Commentaries Written by Chelsey Harmon

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Mark 12:28-34 Sermon Commentary

Proper 26B

The text’s message this week is simple. It’s the all-encompassing nature of the application that gets overwhelming. Did you know, for instance, that there are 613 commandments in the Pentateuch? Summarizing and prioritizing, as Jesus does here, was a normal practice among the rabbis and scribes of Judaism, not to mention that it’s a helpful…

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Mark 10:46-52 Sermon Commentary

Proper 25B

A couple of weeks ago, we witnessed the rich man come to terms with reality. This week, we see a bit of a contrast in the person of Bartimaeus. Both he and the rich man are earnest and sincere in their desire to encounter Jesus, but one walks away and the other follows our Lord….

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Mark 10:35-45 Sermon Commentary

Proper 24B

It turns out that Peter is not the only one of the disciples who can get in over his head in conversation with Jesus. This time it’s brothers, James and John, who think they know what they’re talking about. Though it isn’t included in our selection for today, James and John’s request comes right after…

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Mark 10:17-31 Sermon Commentary

Proper 23B

Though the text alerts us to a natural transition in verse 17, stating that Jesus set out on a journey, I see verses 13-16 as a really helpful opening to this week’s encounter and suggest you include them. (See the Textual Point below for some of the reasons.) By all accounts, the rich man’s searching…

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Mark 10:2-16 Sermon Commentary

Proper 22B

Comments, Questions and Observations Even with the inclusion of verses 13-16 in this week’s selection, there’s no getting around the topic of divorce that dominates verses 2-12. No matter whether or not divorce is considered a “state of sin” in your church, there will be people listening who have been impacted by divorce—their own, or…

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Mark 9:38-50 Sermon Commentary

Proper 21B

It seems that the deflecting from discomfort that we saw last week is continuing this week. Though it may not seem like it at a first read through, Mark has placed this set of sayings here for a reason. Instead of the usual suspect, Peter, it’s John who speaks up this time. It could be…

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Mark 9:30-37 Sermon Commentary

Proper 20B

Verses 30-37 in Mark 9 provide us a very clear picture of a human response to fear and confusion: changing the subject instead of taking the risk to look foolish. Who likes to look dumb? Worse yet, it was just last week when we heard Peter speak up and “question” Jesus, and where did that…

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Mark 8:27-38 Sermon Commentary

Proper 19B

This is a story of being on the way but not there yet. The lectionary skipped over the story of the blind man in Bethsaida having his sight restored in stages, but we have a symbolic outworking of it here in our personal stand-in, Peter. As Jesus and his disciples head to Caesarea, Jesus strikes…

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Mark 7:24-37 Sermon Commentary

Proper 18B

The lectionary perhaps does us a big favour by pairing these two stories together because the first half of our selection, when read in isolation of what came before and what directly follows, is one of those passages that challenges our picture—even our theology—of Jesus. The conversation between Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman is heavy…

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Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 Sermon Commentary

Proper 17B

The lectionary’s selection of verses for this week could be seen as a helpful streamlining to the main idea or as a heavy-handed push to that main idea… Many lectionary commentaries choose to treat the passage as whole, so take time to consider whether hearing all 23 verses will benefit your congregation in understanding the…

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