Paraphrases of the Scripture Lections
for the Paschal Vigil - 31 March - 1 April 2018
Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary.
Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT)
P. O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.


* Genesis 1:1 - 2:4a

At the outset, when God created the universe,
    the earth was lifeless and shapeless;
a deep ocean of chaos, shrouded in darkness;
    brooded over by the Spirit of God.

Then God called for light,
    and light appeared.
God saw that light was a good thing,
    and separated it from the darkness.
God named the light Day,
    and the darkness Night.
Evening passed and morning came;
    the first day was done.

Then God called for a clear space
    to keep out the water on either side.
God made the clear space
    and the water was split in two, above and below.
That is what happened,
    and God named the space Sky.
Evening passed and morning came;
    the second day was done.

Then God called for the waters under the sky
    to be pooled into one place
        and for dry land to appear elsewhere.
That is what happened,
    and God named the dry land Earth
        and the pooled waters Sea.
God saw that this was a good thing.

Then God called for the earth to produce vegetation:
    plants and trees, rich with fertile fruits and seed,
        and that is what happened.
The earth burst forth with vegetation of every kind;
    grasses and vines, shrubs and trees,
        fertile with seeds and fruits of every kind.
God saw that this was a good thing.
    Evening passed and morning came;
        the third day was done.

Then God called for lights in the space called sky;
    lights to shine from above and light up the earth,
        to separate day from night,
            and to mark out the months, seasons and years.
That is what happened;
    God made stars to fill the sky
        and two big lights:
    a bright one to dominate the day,
        and a soft one to take over at night.
God set them all in the sky
    to light up the earth and determine day and night;
        to separate out the light from the darkness.
God saw that this was a good thing.
    Evening passed and morning came;
        the fourth day was done.

Then God called for the waters to fill with living creatures,
    and for the skies to fill with birds flying over the earth.
God created all the creatures that live and move in the water,
    the enormous monsters of the sea and the teeming fish,
        and every kind of bird that wings its way through the air.
God saw that this was a good thing
    and set them up for life,
encouraging the fish to multiply and fill the seas
    and the birds to multiply all over the earth.
Evening passed and morning came;
    the fifth day was done.

Then God called for the earth to bring forth all sorts of living creatures:
    insects, reptiles, mammals;
        animals of every kind, tame and wild.
That is what happened;
    God made wild animals of every kind to fill the earth,
        every kind of herd and flock,
    and every creature that runs or jumps or crawls on land.
        God saw that this was a good thing.

Then God said:
    “We will make people in our own image,
        modelling them on ourselves.
    We will entrust to them the fish of the sea,
        the birds of the air, the flocks and herds,
            and all the wild animals and creepy-crawlies.”

So God created people as a reflection of God,
    created them to be like God,
        created them male and female.

God set them up for life,
    and encouraged them to multiply and fill the earth.
God told them to exercise control over the earth
    and to manage the fish of the sea,
        the birds of the air and every living thing on earth.

God said to the people:
    “Look, I have given you the grain crops
        that grow and reproduce themselves all over the earth,
    and all the trees that grow from seed and bear fruit;
        they are all yours for food.
    I have also provided vegetation galore
        as food for the animals, birds and creepy-crawlies,
            for everything that lives and breathes.

So it all happened, just as God said.
    Everything God had made was there to be seen
        and God was delighted with it all.
    Evening passed and morning came;
        the sixth day was done.

With that, the universe was complete,
    along with everything that fills it.
With the work finished,
    God took the seventh day off.

After all the work God had done,
    the seventh day was a well earned rest.
So God made the seventh day special,
    a sacred day,
because that day was God’s day off
    after all the work of creating everything.

So that’s the family lineage of the universe;
    the story of how everything came to be.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Psalm 136: 1-9, 23-26

Thank you, LORD, thank you. You are truly good.
    Your rock solid love is forever.
Thank you, God of all gods, thank you.
    Your rock solid love is forever.
Thank you, Lord of all lords, thank you.
    Your rock solid love is forever.

You and you alone have done miraculous things.
    Your rock solid love is forever.
You dreamed up the skies and put them in place.
    Your rock solid love is forever.
You raised the earth on its foundations above the seas.
    Your rock solid love is forever.
You set the lights shining in the sky.
    Your rock solid love is forever.
You put the sun in charge of the day.
    Your rock solid love is forever.
You gave the moon and stars watch over the night.
    Your rock solid love is forever.

You didn’t forget us when we were down and out.
    Your rock solid love is forever.
You rescued us from those who had it in for us.
    Your rock solid love is forever.
You provide food for everything that lives,
    Your rock solid love is forever.

Thank you, God of everything, thank you.
    Your rock solid love is forever.

©2013 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Genesis 7: 1-5, 11-18 ; 8: 6-18 ; 9: 8-13

The LORD said to Noah:

“I want you and your family to board the giant lifeboat you have built, because you are the only person alive who does the right thing in my eyes. It is time to move the animals on board too. Take seven breeding pairs of every kind of animal that can be offered in worship, one breeding pair of every kind that cannot, and seven pairs of every kind of flying bird. In this way we will ensure the survival of all their species on the earth. You’ve only got seven days before the rain starts, so get cracking. I will make it bucket down, day and night, for forty days, to wipe every living thing from the face of the earth, everything I have created.”

    So Noah got stuck into it and followed the LORD’s instructions to the letter. Noah was six hundred years old at the time, and sure enough, on the seventeenth day of the second month that year, great torrents of water came flooding up from beneath the ground and the clouds burst from above. Rain bucketed down, day and night, for forty days. The very day it began, Noah finished loading the lifeboat and moved in with his wife, his three sons — Shem, Ham and Japheth — and their three wives. On board they had loaded every kind of animal, wild and domestic, every kind of creepy-crawly, and every kind of bird and flying animal. There were breeding pairs of every species that lives and breathes on the earth, and they all went on board the lifeboat with Noah. Noah had rounded them all up and herded them into the boat, just as God had instructed him, and when they were all aboard, the LORD closed the door to keep them in.
    The flood waters surged over the earth for forty days, and as the waters rose the lifeboat floated up well clear of the ground below. The waters continued to swell, becoming deeper and deeper over the earth, but the lifeboat floated safely on the surface.
    When the rain stopped after forty days, Noah opened a window in the lifeboat he had built, and released a crow. It never came back, but kept flying back and forth until the waters had dried up. So Noah released a pigeon, in order to find out whether the waters had subsided enough to find dry land. But the pigeon returned to the boat, because the water was still too deep and it couldn’t find anywhere else to land. Noah put out his hand for the bird to land on and brought it back inside. He waited another seven days and then released the pigeon from the boat again. That evening the pigeon came back carrying a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak, so Noah knew that the waters had subsided enough for the land to begin drying out. Seven days later he released the pigeon again, and this time it never came back.
    They had been in the lifeboat for nearly a year before the flood was gone completely. It was New Year’s Day when Noah opened up the roof of the boat and took a look around. He could see that the ground was still soggy, but drying fast. Eventually, on the twenty seventh day of the second month that year, the earth was dry enough, and God said to Noah:

“It is time for you and your whole family to leave the lifeboat. Unload all the living creatures that are with you; all the birds and animals and creepy-crawlies of every kind. Release them so that they can breed like rabbits and restock the earth.”

So Noah disembarked with his wife and their sons and their son’s wives. Then God said to Noah and his family:

“I, myself, am forging an alliance with you, and with all your descendants to come, and with every living creature; all the birds, domestic animals, and wild animals of the earth who came out of the lifeboat with you. In the terms of this alliance which I am forging with you, I am giving you my word that never again will all life be wiped out by a flood. There will never be another flood that will totally destroy the earth. I am making this alliance between me and you and all the living creatures that are with you, and I am signing it in the clouds. The rainbow that I have put in the clouds for you all to see is my signature on the alliance between me and the earth.”
©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* Psalm 46

Our refuge, our shelter, our fortress, our security;
    you are all these things to us, God.
        You are always there for us when we need you.

Because of you, we will not panic
    even if our world comes crashing down around our ears;
        even if the earth splits open beneath us;
    even if chaos pours in like a raging flood;
        even if life as we know it goes up in smoke.

You are the LORD of cosmic power — the God of our ancestors —
    our safety, our refuge.

A river flowing with life-giving water runs through your holy city
    bringing joy and peace to your sacred home.
You are the most high God, and the city where you live
    will rest secure and greet the new day with confidence.

The world may be in chaos, nations tearing apart at the seams,
    but when you speak, the earth sinks to its knees.

You are the LORD of cosmic power — the God of our ancestors —
    our safety, our refuge.

What you have done is a sight for sore eyes, LORD;
    you have left a trail of destruction across the earth:
        weapons of war crushed and burned;
        implements of fear smashed to pieces;
    conflicts and wars closed down for good.

You call us to a peaceful calm
    and invite us to know you as God.
You stand supreme above the nations,
    unmatched in all the earth.

You are the LORD of cosmic power — the God of our ancestors —
    our safety, our refuge.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Genesis 22: 1-18

    This is the story of how God put Abraham to the test to find out whether he really had what it takes.
    God called to him, saying, “Abraham!”
    “At your service,” Abraham replied.
    God said, “Go and get Isaac, your son, your only son whom you love. Take him to the mountain that I will point out to you in the land of Moriah. There you are to sacrifice him to me on an altar as a burnt offering.”
    So Abraham got up early the next morning and chopped wood for the fire on the altar. He saddled his donkey and set out for the place that God had told him to go with Isaac and two of his hired hands. After three day’s journey, Abraham could finally see their destination in the distance. He said to the two hired hands, “Wait here with the donkey while the boy and I go on up there to worship. We will then return and meet you back here.”
    Abraham got Isaac to carry the wood for the burnt offering, and he himself carried the knife and the coals for starting the fire. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac spoke to Abraham saying, “Father!”
    “At your service, son,” Abraham replied.
    “Haven’t we forgotten something?” Isaac asked. “We’ve got everything we need to get the fire going, but we haven’t brought a lamb to sacrifice as a burnt offering.”
    Abraham said, “God will personally provide the lamb for the sacrifice, my son.”
    So the two of them walked on together. When they arrived at the spot that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar and stacked the wood on it ready for the fire. Then he tied up his son Isaac, and laid him on top of the wood on the altar. He took the knife in hand and was about to kill his son, when the messenger of the LORD called to him from heaven, saying, “Abraham, Abraham!”
    “At your service,” he replied.
    The messenger said, “Put down your knife and don’t hurt the boy in any way, for now I know what I needed to know. Since you have not even drawn the line at giving up your only son for me, I know that you trust God, no matter what.”
As he looked up, Abraham saw a ram with its horns entangled in the scrub. So he went and got it, and offered up the ram on the altar as a burnt offering in place of his son.
    From then on, Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide,” and a saying was coined that you still hear today: “On the LORD’s mountain all will be provided.”
    The messenger of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven again, saying, “This is what the LORD says to you:

I swear to you, and give you my personal guarantee, that because you have done what I told you to do, and not even drawn the line at giving up your only son for me, I will do the right thing by you and set you up for life. I will see to it that your descendants become as countless as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the seashore. They will defeat their enemies and take over their cities and towns. Through your offspring, a better life will be available to everyone on earth, because you obeyed when I spoke to you.”


©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Psalm 16

Protect me, God,
    you are my place of refuge.

I’m acknowledging you as the one in charge, LORD;
    you are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

I delight in the company of those
    who dedicate themselves to you;
        they are the salt of the earth.

Those who worship other things
    will have nothing but grief.
I will not buy into their futile devotions;
    I will not utter the names they revere.

You are all I want, LORD, and all I need;
    you hold my future in your hands.

You mark out the best of everything for me;
    you’ve set me up with a bright future.

I heap accolades on you, LORD,
    for you always give me wise advice;
even in the dead of night
    you fill my heart with your teachings.

I’ll always stick close behind you, LORD;
    with you near by,
        I’ll never be pushed off track.

You fill me with delight, LORD;
    joy erupts from deep in my bones;
        my body relaxes, safe in your care.

You’ll never let the grave drag me down;
    your faithful servants are never left for dead.

You set my feet on a life-giving track, LORD.
    To be in your presence is absolute bliss.
        All I could dream of comes from your hand.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Exodus 14: 10-31 ; 15: 20-21

When the Israelites stopped near the Red Sea, they looked back over their shoulders and saw the King of Egypt and his whole army in hot pursuit. They began to cry out in panic:

“God help us! What are you doing to us, Moses? Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Weren’t there enough graves there, so you had to take us off to be slaughtered in the outback? Didn’t we tell you it would come to this, when we were still safe in Egypt? We said ‘Don’t rock the boat, Moses. Leave us be. We are better off working as slaves in Egypt than ending up dead in the outback.’ Didn’t we tell you?”

But Moses replied in a speech, saying:

“Don’t panic! Hold your nerve, and you will see the LORD take action to rescue you, right here and now. Take a last look at your oppressors while you can, because you will never see them alive again. The LORD will fight this battle for you. That should shut you up!”

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

“Why all this whingeing to me? Tell the Israelites to get travelling. Hold up your walking stick and stretch out your hand towards the sea. Slice it open, so that the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on a dry track. The Egyptian army are so pig-headed that they will go in after the people, and when they do, I will cover myself in glory by defeating the King of Egypt and all his armoured vehicles and soldiers. Then all Egypt will understand that I AM the LORD.”

    The angel of God who had been in front of the Israelites now moved around and took up a new position, covering them from the rear. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front of them and settled in a position behind them, making it impossible for the Egyptians and the Israelites to see each other. The cloud shrouded the Egyptian camp in darkness and lit up the night over the Israelite camp, and the night passed without any contact between the two camps.
    Then Moses stretched out his hand towards the sea, and, with a violent wind that blew all night, the LORD forced back the sea, carving out a track of dry ground right through the middle of the water. The Israelites trooped into the sea on the dry track with the angry waters towering over them on either side. The Egyptian soldiers gave chase, charging into the middle of the sea aboard their horses and armoured vehicles. Just before dawn, the LORD looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and began to wreak havoc among them, bogging their vehicles and leaving them stuck in the middle. In panic, the soldiers began shouting, “Run for your lives! Get away from these Israelites because the LORD is on their side fighting against us!”
    Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand towards the sea again so that the water will surge back over the Egyptian army and all their soldiers and armoured vehicles.”
    So Moses stretched out his hand towards the sea, and as the dawn broke, the sea came crashing back down on top of the fleeing army. The LORD trapped the soldiers in the middle of the sea, and when the waters had closed over and returned to normal, there wasn’t a soldier or a vehicle left. The Israelites had walked through the sea on a dry track with the angry waters towering over them on either side, but the entire army of the King of Egypt had been swallowed up by the sea while pursuing them.
    So that day the LORD rescued the people of Israel from their oppressors, and the people saw all the dead soldiers washed up on the shore. When they saw the power of the LORD’s action against their oppressors, the people were in awe of the LORD and put their trust in the LORD and in Moses who was working for the LORD.
    Then the prophet Miriam, who was Aaron’s sister, led the women in a dance of celebration, playing tambourines and singing:

“Our song is for you, LORD,
    for you have won a glorious victory!
        You have tossed the soldiers and warhorses into the sea!”
©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* Exodus 15: 1b-13, 17-18

The prophet Miriam, who was Aaron’s sister, led the women in a dance of celebration, playing tambourines and singing:

Our song is for you, LORD,
    for you have won a glorious victory!
        You have tossed the soldiers and warhorses into the sea!

We would be nothing without you, LORD,
    but with you, we are strong.
You are our God, and we sing your praises;
    the God of our ancestors,
        and we applaud you long and loud.

You are the greatest hero, LORD;
    LORD by name, LORD by reputation.

You swept the tyrant’s armoured vehicles and soldiers into the sea;
    all his top brass disappeared beneath the waves.

The surging waters closed over them,
    and they sank like a stone into the murky depths.

With your bare hands, LORD,
    you put on an awesome display of power;
        you rolled up your sleeves and decimated the enemy.

With the full force of your majestic power,
    you defeated your opponents;
they ignited your anger
    and were gone like dry grass in a bushfire.

The fearsome blast of your fury cut a swathe through the waters;
    the surging depths were heaped up on each side;
        the wild ocean set like jelly, all the way down.

The tyrants said, “We’ll give chase, we can catch them.
    All that they have will be ours, all we could ever want.
        We will turn our weapons on them and wipe them out.”

You sent your wind howling after them and closed the sea over them;
    they sank like a stone and were never seen again.

You are in a league of your own, LORD;
    Nothing else is worthy of our devotion.
Nothing can compete with you for awesome grandeur;
    Nothing else can match your record
        for getting the job done against the odds.

When you got involved, LORD,
    the planet opened its mouth and swallowed up our oppressors.

With love and loyalty, you led the people you had reclaimed;
    with protective strength, you guided them to your sacred home.

You brought them home to your holy mountain, LORD,
    and let them put down roots in the place you call your own,
        the sacred place that you built with your own hands.

May you rule forever and ever, LORD!

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Isaiah 55: 1-11

This is what the LORD says:

Hey you! Are you thirsty?
    Come, then. Drink from these fresh waters!
Are you too penniless even to eat?
    Never mind! Come! Help yourselves; eat your fill!
Come and stock up with food, wine and milk.
    What will it cost you? Not a red cent!

Why sink all your money into things that leave you hungry?
    Why bust a gut working for things that can never satisfy?
Listen carefully to what I have to say
    and you will feast at a rich banquet of fine foods.

Stick with me and tune in to what I’m saying,
    for without my words, life is bland and tasteless.
I will surround your lives with love and loyalty,
    making a permanent alliance, just as I did with David.
I gave him influence and authority over the nations,
    and he was my witness among them.

You will be the same – a light to which others flock;
    even those who don’t know you will come running;
they’ll be drawn to my glory, seen in you,
    the glory of the LORD, the one and only God of Israel.

The LORD says,
Track me down before it is too late,
    make contact while I’m in your neck of the woods.
Clean up your act and get your head straight;
    give up your corrupt practices and plans.
Get yourself back on my wavelength
    and I’ll pour out mercy and generous forgiveness.

I don’t think the way you think, says the LORD,
    and I don’t do things the way you do.
Your ways and mine are like cheese and chalk,
    your thoughts and mine are lightyears apart.

Everything I say has a powerful purpose;
    no empty words ever pass my lips.
My words are like drops of rain in the cycle of nature:
    wherever they fall they give life;
they replenish, renew and nourish life,
    and then the earth gives them back and they start again.
My words always achieve their purpose;
    they flourish where I plant them,
        they nourish all who feed on them.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Isaiah 12: 2-6

You alone, LORD, are able to set us free,
    so we put our trust in you, and have nothing to fear.
All our strength and power come from you, LORD GOD,
    you have become our hero, our saviour!

You will put your saving love on tap,
     deep draughts to be enjoyed by everyone.
On that day we will all say to one another,
    “Thank the LORD! Let God’s name be on everyone’s lips!”

We will tell the world what you have done,
    we will shout your name and declare you to be number one.
We will sing your praises because of all you have accomplished,
    and give you the glory all over the earth.
With all the citizens of Zion, we lift our voices to you
    with shouts and laughter and songs of celebration,
for you are the ultimate, the greatest, the Holy One,
    and you live among us, your people!

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Baruch 3: 9-15, 32 - 4:4

Listen up, Israel, and hear the rules of life.
    Tune in and learn good common sense.
What’s going on, O people of Israel?
    How come you are still trapped in the land of your enemies?
    How come you are growing old so far from home?
    People avoid you like something dead.
    You are written off like those in the grave.
    How come?

It is because you turned your back on the fountain of wisdom.

If you had stuck to the track God had marked out
    you would have lived in peace your whole life long.

Wake up to yourselves and learn.
    Learn where to find wisdom,
    where to gain strength,
    where to get a clear picture of what is going on.
Do that and you will find that you have also discovered
    the secret to a long and full life,
    to a future that looks bright,
    and to peace that will last.

But who has succeeded in finding Wisdom’s house?
    Who has entered her warehouse and placed their order?
Who? The one who knows everything knows her well,
    and with a sharp mind, easily tracked her down.

The one who set up the earth in the first place,
    and filled it with everything on four legs;
the one who throws light into the sky,
    and who can send it cowering away with a word;
the one at whose call the stars stepped forth,
    eagerly signing up for the night watch
    and lighting up with joy for the one who made them.

This is our God;
    and no other god is in the same league.

God has marked out the track to Wisdom’s home
    and shared her secrets with his servant Jacob,
    and with Israel, his beloved child.
From that time on, Wisdom appeared on earth
    and made her home among the people.

She is the book of instruction given by God;
    the law laid down that lasts forever.
All those who hold fast to her will live,
    but those who give up on her will die.

Turn around, people of Jacob, and reach out for her.
    Turn towards her light and head straight there.
What a glorious gift you have been given!
    Don’t squander it and leave it to others to cash in on it.
We’ve got it made, O people of Israel,
    because we are in the know about what pleases God.

©2013 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

or
* Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21 ; 9: 4b-6

Wisdom calls; her voice full of promise.
    Can’t you hear her, offering herself to all who pass by?

On the station steps at rush hour, there she is.
    On a busy corner where everyone passes;
    leaning on the gate as the crowd comes through;
        wherever people are, her voice rings out.

This is what she has to say:

“Come one and all, and hear me out;
    If you’re in the land of the living, what I have to offer is for you.

To the thick-headed, I offer lessons in good sense;
    to you who know nothing, I offer a solid education.

Listen up! What I have to say is worth hearing.
    Every word that passes my lips can be trusted.
From my mouth you’ll hear only the truth;
    corrupt and deceitful talk makes me sick.

Whenever I speak, it is straight down the line;
    I don’t twist the truth or put a shifty spin on it.

Invest in me and you’ll reap the rewards;
    rich benefits, more than money could ever buy.

I stick to the track of those who do the right thing;
    I steer a straight line on the road of justice.
I heap riches on those who love me;
    their lives are chock full of good things.

To the ignorant and confused, Wisdom makes her invitation,
    “Come over to my place and we’ll chew the fat.
        Share my bread and wine and things will fall into place.
    The time has come to turn the corner,
        to grow up, to embrace life.
    Think before you act
        and walk with understanding.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Psalm 19

Your glory is written in the sky, God;
    your artistry is carved on the face of the earth.
From one day to another, the message passes on,
    and each night puts the next one in the know.

Not a word is spoken,
    not a sound do they make;
yet their silence reverberates around the earth
    and their unspoken message echoes from pole to pole.

You made the sun at home flying across the sky.
    It takes to its task with the eagerness of a bridegroom;
        as exultant as an athlete breasting the tape.
As your messenger, God, it does its rounds,
    from one end of the sky to the other,
        warming everything in its path.

Your revealed will is right on the mark, LORD;
    it gives our souls their second wind.
What you says goes,
    and any fool can wise up by taking note.

Your instructions are spot on, LORD;
    anyone who follows them will be glad they did.
What you direct us to do is easy to see,
    and once seen, everything become clear.

Respect for you keeps us true, LORD,
    nothing can corrupt it, now or ever.
What you decide is always accurate;
    a fair ruling, beyond dispute.

Your Word is worth far more
    than even diamond encrusted gold!
It is sweeter by far
    than any mouth watering delicacy,
        even chocolate dipped strawberries with cream!

But that’s not all!
    Your Word, O LORD, keeps me out of danger,
        and following it pays off richly.
Can anyone put their finger on all their own faults?
    LORD, eradicate the bugs I haven’t even identified yet.

Remind me not to entertain sour contemptuous thoughts,
    and don’t let them start pulling my strings.
Without them, I can stay on course,
    and keep my record clean.

That’s what I want, O LORD.
    I want all the things I say,
        and all the things I mull over in my heart,
    to be things I’d be proud to offer to you,
        for you are the bedrock of my life;
            the one who puts me back where I belong.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Ezekiel 36: 24-28

I, the LORD, will bring you home from exile.
    I will gather you from your foreign hideouts,
        and settle you safely in your own homeland.

I will wash you down with clean water;
    scrub the defilement from your lives,
        and clean off the filthy residue of your flirtation with idols.

I will renovate your lives from the inside out,
    and give you a new heart and new spirit.
I will remove your cold stone hearts,
    and replace them with hearts of healthy flesh.

I will put my spirit inside you,
    to give you a passion for following my ways
        and a commitment to doing what I say.

Then you will live in the homeland I gave to your ancestors.
    You will be my people,
        and I will be your God.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Psalm 42 & 43

Like a wallaby searching for a waterhole,
    I crave you, God, with every fibre of my being.

Everything inside me thirsts for you, God,
    for you, the Living God.
When will the drought break
    so I can be with you, face to face.

I’ve had nothing but tears to sustain me;
    day and night it’s been the same;
I can’t shut out the jeers and taunts,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

Cherished memories flood my mind,
    rubbing salt in the wound;
memories of past celebrations
    when I led the worship in your house.
I can still hear the laughter and joyous singing;
    the crowds celebrating your goodness.

Why do I feel so defeated?
    Why am I so anxious and agitated?
I tell myself not to give up hope,
    for you are my God and my help
        and I’ll be glad of that again.

I feel so defeated inside;
    I try to remind myself of your goodness
as I walk along the beach to the river mouth
    and look towards the mountains.

But all I hear is the roar of waves
    and churning waters;
I feel like chaos is breaking over me
    and sucking me down, deeper and deeper.

Every day I read of your rock-solid love, LORD;
    and every night I sing your songs
        and pray to you as the God of my life.

But still I find myself asking the question:
    “Why has your rock-solid love let me down?
        Why are so many out to get me,
            making my life such a misery?”

My wounds are deep and painful
    but the torture goes on;
over and over I hear the taunts,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

Why do I feel so defeated?
    Why am I so anxious and agitated?
I tell myself not to give up hope,
    for you are my God and my help
        and I’ll be glad of that again.

Clear my name, God;
    side with me against these godless tormentors.
Rescue me from their lies and abuse.

I trusted you to look after me, God;
    why have you pushed me aside?
Why are so many out to get me,
    making my life such a misery?

Let your truth blaze like a beacon
    so I can see the way to go;
let it light up the path and lead me
    to your home on the sacred mountain.

Then I will offer myself to you in worship, God;
    offer myself with uninhibited joy.
I will praise you with music and song,
    O God, my God!

Why do I feel so defeated?
    Why am I so anxious and agitated?
I tell myself not to give up hope,
    for you are my God and my help
        and I’ll be glad of that again.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Ezekiel 37: 1-14

The LORD took hold of me and the LORD’s Spirit carried me away and dropped me off in the middle of Death Valley. I took a look around but there was nothing to be seen but bones – old human bones, baked dry in the sun – thousands and thousands of them. The LORD questioned me saying, “Ezekiel, mortal man, can these bones come back to life?”
I replied, “Lord GOD, only you can answer such a question.”

Then the LORD told me to preach boldly to the bones, saying:

“All you dry bones, listen to what the LORD is saying to you. Though you are long dead, I, the Lord, will put breath into you again, and you will live. Muscles, ligaments, organs, veins; all these I will give you, wrapped in healthy new skin. You will have whole new bodies and I will breathe life into you. Then you will know for sure that I am the LORD.”
 So I did what the LORD told me and I preached to the bones. Even while I was in full flight, the noise of rattling bones began to echo through the valley. They were coming together, linking up, one bone to another. As I watched, muscles appeared and grew. Bodies filled out with new flesh, and fresh skin was wrapped around them. But they were still lifeless.

Then the LORD told me to call to the winds, saying:

“North Wind, South Wind, East Wind, West Wind, listen to what the LORD is telling you to do. Come from everywhere and blow the breath of life into these corpses, so that they can live again.”
 Again I spoke as the LORD had said, and even as I did, gusts of wind swirled among the bodies, resuscitating them before my very eyes. Rising to their feet like a finals’ crowd, they could have easily filled the biggest stadium.

Then the LORD explained to me what it all meant:

“Ezekiel, mortal man, my people are just like old dry bones. They are always whingeing that life has become one long drought and they’ve been left for dead with no reason to hope that the future might be any better. So preach boldly, Ezekiel, and tell them this:
“All you people, listen to what the LORD is promising: I am going to dig up your graves, and open your coffins. I will bring you back as my people to the promised land. When I do this for you, my people, when I restore life to your bodies, then you will know for sure that I am the LORD. My Spirit will be within you like the breath in your lungs, and so you shall live. I will once again plant your feet on your own patch of dirt. Then there will no longer be any doubt that I, the LORD, have spoken and that what I say goes.” 
©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Psalm 143

Listen to my prayer, LORD.
    I know you can be relied on to hear my cry for mercy
    and to do the right thing when you answer.
I am at your service, LORD,
    but please don’t put me on trial.
    You can see that I’ve screwed up like everyone else.

Enemies have been constantly on my tail,
    stomping me into the dirt
    and leaving me for dead in some dark hellhole.
That’s why I’m so gutted.
    My heart can’t take any more; it’s chucking in the towel.

I think back on the good old days
    and remember all the great things you did, LORD;
    I go over and over your achievements in my mind.
I’m reaching out to you for help now.
    Inside I am like a salt pan in the desert sun,
    desperately thirsting for you.

Answer me before it’s too late, LORD;
    I can’t go on much longer.
Don’t turn your back on me now
    or I’ll be headed straight for the grave.
May the morning bring news of your rock-solid love
    because I’ve put all my trust in you.
Show me the track you want me to follow
    for I’m offering my life to you.
Rescue me from my enemies, LORD.
    I’ve fled to you seeking asylum.

You are my God;
    teach me what you want me to do.
Send your Spirit to guide me
    safely along the right track.
Let me live, LORD; your reputation hangs on it.
    Do the right thing, as you always do,
    and get me out of this danger.
Be true to your rock-solid love and cut off my enemies.
    Destroy those who are trying to destroy me
    for I live to serve you.


* Zephaniah 3: 14-20

Lift your voices, all you children of Israel.
    Sing and shout for joy!
Let your hair down, Jerusalem.
    Celebrate with all your heart!

The LORD has let you out of jail
    and forced your enemies to turn tail and run.
The one who rules over Israel – the LORD
    is right alongside you, so you have nothing to fear.
        No disaster can touch you now.

The great day is coming, Jerusalem,
    when you will hear this message:

    “Relax! Don’t be afraid, people of Zion.
        Your hands can stop trembling now!
    The LORD, your God, is right alongside you;
        a champion who always comes out on top.
    God will be bursting with joy over you,
        celebrating as though it was always your birthday!
    God will nourish you with love
        until the spring is back in your step.”

The LORD, your God, says to you:

    “I will bring your misfortune to an end;
         and set you free from its humiliation.
    Those who have kicked you around
        will have me to deal with!
    I will rescue and reunite
        the crippled and the refugees.
    No longer will they be treated with contempt.
        I’ll see that they are honoured all over the world.
    When that time comes,
        I will gather you together and bring you all home.
    With your own eyes
        you’ll see me restore all that is rightly yours.
    Then you will be honoured everywhere.
        Everyone on earth will sing your praises.
    I, the LORD, have spoken.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Psalm 98

We sing like we’ve never sung before, LORD,
    because you have done fantastic things.
With your sleeves rolled up you got stuck in
    and came out on top.

Your victory has made the headlines, LORD,
    now the whole world can see that you were right all along.

You have never defaulted on your rock-solid love,
    or your loyalty to your chosen people.
From one end of the earth to the other,
    everyone has seen your victory.

With all the world, LORD, we raise a noisy celebration,
    singing our lungs out and shouting your praise.

The bands strike up in your honour, LORD,
    filling the air with festive music.
With a brass fanfare and a dancing beat
    we loudly celebrate your reign over us.

The whole creation joins in the celebration:
    the ocean and its creatures roar their approval;
the land and its animals, cheer and stomp;
    rivers and lakes give a standing ovation,
        mountains and hills erupt in applause.

We put on the whole show in your presence, LORD,
    celebrating your arrival as you finally bring justice.
With you in charge we know things will be put right;
    now every one on earth will get a fair go.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Romans 6: 3-11

    Surely you know that all of us who have been baptised into union with Christ were, in that baptism, dying with Christ. You will understand then, that having died in baptism, we have been buried with him; and so now, in the same way that Christ was raised from the dead by the awesome power of God, we too can re-enter life in a whole new way.
    You see, if we have been united with him in sharing the same kind of death, you can rest assured we will be united with him further in sharing the same kind of resurrection. We are no longer the people we used to be. Our former selves were put to death with him on the cross in order to eradicate the sin that had taken over our lives, and to thus allow us to live free of it. Everyone knows that death is the only escape from a sin-infested life — once you are dead, you are free of it. For us, though, that’s no dead-end solution. If we have died with Christ, we are convinced that we will live with him too. This much we know for sure: Christ has been raised from the dead and will never have to die again. Death has lost any further power over him. When he died, he took sin out with him, once and for all. The life he now lives, then, is lived in union with God. So you should now think of yourselves in the same way — your former lives, ended; your new lives, begun. Your old relationship with sin, dead; your new relationship with God, alive and flourishing in Christ Jesus.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


* Psalm 114


When we were led out of the land of slavery
    - the people of Israel, coming out from under the foreign thumb -
the land of Judah became a sacred place,
    the land of Israel came under sovereign rule.

The wild sea took one look, and turned tail and ran,
    the Jordan river backed off and headed the other way.
The mountains skipped like a rock wallaby;
    the hills were as jumpy as a kelpie pup.

What was it that made the wild sea turn tail?
    What was it that made the Jordan back off?
What made the mountains quiver and jump?
    What made the hills shudder and shake?

It was awe of you, LORD, God of our ancestors.
    The whole earth trembles in your presence.
For you are the one who melts rocks into pools of water;
    the one who brings springs bubbling up from hard baked ground.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Matthew 28: 1-10 (Year A - 2017)

    The morning after the Sabbath, just as the first day of the new week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to visit the tomb. Suddenly the earth shuddered and shook beneath them and an angel from the Lord appeared from heaven right in front of them, rolled back the boulder that had sealed the mouth of the tomb, and sat on it. The angel was as radiant as lightening, and wore clothes as white as freshly fallen snow. The angel’s appearance had the security guards quaking in their boots and falling like flies, scared stiff. But to the women, the angel said, “Do not be afraid of me! I know you have come here looking for Jesus, the one they executed, but you won’t find him here. He has been raised to life, just as he said he would be. Come and I will show you the place where his body was laid to rest. Then run and tell the rest of his followers that he has been raised from the dead. Tell them that he is heading back to Galilee and you are all to follow. There you will see him for yourselves. This is what I have been sent to tell you.”
    So they left the tomb on the double, awestruck and overjoyed, and ran to tell the rest of his followers the news. On the way, they suddenly ran straight into Jesus himself. “Good morning!” he said.
    They threw themselves at him and fell down kissing his feet and worshipping him. Jesus said to them. “There is nothing to be afraid of. Go and tell the rest of my brothers and sisters to go on up to Galilee and I will meet them there.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Mark 16: 1-8 (Year B - 2018)

    When the Sabbath rest day was over, three of the women – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome – went and purchased the spices required to anoint the body of Jesus in the customary way. At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the first day of the week, they went to the tomb. On the way there they had been discussing whether they would be able to find anyone to shift the large boulder that sealed the entrance to the tomb, but when they arrived within sight of it, they could see that the massive stone had already been rolled aside. They went into the tomb and nearly jumped out of their skins when they found a young man, wearing a white robe, sitting on the right hand side. He said to them, “Don’t panic. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was executed. He has been raised up. You won’t find him here. Look, this is the spot where they laid his body. Off you go. Tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that Jesus is going on up to Galilee ahead of you. There, in Galilee, you will see him, just as he told you you would.”
    The women bolted out of the tomb and fled as fast as they could, shaking with fear and their heads spinning. They were so frightened that they didn’t breathe a word of it to anyone.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Luke 24: 1-12 (Year C - 2019)

    Among the followers of Jesus there were some women who had come from Galilee with him. At the crack of dawn on the Sunday, they came to the tomb where his body had been laid, bringing with them the embalming spices that they had prepared. They found the tomb open with the stone rolled out of the way. They went in, but there was no sign of the body. They were standing there shocked and confused when, out of the blue, two men appeared right beside them. Their clothes were dazzling light and the terrified women had to look away. The two men said, “Why are you looking in a graveyard for one who lives? You won’t find him here. He has risen! Remember what he told you back in Galilee. He said that the New Human would be handed over to godless people and executed, but that on the third day he would rise to life again.”
    Suddenly the memory of those words came flooding back to them. They returned from the graveyard and told all these things to the eleven and to all the other followers too. Now the group of women who brought this news included Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; but even so, the men wrote it off as some sort of hysterical delusion and they didn’t believe a word of it. Peter was the only one who ran off to look for himself. He bent down and peered into the tomb. All he could see was the linen grave clothes lying there by themselves. He went home scratching his head, with no idea what to make of it all.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net