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Romans 4:13-25

Lent 2B

It sometimes feels as if alienation, hostility and division flourish nearly everywhere we look. Hostilities that have turned violent between Ukrainians and Russians, as well as Israelis and Palestinians. Alienation between American Democrats and Republicans, as well as advocates for traditional and non-traditional understandings of human sexuality. Churches and denominations dividing over race relations, climate…

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Romans 16:25-27

Advent 4B

As I read and contemplated this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson, my mind drifted almost immediately to “famous last words.” But almost as quickly as it drifted there, it also sped to the realization that most people don’t remember many last words. Perhaps that has something to do with most last words’ content and focus. I plan…

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Romans 14:1-12

Proper 19A

Many English translations of this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’ agree on the rendering of its first verb. They translate the Greek word proslambanesthe, as “accept.” However, the English Standard Version renders this word as “welcome.” Maybe it’s on to something. In chapter 14, Paul continues to explore the implications of Romans 12:18’s “If it possible, as…

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Romans 13:8-14

Proper 18A

Once again the RCL’s editors did preachers and our hearers no favors when they omitted some Scripture, in this case, Romans 13:1-7, from an Epistolary Lesson. After all, in severing this Sunday’s Lesson’s verse 8 from verses 1-7, they stripped away its theological and literary context. So preachers might seriously consider including Romans 13:1-7 in…

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Romans 12:9-21

Proper 17A

It’s important to note that near this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’s beginning, Paul says not, “Hate who is evil,” but, instead, “Hate what is evil” (9). That summons’ close proximity to his description of love as “sincere” suggests that sincere love includes a counter-cultural perspective on and reaction to both evil and evildoers. North American culture…

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Romans 12:1-8

Proper 16A

The Spirit’s work doesn’t just change Jesus’ followers’ view of God. It also transforms the way God’s dearly beloved people think of our neighbor. The Spirit transforms Christians from those who seek only our own interests into people who the Spirit equips to also seek the well-being of the people around us. Quite simply, the…

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Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

Proper 15A

God’s “mercy” (eleos) is the shining center and beating heart of this Sunday’s (strangely) divided Epistolary Lesson. After all, while Paul uses the word only in this text’s second part, it’s also actually one of the unstated themes of its first half. In that way, God’s mercy serves as a kind of bridge between Romans…

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Romans 10:5-15

Proper 14A

Few passages of Scripture hit me harder and closer to home than this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson. In fact, its verses 14-15a leave me figuratively squirming as I try to open myself to the Spirit’s prompting toward writing something meaningful about them. Eugene Peterson’s The Message’s paraphrases verse 13 as Paul’s profession that “Everyone who calls,…

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Romans 9:1-5

Proper 13A

It’s sometimes easy to forget that the Spirit did not inspire the Scriptures’ authors like Paul to insert periods, commas, semi-colons, paragraph breaks or chapter headings into what they wrote. Biblical punctuation is the product of the work of editors, not the Holy Spirit. Just before this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson opens, the apostle makes a…

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Romans 8:26-39

Proper 12A

Few biblical passages offer a greater wealth of preaching material than Romans 8:26-39. Several earlier commentaries on this site examined some of its most glittering treasures – in 2017, Scott Hoezee’s, and in 2020, mine. However, preachers whom the Spirit leads toward one of this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’s other glorious themes might focus on verses…

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