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Sunday, October 1st, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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June 29 - Old & New Testament


Ecclesiastes 4,5,6

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness

1 Again I looked and saw all the oppression(a) that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—
     and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
     and they have no comforter.(b)
2 And I declared that the dead,(c)
     who had already died,
are happier than the living,
     who are still alive.(d)
3 But better than both
     is the one who has never been born,(e)
who has not seen the evil
     that is done under the sun.(f)

4 And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person's envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.(g)

5 Fools fold their hands(h)
     and ruin themselves.
6 Better one handful with tranquillity
     than two handfuls with toil(i)
     and chasing after the wind.

7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

8 There was a man all alone;
     he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
     yet his eyes were not content(j) with his wealth.
"For whom am I toiling," he asked,
     "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?"
This too is meaningless—
     a miserable business!

9 Two are better than one,
     because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
     one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
     and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
     But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
     two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Advancement Is Meaningless

13 Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning. 14 The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. 15 I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king's successor. 16 There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Fulfill Your Vow to God

1 [a]Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.

2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
     do not be hasty in your heart
     to utter anything before God.(a)
God is in heaven
     and you are on earth,
     so let your words be few.(b)
3 A dream(c) comes when there are many cares,
     and many words mark the speech of a fool.(d)

4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it.(e) He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.(f) 5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.(g) 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.(h)

Riches Are Meaningless

8 If you see the poor oppressed(i) in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.

10 Whoever loves money never has enough;
     whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
     This too is meaningless.

11 As goods increase,
     so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
     except to feast their eyes on them?

12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
     whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
     permits them no sleep.(j)

13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:(k)

wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
14       or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
     there is nothing left for them to inherit.
15 Everyone comes naked from their mother's womb,
     and as everyone comes, so they depart.(l)
They take nothing from their toil(m)
     that they can carry in their hands.(n)

16 This too is a grievous evil:

As everyone comes, so they depart,
     and what do they gain,
     since they toil for the wind?(o)
17 All their days they eat in darkness,
     with great frustration, affliction and anger.

18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink(p) and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor(q) under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions,(r) and the ability to enjoy them,(s) to accept their lot(t) and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.(u) 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.(v)

1 I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: 2 God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them,(a) and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.(b)

3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn(c) child is better off than he.(d) 4 It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. 5 Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man— 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?(e)

7 Everyone's toil is for their mouth,
     yet their appetite is never satisfied.(f)
8 What advantage have the wise over fools?(g)
What do the poor gain
     by knowing how to conduct themselves before others?
9 Better what the eye sees
     than the roving of the appetite.
This too is meaningless,
     a chasing after the wind.(h)

10 Whatever exists has already been named,(i)
     and what humanity is has been known;
no one can contend
     with someone who is stronger.
11 The more the words,
     the less the meaning,
     and how does that profit anyone?

12 For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days(j) they pass through like a shadow?(k) Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?

Acts 9:23-43

Chapter 9

23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him,(af) 24 but Saul learned of their plan.(ag) Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.(ah)

26 When he came to Jerusalem,(ai) he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas(aj) took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him,(ak) and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.(al) 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a](am) but they tried to kill him.(an) 30 When the believers(ao) learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea(ap) and sent him off to Tarsus.(aq)

31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria(ar) enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.(as)

Aeneas and Dorcas

32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord's people(at) who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 "Aeneas," Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you.(au) Get up and roll up your mat." Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon(av) saw him and turned to the Lord.(aw)

36 In Joppa(ax) there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good(ay) and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.(az) 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples(ba) heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, "Please come at once!"

39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows(bb) stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

40 Peter sent them all out of the room;(bc) then he got down on his knees(bd) and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, "Tabitha, get up."(be) She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.(bf) 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.(bg)

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