Friday, December 23, 2016

Advent 4: Love...and what about Jospeh?


The theme for the fourth …and last…Sunday of Advent was “Love”…and we were joined by our friends from the Seed Group of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards. (They meet every Wednesday at West-Park). They finished our  service with another moving performance of their special music and movement, each taking a turn as leader..As Jeremy Goren said, Our songs may not speak directly to the theme, Advent and Love. But we bring them with love and we hope that the love shines through.  And it did. 
Our friends from the Seed Group

Lading a song

Before they shared their songs, we shared one in old call and  response form, Mary Had a Baby…

And we reflected on Joseph….here were our thoughts…

And the 4th Sunday is LOVE….as last Sunday was about Mary, this Sunday belongs to  Joseph…before I go further, impressions?

(And one  said courage. And another patience. And another love

He is the patron saint of workers, the patron saint of May Day…he worked his hands in wood as a carpenter.   We have his story…an unexpected pregnancy….that could have dire results for Mary…not to mention his feelings…then the  visit of an angel…with an UNBELIEVABLE message….
If this is not a history, a Instagram or tweet or livestreaming from the scene, but a story, What then are we to see?
What i see first is trust.
…and Love
We note that he….has no relations with her….until the child is born…some in  my lectionary group saw this as perhaps a continued resentment or estrangement..I said that idea sounds like 21st century isogesis…reading into…

There has always been this Speculation about Joseph..….this ancient English Cherry tree carol…from pseudo-Matthew…or the Infancy Gospel of James……and, surprisingly, the Koran..only ion the Koran the story is told of a date plan and the time we get to old England, it’s cherries…of Joseph’s doubts and anger..

(so I sing the carol…one of the few collected Child ballads on a sacred theme..)

He virtually disappears from story……I always wondered about his death…about this last conversation with the son he had raised….was it like Jonathan Kent and Superman, if Martha had given birth to Clark?  the bottom line is ….it was an act of love…

These are hard days we are living in….and uncertain….there is no time for debate about  doctrine….or theological fine points…what I hear over and over again in the conversations I hear, spiritual  or secular, Christian or communist, is LOVE….it’s almost like going back to the Beatles, all we need is love…a love that is courageous…and patient…and active…and strong…’s that simple…

Thank you Leila and Pat

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Advent 3: Joy: Re-cycle, re-new, re-sist


Re-cycle, re-new, re-sist:
papers by hand by Jubia

Today we lit three candles, including our pink one. And sang 3 verses of Barbara Lundblad’s Emmanuel …
O come, O come, Immanuel
And bless each place your people dwell.
Melt ev’ry weapon crafted for war,
Bring peace upon the earth forever more.
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.
2. O come, green shoot of Jesse, free
Your people from despair and apathy;
Forge justice for the poor and the meek,
Grant safety for the young ones and the weak. Refrain
3.O come, now living water, pour your grace
And bring new life to ev’ry withered place;
Speak comfort to each trembling heart:
“Be strong! Fear not, for I will ne’er depart.” 

And while lighting the candles we read from Isaiah 35: 1-10:
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
 the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
 like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
 and rejoice with joy and singing.
 The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
 the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
 They shall see the glory of the LORD,
 the majesty of our God.
Reader 2:
Strengthen the weak hands,
 and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
 “Be strong, do not fear!
 Here is your God.
 He will come with vengeance,
 with terrible recompense.
 He will come and save you.”
Reader 1:
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
 and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
 and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
 For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
 and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
 and the thirsty ground springs of water;
 the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
 the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
Reader 2:
A highway shall be there,
 and it shall be called the Holy Way;
 the unclean shall not travel on it,
 but it shall be for God’s people;
 no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
 nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
 they shall not be found there,
 but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
 and come to Zion with singing;
 everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
 they shall obtain joy and gladness,
 and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

and saw that in the King James Version, it comes out The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

And Jeremy and I sang Lo How a rose and the Rose as Better Midler sang it…

On this Sunday we consider JOY. Traditionally this Sunday has been known as Gaudete Sunday…as Advent was a time for contemplation, this third Sunday in Advent became a time for break in the reflection…a pause for joy….and we break up the purple candles with  a  pink….for JOY snd for Mary….

And on this Sunday, she sings a song from the depth of her soul…a song of joy….of resistance …of victory…we call it the magnificat…
My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

And Jeremy played for us Paul Mc Cartney’s riff on the magnificat, i.e. Let it Be

In the Gospel lesson, Matthew 1: 18-25,Jesus answers John’s questions in terms of the prophet Isaiah…what do you eyes see?
Matthew 11:2-14 (The Message)

2-3 John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”

4-6 Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.
“Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!”

7-10 When John’s disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John. “What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That’s right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you’ll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, ‘I’m sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.’

11-14 “Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. For a long time now people have tried to force themselves into God’s kingdom. But if you read the books of the Prophets and God’s Law closely, you will see them culminate in John, teaming up with him in preparing the way for the Messiah of the kingdom. Looked at in this way, John is the ‘Elijah’ you’ve all been expecting to arrive and introduce the Messiah.

We have been celebrating all weekend and exploring paper…with Junia 
Junia and Bob
Junia getting ready to make paper

Junia and 
…and the Flute Choir of New York City that played for her opening…
The Flute Choir of NYC
learning about the history of and the the making of paper…
The history of paper

And so we had our conversation…

Why paper? What drew you to paper?
She started working with paper during a time when her flute had been stole and found that making paper filled her with the same feelings that plain the flute did…a sense of meditation and onenesss and JOY…What does the experience feel like for you?
For her, the experience is not unlike that of prayer…
She says that you can’t make paper if you are not at peace with yourself….what does that mean?
One has to see the paper…describe that …it takes split second timing, the particles of fabric floating in the water come together for just a moment, you have to pull it just then or the moment …and the paper is gone…

"Finding the paper"
And when you lose the moment, you just have to, as the song said just, “Let it be”….metaphors, metaphors….and just because you are not supposed to mix natures, vegetable and mineral, paper and rock, she worked at it until she could include gem stones in her paper…. 
Paper with gemstones

Where do you get your materials?  Recycling….
She has always been a saver, one who finds them and put stem to use, especially  in a city of conspicuous wealth and consumption where so may good things are replaced and out on the street.. Old blue jeans, old shirts, all recycled, turns it into something new. 

Why do you always begin with flute playing? 
Junia begins the service with her flute
Andre, of course  sees the two  as related….how so?
It’s all about 
Creation and joy
Creation and resistance…
The act of playing, of creating, is the first step in resisting the powers that deaden life, that threaten us with non-being

And so in that spirit, we join in Mary’s song and go back into the world…her papers remain on the walls of the chapel, to remind us…
Thank you Pat and leila

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Advent 3: What songs bring you peace?


Today we sing the second verse of Barbara Lundblad’s rewriting of  O Come Immanuel…as we light our candles…

O come, O come, Immanuel
And bless each place your people dwell.
Melt ev’ry weapon crafted for war,
Bring peace upon the earth forever more.
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.
2. O come, green shoot of Jesse, free
Your people from despair and apathy;
Forge justice for the poor and the meek,
Grant safety for the young ones and the weak

Today’s theme is “peace”. And I am not feeling much peace. In fact, as I was preparing for leading my lectionary study group last Wednesday, I found myself getting annoyed. The passages seemed too familiar and predictable…the sense of apocalyptic, the very straight forward and obvious calls for justice and righteousness, the prophetic zeal of John the Baptist. The beautiful vision of Isaiah.  It’s so easy to take any one of these  and fly off in a righteous sounding way. But so what? or how to have a new insight? As I said, I am not feeling peace…

I still can’t come to terms with the election….The President-elect seems to confirm the theory that he really  didn’t believe he’d be elected.  And/or is not really interested in governing. 
#  He wants to “sleep in his own bed,” he wants to create west wing on 5th ave…(I did hear he wants to attend 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church…
# He is still holding rallies like he’s still campaigning….it’s what he enjoys best…and seems he wants to do so even after his inauguration
#  He is  appointing people who have the worst traits associated to the Republican party. 

There are daily reports of acts of xenophobia perpetrated in the name of “Trump”….the flood gates have been opened…and the mainstream media keeps trying to “normalize” things…

Beyond Trump, there’s the ongoing struggle at Standing Rock….this weekend some 2000 military veterans are going there to provide security and solidarity  (this one’s on Obama to do the right thing…while he’s still President…)

Voices are still crying out for justice for Eric Garner…while Officer Pantaleo believes that once our new president is inaugurated, he’ll have a better chance…

I could be going to protests/actions every day..there’s a march today to Gracie Mansion to demand action on officer Pantaleo…there’s a rally taking place to show solidarity for Standing Rock…there’s a black community tribute to Fidel Castro..
a community remembers...
I want to go out and protest but something holds me back….

We’re going to talk about songs today..and I’ll start with John the Baptists’s song…and yes, it is apocalyptic...

But as President OBAMA told us…IT’s NOT the APOCALYPSE.. We have to ask ourselves however, who are we in his prophesy? Are we among the brood of vipers? … John is completely  unuanced…he doesn’t care what people think…doesn’t soften his message so that people “can hear it” (thank you Jill Duffiield…who says, as a preacher, ..”he is everything I am not…”  BUT in this congregation, people keep coming to me not in repentance but in need of comfort…..we participated last week in the weekend of witness with MICAH and the Justice League….including the demand to fire Pantaleo…why does that make me anxious?  Maybe because of the two young men from this congregation who serve on the police force……Latino immigrants who truly signed to protect, defend and serve…..

Like in our understanding of why Hillary failed…my mentor, Philip Newell always said,  the  Liberals are the  true problem…they enjoy the benefits of privilege with no guilt because after all, they’re liberals…. and they don’t count the notes….During Occupy, in my talk at Yale I related that thought  and was taken to task by liberal funders…I am constantly reminded by the critique of my  kids, and grass root organizers like my friend  Jason,  my friends the Communists… I want a new radical community…one that is countercultural…we have to hear John’s words directed to us…individually and personally ….I wonder, OK, it's a story, but what if his father Zechariah, like it says in the Bible, truly was a temple priest, a tall steeple preacher…that makes John a child of privilege….that makes Jesus the po’boy cousin…and I have to wonder and what’s at work in his psychology?

What I learn from my migrant work….Stony point’s efforts at interfaith organizing …and Standing Rock…I DON’T FEEL LIKE PEACE….

The Truth be told….we are all BOTH wheat and chaff…..

It takes songs of HOPE to keep us going….
ISAIAH’s song…takes us back to the Peaceable Kingdom again…let’s start with the “root” that springs forth from the stump….you think life has been snuffed out, and a green shoot “springs forth”…(we’re now learning from the Hidden Life of Trees, about the social nature  of trees…about their  sending life to the stump..
The stump...

Author  Peter Wohlleben has delighted readers and talk-show audiences alike with the news — long known to biologists — that trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.

Isaiah wants us to imagine that shoot…(.identical words in Isaiah and Micah…Micah saw “Jerusalem of blood..” he was grassroots prophet…Isaiah’s mood was that of a profound sadness…he prophesied from the inside…)both spoke of a true day of peace.such a full day of peace that the natural violence of creation is set aside…natural enemies lie down together(perhaps warily) and lions eat hay…we’ll be vegans…
The Peaceable Kingdom

Note that Isaiah celebrates something that is already under way…after a time of national devastation comes  HOPE…let us pay attention..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
So the question is what songs bring us peace?
There is  an ongoing conversation in world of artists…about getting across messages of spirit or justice: didactic vs. intuitive
Nevertheless, we always need the sustaining power and value of a PETE SEEGER 
As for MY SONGS…after the conventions I began ending my performances with Dylan’s                                                                                               It's A Hard Rain…
Then Mary Gauthier’s Mercy Now…
….and new  “Anthem”

So……What songs bring you peace? Inspire?  For some at this time of year it is Christmas music with it’s  themes of Joy and Hope….for Jeremy it’s Toshi Reagon..we need to sing our song together to bring us peace…and inspire us to work of peace…

After our prayers, we break bread together and go out into the world…

Thank you Leila

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Advent 1: From Thanksgiving to Resistance


Today we travel form from Thanksgiving to Resistance

it’s the end of Thanksgiving weekend.  And the beginning of Advent. The seasonal urban forest has sprung forth again and the tree sellers are back from Quebec.  We usually go straight from Christ the King to Advent but I wanted to pause a moment think about Thanksgiving before we move into Advent. 

Walter Breuggeman says that resistance begins with doxology…thanksgiving…and since we have been placed in a time that calls for faithful resistance, I want to begin with thanksgiving. We celebrated as an interfaith community last Wednesday night at St.Paul &St. Andrew’s.  I got to sing with my friend rabbi Steve Blane. And I got to have Thanksgiving with my boys and sister and mom.  Lots to thankful for. My question to you…..what are you thankful for?

(Not surprisingly for most people, it begins with family….and friends…people we care about…)

I want to begin with a communication from the Micah Institute…inspired by Psalm 122…and I’ll create Peter Heltzel with this..)

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent.

What does the word Adventus in Latin means?  There are two advents discussed in Holy Scripture: The incarnation of Jesus Christ and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 

Liturgically, we enter the season of advent that is a season of preparation for Christmas or the Christ-Mass where we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  For the next four Sundays we prepare our hearts and communities to receive the Christ child, “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)
In Psalm 122, the psalmist offers a vision of peace for the city:

Psalm 122
I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.
2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:
4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.
5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.
8 For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.
9 Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.

As the Psalmist prayed for Jerusalem, we are to pray for the peace of our city, New York City. 
The Prophet Jeremiah writes: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Yesterday Faith Leaders, Labor Leaders & Millennial Activists stop to remember Eric Garner, Deborah Danner and victims of Police Brutality at African Burial Ground. Today we are join congregations around the city to celebrate worship services for love and justice. 

While the prophets had a message of love and light, they also had a message of justice and judgment. 

There is a second sense of the term adventus that refers to the Second Coming of Jesus. 

The “last days” often refers to the whole period between the first and the second advents (Acts 2:17, 1 Cor 10:11). The bodily return of Jesus Christ to this earth of the exalted Lord (Matt 24:30, 20:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27; Rev 1:7). Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God (1 Thess 4:16). 

When we enter the realm of eschatology, reflections on the future it’s important that we don’t succumb to the temptation of Hal Lindsay, the author of the Late Great Planet Earth who said: “I might not know the day and the hour that Jesus will return, but  I do know the year and the month.” Well, Hal Lindsay was wrong as he predicted that Jesus Christ would return in 1988 (Revelation 16:15). 

Scripture says that Jesus will come like a “thief in the night” (1 Thessolonians 5:2; Revelation 16:15). Nobody knows the day or the hour, but the coming God does shape our present reality. 

When we think of the Second Coming of Jesus, James Baldwin’s Fire Next Time comes  to mind where Baldwin starts with an epigram:
 “God gave Noah the rainbow sign
No more water, the fire next time!” 

While we don’t know when Christ is coming, we do know that the parousia shapes our faith-rooted struggle for justice. Baldwin interprets this epigram at the end as a judgment on America if we do not “end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country.” 

In No Name In the Street (1972), James Baldwin sang of a song of death and resurrection: “An old world is dying, and a new one, kicking in the belly of its mother, time, announces that it is ready to be born. This birth will not be easy, and many of us are doomed to discover that we are exceedingly clumsy midwives. No matter, so long as we accept that our responsibility is to the newborn: the acceptance of responsibility contains the key to the necessarily evolving skill.

What does it mean to be midwives of the new world? 

Baldwin challenges us to work for police reform: “The white cop in the ghetto is as ignorant as he is frightened, and his entire concept of police work is to cow the natives. He is not compelled to answer to these natives for anything he does; whatever he does, he knows that he will be protected by his brothers, who will allow nothing to stain the honor of the force.” 

It is the “brotherhood” of the PBA that continues to protect Officer Pantaleo, but many officers have told us he is a bad apple and agree that he needs to leave the police force for the choke-hold death of Eric Garner. We will stay strong in this police reform struggle. 

Since Police protect the ruling elite and their economic power, Baldwin challenges us to do prophetic economic analysis. 

 “To study the economic structure of this country, to know which hands control the wealth, and to which end, seems an academic exercise – and yet it is necessary, all of it is necessary, for discipline, for knowledge, and for power” 

In the context of America’s slavery and segregation, Baldwin honestly admits: “blacks have never been free in this country, never was it intended that they should be free” 

Ain’t nobody free, till everyone is free.

We are committed to stay in this struggle until every Black life in America is free at last.

Thank God Almighty  

We’re free at last. 

Traditionally the four weeks of Advent are  Hope. Peace. Love. And Joy.
Today…we consider hope….
Hope comes from the prophet:
He shall judge between the nations, 
          and shall arbitrate for many peoples; 
     they shall beat their swords into plowshares, 
          and their spears into pruning hooks; 
     nation shall not lift up sword against nation, 
          neither shall they learn war any more.

That peaceable kingdom we spoke of before is back again. And the passage about not learning war anymore that we sang about…I was always struck by the Soviet Union's gift to the United Nations, from a communist country, a statue based on a Biblical quote"Let Us Beat Swords into Ploughshares", by the Soviet sculptor, Evgeniy Vuchetich.

"Let us beat swords into plowshares"

And across form the United nations is Ralph Bunche Park. Named for our first African American UN representative and Nobel Peace prize winner. And at the back of the park is the The Isaiah Wall and the Sharansky Steps, named for Soviet Jewry activist Natan Scharansky. The small park is clearly an expression of hope. And has frequently been the location of actions for peace and justice. 
Ralph Bunche Park and Isiah Wall

As we know, HOPE is not optimism…As Jim Wallis said, it is belief in spite of the evidence…and the courage to  work to make the evidence change   (Jim Wallis) Or in the words of DR. Martin other King, Jr., The arc of history, though long, bends towards justice..…that’s Hope…

Advent…and the gospel…pushes us to a sense of the apocalyptic…just like the weeks building up to Christ the King are also apocalyptic in anticipation.

I think we can all only handle so much apocalyptic energy. Certainly the election has pushed us that way. Advent can feel as if we’re cramming for a test. Like the annual high holy days of reflection are for our Jewish neighbors. All this getting readiness…BUT….more of that NEXT week…

Our challenge is to focus on daily living….how we live every day…

The Gospel…is possibly confusing…all this thief in the night business…and it sounds vaguely like a call for retributive justice…the message to Jesus’ people was that the hell we are living in now will end. 

Who are we in the parable? I think the owner is the occupying power..

Life is fragile…we need to take care…there are frightening reports from Standing Rock…the treatment of the protesters/protectors  …barely making the news…so keep paying attention….

Three days of action

And this week, there have been three days of action…jointly sponsored by the Justice League and MICAH Institute working together…First “Black Friday” disruptions and die-ins in Macy’s, Sax and other iconic homes of capitalist commerce…yesterday there were  marches and vigils and the reading of names…victims of police.violence…

The plea for justice for Eric Garner continues…the time is ripe…for action, for change…. 
a plea for justice

We are preparing  not so much for a cataclysmic event but for ongoing life in community prepared to resist whatever may come our way…

We are getting ready….Getting ready for Christmas DAY

                                                      Getting Ready for Christmas Day


During our prayers, Russ lifted up the life and witness of Fidel Castro. I recalled my personal connection, having dressed as him for the 1959 Halloween parade complete with a black yarn beard. Whatever else, he remained faithful and steadfast to a vision. 

We sang Down by the Riverside….and the first version Barbara Lundblad’s rewriting of O Come Immanuel…

O come, O come, Immanuel
And bless each place your people dwell.
Melt ev’ry weapon crafted for war,
Bring peace upon the earth forever more.
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.

and ended with Soon and Very Soon…

Advent table


First Reading Isaiah 2:1-5

1The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2   In days to come 
          the mountain of the Lord’s house 
     shall be established as the highest of the mountains, 
          and shall be raised above the hills; 
     all the nations shall stream to it. 
3        Many peoples shall come and say, 
     “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, 
          to the house of the God of Jacob; 
     that he may teach us his ways 
          and that we may walk in his paths.” 
     For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, 
          and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 
4   He shall judge between the nations, 
          and shall arbitrate for many peoples; 
     they shall beat their swords into plowshares, 
          and their spears into pruning hooks; 
     nation shall not lift up sword against nation, 
          neither shall they learn war any more.

5   O house of Jacob, 
          come, let us walk 
          in the light of the LORD!

Psalm 122:1-9

1   I was glad when they said to me, 
          “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” 
2   Our feet are standing 
          within your gates, O Jerusalem.

3   Jerusalem — built as a city 
          that is bound firmly together. 
4   To it the tribes go up, 
          the tribes of the LORD, 
     as was decreed for Israel, 
          to give thanks to the name of the LORD. 
5   For there the thrones for judgment were set up, 
          the thrones of the house of David.

6   Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: 
          “May they prosper who love you. 
7   Peace be within your walls, 
          and security within your towers.” 
8   For the sake of my relatives and friends 
          I will say, “Peace be within you.” 
9   For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, 
          I will seek your good.

Second Reading Romans 13:11-14

11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Gospel Matthew 24:36-44

36“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, or the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”