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Zephaniah 3:14-20

Advent 3C

I used to watch a TV show that was quite compelling and enjoyable but it did have one feature to it that I did not much like: in some episodes the show’s characters would find themselves sunk very deep down into dreadfully complex circumstances.  The episode would devote something like 92% of the time to…

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Isaiah 12:2-6

Advent 3C

More than we realize, the Bible is a trove of images, similes, metaphors, and visual depictions.  Throughout Scripture God describes himself through a battery of metaphors that inevitably lead you to form a picture in your mind’s eye.  Many of the images are, on the face of them, contradictory, until you realize that even to…

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Malachi 3:1-4

Advent 2C

Have you ever read a classic book you’d never before read only to run across a line you knew by heart?  “Oh,” you might say, “I didn’t know this is where that saying came from!”  For instance, John Donne’s works are peppered with lines that have assumed a life of their own.  People who don’t…

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Jeremiah 33:14-16

Advent 1C

Acoustics are so key.  How does a text sound?  Usually you need to pay attention to the context to figure that out.  But when you dive into the middle of a text like this lection, you can so easily miss or forget that wider context.  But remembering it can change the acoustics pretty significantly.  After…

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Psalm 25:1-10

Advent 1C

When I read Psalm 25, I find myself drawn to its utter realism. If you enter into the rhythms and patterns of these verses, what you will find is probably something akin to your own life. If you are like most people, including most Christian people, then the pattern of your piety is probably something…

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Psalm 93

Proper 29B

As I have noted before here on CEP, at Calvin Seminary we use Paul Scott Wilson’s “Four Pages of the Sermon” method as the grammar and structure of sermons.  A key part of that is locating what Wilson calls “Trouble in the Text.”  What is the tension, the crisis, the question, the issue at hand…

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2 Samuel 23:1-7

Proper 29B

The so-called “last words of David” are curiously placed.  For one thing, there is quite a bit more action involving David in the balance of even 2 Samuel.  But there will be more words and more narrative to come in also the opening portion of 1 Kings.  It’s as though the author and editor of…

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1 Samuel 1:4-20

Proper 28B

It’s curious how often the purposes of God move forward not just despite familial dysfunction but sometimes even because of it.  We’ve got a load of dysfunction coming up in the Samuel story through the shenanigans of Hophni and Phineas—and Eli’s hand-wringing inability to do a blessed thing about it all.  But we’ve got nettlesome…

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Psalm 16

Proper 28B

Probably we misread Psalm 16, or at least its most famous verses about how our bodies will rest secure.  We have all been to our share of funerals that lift out verses 9-11 and put a resurrection spin on them.  And maybe as Christians exegeting the Old Testament there is something right about that.  All…

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Advent 3: Real Repentance

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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