Feast of the Conception of the Holy Mother of God by Anna,
Third Sunday of Heesnag,
Eve of the Fast of St. James of Nisibis
Song of Solomon 6:3-8
II Thessalonians 1:1-12
Song of Solomon 6:3-8
 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
he pastures his flock among the lilies.
 You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
comely as Jerusalem,
terrible as an army with banners.
 Turn away your eyes from me,
for they disturb me —
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
moving down the slopes of Gilead.
 Your teeth are like a flock of ewes,
that have come up from the washing,
all of them bear twins,
not one among them is bereaved.
 Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
 There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
and maidens without number.
 “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
“For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;
 So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.
 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian;
 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
 and she entered the house of Zechari’ah and greeted Elizabeth.
 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
 And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
 He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
 he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”
 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.
 Hezeki’ah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezeki’ah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
 And Hezeki’ah prayed to the LORD:
 “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.
 Incline thy ear, O LORD, and hear; open thy eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennach’erib, which he has sent to mock the living God.
 Of a truth, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands,
 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone; therefore they were destroyed.
 So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou alone art the LORD.”
 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezeki’ah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennach’erib king of Assyria,
 this is the word that the LORD has spoken concerning him: `She despises you, she scorns you —
the virgin daughter of Zion;
she wags her head behind you —
the daughter of Jerusalem.
 `Whom have you mocked and reviled?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and haughtily lifted your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
 By your servants you have mocked the Lord,
and you have said, With my many chariots
I have gone up the heights of the mountains,
to the far recesses of Lebanon;
I felled its tallest cedars,
its choicest cypresses;
I came to its remotest height,
its densest forest.
 I dug wells
and drank waters,
and I dried up with the sole of my foot
all the streams of Egypt.
 `Have you not heard
that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
what now I bring to pass,
that you should make fortified cities
crash into heaps of ruins,
 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength,
are dismayed and confounded,
and have become like plants of the field
and like tender grass,
like grass on the housetops,
blighted before it is grown.
 `I know your sitting down
and your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me.
 Because you have raged against me
and your arrogance has come to my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will turn you back on the way
by which you came.’
 “And this shall be the sign for you: this year eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same; then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.
 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward;
 for out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city, or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield, or cast up a siege mound against it.
 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, says the LORD.
 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
 And the angel of the LORD went forth, and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
 Then Sennach’erib king of Assyria departed, and went home and dwelt at Nin’eveh.
 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adram’melech and Share’zer, his sons, slew him with the sword, and escaped into the land of Ar’arat. And E’sar-had’don his son reigned in his stead.
II Thessalonians 1:1-12
 Paul, Silva’nus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalo’nians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
 Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring.
 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering —
 since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,
 and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire,
 inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
 They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power,
 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid.
 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind,
 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
 When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many;
 and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, `Come; for all is now ready.’
 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, `I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’
 And another said, `I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’
 And another said, `I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
 So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, `Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’
 And the servant said, `Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’
 And the master said to the servant, `Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.
 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America