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Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Advent 2A

At 98 years of age, Jimmy Carter is now not only the oldest currently living former President of the United States but he has now lived to become the oldest former President ever.  Strikingly, he has also been a former President for over 40 years.  During those four decades of time, Carter’s reputation has soared…

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Psalm 122

Advent 1A

Psalm 122 is one of fifteen psalms extending from Psalms 120-134, each of which is labeled “A Song of Ascents.” The sense of that title is that these were pilgrimage songs sung by Israelites as they ascended up to Jerusalem. Not surprisingly, therefore, the terms “Jerusalem,” “Zion,” and “house of Yahweh” occur with great density…

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Psalm 46

Proper 29C

It probably counts as something of an irony that for all its soaring comfort in proclaiming the sovereignty of God and God’s rule over all things, Psalm 46 is invoked most often precisely in those times when it is most difficult to believe that a good and loving God is providentially in charge of the…

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Psalm 98

Proper 28C

Reading Psalm 98 is like uncorking a well shook-up bottle of champagne.  The cork rockets upward and the bubbly inside the bottle fountains forth in exuberance.  We’ve all seen those locker rooms after a team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl when players spray each other with such bottles—some years ago someone finally…

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Psalm 17:1-9

Proper 27C

Those of you who read the Psalm sermon commentaries here on CEP know that I frequently observe that different psalms fit different seasons of life.  And so we always have to nuance upbeat songs of praise with the downbeat psalms of lament such that no one in the church gets the impression that true believers…

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Psalm 32:1-7

Proper 26C

Most of his friends had been hanged.  But despite his central role in helping to construct Adolf Hitler’s Nazi nightmare, Albert Speer somehow managed to receive from the Nuremberg trials only a 20-year sentence at the Spandau Prison in Berlin.  Not long after arriving in Spandau, Speer met with the prison chaplain.  To the chaplain’s…

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Psalm 84:1-7

Proper 25C

In the Calvin Seminary Chapel above and behind the pulpit area is a large clear-glass window with a cross in the center.  A few years ago during a May Term preaching class in the chapel, we all noticed that a large Horned Owl had made a nest in the uppermost window pane near the top…

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Psalm 121

Proper 24C

When I was a little kid, I remember Psalm 121 being read in church or sometimes at our dinner table.  Back then various versions of the Bible translated that first line, “I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.”  The sentence is in the indicative mood.  Read this way, it is…

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Psalm 111

Proper 23C

In a recent sermon commentary on another psalm, I observed that although the poetry of the Psalms and the wisdom literature of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes are distinct in terms of biblical literary genre, there is a lot of crossover between the Books of Psalms and Proverbs.  Psalm 111 is another example of this with its…

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Psalm 37:1-9

Proper 22C

The Book of Psalms—and sometimes individual poems within it—can be pretty good at the proverbial “talking out of both sides of one’s mouth at the same time.”  Taken individually, some psalms paint a very pretty picture of how the righteous always prosper and how the wicked always fail miserably.  Then again, other psalms admit that…

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