Commentaries Written by Leonard Vander Zee

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Easter 5B: Fruitfulness or Productivity Sermon Commentary

Jesus says, “Remain in me as I remain in you.” To my mind, that’s one of the lousiest translations I can think of. It completely ignores the personal and spiritual dimensions of what Jesus is talking about here. In Greek, the word is menein. It’s one of the most important words in this whole gospel,…

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Proper 29A: Christ the King Sunday; Damned if You Don’t Sermon Commentary

When a teacher announces that the material for the day will appear on a test, there is usually a rustle of paper, a snap of pens, and some special attention given to the lesson for that day. The same thing is true of life. If life is merely a languid succession of days and years,…

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Advent 1: God’s Hopeful Story Sermon Commentary

This is a season of the year in which many of us find ourselves teetering between nostalgia and cynicism. We feel the tug of Christmas past. At the grocery store the other day I was encouraged by the muzak to “have myself merry little Christmas”, but the only way to do that, the song said,…

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Advent 3: Real Repentance Sermon Commentary

Homiletics is the theological term for the study and craft of sermon making. Seminarians take a couple of courses on homiletics of course, and there are lots of books on homiletics written for the guidance of preachers. Nowadays, there’s a lot of emphasis on the introductions of sermons. The theory is that the modern audience…

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Advent 4: Pregnant Sermon Commentary

Last May, Jeanne and I toured Turkey. One of the highlights was our visit to Ephesus. Ephesus, the biblical city, is now magnificent ruins, in fact probably the greatest ruins in the whole Middle East. We were staying at our hotel in the Aegean resort city of Kushadasi, a boisterous, glitzy place. The ruins of…

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Christmas Sermon Commentary

My youngest child Anton was born early one November morning. It was not an easy birth. We didn’t know it at the time, but his mother Judy was already experiencing the first symptoms of MS from which she later died, when Anton was 18. She was exhausted. I let her sleep for a couple of…

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Psalm 132:1-18 Sermon Commentary

Proper 29B

Digging into the Text: Psalm 132 is the longest of the Psalms of Ascent, and bears little resemblance the the themes and forms of the other Psalms in this collection.  Many scholars think the Psalms of Ascent were used by Israel especially for the pilgrimage feasts (Passover and Pentecost) for which large numbers of pilgrims…

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John 18:33-37 Sermon Commentary

Proper 29B

Digging into the Text: It’s interesting that this year Christ the King Sunday comes just a few weeks after a very divisive American election.  Actually, as of this writing, it’s not even over yet, as recounts continue in closely fought races.  On top of that, the Gospel for this year is a tense conversation between…

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Psalm 16 Sermon Commentary

Proper 28B

Commentaries. Sometimes they are a wonderful help to the preacher, sometimes they are a hindrance. I looked through a few commentaries on this Psalm, and came away somewhat more confused than when I started. Commentaries often try to figure out the background of the Psalm in question. Who was the author? What was the occasion?…

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Mark 13:1-8 Sermon Commentary

Proper 28B

Digging into the Text: We have just gone through a tumultuous election campaign in which one of the candidates banked on the theme of fear. He wanted us to see that our country is going to hell in a handbasket, and he was the one who will save us. Most of us have had enough…

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