Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Almighty God, give us the increase of faith, hope, and love; and, that we may obtain what you have promised, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous; * it is fitting for the just to be thankful.
Praise the Lord with the harp; * sing praises unto him with the ten-stringed lute.
Sing unto him a new song; * make skillful melody and cry aloud with joy.
For the word of the Lord is true, * and all his works are faithful.
He loves righteousness and true judgment; * the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, * and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together, as in a heap, * and lays up the deep, as in a treasure house.
Let all the earth fear the Lord; * stand in awe of him, all you that dwell in the world.
For he spoke, and it was done; * he commanded and it stood fast.
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to naught; * he makes the devices of the peoples to be of no effect, and casts out the counsels of princes.
The counsel of the Lord shall endure for ever, * and the thoughts of his heart from generation to generation.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, * and blessed are the people he has chosen for himself to be his inheritance.
The Lord looks down from heaven and beholds all the children of men; * from the habitation of his dwelling he considers all those who dwell on the earth.
He fashions all the hearts of them * and understands all their works.
There is no king who can be saved by a mighty host; * neither is any mighty man delivered by great strength.
A horse is considered a vain hope to save a man; * neither shall it deliver anyone by its great strength.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him, * and upon those who put their trust in his mercy,
To deliver their soul from death, * and to feed them in the time of famine.
Our soul has patiently waited for the Lord, * for he is our help and our shield.
Our heart shall rejoice in him, * because we have hoped in his holy Name.
Let your merciful kindness, O Lord, be upon us, * as we have put our trust in you.
+Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end. Amen.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Artwork: Israel 2 NS silver proof 1999 Millennium - Abraham looking at stars