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1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Lent 3B

Paul brackets this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson with a paradox. In verse 18 he speaks of God’s “power [dynamis]*.” However, in verse 25 the apostle also refers to God’s “weakness” [asthenes].” Between those apparently contradictory brackets, God’s people find not only the beating heart of our Lenten observance. We also find the heart of the gospel….

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1 Corinthians 9:16-23

Epiphany 5B

Motivation is an immensely complex and mysterious force. The Psychology Today website identifies two sources of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. So 1 Corinthians 9:16-23’s preachers might fruitfully ask whether Paul’s motivation is intrinsic. Does it come purely from within himself? Or is his apostolic work’s motivation extrinsic? Is Paul, in other words, compelled by his…

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1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Epiphany 4B

Anyone who has ever tried to cross a Lego- or toy-strewn room in the dark should have received hazardous duty pay. After all, relatively few pains match the discomfort created by stepping on a small toy. So what are such “stumbling blocks’” worst enemy? Any kind of light that leads to awareness and caution. Paul…

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1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Epiphany 3B

My family of origin frowned on few things more strongly than time-wasting. We were generally discouraged from doing frivolous things. My family of origin didn’t even waste our vacation time. We almost always either vacationed with an extended family member or visited at least one extended family member while on vacation. This Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’s…

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1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Epiphany 2B

When Paul asserts that God’s dearly beloved people’s bodies are “a temple [naos]* of the Holy Spirit [Hagiou Pneumatos],” (19) he makes a claim that’s more extraordinary than most Christians may realize. This Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’s preachers might consider helping our hearers more fully appreciate that claim’s astonishing nature. Christians as a “temple of the…

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1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Advent 1B

Many Westerners have now entered the season of waiting. But the primary object of most of our contemporaries’ wait is Christmas’ arrival. Citizens of the 21st century don’t think much about the Advent that is also a season of waiting. Even many Christians who celebrate Advent focus more on waiting for our celebration of Christ’s…

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1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Epiphany 6A

In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul returns to a subject that he has already addressed earlier in his letter: the profound need for Christian unity. After all, in 1 Corinthians 1:10 he begs his readers to “agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united…

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1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)

Epiphany 5A

My Uncle Rich was one of the wisest people I’ve ever known. I don’t remember his IQ as being exceptionally high. Neither what Paul calls “this age” nor its rulers (6) would consider him to be particularly wise. He didn’t have a lot of formal education. So most people would claim that my Uncle Rich…

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1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Epiphany 4A

A number of years ago The Christian Century invited theologians, pastors and other Christian leaders to attempt to succinctly summarize the gospel. It asked them to proclaim its good news in just seven words, and then expand on their summary in a few sentences. The November 29, 2011 edition of the Century published some of…

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1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Epiphany 3A

This Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson brings to mind the novelist William Faulkner’s lament about the post-Civil War American South: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It also in some ways resonates with the historian and philosopher George Santayana’s “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” If Christians didn’t know…

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