my words of protest could outlive me!

If only they could be published somewhere;
engraved on a plaque in a public place,
or chiselled in giant letters on the rock!

I know that I have a guardian somewhere
who will stand up for me in the end and prove my innocence;
albeit when I’m rotting in my grave.

But I would see God now, before I die.
I would look God in the eye myself,
rather than have another stand on my behalf.

I knot up inside just thinking about it!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 23 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After hearing the attempts of his friends to explain his suffering, Job said:

“I continue to complain bitterly;
God is still kicking me while I’m down.

If only I knew where I could find God,
I’d pound on the door and demand a hearing.
God would have to listen to me state my case
and argue my innocence.
Let’s see what God would have to say to that!
Then I could get God’s answer clear in my head.

Would God simply pull rank and rule me out of order?
I don’t think so. Surely God would listen.
Surely if an honest bloke like me gets a fair hearing,
God would judge in my favour
and clear my name once and for all.

But I can’t find God anywhere.
I look up, down, forwards, backwards – nothing.
I think I catch a glimpse to the left, but no;
I rush to the right, but God vanishes like a mirage.

My hope and courage are almost gone;
God has left me a frightened wreck.
God has let a dark cloud close around me,
but my protest will not be silenced!"

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 7 in Year B (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

From the midst of a cyclone, the voice of the LORD answered Job, saying:

“Who are you to mouth off against me
when you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about?
Stand up straight like a man
and see if you can give answers when I ask the questions.

“Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth?
If you’re so smart, tell me all about it.
Who drew up the plans and decided how big it would be?
Who held the tape measure and marked it out?
Speak up – surely you know!
What do the foundations sit on, and how far down do they go?
Who turned the first sod? Who laid the cornerstone?
Do you remember what the morning stars sang at the celebration?
It brought everyone in heaven to their feet cheering.

“Perhaps you remember who closed the floodgates
to contain the ocean
when it gushed up from the womb of the earth?
I was there. I clothed it in mist
and tucked it up in a thick blanket of fog.
I decided where it should start and finish.
I closed the gates and built the levy banks.
I said to the sea, ‘I’ve drawn a line in the sand that you must not cross.
Your powerful waves can pound to here, but no further.’”

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 24 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

From the midst of a cyclone, the voice of the LORD answered Job, saying:

“Who are you to mouth off against me
when you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about?
Stand up straight like a man
and see if you can give answers when I ask the questions.

“Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth?
If you’re so smart, tell me all about it.
Who drew up the plans and decided how big it would be?
Who held the tape measure and marked it out?
Speak up – surely you know!
What do the foundations sit on, and how far down do they go?
Who turned the first sod? Who laid the cornerstone?
Do you remember what the morning stars sang at the celebration?
It brought everyone in heaven to their feet cheering.

“Can you order the clouds around
and tell them when and where to rain?
When you give the word for the lightening to flash,
does it ask you first, ‘How far?’

“Who tips off the water birds when the floods are coming?
How do ants know when it’s going to rain?
Who has the wisdom to regulate the clouds,
or be put in charge of distributing the rain
that waters down the dust so it won’t blow away?

“Can you help a hungry lion to hunt,
or hand feed lion cubs all they need?
Do you lie around with them in their den
and teach them how to pounce on their prey?

Who do you think provides for the Currawong
when it’s chicks wander about hungry
and cry out to God for a feed?

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 25 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

After the LORD had spoken, Job replied:

“LORD, I know that you can do anything,
and that once you set your mind to something,
nothing can stop you.

You asked why I talk so much when I don’t have clue.
You’re right. I was talking through my hat!
I couldn’t begin to understand such deep matters.

You put me in my place and told me to listen;
You hit me with a raft of questions
to show me how little I knew.

In the past I only knew of you second hand;
but now I have met you face to face.
So now I am ashamed of myself. I’m eating dirt!
I won’t go down that track again.”

After this, the LORD turned Job’s luck around again and gave him everything. If he was well off before, he was twice as well off now! All his relatives and old friends came and shared a great feast with him at his place. They offered their condolences and comforted him for all he had suffered through the acts of God. Everyone gave him presents – money and gold jewellery and the like. From that time on the LORD blessed Job more than ever. His stock runs held massive herds and flocks and were highly productive. He became the father of seven sons and three daughters. He named the girls Jemimah, Keziah, and Keren Happuch, and they grew up to be the most beautiful women in the land. Job gave them an equal inheritance in his will, along with their brothers. He lived for another hundred and forty years – long enough to see his great-grandchildren having children of their own. By the time he died, he’d had the kind of innings most people only dream of.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 25 in Year A (themed series)
- the 7th Sunday of Pascha in Year B
Proper 20 in Year B
- 6th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C
Proper 18 in Year C  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, how good it will be for those
who turn a deaf ear to the advocates of greed;
who steer clear of corrupt short-cuts;
and avoid those who sneer at goodness.

Instead they relish your word, LORD.
Calming their minds,
they savour the scriptures day and night.

You make them strong and healthy,
like a Redgum tree with its roots deep in a river bank,
flowering abundantly every season,
and always laden with healthy leaves.
All that they do is vibrant with life.

But what a different story it is for the wicked;
they are about as secure as dry leaves in a cyclone.

They will have no defence
when they are brought to justice,
and no friends among people of integrity.

LORD, you keep a protective eye
on all who walk a straight path of peace and justice,
but nothing will save those who leave that road.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Transfiguration Sunday (last Sunday before Lent) in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Why do the nations conspire against you, LORD?
Why do the peoples plot rebellion?

Why do the world’s power brokers thump their chests,
and the war lords put their heads together,
plotting against you and your chosen one?

They say:
“Let us join forces to sever ties with God.
Let’s throw off these chains and declare our independence.”

You must be laughing as you sit high above, LORD.
They must look like a pathetic joke to you.

You will vent your terrifying anger on them,
and give them a piece of your mind, saying,
“I, the LORD, have put my king on the throne
on Zion, my sacred mountain.”

We know well what you promised, LORD.
You said to your chosen one:
“You are my son;
today I have brought you forth.”

You give to your chosen one whatever he asks;
nations, land and sea, the earth itself.

They are all his to do with as he sees fit;
he can smash them to pieces if he so desires.

So the power brokers would be well advised to serve you, LORD;
the rulers would do well to heed the warning
and kiss your feet with fear and trembling.

If they don’t your anger will blaze forth and incinerate them,
for you easily lose your temper with corrupt leaders.

But those who trust you for shelter, LORD,
will always be glad they did.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 3rd Sunday of Pascha in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

O God who always does what is right,
answer me when I cry for help.
You gave me breathing space last time I was in a tight spot;
be generous to me again, and hear my prayer.

How long will these people get away with it,
dragging my name through the mud?
How long will they go on spinning their propaganda
and manufacturing lies and deceit?

When will they wake up to the fact that you, LORD,
have singled out those who are faithful for your special care.
Your hear, LORD, when we cry out to you.

No matter how much pressure anyone is under,
there is still no excuse for doing the wrong thing by others.

Help us instead to quieten our minds down,
to meditate on the truth
and get a good night’s sleep.
We put our trust in you alone, LORD,
and offer you all we have in gratitude.

Cynics whinge that they never see any goodies from you, LORD,
and that you never seem to smile on them.

But as for me, you have filled my heart with joy,
and I’d take that any day,
over all the goodies their money can buy.

I can go to bed with a clear conscience
and sleep in peace,
for you, and you alone, LORD,
are my security, day and night.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 6 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Please listen to me, LORD;
tune in to my desperate words,
my groans and cries for help.

You are my God and my ruler;
listen as I pray to you.

You’ll hear me every morning, LORD;
as the sun rises, I’ll lay out my needs and wait on you.

You are not the kind of god who gets a laugh out of evil;
you don’t allow corruption to get a foothold anywhere near you.

You can’t stand the company of the arrogant;
you hate wrongdoing with a passion.

You unmask those who deal in deception;
you are disgusted by liars and blood-suckers.

But thanks to your extravagant and unfailing love,
I am free to enter your house.
I am totally in awe of you,
as I bow down in your temple to worship.

Keep me headed on the right track, LORD;
give me a clear-cut path
so I won’t get thrown off course by my enemies.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-the Feast of the Holy Name
- New Year's Day
Proper 22 in Year B (themed series)
Trinity Sunday in Year A
Trinity Sunday in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Our LORD and ruler,
all over the world
the mere mention of your name sets hearts pounding!

Your glory fills the universe!

The gurgling of babies makes more sense
than the clever arguments of your enemies.
The innocent chatter of children
silences the venomous talk of your opponents.

When I gaze at your handiwork in the night skies
— the moon, the stars, the milky way —
the whole cosmos under your control;
I can’t help but wonder why you bother with us.
Why do you care so much for mere human beings
when we count for so little in the scheme of things?

And yet, for reasons known to you alone,
you created us almost on a par with yourself
and decorated us with the highest honours and glory.

You have even entrusted us with power over your precious creation;
you placed the future of all life in our hands:
sheep and cattle;
emu and kangaroo
insects, reptiles, birds, and sea creatures;
air, land and water and the planet itself.

Our LORD and ruler,
all over the world
the mere mention of your name sets hearts pounding!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 7 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You, O LORD, are a safe haven for the oppressed,
a refuge when times are tough.
Your name inspires trust,
for you have never let down
those who turned to you.

We look to Zion, your home, and sing our praises,
announcing to everyone what you have done.
For you, O LORD, track down those
who spill innocent blood
and keep a record of every victim’s cry.

Give me a break, LORD.
You’ve seen how much I’ve been kicked around;
you’ve even stepped in yourself
to pull me out of danger.
I’ll never stop talking about what a hero you are.
I’ll shout it on the streets
and broadcast it on the air
until everyone knows how you saved us.

The nations that backed away from you
have fallen into their own traps:
the steel jaws they so carefully hid
have slammed shut on their own legs.
You hid nothing from them, LORD.
Your requirements were well publicised.
Judgment has come, just as you said;
the schemes of the wicked backfire on them.
This time they are their own victims!

Callous and ruthless nations
have spurned your ways, LORD,
and written their own ticket to hell.

But the deprived will not always be disregarded,
and those who dream of a day of plenty
will live to see it.

Up and at it, LORD! It’s time for action!
Don’t let these people have their way.
Call them to account for what they’ve done;
them and the nations they lead.
Put the fear of God into them, LORD;
strip them of their pretensions
so that everyone can see them
for what they really are.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 8 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

How long will this go on, LORD?
Have you written me off permanently?
How long are you going to keep turning your back on me?

How long do I have to put up with feeling sick in the guts,
and with my heart breaking from the pain of it all?
How long will my enemies get to kick me around?
Come on, LORD. You are my God. Give me an answer!

Let me see some light at the end of the tunnel;
something to keep me from losing the will to live.
Don’t let my enemies think they’ve won;
don’t give them the pleasure of my downfall.

I have put my trust in your rock-solid love;
my heart will burst with joy when you save your people.

I will sing your praises, LORD,
because you have treated me with great generosity.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
Proper 12 in Year B
Proper 19 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Heartless, mindless scum kid themselves
that there is no God.

They are corrupt and callous.
The things they do would make you sick.
There is not an ounce of good among them.

The LORD scans the human race, one at a time,
looking for any who are still wise;
for even one who still has a heart for God.

But it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack!
They’ve all lost the plot.
Everyone is caught up
in their own perverse ways.
Every last one of them.

Don’t they know where all this will get them?
They never look to the LORD for anything;
they chew up God’s people and spit them out.

But it will soon be their turn to cringe in fear,
because God sides with those who play straight.

If you think you can trample
the dreams of the battlers,
Watch out! The LORD will be there for them.
We can hardly wait to hear the songs of freedom
as justice marches down from God’s mountain!

What a day it will be
when the LORD redistributes the wealth
and God’s people are compensated
for their suffering!

Our ancestors will rise up with joy!
The streets will fill with singing and dancing!

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 4th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
Proper 17 in Year B  (themed series)
Proper 11 in Year C (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, who is welcome at your table?
Who can stay in the place you call your own?

You have given us the answer, LORD.
It is those who walk with integrity
and do the right thing;
those who speak the honest truth
and do not use their words to wound;
those who do not exploit their friends
or put down their neighbours.
It is those who hate corruption
and look up to those who honour you, LORD;
those who give their word
and stand by it even if it costs them;
those who lend freely, without seeking a profit,
and cannot be bribed into shafting the innocent.

You honour such people, LORD,
and anchor them on unshakable ground.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-the Great Paschal Vigil
- 2nd Sunday of Pascha in Year A
Proper 28 in Year B  (themed series)
- Proper 8 in Year C  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Protect me, God,
you are my place of refuge.

I’m acknowledging you as the one in charge, LORD;
you are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

I delight in the company of those
who dedicate themselves to you;
they are the salt of the earth.

Those who worship other things
will have nothing but grief.
I will not buy into their futile devotions;
I will not utter the names they revere.

You are all I want, LORD, and all I need;
you hold my future in your hands.

You mark out the best of everything for me;
you’ve set me up with a bright future.

I heap accolades on you, LORD,
for you always give me wise advice;
even in the dead of night
you fill my heart with your teachings.

I’ll always stick close behind you, LORD;
with you near by,
I’ll never be pushed off track.

You fill me with delight, LORD;
joy erupts from deep in my bones;
my body relaxes, safe in your care.

You’ll never let the grave drag me down;
your faithful servants are never left for dead.

You set my feet on a life-giving track, LORD.
To be in your presence is absolute bliss.
All I could dream of comes from your hand.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 13 in Year A   (v.1-7, 15)
Proper 27 in Year C   (v.1-9) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Give me a fair hearing, LORD;
pay attention to my plea.
Listen to what I have to say,
for I speak without a word of a lie.

I want you to be the one who declares me innocent,
for you always see things as they really are.

Put me under the microscope and see what I’m made of;
make a snap inspection anytime, day or night.
Cross examine me as thoroughly as you wish;
there are no skeletons in my closet;
I’ve got nothing to hide
and no tracks to cover.

I don’t just conform to what others do, LORD;
I take my cues from what you’ve said.
I have avoided straying down the path of violence,
and kept my feet firmly on the tracks you’ve shown.

I am calling to you, God,
because I know you will help.
Tune in to what I have to say
and hear me out.

Put your rock-solid love on display for all to see.
You are the one who rescues and shelters
those who seek asylum from violent persecution.

Treasure me and keep me safe;
tuck me safely under your wings;
hide me from those who are out to get me,
from the predators who hunt me down.

I know I will be proved innocent;
I will be able to hold my head up and look you in the eye.
I will rise to a new day, filled with your presence.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Great Paschal Vigil
- Proper 22 in Year A
- 3rd Sunday in Lent in Year B
Proper 19 in Year B
Proper 21 in Year B (v.7-14, themed series)
- 3rd Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Your glory is written in the sky, God;
your artistry is carved on the face of the earth.
From one day to another, the message passes on,
and each night puts the next one in the know.

Not a word is spoken,
not a sound do they make;
yet their silence reverberates around the earth
and their unspoken message echoes from pole to pole.

You made the sun at home flying across the sky.
It takes to its task with the eagerness of a bridegroom;
as exultant as an athlete breasting the tape.
As your messenger, God, it does its rounds,
from one end of the sky to the other,
warming everything in its path.

Your revealed will is right on the mark, LORD;
it gives our souls their second wind.
What you says goes,
and any fool can wise up by taking note.

Your instructions are spot on, LORD;
anyone who follows them will be glad they did.
What you direct us to do is easy to see,
and once seen, everything become clear.

Respect for you keeps us true, LORD,
nothing can corrupt it, now or ever.
What you decide is always accurate;
a fair ruling, beyond dispute.

Your Word is worth far more
than even diamond encrusted gold!
It is sweeter by far
than any mouth watering delicacy,
even chocolate dipped strawberries with cream!

But that’s not all!
Your Word, O LORD, keeps me out of danger,
and following it pays off richly.

Can anyone put their finger on all their own faults?
LORD, eradicate the bugs I haven’t even identified yet.

Remind me not to entertain sour contemptuous thoughts,
and don’t let them start pulling my strings.
Without them, I can stay on course,
and keep my record clean.

That’s what I want, O LORD.
I want all the things I say,
and all the things I mull over in my heart,
to be things I’d be proud to offer to you,
for you are the bedrock of my life;
the one who puts me back where I belong.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 6 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Be there for your chosen ones when trouble hits, LORD.
Use the influence of your name to protect them!
Send help from your sacred home,
and give them support from Mount Zion.

Remember all they have given you in the past,
and treasure the gifts they have offered up to you.

Give them their heart’s desire, LORD,
and make all their plans come out right.
Prove yourself a winner and set them cheering;
inspire them to fly your flag and chant your name.
Give them all they ask for, LORD.

We know you will help your chosen ones, LORD;
you will reach out your hand from heaven
and answer their prayers with a great victory.

Some people get arrogant about their military might,
or the resources at their disposal,
but the only thing we put our pride in, O LORD our God,
is belonging to you and bearing your name.
That mob are heading for disaster,
but we will come out on top and stand proud.

Give victory to your chosen ones, LORD;
be there for us when we call.

©2006 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
Good Friday
- 2nd Sunday in Lent in Year B (v. 23-31)
- 5th Sunday of Pascha in Year B (v. 25-31)
Proper 23 in Year B (v.1-15)
- Proper 7 in Year C  (v. 19-28) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

God, my God, why the hell have you turned your back on me?
How come in my most desperate hour,
you are nowhere to be found? 

I called you all day, God, over and over;
I tossed and turned all night,
but I still didn’t hear back from you.

Aren’t you supposed to be our one and only?
Aren’t you the one we’ve always voted for?
Our ancestors put their trust in you
and you never let them down.
They cried out for help and you stepped in;
you saved them from disaster and shame.

So what about me?
Shouldn’t I still be treated as a human being,
even if I feel like a worm –
looked down on, loathed, stomped on?

Everyone who sees me sticks the boots in;
they turn up their noses and dismiss me with a sneering joke;
“Why don’t you see if God’s on your side?
Surely if you’re a mate of God’s then God will help you out!”

What’s the story God?
Your hands eased me from my mother’s womb;
You kept me from harm as I suckled at her breast.
As a baby, I rested trustingly in your arms;
You’ve been my God since the day I was born.

Don’t quit on me now.
All hell is about to break loose
and there is no one else I can turn to.

I’m surrounded by enemies
like a mob of wild bulls.
Angry, snorting, stampeding beasts;
they charge at me, all horns and pounding hoofs.

I’m chucked out like a bucket of dirty water,
and I’m so smashed up I can barely move a muscle.
My heart has gone to jelly,
a quivering useless blob.
My throat is as dry as a salt pan,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
And you? You have left me for dead
covered in dust and flies.

Like a pack of hungry dingoes they sniff around me;
evil mongrels, every one of them.
I’m so wasted my hands and feet feel like they could snap off;
My ribs stick out like a picket fence.

They hang me up for a public viewing,
boasting over how they finished me off.
They empty my pockets
and toss a coin to see who gets my clothes.

What are you doing, LORD? Don’t quit on me now!
Get your act together and come to my rescue!
Save me before I get my throat cut,
before my body is dog meat!
Pull me out before they get their teeth into me!

At last! Just before the bulls ran me down, you have rescued me.
I won’t forget this – I’ll let everyone know.
Whenever people gather, I’ll be singing your praise.

I’ll call on all who honour you, LORD, to stand up and say so!
All who trace their roots to Jacob will give you the glory!
All who share the heritage of Israel will stand in awe of you!

LORD, you did not rubbish anyone
or blame the victims for their suffering.
You did not turn away or slip off quietly;
when I cried for help, you responded.

Whenever people gather to worship,
my heart overflows and I sing your praises.
Out in the open for all to see
I’ll do all that I promised.

At your table, God, the needy will feast;
those who hunger for you will be fed till they burst with praise!
They will be able to live it up, now and forever!

In every corner of the earth people will wake up to themselves
and turn back to you, LORD.
Every race, nation, tribe and family
will offer themselves to you in worship,
for you have the last word on everything;
what you say goes.

Even the dead will bow down to you, LORD;
those who are trampled in the dust will look to you in hope,
and I will live for you and you alone.

Our kids and their kids will serve you, LORD;
as we pass the message down from one generation to the next.
People not even born yet will hear the story;
they will be told of what you have done to set us free.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 4th Sunday in Lent in Year A

- 4th Sunday of Pascha in Year A
- Proper 23 in Year A (themed series)
- 4th Sunday of Pascha in Year B
Proper 11 in Year B (themed series)
- 4th Sunday of Pascha in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You, LORD, are my guide in the wilderness;
there is nothing more I could need.

You set up camp in places of beauty and shelter;
you lead the way on secluded tracks
beside creeks of cool clean water.
I feel my spirit breathing freely again;
your reputation puts me at ease;
I leave the navigating to you, and follow.

Even if we hike through a perilous valley,
where crows keep a menacing watch,
fear will still not get the better of me.
As long as I stick with you
I know I’ll make the distance;
with a knife and a bit of rope
you seem able to tackle any challenge.

You cook up a feast for me,
as those who wanted to feed on me watch, frustrated.
You pamper me like an honoured guest
and constantly top up my glass.

My life feels charmed, each and every day.
Love, mercy and all good things
keep falling into my lap.

I’m with you for life, LORD,
where you go, I’ll go;
where you live, I’ll live.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 10 in Year B
-the Presentation of our Lord, (v.7-10)
- All Saints Day in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The whole planet belongs to you, LORD —
the earth and everything that lies in it,
grows from it, or walks on it.
You raised the land above the seas,
and secured its foundations in the depths.

Who will be granted a permit
to climb your sacred mountain, O God?
Who may scale the summit to your holy presence?

Those who have played a straight bat,
acting with integrity,
not selling themselves out to delusions,
or playing fast and loose with the truth.

Your rich goodness will come their way, LORD,
and you will declare them innocent
and set them free.

These are the people who take no shortcuts
in their search for you.
Their greatest hunger is to know you,
the God of their ancestors.

We hear the call:
“Wake up! On your feet!
Open the gates and form a guard of honour!
Roll out the red carpet
before the glorious sovereign.”

Who is this majestic ruler?
It is you, LORD, supreme and dynamic,
the conqueror of conflict.

We hear it again:
“Wake up! On your feet!
Open the gates and form a guard of honour!
Roll out the red carpet
before the glorious sovereign.”

Who is this majestic ruler?
It is you, the LORD who rules over everything.
This majestic ruler is you, our God.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 1st Sunday in Lent in Year B
- Proper 21 in Year A (v.1-9)(themed series)
- 1st Sunday of Advent in Year C
- Proper 10 in Year C  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

I gladly offer you everything I am, LORD .

I have put my trust in you, God;
please don’t let me down;
don’t give my enemies grounds to gloat.

Be there for those who hang in there for you, no matter what:
don’t leave them with egg on their faces.
Save that for the two-faced scabs who deserve it.

Let me in on your way of doing things, LORD;
teach me how to follow your tracks.

Steer me along your ways of truth, and teach me all about them.
Only you can save me from disaster, God,
so I’ll wait for you before setting out.

Your love and mercy have been as timeless and dependable as the rock;
please don’t change your mind about them now!

Don’t keep a record of everything I’ve done wrong in the past.
Let your unshakable love colour your view of me,
and keep your reputation for generosity intact!

You always do what is good and right, LORD,
and so you patiently retrain those who do wrong.

You pilot a safe course for those who are not too full of themselves;
you give lessons on your ways to the humble folk.

Every path you tread, LORD, is marked by solid love and loyalty
for the benefit of all who keep our end of the bargain with you.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 22 in Year B
- Proper 17 in Year A (v.1-8)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Clear my name, LORD.
I’ve been true to my word;
I’ve staked everything on you and stood my ground.

Check me out thoroughly, LORD;
weigh up my every thought and desire.

I keep myself focussed on your rock-solid love,
and I stay in step with you all the time.

I don’t hang around with worthless scum;
and I keep clear of those who talk the talk
but never walk the walk.
I can’t stand corrupt company,
and I keep my distance from liars and cheats.

There’s no blood to wash off my hands;
I can dance round your altar with a clear conscience
singing a song of thanks to you, O LORD,
and telling the stories of the great things you’ve done.

O LORD, I love the temple you call your own,
the place where we can bask in your presence.

Don’t wipe out the good with the bad;
........make sure I’m not on the list to be chopped
with those who ruthlessly trample over others,
with the callous, the corrupt, the con-merchants,
those who think their money puts them above the law.

I’m not like that — I play a straight bat.
Be good to me, LORD. Put me back where I belong.

You know I’m on the level;
I align myself with your people,
and sing your praises in their company.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 2nd Sunday in Lent in Year C
- 3rd Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A   (v.1, 4-9)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Your light leads me to safety, LORD;
I’ve got nothing to fear.
You shelter me like a fortress, LORD;
I’m afraid of no one!

Vicious thugs can close in like sharks,
ready to eat me alive;
but savage violence is no match for you;
they’ll fall flat on their faces.

They could give my name to a death squad
and I’d still be at peace;
their armies could lay siege to my house,
but I’d still feel safe with you.

Only one thing I ask of you, LORD,
the one thing that really matters:
let me live out the whole of my life
right here in your presence;
let me lose myself in your beauty,
and abandon myself to prayer.

Let me hide here in safety with you,
when trouble gets too much;
You are as secure as a bomb shelter,
a protected place to rest and recover.

You have lifted me beyond the reach
of those who wanted to tear me down,
so I am here to express my thanks,
to offer you whatever I can give;
to sing your praises till I raise the roof,
to put on a concert in your honour.

Don’t ever stop being generous, LORD;
hear me and answer me when I call for help!

My heart tells me to search for you.
Please don’t stay hidden from me.
My desire is to know you, face to face.

Don’t slam the door on me in anger;
Help me again and I’ll go on serving you.
Don’t give up on me now,
don’t turn your back on me;
You alone can save me, God!

Even if my own parents kicked me out,
you’d still be there for me, LORD.

Give me clear directions, LORD;
keep me on the right track
so I don’t stumble into the path of my enemies.

Don’t let them get their claws into me.
With every breath they fill the air
with false allegations and violent threats.

I know I can rely on you, LORD,
I’ll see your goodness win out
and live to tell about it.

I wait patiently for you, LORD;
I’ll hang in there and keep my chin up;
I’ll sit tight, and trust in you!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord in Year A
-t
he Feast of the Baptism of our Lord in Year B
-the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord in Year C
Trinity Sunday in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD God, like your angels in heaven
we speak of you in glowing terms,
for your glory and strength deserve rave reviews.
We give you a huge rap, LORD;
we put up you name in lights
and hold a huge ticker tape parade
but it still falls short of the worship you deserve.

Your voice, LORD, rings out like thunder;
resounding over the waters,
drowning out even the waves of the sea.
Your voice echoes with power;
it would bring anyone to their knees.

Your voice, LORD, shatters the Ironbark tree,
and splinters the Mountain Ash like match sticks.
Your presence makes Mount Bogong jump like a calf;
Uluru like a rock wallaby.

Your voice, LORD, strikes fire from stone.
The sound of your voice convulses the wilderness;
the Simpson Desert shudders in labour.

Your voice, LORD, is like a cyclone,
howling through a rainforest,
stripping the leaves from the trees.

We all gather to worship and cheer with all our might;
for you rule forever, LORD,
and neither surging flood
nor tidal wave can undermine you.
Give strength to your people, LORD!
Bless your people with peace!

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 6th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year B
Proper 8 in Year B (themed series)
- Proper 5 in Year C  (themed series)
- Proper 9 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

I’ll be singing your praises, every chance I get, LORD,
because you got me out of deep trouble
and spared me the gloating of my enemies.

I pleaded for help, LORD God,
and you stepped in and healed me.

They were nearly ready to pronounce me dead
but your brought me back, LORD;
you put me back on my feet
when I was about to be carried to the morgue.

So I’m singing your praises,
and I’m encouraging everyone to do the same;
to name you with joyful thanks.

We manage to get you angry at times,
but it blows over in a moment
because your mercy keeps on keeping on.
We may have an evening of bitter tears,
but by morning your mercy has us smiling again.

I was guilty of taking your goodness for granted;
I thought I had it made.
You had put me on top of the world
but I got all too full of myself.
You stepped aside – made me stand alone —
and I turned to jelly!

I realised how much I needed you, LORD,
and in my panic I begged you for mercy.

“What good is my blood to you?” I cried.
“How will it help if I’m in the grave?
Can a corpse sing your praises?
Will a gravestone publicise your goodness?
Give me another chance, LORD.
Please, LORD, bail me out one more time.”

And sure enough, you did, LORD.
You turned my tears to laughter;
you set my dragging feet dancing;
you dusted me off and dressed me up for a party.
So now I’m singing your praises
from the bottom of my heart,
and no one can shut me up!

You are my God, LORD,
and I’m eternally grateful.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 5th Sunday of Pascha in Year A
Holy Saturday   (v.1-4, 15-16)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

I look to you for refuge, LORD;
don’t let me be dragged through the mud.
You promised justice – save me!

Give me your ear – I’m crying for help;
rescue me before it’s too late.
Be a secure refuge for me,
a bomb shelter where I can hide.

Your solid walls protect me from danger;
lead me and guide me so I’ll be a credit to you;
keep me clear of pitfalls and traps.

You are the only refuge I trust, LORD;
I put my life in your hands.
You are a faithful God,
and you have saved me.

My future is in your hands;
snatch me from the grasp
of those who are hunting me down.

I’m working for you; look on me with love.
Stand by me and save me.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 4 in Year A   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

I look to you for refuge, LORD;
don’t let me be dragged through the mud.
You promised justice – save me!

Give me your ear – I’m crying for help;
rescue me before it’s too late.
Be a secure refuge for me,
a bomb shelter where I can hide.

Your solid walls protect me from danger;
lead me and guide me so I’ll be a credit to you;
keep me clear of pitfalls and traps.

You are the only refuge I trust, LORD;
I put my life in your hands.
You are a faithful God,
and you have saved me.

Your goodness is rich and free;
available to all who respect you and trust you.
Out in the open, for all to see,
you stockpile blessings for those in your care.

You shelter them yourself, LORD,
keeping them safe from vindictive plots.
You give them a safe hiding place,
sheltered from malicious talk.

You are the greatest, LORD;
and you proved yourself when I needed you.
When I was surrounded by a violent mob,
your love protected me like a solid wall.

At first I panicked;
I thought you had given up on me.
But you were there in a flash
when I cried out for help.

I call on all your people to give you their love, LORD.
You keep the faithful safe
and repay the arrogant as they deserve.

I say to myself, “Be strong, tough it out,”
as I wait with my trust in you, LORD.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Palm/Passion Sunday
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Be kind to me, LORD,
I’m a mess.
My eyes are bloodshot from crying;
My heart is breaking
and my whole body aches.

Grief gnaws away at my life,
sorrows piles up, year after year.
Misery is draining my strength
and destroying my health.

I get no respect from my opponents;
nothing but ridicule.
Those who know me can’t bear to look at me;
even strangers cross the street to avoid me.

Everyone wants to purge me from their thoughts;
they’ve given me up for dead;
abandoned me like a burned out car.

Everyone is out to get me;
they’re whispering behind my back.
They’ve portrayed me as a monster
and put a price on my head.

But I still put my trust in you, LORD;
you are my God and you’re all I’ve got left.
My future is in your hands;
snatch me from the grasp
of those who are hunting me down.

I’m working for you; look on me with love.
Stand by me and save me.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton Laughingbird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 1st Sunday in Lent in Year A
- 4th Sunday in Lent in Year C
- Proper 6 in Year C  (themed series)
Proper 26 in Year C   (v.1-7) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

What a blessing it is to be among those you have forgiven, LORD,
those whose record of wrongdoing you have wiped clean.

People who are honest about their lives
have everything going for them;
they never have to cover their tracks
or worry that they’ll be in your bad books.

I used to keep my sins to myself, LORD,
but they poisoned me from within;
wasting my body,
tormenting my mind.

Day and night I felt your eyes following me;
I lived in fear that you’d see right through me.
The joy of living evaporated
in the burning heat of my guilt.

Then I decided to come clean with you, LORD,
to own up to all I’d done and stop living a lie.
I made a full confession to you, LORD,
and you gave me a full pardon, forgiving all my sin.

Now, like all your faithful people, LORD,
I am always ready to open myself to you in prayer.
When trouble breaks its banks,
your faithful ones are on safe ground.

You are like a bomb shelter for us, LORD;
you protect us from danger.
Thanks to you, LORD, we can still laugh;
we can dance around singing songs of freedom.

You have given us clear directions;
you have pointed out the path we should follow.
You have kept a watchful eye on us
and made sure we understood.

You have encouraged us to follow willingly,
to understand and embrace your ways;
not to buck and snort like wild horses,
fighting the reins until our strength is broken.

Those who refuse the straight and narrow
will suffer for it, over and over;
but those who put their trust in you, LORD,
will find love and loyalty wherever they go.

You are celebrated by all right-minded people, LORD;
with open hearts we shout for joy;
with clear minds we sing your praises.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Parts of this passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 5 in Year A   (v.1-12) (themed series)
Proper 14 in Year C  (v.12-22)(Themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We celebrate all you are to us, LORD.
We are your people,
and it feels right to sing your praises.

We make music in your honour,
with guitars and fiddles and drums.

We write new songs dedicated to you, LORD,
singing and playing with all our skill and energy.

Every word you speak is honest and true,
and everything you do shows you to be trustworthy.

You have a passion for justice and integrity;
your love and loyalty flood the earth.

The universe was created on your say-so, LORD;
everything in it, you breathed into life. 

Filling the oceans was like running a bath for you;
fathomless depths poured out like a bottle.

All the earth is in awe of you, LORD;
all of us fall to our knees in your presence.

When you spoke, LORD, the world appeared;
one word from you and it was fixed in place.

All our big ideas collapse when you speak, LORD;
our national strategies are reduced to rubbish. 

But what you have to say, LORD, is rock-solid;
your thoughts and feelings are consistent through the centuries.

What more could a country want than to have you as their God?
To be your cherished people, LORD, is the best thing in life.

You keep your eye on the whole earth;
you see each and every one of us.

Though you are seated in power, LORD,
you concern yourself with all who live on earth.
You shaped us, inside and out,
and you watch everything we do with interest.

No army can guarantee our safety;
the toughest fighter is not invincible.

Pinning our hopes on military might is futile;
brute force cannot make life worth living.

It is you, LORD, who watches over all who respect you;
you, whose love and loyalty give us confidence.
You are our only hope when death closes in;
our only security when times are tough.

We put our trust in you, LORD;
you alone can help and protect us.

Because of you, our hearts are bursting with joy;
your name stands out and fills us with confidence.

Surround us with your love, LORD.
We’ve pinned all our hopes on you
and on your rock-solid love.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 25 in Year B  (v.1-8, 19-22)
- All Saints Day in Year A
 (v.1-10,22  themed series)
Proper 14 in Year B (v.1-8  themed series)
Proper 15 in Year B (v.9-14  themed series)
Proper 14 in Year B (v.15-22  themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

I will speak up in your favour, every chance I get, LORD.
Every time I open my mouth, I’ll sing your praises.

Everything I’m proud of is your doing, LORD;
the news of your goodness puts a smile on the face of the helpless.

I’ll put the spotlight on you, LORD;
and gather a crowd to spread the word.

When I pounded on your door, LORD, you opened up;
you calmed my fears and put my mind at rest.

Those who look to you light up with joy;
their faces never grow dark with shame.

When I had nothing, I cried out, LORD, and you answered;
you got me out of some serious trouble.

You station your angels to watch over those who trust you;
they watch us, guard us, and get us safely through.

May everyone taste for themselves how good you are, LORD;
may everyone find shelter in you and be happy.

May the people you have chosen treat you with respect, LORD;
for those who do never want for anything.

Even fearsome sharks go hungry sometimes,
but people who entrust themselves to you never miss out.

When the children gather, I’ll teach them to trust you, LORD;
this is the message I’ll pass on to them:

“Do you hunger for life;
do you want to know the secret of a long and happy life?
Don’t vilify anyone with what you say,
and let every word that passes your lips be the honest truth.
Give evil a wide berth, and embrace goodness instead.
Seek peace, and work hard to maintain it.”

O LORD, you keep a protective eye on those who play a straight bat;
you’re never out of earshot if they need you.

You grit your teeth and stand against evil though,
and you erase from history those who spread it.

When good honest people need help, you’re there for them, LORD;
you get them out of whatever trouble they’re in.

You are especially close to the broken-hearted;
when hope is crushed, you come to the rescue.

Your people endure as much suffering as anyone else, LORD,
but you ensure that they make it through.

Like a vigilant bodyguard,
you see that not a bone is broken.

Evil is lethal to those who drink their fill of it;
those who despise the straight and narrow will stumble to destruction.

But you, LORD, are always ready to bail out those who serve your cause;
no one who runs to you for safety will be handed over to death.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Monday of Holy Week
- 2nd Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C  (v.5-10)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You unwavering love fills the universe, LORD;
your loyalty is as timeless as the milky way.

Your passion for doing right
is as solid as the mountain ranges;
your understanding of us
is as deep as the oceans.

You set out to save the lives of every creature, LORD,
and no one – not man nor woman,
not bird nor beast – is left out of your care.

Your love, O God, is our greatest treasure!
You keep a place for everyone
under the shelter of your wings.

You invite all who come to feast at your table;
the wine of your love flows like a river
and no one’s glass is allowed to run dry.

Life bursts forth from you like a fountain;
light shines from you and lights up our world.

Don’t ever give up on us, LORD;
keep loving all who trust you,
keep rescuing all whose hearts are in the right place.

Protect us from those who would trample us underfoot.
Stand in the way of those who would drive us from the land.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 7th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C
Proper 22 in Year C   (v.1-9) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Because of you, LORD, we don’t stress over corruption;
we don’t get jealous when crime seems to pay.
Those who live off ill-gotten gains will have their day;
they’ll wither like cut flowers in a hot north wind.

We put our trust in you, LORD, and do what’s right.
You give us our own land, and keep us safe and content.
Our greatest delight comes from knowing you, LORD,
and you delight in giving us what our hearts desire.

We have set our minds on following your ways, LORD;
our trust is in you, and we know you’ll back us up.
It will be as clear as day that we made the right choice;
you’ll make it perfectly obvious that our cause was justified.

We wait in your presence, LORD,
in stillness, quietness, patience.
We don’t waver when others profit from corruption;
we don’t regret our choice when others get away with murder.

Trusting in you, LORD, we can let go of vengeful anger.
We can relax and not get sucked into taking the law
into our own hands.
We can trust you to kick out the crooks, LORD,
and to hand the land over to those who staked their lives on you.
It’s only a matter of time before you wipe out corruption,
and those who lived by it will be nowhere to be seen.
But you have promised the land to the salt-of-the-earth types —
those who are not always demanding their “rights”
and elbowing past others —
you will see that their lives are rich and full of joy.

You, LORD, are the one who guarantees the safety
of those who do what is right;
We can always run to you
when all hell breaks loose.
You, LORD, are always there for us;
you save us from those who would harm us;
you offer us refuge when we turn to you.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 2nd Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
-the Feast of the Annunciation    (v.5-10)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

I hung in there waiting for you, LORD,
and at last you bent down and heard my cry.

I was in deep trouble,
bogged up to my ears and sinking fast,
but you pulled me out.
You put me back on solid ground;
gave me a safe place to stand.

You gave me something to sing about, God;
I’m singing your praises like I’ve never sung before.

Everyone will be amazed at the change;
they’ll say, “Only God could have done that!”

Those who put all their eggs in your basket
have got it made, LORD;
those who do not devote themselves to anything less,
no matter how popular or persuasive it is.

You are in a league of your own, LORD God;
nothing and no one comes within a bull’s roar of you!
I can’t keep track of all the amazing things you’ve done
or all the generous plans you’ve made for us.
I could talk about them till the cows came home
and still have barely scratched the surface.

You are not looking for gifts from us, LORD;
nothing we own is any use to you;
Your generosity and mercy are not for sale;
but you have given us ears and asked us to listen.

So I am giving you my “Yes!”
I’ll make your book my own and live by it.
Doing what pleases you will be my greatest delight,
for you are my God and I’m taking your ways to heart.

When all your people gathered,
I spoke up about how you had bailed me out.
I gave them the full story; I left nothing out;
you know this is true, LORD.

I have made no secret of the help you gave me;
I have put it all out in the open.
I have told everyone how you saved my life
and how we can trust you completely.
I have put it all on the public record
and kept nothing to myself
about your rock-solid love or dependability.

Be my mother forever, LORD;
never running out of tenderness or compassion;
your loyalty fierce and your love unshakable;
protecting me and keeping me safe.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 7th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Those who are ready to help the poor have got it made;
in hard times, you step in to get them through, LORD.

You stand guard over them
and keep them in one piece.
You don’t let their enemies get their claws into them, LORD,
and they are the happiest people in the country.

When they are sick, you get them safely through,
and when they are injured, you put them back on their feet.

In dire straits, I’m praying to you, LORD;
I know I have done the wrong thing by you,
but please show mercy and heal me.

My enemies are gloating over how crook I am;
keen to see me dead and forgotten.

They visit, pretending to wish me well,
but are soon out on the streets,
crowing to one another about how near to death I am.

In their hatred of me, they whisper and sneer about me,
and wish on me the worst death they can imagine.

They reckon some deadly virus has got me by the throat,
and that I’ll never make it out of the hospital alive.

Even my best mate, who I trusted through thick and thin,
who shared many a meal and many a drink with me,
has turned against me now.

Give me a break, LORD, in your generous mercy.
Put me back on my feet so I can wipe the smirk off their faces.

When my enemy’s campaign against me falls apart
I will know that you have sided with me, LORD.

Recognising my integrity, you have gone in to bat for me
and given me a permanent place at your side.

May everything work out right for you, LORD, our God,
now and ever, to the end of time and beyond!
And so say all of us! Too right!

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-the Great Paschal Vigil
- Proper 6 in Year C
- Proper 7 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Like a wallaby searching for a waterhole,
I crave you, God, with every fibre of my being.

Everything inside me thirsts for you, God,
for you, the Living God.
When will the drought break
so I can be with you, face to face.

I’ve had nothing but tears to sustain me;
day and night it’s been the same;
I can’t shut out the jeers and taunts,
“Where is this God of yours?”

Cherished memories flood my mind,
rubbing salt in the wound;
memories of past celebrations
when I led the worship in your house.
I can still hear the laughter and joyous singing;
the crowds celebrating your goodness.

Why do I feel so defeated?
Why am I so anxious and agitated?
I tell myself not to give up hope,
for you are my God and my help
and I’ll be glad of that again.

I feel so defeated inside;
I try to remind myself of your goodness
as I walk along the beach to the river mouth
and look towards the mountains.

But all I hear is the roar of waves
and churning waters;
I feel like chaos is breaking over me
and sucking me down, deeper and deeper.

Every day I read of your rock-solid love, LORD;
and every night I sing your songs
and pray to you as the God of my life.

But still I find myself asking the question:
“Why has your rock-solid love let me down?
Why are so many out to get me,
making my life such a misery?”

My wounds are deep and painful
but the torture goes on;
over and over I hear the taunts,
“Where is this God of yours?”

Why do I feel so defeated?
Why am I so anxious and agitated?
I tell myself not to give up hope,
for you are my God and my help
and I’ll be glad of that again.

Clear my name, God;
side with me against these godless tormentors.
Rescue me from their lies and abuse.

I trusted you to look after me, God;
why have you pushed me aside?
Why are so many out to get me,
making my life such a misery?

Let your truth blaze like a beacon
so I can see the way to go;
let it light up the path and lead me
to your home on the sacred mountain.

Then I will offer myself to you in worship, God;
offer myself with uninhibited joy.
I will praise you with music and song,
O God, my God!

Why do I feel so defeated?
Why am I so anxious and agitated?
I tell myself not to give up hope,
for you are my God and my help
and I’ll be glad of that again.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 26 in Year A (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Clear my name, God;
side with me against these godless tormentors.
Rescue me from their lies and abuse.

I trusted you to look after me, God;
why have you pushed me aside?
Why are so many out to get me,
making my life such a misery?

Let your truth blaze like a beacon
so I can see the way to go;
let it light up the path and lead me
to your home on the sacred mountain.

Then I will offer myself to you in worship, God;
offer myself with uninhibited joy.
I will praise you with music and song,
O God, my God!

Why do I feel so defeated?
Why am I so anxious and agitated?
I tell myself not to give up hope,
for you are my God and my help
and I’ll be glad of that again.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Feast of the Annunciation

- Proper 9 in Year A   (V.10-17)
Proper 17 in Year B  (v.1-2, 6-9)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

My heart overflows with words of delight;
a song of love bursts forth for the king;
my voice as charmed as the poet’s pen.

You, my king, are a man of unsurpassed beauty.
Every word that passes your lips is generous and inspiring.
God’s richest blessings are yours forever.

Warrior, present yourself armed and in uniform,
in all your splendour and majesty.
Ride forth in glory, the pride of your people,
to defend the cause of truth and justice.

May your arm be strong and your skills razor sharp;
may every blow land with telling effect,
piercing the opposition to your righteous reign,
bringing to their knees the enemies of life.

Your throne is God-given, and will never be shaken.
Your royal power is wielded for justice.
You have a passion for integrity
and a loathing for corruption.
Therefore God has chosen you above all others,
crowned you with joy like no other has known.

Rich and exotic fragrances cascade from your royal robes,
and your palace is alive with music and dancing.
The daughters of kings wait on you, hand and foot;
and on your arm is your chosen bride in a gown of liquid gold.

O chosen daughter, bride of the king, listen to my advice:
leave your father’s home and don’t look back
for the king is wild with desire for you.
What more could you want? Abandon yourself to him!
Wedding gifts will arrive from every nation,
the wealthy outdo each other with their presents.

The inner beauty of your bride, O king,
outshines even her wedding gown,
woven with gold and sparkling with jewels.
In dazzling beauty she is brought to you
with her chosen bridesmaids at hand.
Joy and laughter process in with her,
and the whole palace erupts with elation.

Soon you will have children, continuing your family line,
and the thrones of the earth will be theirs.
No one will ever forget you,
your fame will inspire generation after generation,
and songs will be sung in praise of you forever and ever.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 9th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
- Proper 4 in Year A
Christ the King - Proper 29 in Year C   (themed series)
-the Great Paschal Vigil
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Our refuge, our shelter, our fortress, our security;
you are all these things to us, God.
You are always there for us when we need you.

Because of you, we will not panic
even if our world comes crashing down around our ears;
even if the earth splits open beneath us;
even if chaos pours in like a raging flood;
even if life as we know it goes up in smoke.

You are the LORD of cosmic power — the God of our ancestors —
our safety, our refuge.

A river flowing with life-giving water runs through your holy city
bringing joy and peace to your sacred home.
You are the most high God, and the city where you live
will rest secure and greet the new day with confidence.

The world may be in chaos, nations tearing apart at the seams,
but when you speak, the earth sinks to its knees.

You are the LORD of cosmic power — the God of our ancestors —
our safety, our refuge.

What you have done is a sight for sore eyes, LORD;
you have left a trail of destruction across the earth:
weapons of war crushed and burned;
implements of fear smashed to pieces;
conflicts and wars closed down for good.

You call us to a peaceful calm
and invite us to know you as God.
You stand supreme above the nations,
unmatched in all the earth.

You are the LORD of cosmic power — the God of our ancestors —
our safety, our refuge.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- the Feast of Ascension
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We applaud you, LORD, as everyone should;
we roar your name and sing for joy.

You are an awesome God;
number one in the universe;
the great ruler of all the earth.

You have subdued those who attacked us;
put hostile nations at our mercy.

You picked out the best land for us;
you favoured us with a prized inheritance.

Take your place at the top of the dais, LORD God,
as we sound trumpets and cheer in your honour.

You are our God, and we’ll sing your praises;
you are our ruler, and we’ll sing your praises.

You are the God who rules over all the earth;
we’ll sing your praises in all our songs.

You are the God who rules over the nations;
the throne where you sit is one of a kind.

Leaders gather from every people on earth
and, like Abraham’s descendants,
give their allegiance to you, God.
They lay down their weapons
and honour you as their ultimate superior.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 9 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Great is the LORD – worthy of our highest praise —
and great is the city where God lives.
The mountain of God’s presence
is a spectacular sacred site,
a source of joy for all the earth.
On Mount Zion stands the city of the great Ruler.
There in God’s sheltering presence
we have been given a place of safety.

Rulers of nations, despots and tyrants,
united to overthrow God’s dominion,
but one look at God’s sure defence
and their arrogant plans were blown.
In sheer panic, they took off in all directions.
They were as shaken as a woman in labour,
or a storm-tossed ship smashed on the reef.

We had heard of God’s great city,
and now we have seen it with our own eyes
The LORD who rules over everything
will see that this city stands firm forever.

O God, here in your holy Temple,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
Your reputation, O God, spreads throughout the earth,
and wherever you are named,
people shout for joy.
Your rule of justice has the last word everywhere.
Let Mount Zion celebrate,
and every city and town throw a party
because God’s decisions
bring justice and righteousness.

Come, let us walk around the holy mountain.
Let us examine our God from every angle.
Count up the towers of safety.
Inspect the sheltering places
within the presence of God.
Pass all this on to your children
and your children’s children
so that they too will know that this is our God.
This God is our God forever and ever,
the God who will lead us in peace
for all time to come.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
Proper 13 in Year C  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Listen up, folks.
All of you, everywhere, tune in to this.

Whether you be kings or commoners,
battlers or silvertails,
I have wisdom to share with you.
I have thought deeply and made sense of things;
I have listened to the deep truths
and will uncover mysteries in my song.

There is no need to be afraid in tough times,
even when enemies are out to get us;
even though they are rich and arrogant,
and confident in wielding power.

The fact is, money does not sure up your life;
no one can stave off death by bribing God.

No one has the means to save themselves;
to buy immunity from death.
It is not possible to live forever
and avoid the grave.

Brilliant, high-achievers die,
and bludging morons die,
and neither can take anything with them;
whatever they had is left to others.

The cemetery will be their final resting place
and it is a permanent address for both,
whether their legacy is remembered or not.

Death cuts everyone down to size;
in the grave, a man and his dog are equals.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 5 in Year A   (v.7-15) (themed series)
- Transfiguration Sunday in Year B  (v.1-6)
Proper 14 in Year C  (v.1-8,22-23)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You, LORD, are the mighty God.
Wherever the sun shines, from horizon to horizon,
you call the earth to attention.

From the spectacular beauty of your holy mountain,
you approach us in a blaze of glory.

You come with the full fanfare;
flashes of fire in front of you;
thunder storming all around you.

You call the earth and sky to sit as a jury,
and set out the charges against your people.

You call the accused:
those who swore their faithfulness to you,
and signed themselves to a binding alliance.

The whole universe honours you as the judge,
and affirms the honesty of your court.

We belong to you, LORD, and you call us to listen.
You set out the case against us, your chosen people.
You are God; our God. 

It is not our sacrifices you condemn;
the gifts we are constantly offering.

But when they mean nothing to us, they mean nothing to you.
You don’t want any more thoughtless gifts.

You don’t depend on us for supplies.
From farm to forest, every creature is yours.

The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
every beast in every paddock belongs to you.

You have no need of our help if you get hungry;
the best fruits of all the earth are yours for the picking.

Only a fool would think you eat our burnt beef!
Or that you literally drink the blood of sheep!

You welcome our gifts if they are really offered in gratitude;
if we back them up by keeping our promises.

When trouble breaks out, we only have to call you;
You’ll be there to bail us out,
and we’ll put you name up in lights!”

But you set us straight in no uncertain terms;
we have ignored you,
offering gifts instead of ourselves.
You warn us that when you pass sentence,
there is nowhere to make further appeal.

You are honoured when we express our gratitude,
not when we fob you off with gifts.
It is those who get back on the right track
who you lead into the land of freedom.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Ash Wednesday
- 5th Sunday in Lent in Year B  (v.1-12)
Proper 13 in Year B (v.1-12)
Proper 19 in Year C  (v.1-10) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

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.

Then I’ll show others how to get back on track;
they’ll quit their corrupt ways and come back to you.

Get me out of this mess before I get blood on my hands, God.
Only you can get me out alive,
and I’ll tell everyone that you did.

Lord, as soon as you’ve got me out
and it’s safe to open my mouth,
I’ll be singing your praises with all my might.

I know I can’t fool you with hollow religion, God.
I could perform all the rituals perfectly, by the book,
but it wouldn’t mean a cracker to you.

What you want to see is a genuine heart-felt apology
and a commitment to a total life-change.
You will never turn away anyone who comes to you heartbroken
and promising to turn over a new leaf.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 11 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Why, God, do powerful people boast of evil
when your love can be trusted day after day?

They fill their time planning acts of destruction.

They wield words like weapons,
back-stabbing anyone who gets in their way.

They prize evil, and discredit good;
they reward cunning lies, and despise the truth.

They lust after dirt – fact or fiction —
that will give them the power to destroy someone.

Cut them down to size, God!
Tear them from their pedestals!
Uproot them and toss them out to die!

Those who trust your love and walk the straight and narrow
will watch in awe as you deal with them.
They will laugh and say:
“See what happens to those who back the wrong horse;
trusting their money and power
instead of finding their strength in God.”

We put our trust in your rock-solid love, God,
knowing it will last forever.
We sink our roots deeply into the soil of your presence
and flourish like a well tended tree.

We will never stop thanking you
for all you have done.
We will enjoy the company of those who are loyal to you,
and give due honour to your good name.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 20 in Year B  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Pull rank to save me, God;
use your influence to clear my name.
Hear my prayer, God;
lend an ear to what I have to say.

Arrogant mongrels have got me in their sights;
they spit in the face of everything decent
and now they are plotting to kill me.

Look at them! They couldn’t care less about you, God!

But you are there for me, God; for sure you are.
You, Lord, are my bodyguard.
When enemies come, you’ll turn their evil back on them.
I know you can be relied on. Finish them off!

I will offer you my worship and bring my gifts to say thank you.
I will put your name up in lights, LORD, for you are the best.
You have bailed me out of every crisis
and with my own eyes I’ve seen my enemies fail.

©2012 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 3rd Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

A hush comes over every fibre of my being;
for you alone I wait, God;
my future is in your hands.

You alone are the rock I cling to;
my protection, my salvation;
nothing can rattle me.

My freedom and honour depend on you, God,
for you are a solid rock and a safe refuge to me.

Everyone should put their trust in you, God,
and pour their hearts out to you always,
for you are our safety and security.

Ordinary battlers are but a puff of smoke;
toffs and silvertails are nothing but a mirage.
In the overall scheme of things,
no one is of any great consequence.

Those who try stand-over tactics to get ahead,
or think they can make their fortune from crime,
will find that their hopes are in vain;
the money they make
will come at the expense of their peace of mind.

You have given your word, God;
I have heard you say this more than once:
that power is your middle name
and rock-solid love and loyalty are your nature.
Lord, you treat everyone as they deserve
for what they have done.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 3rd Sunday in Lent in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You are my God and I crave you;
all that I am thirsts for you;
every fibre of my being aches for you,
like a parched and weary land longing for rain.

Let me stay here in this sacred place
and drink in the vision of your strength and glory.

With every breath I sing your praises,
because your rock-solid love
is worth more to me than life itself.

I will worship you till my dying day,
with my hands reaching out to you
and my voice calling your name.

You are like a rich banquet to my soul;
like a meal I can’t praise enough!

Even in the dead of night
I lie awake thinking of you,
and savouring each treasured thought.

I snuggle under your wings and sing for joy,
for you have been my help and support.

With all that I am I cling to you,
and your strong loving arms hold me safe.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 10 in Year A   (themed series)
- Proper 25 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You deserve all the credit we can give you, O God.
We will gather on your holy mountain
and make good on all we have promised you.

You are the one who answers prayers
and everyone on earth will turn to you.
When we are weighed down by our guilt,
you wipe away the record of our wrongs.

What a privilege it is to be among your chosen ones;
to be invited to live in your presence.
Everything we could want is provided
here in your sacred temple.

You take action in awesome ways, O God;
you step in and rescue us when we call.
You are the answer to the hopes of people everywhere,
in every land and across the seas.

You rolled up your sleeves
and lifted the mountains into place.
You tamed the angry seas,
silencing both roaring waves
and frenzied crowds.

From one end of the earth to the other,
everyone is mind-boggled by what you do.
Dawn and sunset join their voices
as all the earth shouts for joy.

You tend the earth like a garden,
enriching the soil and keeping it watered.
Your rivers never run dry, God,
and the fields you have plowed
yield a bumper harvest to feed your people.

You level the uneven ground
and nourish the soil;
you water it with softening showers
and set the seeds growing and flourishing.

The year is crowned with a bumper harvest
and everything you touch is bursting with life.

Wilderness fields erupt in flower,
mountains and hills pour forth joy;
paddocks are clothed with healthy flocks,
barren land is ablaze with golden grain.

All of them shout for joy;
all the earth breaks into song.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Parts of this passage are set for the following occasions:
- Proper 9 in Year C  (v.1-9) (themed series)
- Proper 23 in Year C   (v.1-12)
- 6th Sunday of Pascha in Year A   (v.8-20)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

All the earth should shout joyfully to you, God;
singing your praises;
giving you the glory you deserve.

The things you have done are awesome, God!
When you take action,
your enemies cringe in fear.

You are worshipped all over the earth;
everywhere people sing your praises
and speak your name with honour.

We want to publicise everything you have done, God,
for what you have done among us is awesome.

You made a dry path through the middle of the sea;
you took us safely through the river on foot.
There on the other side, we celebrated your goodness
and declared you to be our mighty ruler forever.
Your eyes are always open, watching the nations;
let pretentious rebels be warned!

If only everyone would honour you, God,
and fill the world with the sound of your praises.
You are the one who sustains our life
and keeps our feet on the right track.

You, God, have examined us carefully;
tested us to see what we were made of.
You drove us to our limits
and weighed us down with burdens;
you let us be run into the ground;
you took us through the fires of hell
and the depths of despair
but then finally into a wide and generous land.

So now we come to the place of worship
to fulfil our promises and offer our gifts.
All that we vowed to do if you got us out of trouble
we will now make good on with grateful hearts.

We will offer you whatever you ask;
the best of all we have and all we are;
all you have given us, we offer back to you.

We will tell everyone who honours and respects you
what you have done for us, God.

We cried out loud to you
and acknowledged your goodness.

If we had hung onto evil ideas,
you would have turned you back on us,
but you really have listened to us, God,
and taken note of all we have asked.

We honour you and praise you, God,
because you did not turn a deaf ear
or withhold your rock-solid love from us.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 15 in Year A   (Themed series)
- 6th Sunday of Pascha in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Lord God, bless us generously;
smile on us kindly;
show yourself to everyone, everywhere
as the one who saves us with power.

Everyone has reasons to praise you, O God,
absolutely everyone should be singing your praises.

The whole world should celebrate you with joyful song,
for you are even-handed with all people
and your guidance is there for every nation.

Everyone has reasons to praise you, O God,
absolutely everyone should be singing your praises.

The land has produced a bumper harvest;
a clear sign of your goodness to us, God.

Keep it up, God, keep it coming;
the whole planet will honour you for it.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- the 7th Sunday of Pascha in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Up and at it, God;
scatter your enemies,
send those who hate you packing.

Blow them away like smoke in the wind;
melt them like wax under a blowtorch.
Wipe out all corruption, God.

But for those who do the right thing, God,
give them every reason to celebrate.
Set them singing and dancing with joy!

Every mention of your name sets us singing your praises, God.
We lift our song as you ride the clouds.
We name you as LORD
and celebrate in your presence.

To the orphans, you are a loving parent;
to the needy and vulnerable, you are a caring protector;
from your sacred home you provide care to all.

You give a home to those with nowhere to go, God;
you set the prisoners free and turn everything they touch to gold;
but the good times dry up for those who turn against you.

O God, you took the lead and showed the way
when your people set out across the harsh desert.
The earth shuddered at your approach;
one look from you and the clouds let go of their rain.
You were with us, God of the mountain;
you were with us, God of Israel.

You showered us with life-giving rain
restoring fertility to your weary land.
You settled your people in good pasture, God,
and provided generously to all in need.

With every nation on earth, we sing to you, God;
you are our Lord, and we sing your praises.

You have been riding the heavens since ancient times,
and your voice booms out with the sound of thunder.

All power belongs to you, God;
you reign over your people in splendour,
and your power is written in the skies.

Stepping into your presence, we are struck with awe.
You are our God;
our strength and energy are gifts from you.

May you be number one forever, God!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 7 in Year A   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Because of my association with you, I am the target of slander;
I am ashamed to show my face in public.

My own relatives don’t want anything to do with me;
by brothers and sisters pretend they don’t know me.

My passion for your cause has become all-consuming and costly;
those with a beef against you stick the boots into me.

When I abstained from food to discipline my soul,
I was rewarded with insults and contempt.

When I gave up my comforts and slept out in the cold,
I became the butt of everyone’s jokes.

At the top end of town they swap rumours about me;
in back alleys, they send me up in drunken songs.

But come what may,
I will go on praying to you, LORD.

In your own good time, God, answer me,
for I know you are full of love, rock-solid love.
You can be depended on to send help;
I’m up to my neck in the stinking mire, rescue me!
Rescue me from those who hate me;
don’t give them the chance to watch me drown.

Don’t let the raging waters flood over me;
don’t let the murky depths swallow me up;
don’t let the jaws of death close around me.

Answer me, LORD;
there is nothing better than your rock-solid love;
you are full of compassion,
so turn to me and help.

I am your servant;
don’t turn your back on me.
I am in deep trouble;
answer me now before it’s too late.

Come close and put me back where I belong;
break me free from the grip of my enemies.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Wednesday of Holy Week
Proper 27 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Please God, deliver me!
Help me, LORD, quickly!

These people are out to get me, LORD;
leave them confused
with egg all over their faces.
They are trying to do me harm;
knock them off their perches
and send them packing.

When they smirk and make a joke of me,
run them out of town in disgrace.

Put a smile on the face
of everyone who seeks you, LORD.
Give everyone who loves your ways
reason to celebrate your greatness forever.

But right now, God, I need your help in a hurry;
I can’t make ends meet.
You are the one who helps me;
the one who rescues me from danger.
Quickly, LORD, help me without delay!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Tuesday of Holy Week
- 4th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C  (v.1-6)
Proper 16 in Year C  (v. 1-6)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

I run to you for protection, LORD,
please don’t ever let me down.

You always do the right thing,
so please be there for me when I need you.
Hear me when I call for help
and step in quickly to bail me out.

Keep me safe when I need somewhere to hide.
You are like a mountain hideaway to me;
like a bunker than nothing can blast open.

If I fall into hostile hands,
be my God and rescue me;
Don’t let the callous and cruel
get their claws into me.

You are my only hope,
the only one I can depend on, LORD;
I’ve trusted you since I was a kid.

I’ve leaned on you for support
since the day I was born.
You were the midwife who delivered me from my mother’s womb,
the safe hands who pulled me gasping into life.
I’ll never stop thanking you for that!

Many people think my name spells trouble,
but you stick up for me when they attack.
How can I ever thank you enough?
I go on all day about how wonderful you are.

Don’t give up on me when I get too old, LORD;
don’t turn your back when I’ve got nothing left to offer.

I’ll need your help, because my enemies are out to get me,
they’re plotting against my life even now.
They’ve put out a contract on me
and guaranteed immunity to whoever brings me down
They say you’ve given up on me
and that no one will defend me.

Don’t ever let me out of your sight, God;
jump to my defence at the first sign of trouble.

Turn the tables on those who slandered me,
leave them with egg all over their faces.
See to it that those who set out to destroy me
get the public humiliation they deserve.

I will never give up hope,
because I trust in you.
Every time I open my mouth,
I will sing your praises more and more.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Epiphany
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Send us a wise ruler, O God,
one who takes after you in justice and honesty;
one who does the right thing by everybody,
and is vigilant in ensuring justice for the poor;
one who will stand up for the disadvantaged,
provide a way out of the poverty trap,
and stomp on those who exploit the vulnerable.

Then the whole land will know prosperity and integrity;
the mountains, the valleys, the hills, the plains.

Send us a wise ruler, O God,
who will outlive the sun and moon,
who will rule forever, generation after generation.

May your chosen one give life to the land
like the spring rains in the wheat country.
May the people yield a bumper crop of honesty,
and may peace be as dependable
as the southern cross in the night sky.

Give your chosen one the top ranking in all the world,
deferred to and revered
by every other monarch, president and governor.
May they all feel compelled to pay homage,
to come bearing gifts, priceless and exotic,
and to put themselves and their nations
at the service of your chosen one.

All this is only right for the one who rescues those in need,
and has compassion for the homeless and the refugees;
who champions the cause of the forgotten and the spurned,
and guarantees the lives of the powerless;
who rescues those subjected to violence and oppression,
and treasures their lives, each and every one.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- 2nd Sunday of Advent in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Send us a wise ruler, O God,
one who takes after you in justice and honesty;
one who does the right thing by everybody,
and is vigilant in ensuring justice for the poor;
one who will stand up for the disadvantaged,
provide a way out of the poverty trap,
and stomp on those who exploit the vulnerable.

Then the whole land will know prosperity and integrity;
the mountains, the valleys, the hills, the plains.

Send us a wise ruler, O God,
who will outlive the sun and moon,
who will rule forever, generation after generation.

May your chosen one give life to the land
like the spring rains in the wheat country.
May the people yield a bumper crop of honesty,
and may peace be as dependable
as the southern cross in the night sky.

More power to you, LORD, God of our land;
only you can do such incredible things.

May the mere mention of your name
inspire praise from everyone, forever.
May the whole earth be full of your glory.
Too right!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 8 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Please God, hear me!
I’m crying out as loud as I can.

I search for you in desperation, Lord.
Day and night I never stop reaching out for you;
I refuse to be comforted by anyone else.

I think back on what you’ve done in the past, LORD;
I remember the amazing things you did.

I will keep these things in my mind,
and meditate on all your works.

You are in a class of your own, God;
No other god even comes close.

You are the God who does awesome things;
you have come out in the open
and shown everyone what you’re made of.

You rolled your sleeves up and pulled your people out of trouble,
coming to our rescue like you did for our forebears,
Jacob and Joseph.

When the waters stood between us and freedom,
they took one look at you, God, and panicked;
the depths shuddered with fear.

Everything went berserk;
the clouds burst their seams,
thunder shook the skies
and lightning bolts flashed in all directions.

Your whirlwind came with a crash of thunder;
your lightning lit up the sky;
the earth shuddered and shook.

You cut a path through the raging waters;
blazed a trail through the roaring waves;
not a footprint was left to show where you’d been.

Like sheep through a gate you led your people,
with Moses and Aaron showing the way.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- the Feast of the Holy Cross
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We are keen to learn of you, LORD;
your people are eager to hear what you have to say.

We listen to those who pass on the old stories;
the dark mysteries of ancient wisdom.

When your anger cut down our ancestors, they sought your mercy;
they pleaded with you and promised to mend their ways.

They remembered that you are as solid as rock;
that you are the greatest; the one who puts things right.

But they were all words and no action,
trying to pull the wool over your eyes with sweet talk.

They were fickle and two-faced;
they did not stick to the terms of their alliance with you.

And yet you remained compassionate;
you continued to let them off the hook
and refrained from wiping them out.
Over and over you swallowed your anger
and chose not to let your fury have its day.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 21 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We are keen to learn of you, LORD;
your people are eager to hear what you have to say.

We listen to those who pass on the old stories;
the dark mysteries of ancient wisdom.
These are things we must hear and know,
for the wisdom of our ancestors must not be lost.

We will not deprive our children of these things.
We will pass on the stories to the next generation, LORD,
stories of the wonderful things you have done,
so that they know how great and amazing you are.

Our ancestors saw the miraculous things you did
when they were still doing hard labour in the land of slavery.

You cut a track through the sea and let them escape;
you made the angry waters stand aside to let them through.

You sent a cloud to guide them in the daytime,
and a fire to light the way for them at night.

In the parched outback, you broke open rocks,
bringing drinking water flooding up from deep below.
You made fresh water pour from the rock;
a river of life flowing in the desert.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 27 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We are keen to learn of you, LORD;
your people are eager to hear what you have to say.

We listen to those who pass on the old stories;
the dark mysteries of ancient wisdom.
These are things we must hear and know,
for the wisdom of our ancestors must not be lost.

We will not deprive our children of these things.
We will pass on the stories to the next generation, LORD,
stories of the wonderful things you have done,
so that they know how great and amazing you are.

You laid down the law for your people, LORD,
and set out what you expected of your chosen ones.
You spelt it out to our ancestors,
and told them to teach it to their children,
so that the next generation would know your ways;
so that those who had not yet even been born
would be able to grow up and pass it on to their children;
so that they will trust their future to you, God,
living their lives by your instructions
and never forgetting what you have done.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 13 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

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

This passage is set for the following occasion:
Proper 20 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

O God, the land you gave us has been invaded;
places erected in your honour have been desecrated;
the city you love has been reduced to rubble.

People who faithfully served you have been slaughtered;
their bodies have been tossed out like garbage,
feral animals tear them to shreds and crows pick their bones.

The city is awash with their blood,
overflowing the gutters;
their bodies lie where they fell,
there is no one left to bury them.

Those outside our borders make a joke of our fate;
they laugh as they stick the boots in.

Why, LORD?
How long will we cop this abuse?
Are you going to be angry forever?
Will your fiery rage never die down?

Take it out on those who really deserve it;
on nations that shut you out and write you off.

They are the ones who chewed up your people
and left nothing but scorched earth where we lived.

Please, God, don’t hold against us the wrongs of our ancestors.
Come quickly with a tender heart and loving arms,
we are at rock-bottom.

You are the only one who can get us out of this mess, God.
Come to our rescue! Bail us out! Forgive and heal us!
Show everyone that your reputation is fully deserved!

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 22 in Year A (v. 7-15) (themed series)
the 1st Sunday of Advent in Year B,  (v.1-7, 17-19)
- the 4th Sunday of Advent in Year C   (v.1-7)
Proper 15 in Year C  (v. 1-2, 8-19)
- 4th Sunday of Advent in Year A   (v.1-7, 17-19)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

God, you are the one who watches over your people
like a lifeguard supervising a dangerous beach,
watching from a high seat, like a king enthroned.
Listen to our prayer and clearly flag the boundaries,
so that your tribes will no longer get out of their depth.

Up and at it, God!
Come equipped to rescue us.
Come and smile on us again, God;
save us and revive us with your kiss of life.

LORD God, you rule over everything;
how much longer will you keep us in the sin bin,
turning away in anger when we pray?

You reduced our rations to tears alone;
tears by the plate full, tears by the cup full.
You made us the laughing stock of our enemies
and even our neighbours turn up their noses.

Come and smile on us again, God;
save us and revive us with your kiss of life.

Remember how you brought us out of Egypt like a young grapevine,
so that you could plant your own vineyard.
You cleared the land and prepared the soil;
you planted our roots deep and we grew strongly.

We grew wide and high, bigger than the tallest trees,
even shading the mountains.
Your vineyard grew and grew till it filled the land
from the western ocean to the eastern river.

So why have you torn down the security fence,
so that anyone can tramp through and pinch the fruit?
Wild pigs rampage through doing untold damage;
feral goats and rabbits eat whatever’s left.

Come on, God! You rule over everything. Do something!
Turn around and look at what’s going on.
This vine came from root stock you planted yourself;
take charge of its welfare again.

Others have hacked and burned it
to within an inch of its life.
Wipe them out
with a single withering stare!

Take our side again, your wayward favourite child,
the one you raised by hand to be your own.
We will never go off the rails again;
save us now and your name will be on our lips forever.

LORD God, you rule over everything;
Come and smile on us again;
save us and revive us with your kiss of life.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- the 9th Sunday between Epiphany & Lent in Year B (v.1-10)
Proper 4 in Year B  (v.1-10)
Proper 17 in Year C  (v.1, 10-16)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We sing our lungs out to you, God,
for you make us strong;
we shout for joy, celebrating you,
the God of our ancestors.

Our songs ring out in your honour,
and on our instruments we make the sweetest music we can.

A trumpet blast opens the festival;
every month we celebrate your new creation.

We are your people, God, and this is our tradition;
a sacred law for every generation to follow.
You gave it to us through Joseph
when our ancestors took refuge in Egypt.

You have spoken to us in an unfamiliar voice,
reminding us that it was you who freed us from slavery
and you who lifted the burden from our backs.

When we cried out in panic, you rescued us;
from the thunder clouds you answered our plea,
and at a desert spring you called us to account.

You begged us to pay attention,
to let you set us straight;
you longed for your people to listen to you.

You warned us to steer clear of alternative gods;
to avoid offering our devotion to every new fad.

You are the LORD our God;
the God who rescued us from the land of slavery.
When we come to you with our hungers,
you fill us with all that we need.

But we have repeatedly failed to listen to you;
though we were your people,
we dug our heels in against you.

You stood aside and let us have our way;
we made our own bed and you left us to lie in it.

You longed for us to listen to you;
for your people to get back on track.

If we had only been willing to cooperate,
you’d have been ready to sort out our enemies.
Those whose hostility to you was taken out on us
would have been sent cowering away,
never to be seen again.

If only we had responded to your call, LORD,
you would have spread a banquet before us
feeding us with the sweetest and best of everything.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 10 in Year C
Proper 15 in Year C  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Take action, God!
Pass sentence on all those who judge and rule the earth.

Call them to account for their unjust decisions;
expose their links to corruption and crime.

Order them to hand down justice to the deprived and abused,
and to protect the rights of those seeking refuge.

Command them to represent the needy and the vulnerable,
and to side with them against those who exploit them.

These judges and rulers don’t understand or care, God;
they’ve got their heads in the sand
while the world falls apart around them.

You, God, elevated them to office,
and delegated your authority to them;
but they have betrayed your trust
and will die disgraced.

Take action, God!
Come and judge the earth!
Reassert your control over all your nations!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-the Presentation of our Lord,
Proper 16 in Year B
- Proper 25 in Year C  (v.1-7) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The place where you live is just exquisite,
O LORD, ruler of all!
With everything inside me, I long to be there;
I go all weak at the very thought of it.
I want to be there, body and soul,
singing my heart out for you, O God of life.

Even the birds find a home in your house;
there are nests in every nook and cranny
where pigeons and sparrows raise their young.
Bird song and incense rise together
to honour you, Sovereign God, ruler of all.
How privileged are those who live in your house;
joyous songs of praise are forever on their lips.

Those who have tapped into your strength
have got it made.
The highway to heaven begins within them;
a direct route to your holy presence.

They are like people who can find water in the desert;
they drink from life giving springs
that no drought can ever dry up.
They go from strength to strength,
and will see you face to face on your holy mountain.

O LORD, ruler of everything, hear my cry.
Tune in to my prayer, O God of our ancestors.

Your presence is our protection, O God;
smile upon us, your chosen ones.

A day spent in your presence
beats a thousand nights in a five star resort.
I’d rather scrub floors in your house, O God,
than rub shoulders with the rich and famous
beneath the flashing lights of greed and corruption.

O LORD our God, you are the sun that shines on us
and the shield that keeps us safe.
You shower us with generosity and honour,
and deny nothing to people of integrity.

O LORD, ruler of all,
everyone who trusts in you has got it made!

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
Proper 12 in Year C
- Proper 14 in Year A   (v.8-13) (themed series)
-the 2nd Sunday of Advent in Year B, (v.1-2, 8-13)
Proper 10 in Year B (v.8-13)(themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, you smiled on your land
and brought back the good times for your people.

You struck out the record of our guilt
and pardoned all we had done wrong.

You swallowed your rage,
unclenched your fists, and cooled down.

Yes God, you have saved us before,
and now we need your help again.
Put aside the anger we caused you, LORD,
and help us get back on track.

You won’t maintain your rage forever, will you?
Surely you won’t burn with anger, year after year?

Wouldn’t it be better to put us back on our feet
and have us trumpeting your goodness?

Let us in on your rock-solid love, LORD.
Save us and give us a fresh start.

We are eager to hear all you have to say, LORD God,
for your words bring peace and wellbeing
to those who stick with you
and leave behind their foolish ways.

Surely for all who respect you,
the life you saved us for is within reach.
Our land will be ablaze with your presence.

What a life it will be!
Love and loyalty will link arms;
justice and peace will become lovers.

Faithfulness will sprout and reach for the sky;
integrity will beam down on the earth.

You will give us every good thing, LORD,
and the land will give bumper crops.

Justice and integrity will spring up as you approach,
lining the road to welcome you among us.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 11 in Year A   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Teach me how to stick to your track, LORD,
so I won’t stray from your path of truth.
Keep my heart focussed on adoring you alone.

O Lord my God, I thank you with all my heart;
I will always name you as the to whom all the glory is due.

Your love for me is the best, and absolutely rock-solid;
you saved me when my whole being was plunging into the abyss.

A crass and arrogant mob are out to get me, God;
a bunch of thugs are trying to bump me off,
and they couldn’t care less about you.

But I know that you, Lord,
are a compassionate and generous God,
slow to anger, and rich in love and loyalty.

I am your servant, Lord,
and my mother was your servant too.
Take note of me, and treat me with compassion;
save me and give me strength.

Give me a sign that you are on my side;
something that will be seen by those who hate me
and send them off with their tails between their legs.

You, LORD, have come to my help;
you have given me comfort.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 8 in Year A   (v.1-4, 15-18) (themed series)
-the 4th Sunday of Advent in Year B,   (v.1-4, 19-26)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, we will never stop singing about your rock-solid love;
we will transmit the story of your faithfulness
on down to every generation to come.

Your love and loyalty were built to last for eternity;
we’ll go public with that message.
Your faithfulness is beyond measure;
as infinite as the sky above us.

You said,
“I have formed an alliance with my chosen leader;
I have given my word to David, my servant.
I have guaranteed a firm foundation for his family forever;
there will always be one of his descendants on the throne.”

We are on cloud nine
when we are celebrating in your presence, LORD.
We all know what to do and say,
and we bask in the light of your favour.
Every mention of your name has us bursting with enthusiasm
from dawn till dusk,
and we tell the stories over and over
of how you have done the right thing by everyone.

Whatever glory and strength we have comes from you.
Because you have been good to us, our power has grown great.
Our safety and security are in your hands, LORD;
you are our one and only, the ruler of Israel.

Long ago, in a vision, you spoke to your faithful people, saying:

“I have crowned a great hero.
    Among you, my people,
        I found one fit for the throne.
My search ended with my servant David.
    Pouring holy oil on his head,
        I have set him apart as the chosen one.
He’ll always be able to look to me for strength;
    when he needs some muscle,
        I’ll be there to back him up.

The enemy will not get under his guard,
    the wicked will never drag him down.
I’ll knock flat those who oppose him;
    despise him and you answer to me!
My love for him is unshakable;
    I’ll be faithful to him for ever.
On my say so, he’ll rule supreme and unchallenged.
I will put everything in his hands,
    from coast to coast with all that lies between them.
He will cry out to me, ‘Oh, my Father, my God,
    you are the rock I cling to for safety!’”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 11 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Long ago, in a vision, you spoke to your faithful people, saying:

“I have crowned a great hero.
Among you, my people,
I found one fit for the throne.
My search ended with my servant David.
Pouring holy oil on his head,
I have set him apart as the chosen one.
He’ll always be able to look to me for strength;
when he needs some muscle,
I’ll  be there to back him up.

The enemy will not get under his guard,
the wicked will never drag him down.
I’ll knock flat those who oppose him;
despise him and you answer to me!
My love for him is unshakable;
I’ll be faithful to him for ever.
On my say so, he’ll rule supreme and unchallenged.
I will put everything in his hands,
from coast to coast with all that lies between them.
He will cry out to me, ‘Oh, my Father, my God,
you are the rock I cling to for safety!’

I will make him number one in all the world,
he’ll outrank even the superpowers.
Forever and always, I will be true in my love,
and the covenant we’ve made
will never be broken.

I will see that his family name always has an heir,
and guarantee his throne to his descendants
as long as night follows day.
If his children turn their backs on my ways
and step off the paths I’ve marked out;
if they tear up the instructions I’ve given them
and go against my clear directives,
they’ll pay for it.
They’ll cop the maximum sentence for their crime.
I’ll make them lie in the bed they’ve made.
But even then I won’t take back my love,
and the vows I made to David will still ring true.

There is no way I would break my promise
or try to take back what I’d already said.
I have given my word, once and for all,
and staked my whole reputation on it.
I will never lie to David.

His family tree will be an unbroken line
and his dynasty as sure as the sun.
It shall be as fixed as the orbit of the moon,
as dependable as the lights in the night sky.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 25 in Year A (v.1-6, 13-17)
- Proper 28 in Year A, (v.1-12, themed series)
Proper 23 in Year B (v.12-17, themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Lord, in every generation
you have been house and home to us.

You are God, and have been from time before time;
even before you brought the mountains to birth;
even before you created the planet or anything on it.

You tell us when our time is up,
and return us to the earth from which we came.

From where you look,
a thousand years is like the blink of an eye,
and the ancient past like yesterday.

Our lives pass as if you had erased them completely;
they are gone like a dream.
Like cut flowers they are fresh and new one day,
and faded memories the next.

The burning heat of your anger wipes us out;
your indignation cuts us down.

You have spelt out the charges against us,
and brought our hidden offences out into the open.

Day by day, the weight of you anger drains the life out of us,
and our years come to a close with a whimper.

How many years have we got?
Seventy, perhaps eighty if our health holds.
But even a long life is a grind, all hard work and heartache,
and in no time it’s over and we’re gone for good.

Does anyone treat your anger with the respect it deserves?
Surely the extent of your indignation over sin
is matched only by the honour that is your due.

So teach us to value each and every day
so that we will be wise enough to make the most of them.

It’s time for a change, LORD.
Hasn’t this gone on long enough?
For pity’s sake, it’s time to give us a break.

Let a new day dawn
and give us our fill of your love and loyalty,
so that our lives may be full of smiles and laughter
till the end of our days.

Give us more days of happiness
than the days of suffering you sent.
May the years where evil reigned
be cancelled out by years of joy.

Make your actions clear to those of us in your service;
let your children see your strength in all its glory.

Put us in your good books, O Lord our God,
and give us a rich return for all our labour —
may the work of our hands turn to gold!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 7 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Tune in and answer my cries, LORD,
because I have been left with nothing and no one.

Protect me and save my life,
for I am your devoted servant and I trust you.

You are my God.
All day long I cry out to you, Lord,
begging you to give me a break.

Give me something to smile about, Lord,
for I am your servant and I being up front with you.

After all, Lord, you are good and forgiving;
full of unfailing love for those who look to you for help.

Tune in to my prayer, LORD,
and give your attention to my plea for help.

This is the worst day of my life,
but I’m confident you will answer my cry.

None of the things people worship compare to you, Lord;
your actions are in a league of their own.

You made every nation, Lord,
and they will all come and honour you,
bowing down and naming you as the greatest.

So they should, given all the great and amazing things you do,
for you are the one and only God.

I am your servant, Lord,
and my mother was your servant too.
Take note of me, and treat me with compassion;
save me and give me strength.

Give me a sign that you are on my side;
something that will be seen by those who hate me
and send them off with their tails between their legs.

You, LORD, have come to my help;
you have given me comfort.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 1st Sunday in Lent in Year C (v.1-2, 9-16)
Proper 24 in Year B (v.9-16, themed series)
Proper 21 in Year C (v.1-6, 14-16)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Your greatness and strength are our shelter, LORD;
we can live secure in your shade.
We call you our refuge, our place of safety;
you are the God in whom we trust.

You steer us clear of the traps that have been laid for us,
and keep us safe when disease threatens to wipe us out.
You gather us safely under your wings
like a mother bird shielding her chicks.
We are secure behind your armour-plated loyalty.

Night or day, we have nothing to fear;
not bullets, nor bombs;
not illness, nor injury;
not the withering heat of the sun,
nor the crippling power of fear itself.

We have nothing to fear because we have found safety in you;
we have settled down within your care.
Thanks to you, LORD of the universe, no evil can touch us;
disaster can not get a foot in the door.

You have instructed your angels to look after us;
made it their job to protect us wherever we go.
You’ve told them to catch us when we fall;
to keep us from coming to grief on hidden snags.

With your help we can face any danger;
we can stare down crocodiles and Tiger snakes.

Those who know you and love you can depend on you,
you are always there to pull them out of trouble.

The moment they call, you answer;
you’re on their side when all hell breaks loose;
you save their lives and throw a party in their honour.

You give them long and fulfilling lives, LORD;
they will see the realisation of all you have promised.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 6 in Year B
- 8th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

It is a privilege to be able to publicly thank you, LORD,
to sing your praises and put your name up in lights.
It is great to start the day singing about your rock-solid love,
with a full band ringing out the tune,
and to end it thanking you for being so loyal and trustworthy,
accompanying our praise with guitars.

For you, O LORD, have given us so much to be happy about;
what you have done with your own hands
sets us singing and dancing for joy.

People who always do the right thing by others
will thrive like a tropical rainforest
and grow strong like a river redgum.
They have put down their roots in your soil, LORD,
and they will brighten up your temple like flowers.
Even when they grow old they will still be fruitful,
healthy and vibrant and pulsing with life.
They are a credit to you, LORD,
proving for all to see that you are straight and true.
You are our rock,
and there is nothing rotten or crooked in you.

©2009 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- the Feast of Ascension
Proper 29 (Christ the King) in Year B  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, you are the great ruler.
Majesty enfolds you like a royal robe
and strength radiates from you.

You have fixed the world firmly in its place.
Your throne is immovable, LORD;
ever was and ever shall be.

Surging floods have risen, O LORD,
surging up with a mighty roar;
engulfing everything in thunderous sound.

You are more impressive than the surging waters,
more powerful than the crashing waves;
you are number one in all the universe, LORD!

Whatever you say is set in stone.
The place you live, O LORD, is clearly sacred;
its holiness will outlast time.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 3rd Sunday in Lent in Year A
- Christ the King Sunday in Year A (themed series) (v.1-7a)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We gather and sing to you, LORD.
We raise the roof with shouts of joy
for you are the rock on which we are safe!

We come into your presence bursting with gratitude;
we set the house rocking as we sing your praises!

For you, LORD, are the greatest God of all;
you rank way above every other claim on our loyalty.

You hold the depths of the earth in your hands,
and the highest mountains are at your disposal.

The oceans and the dry lands alike belong to you,
for you made them with your own hands.

You made us too, LORD, and we worship you,
falling to our knees and bowing down to the ground!

You are our God and we are your people;
you tenderly care for us like a sheep rearing her young.

If only all your people would pay attention to you!

If only they wouldn’t turn their backs on you
like their ancestors did that day at Meribah.
There in the Massah Desert they slandered you;
they forgot all you had done
and demanded that you prove yourself.

For forty years you turned your back on them, LORD,
for you couldn’t stand to see how twisted they became
as they deserted your ways.

You angrily wrote off the whole generation
and denied them the satisfaction of finding a place to call home.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas Eve/Day),
-
Proper 24 in Year A, (themed series)
- 9th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C  (v.1-9)
- Proper 4 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We sing like we’ve never sung before, LORD;
singing to you with all the earth.
Every mention of your name sets us singing your praises.

We never tire of telling the story of how you bailed us out;
all over the world, we speak of your incredible accomplishments;
everyone we meet hears us giving the credit to you.

You are the greatest, LORD; we can’t praise you enough!
When it comes to gods, you are in a league of your own;
all other objects of devotion are powerless.

But you, LORD, created the whole cosmos;
you are surrounded by majesty and celebration;
strength and beauty are signs of your presence.

People of every race and creed recognise you, LORD;
they recognise you behind all that is strong and true;
they name you as the one who deserves all the glory.

We offer ourselves to you, LORD;
we fall to our knees in this beautiful place of worship;
with all the earth, we celebrate you alone.

You are our king, LORD; we’ll tell everyone everywhere!
You have set the world on firm foundations,
and with you in charge, everyone will get a fair go.

Let the heavens and the earth celebrate;
let the roar of the sea join in;
let everything that walks, flies or swims join the party!

You are on your way, LORD,
and even the roadside trees cheer as you approach,
for you are coming to set things right on the earth.

You will sort things out and put things right,
and reveal the truth about everything and everyone.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-
the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas Eve/Day),
- 7th Sunday of Pascha in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You, LORD, are the ruler of everything!
The whole earth celebrates!
Up and down the coast, everyone is shouting for joy!

Deep, dark clouds of mystery hide you from us;
justice and integrity are the bedrock of your rule.

You are a consuming fire, leaping in all directions,
purging the earth of its enemies.

Your touch splits the darkness with bolts of light;
the earth is lit up and shakes like a leaf.

You are Lord of all the earth, and in your presence
even the mountains go weak and melt like wax.

The heavens herald you as the one who puts things right;
all people everywhere witness your day of glory.

Those who worshipped hollow facades
will hang their heads in shame.
Those who take pride in the power of possessions
will be horrified when it all proves worthless.
All these false gods and short-lived saviours
crumble and fall before you, the real thing.

From the Temple Mountain to the farthest flung town,
your people are celebrating with great joy, O God,
because you have seen the truth and brought about justice.

You, LORD, are number one in all the universe;
in a league of your own,
far above anything else that seeks our allegiance.

You love those who detest evil, LORD;
You stand guard over those who are loyal to you;
You come to their rescue if they fall prey to violence.

When people have integrity and do what is right,
you light up their lives and fill them with joy.

All who build their lives on the bedrock of your truth and justice
are celebrating all you do, LORD.
Just the mention of your holy name
and they burst forth with a flood of gratitude!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-
the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas Eve/Day),
-the Great Paschal Vigil
- the 6th Sunday of Pascha in Year B
- the Feast of the Holy Cross (v.1-5)
Proper 27 in Year C
Proper 28 in Year C   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We sing like we’ve never sung before, LORD,
because you have done fantastic things.
With your sleeves rolled up you got stuck in
and came out on top.

Your victory has made the headlines, LORD,
now the whole world can see that you were right all along.

You have never defaulted on your rock-solid love,
or your loyalty to your chosen people.
From one end of the earth to the other,
everyone has seen your victory.

With all the world, LORD, we raise a noisy celebration,
singing our lungs out and shouting your praise.

The bands strike up in your honour, LORD,
filling the air with festive music.
With a brass fanfare and a dancing beat
we loudly celebrate your reign over us.

The whole creation joins in the celebration:
the ocean and its creatures roar their approval;
the land and its animals, cheer and stomp;
rivers and lakes give a standing ovation,
mountains and hills erupt in applause.

We put on the whole show in your presence, LORD,
celebrating your arrival as you finally bring justice.
With you in charge we know things will be put right;
now every one on earth will get a fair go.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-
Proper 24 in Year A,
- Transfiguration Sunday (last Sunday before Lent) in Year A
- Transfiguration Sunday (last Sunday before Lent) in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You, LORD, rule over everything!
Enthroned in glory, surrounded by awesome creatures,
your presence sends shivers down our spines
and makes even the earth tremble and quake!

LORD, your greatness is celebrated in Zion,
and in every nation you are number one.
At the mere mention of your name,
people everywhere burst into praise,
for your greatness and holiness are awesome!

Ruling in strength; loving justice with a passion;
you have seen to it that everyone gets a fair go.
You have laid down the law
so that your people will do what is right.

We fall at your feet and sing your praises, O LORD our God,
for your greatness and holiness are awesome!

Moses and Aaron served you as priests,
Samuel was another who reached out to you.
They cried out to you on the world’s behalf,
and from the awesome cloud you answered them.

They stuck to what you had told them, LORD,
and did whatever you asked of them.
When they did wrong you set them straight,
in no uncertain terms;
but you forgave them, LORD,
and never failed to answer them.

We sing your praises, O LORD our God.
We climb your holy mountain to worship you,
for your greatness and holiness are awesome!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 6 in Year A   (themed series)
- Christ the King Sunday in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

With all the earth we join in thunderous celebration, LORD;
raising the roof as we come into your presence singing;
coming gladly to offer you our devotion.

LORD, we know that you are God.
You made us, and we belong to you.
We are your people, fed and cared for by you alone.

Your gates are open to us; thank you!
In your presence, we sing your praises!
We name you as deserving all the credit and thanks!

You are the best, LORD!
Your love is rock-solid, and always will be.
Down through the ages, you keep your word and stick by us.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 8th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year B
- Proper 19 in Year A (v.1-13)
Proper 16 in Year C  (v. 1-8) (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

With all our hearts, we praise you, LORD,
from the depths of our being
we name you as our one and only.

With all that we are we sings your praises, LORD;
how could we ever forget all you have done for us?

When we do wrong, you forgive us;
when we are sick, you make us well;
when our lives fall apart, you put us back together.

With love and mercy, you treat us like royalty;
you shower us with good things all our lives;
you makes us feel as young and free as an eagle.

You are there for those who are victimised, LORD;
you clear their names and bring them justice.

Through Moses, you let us know what you are on about;
through Israel, you let us see what you can do.

Your mercy and generosity are extravagant, LORD;
your patience and love are as solid as rock.

When we do things that anger you,
you don’t keep dredging them up forever.

You never deal with us as harshly as we deserve;
despite the wrong we have done, you let us off lightly.

We could no more climb to the moon on a step ladder
than measure the limits of the love and loyalty
you show to those who respect you.
We could no more swim the ocean from pole to pole
than cover the distance you put between us and our sins.

Your care and concern for those who honour you
is as tender as that of parents for their children.

We honour you, LORD,
joining our voices with all you have made
and all you rule over.

With all our hearts, we praise you, LORD.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 24 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

With all that I am, O LORD, I declare you to be the best.
O LORD my God, you are the greatest.

You are decked out in glory and distinction,
and the brilliant rays of the sun are your robe.
You make the milky way the ceiling
and the ocean bed the foundation for your house.
You fly first class on the clouds,
taking off and landing with the wind.
You have appointed the winds to deliver your message,
and flames of fire to administer your will.

You built the earth on firm foundations,
so that nothing can shake it loose.
You wrapped the planet up in an ocean
that submerged even the mountains.

Only when you gave the word did the waters back off;
with a voice of thunder you sent them running.
Cascading from the mountain tops they poured down valleys
and came to rest in the place you had marked out for them.
You marked out the shore and declared the land off-limits
so that the oceans would not drown the earth again.

O LORD, what a wildly fabulous world!

Working hand in hand with wisdom
you have made an earthful of wonderful creatures.

I give you all the credit, LORD!

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
-the Day of Pentecost in Year A
-the Day of Pentecost in Year B
-the Day of Pentecost in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

O LORD, what a wildly fabulous world!
Working hand in hand with wisdom
you have made
an earthful of wonderful creatures.

Just look at the deep wide sea,
swarming with life beyond our imagining,
from coral to crayfish, from mussels to marlin.

Ships plough the waves,
while mythical monsters cavort in the depths.

Like seagulls at a picnic,
every creature looks to you for food.

They gather around in eager expectation,
and gorge themselves when you open your hand.

If you turned your back, they’d be panic stricken;
if you withdrew your Spirit
they would have nothing to breathe,
their bodies would quickly crumble.

But when you breathe your spirit into them,
life sprouts up fresh and fragrant again
and the earth itself is revived.

Glorious is all you do, LORD,
may you be honoured forever.
May everything created be a joy to the LORD.

One look from the LORD makes even the earth quiver;
one touch and even the mountains erupt.

With every breath I will sing to the LORD;
as long as there is life in me,
I will give honour to my God in song.

Even my unspoken thoughts I offer to the LORD,
for the LORD is a delight to me.

May wickedness be wiped from the earth,
may enemies of life no longer be found.

O bless the LORD, everything within me.
Praise the LORD!

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 12 in Year A   (v.1-11, 45c)
- Proper 17 in Year A   (v.1-6, 23-26, 45c)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We shout your name and give you thanks, LORD;
we will tell everyone what you have done for us.
We sing your praises in your presence,
and publicise your wonderful achievements.

We put your name up in lights, your name alone;
our hearts burst with joy when we approach you.
It is you we want most of all, you and your strength;
we try to keep near to you all the time.

Like all the descendants of Abraham and Jacob,
and all your chosen children,
we remember all the astonishing things you have done
and the breath-taking wisdom of your decisions.

You are the LORD our God;
what you say, goes, everywhere on earth.
You never forget the alliance you have made with us;
you’ve been true to your word for a thousand generations.

You made the alliance with Abraham;
you promised Isaac you would stick to it;
you confirmed it in writing to Jacob,
promising Israel that the alliance was in place forever.
You gave them the land of Canaan as a family property,
to be passed on down from one generation to the next.

Your people turned up in Egypt;
yes, Jacob migrated to Africa.
You let them breed there like rabbits, LORD,
and they grew stronger than the native population.
The Egyptians grew fearful and bitter
and plotted to force your people into slavery.

You sent your trusty worker, Moses,
and his chosen right hand man, Aaron.

You are the greatest, LORD!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 14 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We shout your name and give you thanks, LORD;
we will tell everyone what you have done for us.
We sing your praises in your presence,
and publicise your wonderful achievements.

We put your name up in lights, your name alone;
our hearts burst with joy when we approach you.
It is you we want most of all, you and your strength;
we try to keep near to you all the time.

Like all the descendants of Abraham and Jacob,
and all your chosen children,
we remember all the astonishing things you have done
and the breath-taking wisdom of your decisions.

When you sent a famine on the land,
destroying the crops and breaking the food cycle,
you had already sent a man ahead to provide help:
Joseph, who had been sold as a slave.

He had been dragged off in leg irons,
and chained by the neck.
You spoke to him, challenging him to tough it out,
until eventually his own words came true.

Sure enough, the Pharaoh ordered his release;
the most powerful man on earth set him free.
Pharaoh put him in charge of the palace,
and made him the manager of all his possessions.
He gave him authority over all other officials,
to tell them what to do and how to do it.

You are the greatest, LORD!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 20 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We shout your name and give you thanks, LORD;
we will tell everyone what you have done for us.
We sing your praises in your presence,
and publicise your wonderful achievements.

We put your name up in lights, your name alone;
our hearts burst with joy when we approach you.
It is you we want most of all, you and your strength;
we try to keep near to you all the time.

Like all the descendants of Abraham and Jacob,
and all your chosen children,
we remember all the astonishing things you have done
and the breath-taking wisdom of your decisions.

You led Israel out of slavery,
carrying off money and goods,
and every one of them made it out safely.
The local people were glad to see the last of them,
because they were terrified of them.

You rolled out a cloud like a blanket for them,
and lit up the night with a fire.
They asked for meat and you gave them quail;
all they could eat, you dropped from the sky.
You opened a rock and water poured out,
flowing like a river in the desert.

You were true to your word, LORD,
just as you promised your trusty worker, Abraham.
Your led your chosen people to freedom,
laughing and singing with joy.

You gave them lands as a gift
and made them rich at the expense of others.
In return you asked that they follow what you said,
and stick to doing things your way.

You are the greatest, LORD!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 23 in Year A 
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We sing your praises, LORD!
We overwhelmed with gratitude for all your goodness;
your love and loyalty go on forever.

Words cannot describe all the amazing things you have done;
we can’t praise you highly enough, LORD.

Those who stick to the ways of justice are on a winner;
those who always do the right thing will have plenty to smile about.

Count me in, LORD, when you hand out the perks to your people;
don’t overlook me when you come to bail them out.
I want to be there to see your chosen people come into their own;
I want to join in their celebrations
and bask in the glory of the future you have set up.

We have done the wrong thing by you,
just as our ancestors did before us;
we have acted corruptly;
we have done what is evil.

Our forebears made an idol in the shape of a calf;
they worshipped the work of their own hands.

They switched from basking in your glory
to making fools of themselves over a toy cow!

They forgot that you were the God who saved them,
who took powerful action to free them from slavery;
who did amazing things in the land where they were oppressed
and awesome acts of power to get them through the Red Sea.

You were justifiably angry, LORD;
you were planning to wipe them out,
and you would have gone through with the plan
if it had not been for Moses, your chosen leader.
He stood up to you and held you back;
he calmed your anger and talked you out of destroying them.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 4th Sunday in Lent in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Thank you, LORD! Thank you for being so good.
Your rock-solid love will never end.

LORD, we freely and openly acknowledge
that it was you who got us out of trouble;
you who put us back on the right track.
You gathered us from the four corners of the globe,
from wherever we had been lost or exiled.

Some of us had wrecked our health in destructive living;
involvement in evil left us sick and injured.
We were off our food, weak and broken;
a painful death was knocking at the door.

In sheer despair, we cried out to you, LORD,
and in a flash, you came to our rescue.
Your words healed us; got us back on our feet;
pulled us free of the jaws of death.

So let us tell you how grateful we are, LORD.
Thank you for your rock-solid love
and for the great things you do for everyone;
Let us bring gifts to say thank you,
and sing and dance to celebrate what you’ve done.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 7 in Year B (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Thank you, LORD! Thank you for being so good.
Your rock-solid love will never end.

LORD, we freely and openly acknowledge
that it was you who got us out of trouble;
you who put us back on the right track.
You gathered us from the four corners of the globe,
from wherever we had been lost or exiled.

Some of us went to sea;
made our living sailing the ocean
Your awesome power was clear to see, LORD,
in the restless energy of the deep.
One word from you and storms whipped up;
furious waves crashed and tore at us.
Hurled to the sky and slammed back down,
our courage failed and we feared the worst.
Tossed like a cork; staggering like drunks;
nothing to do but cling on and pray.

In sheer despair, we cried out to you, LORD,
and in a flash, you came to our rescue.
You calmed the storm
and the waves fell quiet.
Overwhelming relief left us speechless
as you piloted us safely into a sheltered bay.

So let us tell you how grateful we are, LORD.
Thank you for your rock-solid love
and for the great things you do for everyone.
Let us talk you up whenever your people gather,
and sing your praises when the leaders meet.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- Proper 26 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Thank you, LORD! Thank you for being so good.
Your rock-solid love will never end.

LORD, we freely and openly acknowledge
that it was you who got us out of trouble;
you who put us back on the right track.
You gathered us from the four corners of the globe,
from wherever we had been lost or exiled.

Some of us were lost in pitiless deserts,
desperate to find shelter and company.
Without food or water,
our courage dried up and our steps grew weak.

In sheer despair, we cried out to you, LORD,
and in a flash, you came to our rescue.
You guided us back to the main road
and got us safely to the nearest town.

When people become corrupt, LORD,
you dry up their water supplies;
lakes become deserts
and fruitful land, a salt-scarred waste.

But you love to bring new life, LORD;
to pour water down dry creek beds
and make the deserts burst into flower.
You love to open up arid land
and make new places of plenty
where the homeless and hungry
can build and plant and prosper.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
Proper 13 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Thank you, LORD! Thank you for being so good.
Your rock-solid love will never end.

LORD, we freely and openly acknowledge
that it was you who got us out of trouble;
you who put us back on the right track.
You gathered us from the four corners of the globe,
from wherever we had been lost or exiled.

Some of us were lost in pitiless deserts,
desperate to find shelter and company.
Without food or water,
our courage dried up and our steps grew weak.

In sheer despair, we cried out to you, LORD,
and in a flash, you came to our rescue.
You guided us back to the main road
and got us safely to the nearest town.

So let us tell you how grateful we are, LORD.
Thank you for your rock-solid love
and for the great things you do for everyone;
for you quench our thirst
and feed us generously when we hunger.

Desiring wisdom, we take note of all you do, LORD,
and focus our thoughts on your rock-solid love.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 4th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year B
Proper 15 in Year B
- Proper 23 in Year C   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Wow! More power to you, LORD!
We can’t thank you enough.
With all who stand for justice
our hearts burst with gratitude.

The things you do are fantastic, LORD,
and those who see and understand
never tire of exploring them.

Your works are magnificent, majestic,
and their integrity will never be eroded.

You have a reputation for doing amazing things,
and all of them generous and merciful.

You nourish those who honour you
and you are always true to your word.

You have left your people in no doubt
about your power;
you have given them the whole world on a plate.

Everything you put your hands to
is faithful, fair and trustworthy,
as is everything you say.

What you say goes, now and forever,
and no one can afford to ignore it.

You rescue your people and bring them home safe,
for you have committed yourself to them
for all time.

The mere mention of your holy name
makes us go weak all over!

Wisdom is born when your awesome presence
knocks us to our knees
and those who never lose sight of that
have got their heads on straight.

Awestruck, we give you honour and respect for ever.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 5th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
Proper 17 in Year C  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We are singing your praises, LORD!

How good life is for those who respect you, LORD,
for those who gladly do what you want them to do.

Their children will follow in their footsteps,
doing what’s right and going from strength to strength.

You fill their homes with good things,
and guarantee their good reputation.

Their generosity, tolerance, and integrity shine forth in a dark world,
lighting up the way for others to follow.

LORD, you see that things go well
for those who conduct their business fairly
and lend generously to those in need.

You guarantee a firm footing for people of integrity;
their reputation will long outlast them.

Bad news will not break them,
for they have an inner strength grounded in you, LORD.
With their trust in you, they are calm in a crisis;
fearless in the fight,
and they always end up on top.

You will honour their strength
and make their integrity a lasting legacy,
for they have been open-handed, especially to the poor.

All this throws corrupt people into a snarling rage.
Bitterness consumes them
as their dreams crumble to nothing.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
Proper 20 in Year C   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You are the greatest, LORD!

We, your servants, can’t stop singing your praises;
the mere mention of your name sets us singing!

From now on and forever,
your name will be held sacred, LORD.

From east to west, from dawn to dusk,
your name will inspire songs of praise.

You are ranked number one, LORD,
way above even the greatest nations,
outshining even the sun and the stars.

Can anyone compare with you, LORD?
Is there anyone else even close to your league?
Not likely! You are seated so high
that you look down even to see the sky!

You lift up those who have been trodden into the dirt;
you put the poor and outcast back on their feet.
You give them a place among the guests of honour,
a seat with the dignitaries and celebrities.

You give the infertile couple a family
filling their lives with the laughter of children.

You are the greatest, LORD!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Great Paschal Vigil
- Resurrection Sunday Evening
- Proper 19 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

When we were led out of the land of slavery
- the people of Israel, coming out from under the foreign thumb -
the land of Judah became a sacred place,
the land of Israel came under sovereign rule.

The wild sea took one look, and turned tail and ran,
the Jordan river backed off and headed the other way.
The mountains skipped like a rock wallaby;
the hills were as jumpy as a kelpie pup.

What was it that made the wild sea turn tail?
What was it that made the Jordan back off?
What made the mountains quiver and jump?
What made the hills shudder and shake?

It was awe of you, LORD, God of our ancestors.
The whole earth trembles in your presence.
For you are the one who melts rocks into pools of water;
the one who brings springs bubbling up from hard baked ground.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 3rd Sunday of Pascha in Year A
- Proper 6 in Year A   (v.1-2, 12-19)
Thursday of Holy Week (Maundy Thursday)   (v.1-2, 12-19)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

I love you, LORD!
How could I not love you
when you always respond to my cries?

You are always ready to listen to me,
so I will bring my needs to you as long as I live.

Once death was closing in on me;
the grave’s icy fingers had me in their grasp;
Tormented and desperate, I cried out to you,
“Please, LORD. Help me! Save my life!”

How can I ever repay you, LORD?
What gift could ever express my gratitude?

I will raise my glass in your honour,
I will name you as the one who saved me.

I will make good on all I promised you, LORD,
and I’ll let everyone know its for you.

Whenever one of your faithful people dies
it affects you deeply.

LORD, you have released me from my chains.
I will serve you forever,
just as my forebears have done.

I will bring a gift to say thanks;
I will pray to you, and you alone.

I will be true to the vows I’ve made;
and I won’t keep it hidden.
In full view of all your people,
in the public place of worship,
I’ll do all I promised you, LORD.

All the praise and all the credit are your, LORD!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 19 in Year B  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

I love you, LORD!
How could I not love you
when you always respond to my cries?

You are always ready to listen to me,
so I will bring my needs to you as long as I live.

Once death was closing in on me;
the grave’s icy fingers had me in their grasp;
Tormented and desperate, I cried out to you,
“Please, LORD. Help me! Save my life!”

You are so generous, LORD;
you do the right thing by us
whether we deserve it or not.

You side with the nobodies,
and you bailed me out,
when I hit rock-bottom.

I can let go of my fears and calm my mind;
your goodness and love keep me safe.

You saved my life, LORD;
you dried my tears;
you supported me when I stumbled.

I can stand before you with my head held high;
I’m back on my feet in the land of the living.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Resurrection Sunday Morning in Year A
- Resurrection Sunday Morning in Year B
- Resurrection Sunday Morning in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Thank you, LORD, thank you!
Thank you for your goodness!
Thank you for your love —
rock solid and timeless!
May all your people recognise
that your love and loyalty last forever.

Our energy and strength come from you, LORD;
our peace and safety were won by you.

The sound of singing rings out
from the homes of all who are honest and true.
They sing of what you have done, LORD,
for you raised your hand and saved the day.

Now we know that our lives are safe;
we will live to tell of what you have done.
You gave us the tough medicine we deserved, LORD,
but you didn’t let death get its claws into us.

The minute they open the city gates
— the gates of justice —
we’ll be the first through, LORD;
eager to tell you how thankful we are.

These gates belong to you, LORD,
those you have put right can come on through.

Thank you for answering our prayers, LORD;
for coming to our rescue and putting us right.

From a rejected stone found in a rubbish pile
you cut and polished a priceless jewel.
This is obviously your work, LORD,
and we can hardly believe our eyes!

Today is your day, LORD, a day to honour you;
we will celebrate with joy and laughter.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton Laughingbird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Palm/Passion Sunday
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Thank you, LORD, thank you!
Thank you for your goodness!
Thank you for your love —
rock solid and timeless!
May all your people recognise
that your love and loyalty last forever.

The minute they open the city gates
— the gates of justice —
we’ll be the first through, LORD;
eager to tell you how thankful we are.

These gates belong to you, LORD,
those you have put right can come on through.

Thank you for answering our prayers, LORD;
for coming to our rescue and putting us right.

From a rejected stone found in a rubbish pile
you cut and polished a priceless jewel.
This is obviously your work, LORD,
and we can hardly believe our eyes!

Today is your day, LORD, a day to honour you;
we will celebrate with joy and laughter.

Get us through safely, LORD!
In the tasks ahead, give us success!

The one who comes in your name, LORD,
is the one who is truly blessed.
Gathered here in your house,
we praise you for sending him.

You, LORD, are our only God,
and you light up our lives.
In a great procession,
we march to the sacred place,
waving branches and banners;
tossing flowers in the air.

You are our God
and we give you thanks.
You are our God
and we give you our highest acclaim.

Thank you, LORD, thank you!
Thank you for your goodness!
Thank you for your love —
rock solid and timeless!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 2nd Sunday of Pascha in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Our energy and strength come from you, LORD;
our peace and safety were won by you.

The sound of singing rings out
from the homes of all who are honest and true.
They sing of what you have done, LORD,
for you raised your hand and saved the day.

Now we know that our lives are safe;
we will live to tell of what you have done.
You gave us the tough medicine we deserved, LORD,
but you didn’t let death get its claws into us.

The minute they open the city gates
— the gates of justice —
we’ll be the first through, LORD;
eager to tell you how thankful we are.

These gates belong to you, LORD,
those you have put right can come on through.

Thank you for answering our prayers, LORD;
for coming to our rescue and putting us right.

From a rejected stone found in a rubbish pile
you cut and polished a priceless jewel.
This is obviously your work, LORD,
and we can hardly believe our eyes!

Today is your day, LORD, a day to honour you;
we will celebrate with joy and laughter.

Get us through safely, LORD!
In the tasks ahead, give us success!

The one who comes in your name, LORD,
is the one who is truly blessed.
Gathered here in your house,
we praise you for sending him.

You, LORD, are our only God,
and you light up our lives.
In a great procession,
we march to the sacred place,
waving branches and banners;
tossing flowers in the air.

You are our God
and we give you thanks.
You are our God
and we give you our highest acclaim.

Thank you, LORD, thank you!
Thank you for your goodness!
Thank you for your love —
rock solid and timeless!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 6th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
Proper 26 in Year B  (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, how good it will be for those who no one can point a finger at,
who play by your rules and stick to the straight and narrow.

How good it will be for those who do what you say,
and put their whole heart into knowing you better;
who never do the wrong thing by any one,
but stick to your tracks all the way.

You have laid down the law for us
and told us to follow it to the letter.

There is nothing I want more than to be rock solid,
following your script in everything I do.

If I keep my eyes fixed on your instructions,
I will never have to hang my head.

The more I discover the justice and integrity of your teaching,
the more I sing your praises with my heart beating proud.

I intend to do everything you say;
please don’t ever give up on me.

©2011 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 5th Sunday in Lent in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

If anyone wants to avoid polluting their life, LORD,
they should use your word as protection.

I am giving my all to getting close to you;
don’t let me stumble off the track you have set for us.

Everything you have said, I treasure in my heart,
to keep myself from doing the wrong thing by you.

You are the best, LORD,
teach me all you require of your people.

My mouth is ready, willing and able
to repeat whatever you have to say.

The path you have set for us is my greatest delight;
it is worth more to me than all the money in the world.

I will keep my mind fixed on your teachings,
and my eyes fixed on the track you have set for us.

I will cherish the rules you have given us,
and never forget the things you have to say.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 7th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
Proper 18 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, teach me the way of life you have set for us
and I will stick to it for keeps.

Help me to get my head around what you want
and I will throw myself wholeheartedly into doing it.

Guide me down the track you’ve mapped out for us,
for nothing pleases me more than being where you want me.

Keep me focussed on the values you’ve spelt out;
don’t let me get sucked into grabbing everything for myself.

Put the blinkers on me so I see only your life-giving ways
and am not distracted by fashionable froth and bubble.

Reassure me that I am in on what you promised to all
who respect you and work for you.

Protect me with your good teachings
so that I won’t disgrace myself as I fear I could.

See how much I long to do things your way;
please do the right thing by me and give me real life.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 24 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, how I love your teachings!
I keep them in my thoughts all day long.

I’m able to stay a jump ahead of my enemies
because your guidance is always with me.

Studying your instructions has taught me far more
than I could ever learn from the best teachers.

Following your rules to the letter
has given me more wisdom than old age brings.

I steer clear of the paths of corruption
so that I can stick to the track you have set.

You have taught me well
and I won’t dodge any of your directions.

Your words taste so sweet on my tongue,
they are like strawberries and cream!

Your commands have given me great understanding
and made me allergic to lies and corruption!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 10 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

What you say, LORD, lights up the track in front of me
so I can see where to put my feet.

I am committed to doing what you say is right;
I’ve given my word and signed on the line.

I have been put through the wringer here, LORD;
put me back on my feet, just as you promised.

I am giving you the credit for everything, LORD;
accept my gift and teach me how to do things your way.

Even though my grip on life is shaky,
I never forget what you have taught me.

Ruthless thugs are always trying to derail me,
but you have shown me the right track and I’m sticking to it.

Your guidance is a rich heritage for my future;
it has put a smile on my face forever.

My mind is fixed on following your directions,
come what may, forever.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 12 in Year A   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

The instructions you have given, LORD, are the best;
they find a ready welcome within me.

As your words become clear, they light up the world,
and even the simplest minds begin to understand.

In my thirst for more of your teachings,
I’m like a dog panting for water.

Look my way and give me the inside running,
as is your usual practice to those who love you.

Keep me safely on track as you promised you would,
and don’t let corruption get the better of me.

Rescue me from those who would stand over me;
keep me free to do what you want me to do.

I am your trusty worker;
smile on me and teach me your ways.

It tears my heart out
to see how so many defy you.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
Proper 26 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You always do the right thing, LORD,
and your judgments are spot on.

You have set out your instructions for us,
marking the way of honesty and integrity.

When I see opponents ignoring your teachings,
I get so angry I could explode.

Your promises have tested true over and over
and I will cherish your every word as I serve you.

I might be a nothing, a no one,
but I know how to stick to your ways.

Your commitment to what’s right never ends
and your law is the essence of truth.

Tough times have come to torment me,
but your teachings still put a smile on my face.

Your directions are the ultimate in justice;
they show me the way to fullness of life.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 2nd Sunday in Lent in Year A
- Proper 24 in Year C   (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

If we look to the mountains,
will we find security there?

No, our security comes from you alone,
the LORD, the maker of earth and sky.

You are on the alert, twenty four hours a day,
making sure that we don’t lose our footing.

You never slack off or take a nap,
but constantly guard your people.

You keep us safe, LORD,
you are always at our side to shield us.

While the sun shines, nothing can harm us;
the moon comes up, but still we are safe.

You stand between us and all evil, LORD;
you keep our lives clear of danger.

Whether we are coming or going,
you look after us, LORD;
you always have and always will.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- 1st Sunday of Advent in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

When they invited us to your house, LORD,
our hearts leapt for joy!

And now, here we are,
standing inside the gates of your holy city.

Jerusalem, your sacred home;
the place where city and temple are one.

All your tribes gather here, LORD;
all your people come up here to celebrate.
They name you as the one to whom all thanks is due,
just as your people have always done.

The seats of law and justice are here,
safeguarded by David’s throne.

We pray for peace for Jerusalem;
may all go well for those who love your city.

Fill the city with peace and joy, LORD,
and stand guard to keep it secure.

For the love of sisters and brothers in Jerusalem,
we pray for the welfare of the city.

For the love of your house, LORD God,
we will work for peace in the holy land.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-
Proper 28 in Year A,
Proper 9 in Year B (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

It is to you that we look for help, LORD;
to you who rules from the throne of heaven!

When people are injured,
they look to the doctors for help;
when they lie in hospital,
they look to the nurses for compassion;
and in the same way
we look to you, the LORD our God:
we depend on your kindness and care.

Treat us with compassion, LORD, treat us with compassion.
We’ve endured more than our fair share of contempt.

We have had an absolute gutful
of being put down by the arrogant
and treated like dirt by those who’ve got it easy.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 16 in Year A
Proper 21 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

If you had not sided with us, LORD,
we all know where we’d have ended up.

If we had not had you on our side
when people turned against us,
attacking with the fury of a wounded shark,
they would have made mince meat out of us.

Their frenzied rage would have dragged us under,
their lust for blood would have torn us apart.
The thrashing waters would have closed over us,
hiding the violence,
concealing our fate.

All the credit and all the honours go to you, LORD;
it was you who saved our flesh
from the teeth of our enemies.

Thanks to you, we have shaken off their grip,
and soared to safety, as free as a bird.
Their savage attack was repelled,
and we have escaped unharmed.

It is you, LORD, the creator of heaven and earth,
who guarantees our safety.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 18 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Those who put their trust in you, O LORD,
are like Mount Dandenong:
solid, calm and dependable.

Like the mountain watching over the city,
so you, LORD, watch over you people,
offering protection, now and forever.

Where people are committed to playing straight,
you will not let injustice dominate.
If it did, even trustworthy people
might let evil through their guard.

O LORD, may good things come
to those who have stayed true,
to those who have integrity
and goodness in their hearts.

But as for those who have embraced the ways of corruption,
be it on their own heads if they are swept away
when you bring evil to its final end.

May all your people enjoy peace, O LORD.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- the 3rd Sunday of Advent in Year B
Proper 25 in Year B  (themed series)
- 5th Sunday in Lent in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

When you brought us home to Zion from exile, LORD,
    we had to pinch ourselves to be sure it wasn’t a dream.

Laughter and singing kept bubbling up in us;
    we were just over the moon!

Even the nations around us had to admit
    that you must have taken our side, LORD.
Indeed, we could only celebrate and thank you
.    for the wonderful things you had done for us.

LORD, we need your help again;
    we are like dry creek-beds in need of rain.

We have worked with sweat and tears;
    let us reap the rewards with celebration.

Let those who laboured with heavy hearts,
    expecting nothing but despair,
come home with pride renewed,
    celebrating unimaginable success.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
Proper 27 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Unless you’ve commissioned the building project, LORD,
attempting construction would be futile.

Unless you’re in charge of security, LORD,
our gates and guards are a waste of effort.

We could work ourselves to the bone for nothing;
first on the job in the morning, last home at night,
and what would we have to show for it?
Nothing but heartaches and ulcers.

You, LORD, long for us to slow down.
We can relax and trust in your loving care.

You have given us children, a gift to remind us to play;
time with them is worth more than overtime on double pay.

Good relationships with our children are the best insurance
when trouble comes and threatens to wipe us out.

The respect of our children will give us more joy
than any pat on the back from the boss.

When we give time and love to our children,
we will always be able to hold our heads high,
no matter who denounces our lack of “productivity”!

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

LORD, how good life is for all who respect you,
for all who stick to your tracks.

They work hard and enjoy the benefits;
smiles and laughter are never far away,
and things always seem to work out for them.

They enjoy a rich and satisfying love-life;
they look forward to going home each day.
Their children spring up like wildflowers,
and there is always laughter around the table.

Such health, fertility and prosperity are your gifts, LORD;
given to those who honour and respect you.

You rain down blessings from your holy mountain.
May we see only good times in our city, LORD,
for as long as we live.

May we live long enough to enjoy our grandchildren,
and may there always be peace in our land!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 5th Sunday in Lent in Year A
Proper 5 in Year B (themed series)
Proper 8 in Year B
Proper 14 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

From the depths of despair, from rock bottom,
I cry to you, O LORD.
I beg you to listen!
Please tune in and hear what I’m asking!

If you put black marks against our names
for every failing,
Lord, wouldn’t you have to write off everyone?

But forgiveness is much more your style,
and for this we adore you.

I wait in eager anticipation for your presence, LORD.
Everything inside me yearns for you
and your promises fill me with hope.

Deep in my guts there is a hunger for you, LORD,
more pressing than a woman
waiting for the birth of her baby,
more impatient than a child
waiting for a birthday;
crossing off the days, one by one.

O People of Israel, put your trust in the LORD!
The LORD’s love never lets us down,
and is always ready to rescue us from danger.

It is the Lord who will bail us out
when we are caught in the consequences
of our own sin.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- 8th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year A
- Proper 3 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, I am not too full of myself.
I don’t set my sights too high.
I don’t try to get involved in things
that are out of my league
or beyond my capabilities.

What I have done, LORD, is look after my soul.

Like a mother tenderly calming a young child,
I have calmed my soul to a quiet peace.

May all your people put their hope in you, LORD,
from now on, and forevermore.

©2008 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
Proper 29 (Christ the King) in Year B

and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

O LORD, keep David in mind
and give him credit for the tough times he endured.

Remember the promise he made to you, LORD.
He named you as the Mighty God of Jacob
and swore a sacred vow, saying:

“I will not go home or lay my head on the pillow;
I will not get a wink of sleep or a moment’s rest,
until I find a home for the LORD,
a place for the Mighty God of Jacob to live.”

We have heard the call to worship you, LORD.
We will make our pilgrimage to your home
like David did when he brought your sacred Ark
from the Field of Yaarim
to the place where we now kneel in worship.

Come, LORD, and settle into your new home,
move into the Temple with your mighty Ark.
May your priests be instantly recognizable by their passion for justice;
may your faithful people erupt with shouts of joy.

Be true to the word you gave to your servant, David,
don’t turn your back on your chosen leader.
You, LORD, gave a guarantee to David, saying,
“I will see to it that one of your own sons inherits your throne.
And after that, if your sons are faithful to our alliance
and stick to the ways I teach them,
then their sons too will inherit your throne,
one after the other for ever and ever.”

You, LORD, have chosen Zion,
identified it as the place you wish to live.
You said of it:

“This is where I will settle permanently,
I’ll put down roots because I love it here.
I’ll see that there is always plenty of food here,
and even the poor will have more than enough to eat.
Salvation will be like a badge of office for Zion’s priests,
and faithful crowds will roar their appreciation.
Here I will consolidate David’s power;
I have chosen him and put his name up in lights.
I will have his enemies run out of town,
while his reputation will shine brighter and brighter.”

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 15 in Year A
- 2nd Sunday of Pascha in Year B
Proper 7 in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

What a great thing it is, LORD,
when people can get along with one another,
and live together in unity and mutual respect.

It is even more satisfying than holding the cup aloft
and dancing in the rain of champagne
on Grand Final day.

It is even more desirable than sitting by an open fire
sharing chocolates and fine wine with a loved one.

It is even more beautiful than the monsoon rains
turning the desert into a sea of wildflowers.

For you LORD created us to be one people,
committed to one another, honouring one another,
sharing the land and its blessings forever.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Great Paschal Vigil
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Thank you, LORD, thank you. You are truly good.
Your rock solid love is forever.
Thank you, God of all gods, thank you.
Your rock solid love is forever.
Thank you, Lord of all lords, thank you.
Your rock solid love is forever.

You and you alone have done miraculous things.
Your rock solid love is forever.
You dreamed up the skies and put them in place.
Your rock solid love is forever.
You raised the earth on its foundations above the seas.
Your rock solid love is forever.
You set the lights shining in the sky.
Your rock solid love is forever.
You put the sun in charge of the day.
Your rock solid love is forever.
You gave the moon and stars watch over the night.
Your rock solid love is forever.

You didn’t forget us when we were down and out.
Your rock solid love is forever.
You rescued us from those who had it in for us.
Your rock solid love is forever.
You provide food for everything that lives,
Your rock solid love is forever.

Thank you, God of everything, thank you.
Your rock solid love is forever.

©2013 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
Proper 22 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

In Babylon, sitting on the banks of the river,
we swapped stories of home
and cried and cried and cried.

Unable to sing,
we packed away our instruments unplayed.

The guards made a joke of our misery,
tormenting us with insults,
and demanding that we entertain them
with songs from our homeland.

But how could we sing your songs
in that godless place, LORD?

If I ever forget your holy city, LORD,
may my arms be turned into twigs and burned.

LORD, if I do not remember Jerusalem
and stand up for her no matter what,
may I be strung up by my toes
over a mosquito infested swamp.

LORD, do not forgive that rampaging army
for the way they destroyed your holy city;
for the way they shouted and cheered
as it crumbled and fell.

Damn those murdering mongrels to hell, LORD.
Reward anyone who pays them back
for what they did to us!

Reward anyone who rounds up their children
and kicks them to death!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- Proper 16 in Year A   (themed series)
Proper 5 in Year B
- 5th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year C
Proper 12 in Year C (themed series)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Thank you, LORD, thank you!
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
I will stand and sing your praises
in the face of every would-be god!

Wherever I am, I turn towards your holy Temple
and fall to my knees in gratitude,
thanking you for your rock-solid love and loyalty;
With everything you say and everything you do
your reputation continues to go through the roof.
The minute I called, you were there for me,
you put steel in my spine,
gave me the guts to go on.

When the things you have been saying sink in, LORD,
all the earth’s powerful rulers will give credit to you.
They’ll join the party, singing and dancing in your honour,
celebrating the wonderful things you do.

As great as you are,
you never think of ordinary people as beneath you,
but you don’t waste your time
on those who are pretentious and stuck-up.

Although I must often walk into dangerous situations,
you protect me from hatred and hostility;
your invisible hand is always there, keeping me safe.

You, LORD, have made plans for me
and you will see them through to completion.
Your love is as timeless and dependable as the rock;
you have made us what we are
and you never give up on us.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
- the 2nd Sunday between Epiphany & Lent in Year B
Proper 4 in Year B
Proper 18 in Year C
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You have taken a good hard look at me, LORD,
and you know exactly what makes me tick.

You know when I’ve got my feet up and when I’m on the job;
you can read my mind like an open book.

You see where I am going and where I stop,
and you know all about what I do and why.

You know exactly what I am going to say, LORD,
even before I open my mouth.

You are in front of me, behind me, beside me;
your hand on my shoulder at every turn.

All this is more than I can get my head around;
I pinch myself, and struggle to take it in.

It was you who put me together, every part of me;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I sing your praises, LORD,
for the the way you have made me fills me with awe.
Your creative works blow my mind;
too wonderful for words.

You could see me clearly before I was born;
you watched me taking shape in the secret depths
and laid out the intricacies of nerve and muscle.

You kept your eye on me
from conception to birth.
My life lay before you like an open book
before I had even lived a day.

Your thoughts are way beyond my grasp, God,
and they add up to more than I can count.
Deeper than the oceans,
outnumbering the grains of sand;
I give up trying
but you are with me just the same.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion:
- Proper 11 in Year A
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You have taken a good hard look at me, LORD,
and you know exactly what makes me tick.

You know when I’ve got my feet up and when I’m on the job;
you can read my mind like an open book.

You see where I am going and where I stop,
and you know all about what I do and why.

You know exactly what I am going to say, LORD,
even before I open my mouth.

You are in front of me, behind me, beside me;
your hand on my shoulder at every turn.

All this is more than I can get my head around;
I pinch myself, and struggle to take it in.

Could I hide from your spirit if I wanted to?
Is there anywhere I could go to escape you?

If I sped into outer space, you’d be there;
if I curled up in the bowels of the earth, you’d be there.

If I took to the skies and pursued the dawn;
crossed the globe and never came back;
I’d be no further from your reach;
you’d hold me tight and guide me just as easily.

If I hide in the shadows
and plead with the darkness to cover me,
you can still see me as clear as day,
for light and dark are all the same to you.

Take a good hard look at me, God;
check me out and read my thoughts.
Dig out anything corrupt in me,
and set my feet on the tracks that have proven true.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
-the Great Paschal Vigil
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

Listen to my prayer, LORD.
I know you can be relied on to hear my cry for mercy
and to do the right thing when you answer.
I am at your service, LORD,
but please don’t put me on trial.
You can see that I’ve screwed up like everyone else.

Enemies have been constantly on my tail,
stomping me into the dirt
and leaving me for dead in some dark hellhole.
That’s why I’m so gutted.
My heart can’t take any more; it’s chucking in the towel.

I think back on the good old days
and remember all the great things you did, LORD;
I go over and over your achievements in my mind.
I’m reaching out to you for help now.
Inside I am like a salt pan in the desert sun,
desperately thirsting for you.

Answer me before it’s too late, LORD;
I can’t go on much longer.
Don’t turn your back on me now
or I’ll be headed straight for the grave.
May the morning bring news of your rock-solid love
because I’ve put all my trust in you.
Show me the track you want me to follow
for I’m offering my life to you.
Rescue me from my enemies, LORD.
I’ve fled to you seeking asylum.

You are my God;
teach me what you want me to do.
Send your Spirit to guide me
safely along the right track.
Let me live, LORD; your reputation hangs on it.
Do the right thing, as you always do,
and get me out of this danger.
Be true to your rock-solid love and cut off my enemies.
Destroy those who are trying to destroy me
for I live to serve you.

©2013 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Parts of this psalm are set for the following occasions:
- Proper 9 in Year A   (v.8-14)
- Proper 13 in Year A   (v.8-9, 14-21) (themed series)
- Proper 20 in Year A (v.1-8)
Proper 12 in Year B (v.10-18 themed series)
Proper 27 in Year C  (v.1-5, 17-21)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

We will declare you to be the greatest, God our king,
and put your name up in lights forever.

Every day, without fail, we will sing your praises,
we will honour your name now and forever.

You are wonderful, LORD; you deserve the highest praise,
and your greatness is more than we can comprehend.

Each generation tells the next what you have done,
and speaks with awe about your accomplishments.

We will fill our minds with your splendour and glory,
and with the stories of your amazing exploits.

We will publicise the news of your mighty deeds
and let everyone know how great you are.

Then everyone will celebrate your generous love;
and applaud your justice with singing and dancing.

You are generous and compassionate, LORD;
slow to anger, and rich in love and loyalty.

You are good to everyone, LORD,
and you care deeply about all you have created.

Everyone and everything will thank you, their creator,
and all who are loyal to you will sing your praises.

As your people, we will promote the glory of your reign,
and broadcast the news of your power for good.

We will tell everyone about the great things you have done
and about the magnificent splendour of your reign.

You will reign forever and ever, LORD,
your rule is in place for all generations to come.

Everything you say can be relied on, LORD,
and everything you do is generous and loving.

When people fall, you put them back on their feet;
when people are crushed, you stand them tall again.

Everyone looks to you for what they need,
and you meet their needs when the time is right.

You open your hands
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Justice marks everything you do, LORD,
and generous love colours your every deed.

When honest hearts cry out to you, LORD,
you are right there alongside them.

You satisfy the desires of those who respect you;
you hear their cries and rescue them from death.

You watch out for those who love you, LORD,
and wipe out corruption when it threatens.

Your praises will be always on our lips, LORD,
and with all who live,
we will single out your name for the highest honour
forever and ever.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasions:
Proper 18 in Year B  (themed series)
Proper 26 in Year B
Proper 27 in Year B  (themed series)
- Proper 5 in Year C
Proper 21 in Year C   (themed series)
- 3rd Sunday of Advent in Year A   (v.5-10)
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

You are the best, LORD!
With all my heart I sing your praises.
I will never stop talking you up;
I won’t stop spruiking your goodness till the day I die.

There is no one but you that we can depend on, LORD;
not experts, not leaders, no one.
No human being can give what we most need;
no matter what their plans and schemes promise,
the minute they’re gone, their promises die with them.

But we hit the jackpot when we look to you for help, LORD;
when we put all our hopes in you – the God of our ancestors.
You are the one who made earth and sky,
who poured out the seas and filled them with life.
You are true to your word no matter what;
when people are ground into the dirt, you bring about justice;
when people are left to starve, you come with food.

You, LORD, set the prisoners free.
You, LORD, open the eyes of those who can’t see.
You, LORD, put the downtrodden back on their feet.

You, LORD, love those who do the right thing.
You, LORD, keep a caring eye on the asylum seekers.
You stick up for those who have no one else to stick up for them,
but you make the schemes of the corrupt backfire on them.

Take charge forever, LORD,
rule from your sacred Mountain for all time.
You’re the best, LORD. We’re with you all the way!

©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

This passage is set for the following occasion(s):
- 5th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent in Year B
and other resources based on it can be found by clicking through to there.

LORD, we sing your praises!

We love to sing your praises,
for you are incredibly generous
and you deserve all the credit we can give.

You, LORD, are the one who rebuilds the ruined city