Third Ordinary Sunday, 24 January: Nehemiah 8; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12; Luke 1 & 4 ~ one in Word and Spirit

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Prayer for Christian Unity: With Christians all over the world, we ask God to give us the unity for which Christ prayed.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening Prayer:

Lord God, whose compassion embraces all peoples, whose law is wisdom, freedom, and joy for the poor, fulfill in our midst your promise of favor, that we may receive the gospel of salvation with faith and, anointed by the Spirit, freely proclaim it. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.

Hymn: “The Church’s One Foundation”


A Reading from the Old Testament: Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10 (NLT)
[The Word of God proclaimed by Ezra the priest is so powerful that his listeners weep.]

So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.

‘Ezra Reads the Law,’ from the Dura-Europos Synagogue, Damascus, Syria, third century. National Museum of Damascus, Syria/Zev Radovan/ Bridgeman Art Library
‘Ezra Reads the Law,’ from the Dura-Europos Synagogue, Damascus, Syria, third century. National Museum of Damascus, Syria/Zev Radovan/ Bridgeman Art Library

Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion….

Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.

Then Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage.

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

A Reading from Psalms: Psalm 19:8-10, 14 (NLT)

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

“Let the Words of My Mouth” – Fernando Ortega


A Reading from the Letters: 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27 (NLT)
[Paul urges believers to use all their different gifts in service of the Church.]

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

A Reading from the Gospels: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21 (NLT)
[Jesus begins his preaching ministry.]

Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.

Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.


When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Hymn: “The Spirit of the Lord” – Graham Kendrick



Friends in Christ, let us come before the throne of grace with confidence that God loves us and is for us. Lord, hear our prayers.

+ That sincere conversations among men and women of different faiths may produce peace and justice…. Lord, hear us.
+ That, through the grace and work of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions…. Lord, hear us.
+ That all who listen attentively to God’s word may put it into practice…. Lord, hear us.
+ That those who read God’s word aloud in worship may do so with reverence and love…. Lord, hear us.
+ That all who gather to worship God today in many communities may be united in Spirit in the Church universal…. Lord, hear us.
+ That the sick and suffering may be healed, according to God’s will…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those who have died in Christ, especially through war and violence, that God’s joy-filled promises to them may be realized…. Lord, hear us.

Your words are spirit, Lord and they are life; we rely on your help all our days. Let your grace continue to sustain us, we pray, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn: “In Christ Alone” – Church of God – acapella


And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians3:15)

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen