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Isaiah 6:1-8

Trinity Sunday B

Illustration For many congregations in North America, this lectionary text will coincide with graduation celebrations — a season when the story of God’s calling and, especially, God’s overcoming our weakness and frailty to accomplish God’s purposes will be a very live factor in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings.  This would be a great Sunday to…

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Isaiah 25:6-9

Easter Day B

I wonder if there are many preachers who will choose to take the Old Testament Lection as their primary text on Easter Sunday morning? It seems to me that the greater gift and opportunity presented by this text is the way that it sings harmony on the song of resurrection.  So I will offer my…

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Isaiah 50:4-9

Palm Sunday B

A Turn Toward the Passion Interestingly, the Lectionary provides two sets of readings for this last Sunday in Lent: (1) a Psalm and Gospel that celebrate the procession with the Palms and (2) a full set of four readings that look ahead to all that stands between the false and frivolous praise of Palm Sunday…

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Isaiah 40:21-31

Epiphany 5B

Psalm 103 promises that God will satisfy our desire for good things, using words that will sound familiar from the reading of Isaiah 40: “so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” The parallels between these texts are instructive. Psalm 103 does not begin with God’s promise of satisfaction but with forgiveness, healing, liberation…

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Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Christmas 1B

Rejoicing in Salvation For those churches that celebrate a strict Advent fast from Christmas hymns, this Sunday lands with all the pent-up energy of the season.  Church musicians stuff this service full of all the carols that wouldn’t fit on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning worship.  There are plenty of “Joy to the Worlds” and…

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Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Advent 3B

Covenant Renewal, Part 1 Isaiah 61 follows the main themes of the preceding chapter with its focus on Jerusalem finally coming into its own, exalted over the oppressive nations being brought low. What is unique to this text is the human agent who speaks through this text.  In fact there is a dialogue between this…

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Isaiah 40:1-11

Advent 2B

Comments, Observations and Questions: The Good News! The prophet Isaiah must have gotten pretty tired of breaking bad news to people.  Roughly 95% of Isaiah 1-39 is bad news, with the tiniest snippets of hope popping up here and there.  So, I can imagine him taking a deep breath, maybe a soothing drink of water…

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Isaiah 64:1-9

Advent 1B

What are you waiting for? At the beginning of Advent, we turn our hearts toward the practices of waiting and anticipation. Though I suppose a lot depends on what it is you are waiting for: for out of town guests to arrive, best get busy preparing extra linens and stocking up on meals.  Waiting for…

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Isaiah 50:4-9a

Palm Sunday

Although one would think the Old Testament offers up lots of compelling possible Lectionary texts for Palm/Passion Sunday, the RCL likes Isaiah 50 for this particular day and so assigns it in Years A, B, and C.  It is definitely a text that tilts away from all things “Triumphal Entry” and more definitively in the…

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Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)

Epiphany 5A

Over the years of writing articles and a few books, I’ve learned a lot about grammar from my editors and from a former professor turned friend who knows more about English grammar than anyone I can think of.  Thanks to folks like this I’ve finally figured out (most of the time!) the “that/which” distinction and…

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