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The Seeker

In the last 25 years or so a new word has become very prominent in the American church scene. The word is “seeker.” We are a nation of spiritual seekers. People everywhere are looking for that spiritual lift, that tie to something deeper that will provide some meaning in this crazy world. Many churches have…

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The Weapons of our Warfare

The first verse of our reading is rather shocking if you think about it. “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” We don’t usually think of temptation as a spiritual exercise. Jesus had just been baptized. In his baptism, Jesus had taken his place with all 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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Psalm 112:1-9 (10)

Epiphany 5A

About all I can say after reading Psalm 112 is that it’s one thing to wear rose-colored glasses but quite another to fuse those glasses to your head so you can never take them off!  Psalm 112 is by no means the only poem in the Hebrew Psalter to paint a glowing portrait of what…

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Micah 6:1-8

Epiphany 4A

For some years I co-taught a Bible course on the prophets with one of my colleagues from the Old Testament division at Calvin Seminary.  My main task in that course was to talk about how to preach from the Prophets and then to grade a sermon the students write on a passage from Micah.  Somewhat…

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Psalm 15

Epiphany 4A

In the Gospel sermon commentary for this Year A Sunday we are directed to think of who we are supposed to be as reflected in Jesus’s Beatitudes in Matthew 5.  As theologians and biblical commentators have noted for centuries, if we want to know who we are to be like in order to fit inside…

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Psalm 27:1, 4-9

Epiphany 3A

C.S. Lewis said somewhere that when you add it all up and consider it all together, in the end we would find that our prayer life is also our autobiography. Who we are, where we’ve been, the situations we’ve faced, the fears that nag us, and not a few of the core characteristics of who…

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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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Psalm 40:1-11

Epiphany 2A

Did David (or whoever wrote this psalm) write it backwards?  You can divide Psalm 40 rather neatly into two halves (though most of the second half is left out by the Lectionary).  The first ten or so verses are full of confidence and gratitude for God’s deliverance.  As usual in the psalms, we cannot detect…

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