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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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Isaiah 9:1-4

Epiphany 3A

The Common Lectionary’s choice to cut off this reading at verse 4 feels artificial.  It’s like asking someone to break off singing midway through verse 2 of “Joy to the World.”  It doesn’t work.  You both want to finish the song and anyway you hear the song finish up in your head even if you…

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Isaiah 49:1-7

Epiphany 2A

In the Servant Songs in this part of Isaiah the Lord God alternates speaking with the Servant himself also making remarks or comments.  In this passage we hear from both the God who pre-ordained the Servant long before he was born and from the Servant himself.  From God’s side we get high-flying confidence.  From the…

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Isaiah 42:1-9

Epiphany 1A

Throughout the “Servant Songs” in this part of Isaiah, despite the focus on the Servant, there is no question who is really in charge and calling all the shots.  The Servant has work to do and will achieve that work to a stunning degree of effectiveness.  Nothing short of the bringing of justice to all…

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Isaiah 63:7-9

Christmas 1A

We have all seen this on the walls of someone’s house.  Perhaps it is done in counted-cross-stitch.  Perhaps it is done in calligraphy.  But we have seen these framed squares or rectangles hanging in a living room and containing a Bible verse shorn of its context.  Most of the time this works fine—the verse functions…

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Isaiah 9:2-7

Christmas Day A

The first and last titles that we read in Isaiah 9:6 remind us that in God’s Messiah, we find someone who embodies both wisdom and strength.  And as with John’s description of the Word of God being full of both grace and truth, so also with wisdom and strength: we all know people who have…

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Isaiah 7:10-16

Advent 4A

Comments, Observations, and Questions As an inspired apostle and evangelist, Matthew may make any biblical connection he wishes and no one else can call him or question him on it.  He can unearth any nugget he wants from anywhere across the Hebrew Scriptures and if, having dug it out, Matthew then claims this verse was…

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Isaiah 35:1-10

Advent 3A

Sometimes as a preacher you are pretty sure that the best idea you could have would be simply to read the passage and then sit down.  Or just read it again.  And sit down.  But for goodness sake, don’t start to let your own pedestrian reflections clog up a passage so full of wonder! That’s…

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Isaiah 11:1-10

Advent 2A

For all its lyric beauty and familiarity, Isaiah 11 is both striking and odd.  It’s striking because of the far-reaching results that we see sketched here on account of God’s sending forth a truly righteous ruler from the stump of Jesse.  It’s odd because it moves so nimbly between what you’d expect to be the…

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Isaiah 2:1-5

Advent 1A

Over time many people, including most certainly many church people, have come to view Advent (and certainly Christmas) as a time when we need to do our level best to keep at bay any and all thoughts about sad things.  Hence, a death in the congregation anywhere near Christmas just feels worse somehow than how…

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