Sirach and the Lutheran Lectionary

It should come as no surprise to my readers that Lutherans use the lectionary.  Over the next few days, I would like to take a look at the Apocrypha and their use in the lectionary.  Because I’m Lutheran, I will be using the Lutheran Revised Common Lectionary.

When texts from the Apocrypha appear in the lectionary, they ll appear as alternate readings in the lectionary.

Today, I want to focus on just one book, Sirach.  There are five occasions that the book of Sirach makes the lectionary in the three year cycle.

Sirach 10:7-18 (Proper 17C/Ordinary 22C)

Arrogance is hateful to God and people,
and injustice is wrong to both.
Sovereignty passes from
nation to nation
because of injustice, pride, and money.
How can dust and ashes be arrogant?
Even when they are alive,
human bodies are decaying.
A long illness mocks a doctor;
today’s king will die tomorrow.
When people are dead,
they inherit maggots, vermin,
and worms.
Human arrogance begins when people rebel against the Lord,
and their hearts rebel
against the one who made them.
The beginning of arrogance is sin,
and those who cling to it
will pour out blasphemy.
For this reason
the Lord brings calamities upon them,
and he ruins them completely.
The Lord destroyed the thrones of rulers,
and he raised up the gentle
in their place.
The Lord plucked up the roots of nations,
and he planted the humble
in their place.
The Lord ruined the lands of the nations,
and he leveled them
to their very foundations.
He removed some people
and destroyed them,
and he erased their memory
from the earth.
Humans were not created to be arrogant,
nor were those born of women
made to indulge in anger.

Sirach 15:15-20 (Epiphany 6A)

If you choose to,
you will keep the commandments,
and keep faith out of goodwill.
He has put fire and water before you;
you can stretch out your hand
for whichever you choose.
Life and death are in front
of human beings;
and they will be granted
whichever they please,
because the wisdom
of the Lord is great;
he’s mighty in authority,
he sees everything,
his eyes are upon those who fear him,
and he knows every human action.
He doesn’t command anyone
to be ungodly,
and he doesn’t give anyone
a license to sin.

Sirach 24:1-12 (Christmas 2ABC)

Wisdom will praise herself,
and she will boast in the midst of her people.
In the assembly of the Most High,
she will open her mouth,
and in the presence of
his heavenly forces, she will boast:
“I came forth from the mouth
of the Most High,
and I covered the earth like a mist.
I lived in the heights,
and my throne was in a pillar of cloud.
I alone encircled the vault of heaven
and walked in the depths of abysses.
In the waves of the sea and in every land,
and among every people and nation,
I led the way.
I sought a resting place
among all of these.
In whose allotted territory
should I make my home?

“Then the creator of all things
gave me a command;
the one who created me pitched my tent
and said, ‘Make your dwelling in Jacob,
and let Israel receive your inheritance.’
Before the ages, from the beginning,
he created me,
and till eternity I will never fail.
I ministered before him in the holy tent,
and so I was established in Zion.
In the same way, he made
the dearly loved city my resting place
and established my authority
in Jerusalem.
I took root in a glorified people;
among the people the Lord chose
for his inheritance.

Sirach 27:4-7 (Epiphany 8C)

When a sieve is shaken,
rubbish remains behind;
so in the process of reasoning,
a person’s flaws appear.
A kiln tests a potter’s jars,
and decision making tests a person.
A tree’s fruit reveals
how well it has been cultivated.
In the same way, reasoning makes plain
a person’s thoughts.
Don’t praise people
until after they present an argument,
for this is how people are tested.

Sirach 35:12-18 (Proper 25C/Ordinary 30C)

Give to the Most High as he has given,
and give with generosity
from what you have,
because the Lord is the one who repays,
and he will repay you seven times over.

Don’t offer a bribe,
because the Lord won’t accept it.
Don’t present an unrighteous sacrifice,
because the Lord is a judge,
and he shows no partiality.
God will not be partial to the poor,
but he will listen to the complaint
of those who are wronged.
God will never ignore an orphan’s plea,
nor that of a widow
when she pours out a complaint.
Don’t a widow’s tears fall down
on her cheek,
and isn’t her plea against the one
who caused her tears?
Those who serve with goodwill
will be accepted,
and their prayer will reach to the clouds.
The prayer of the humble passes
through the clouds,
and it will never stop
until it draws near to God.
It will never withdraw
until the Most High takes notice,
gives justice for the righteous,
and executes judgment.
Indeed, the Lord will never delay,
nor will he be patient with them
until he crushes the power
of the unmerciful,
until he exacts vengeance
on the nations,
until he removes the multitude
of abusive people
and shatters the authority
of the unrighteous,

(Note: This is actually Sirach 35:8-23 in the CEB)

Take a moment to read through these passages.  What do you think of them?  Should we encourage our pastors to preach from theses texts when they come up in the lectionary?  Should we encourage our pastors to utilize the Apocrypha more?  Share your thoughts here.

2 thoughts on “Sirach and the Lutheran Lectionary

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