Preaching Connection: Advent

Writing a sermon on Advent? Find preaching connections related to Advent including illustrations, quotes, images, written sermons about Advent, and Advent sermon commentary.

Additional content related to Advent

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Comments, Observations, and Questions A week before Christmas this year, the Lectionary via Psalm 80 takes us out of any setting we might ordinarily associate with the holidays and settles us instead into a very bleak landscape.  There can be no missing in Psalm 80—despite the Lectionary’s attempted leap-frog over the starker verses in the…

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Isaiah 7:10-16

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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Matthew 1:18-25

Comments, Questions, and Observations Oddly, we close out Advent this year with the birthing story. Matthew’s birth narrative doesn’t usually get much attention on Christmas day because it’s rather anti-climactic in comparison to the Luke’s—our tried and true Christmas story. As I discuss in the textual points section below, we don’t even get the actual…

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Romans 1:1-7

Comments, Observations, and Questions Paul basically frames this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson with references to calling (1, 7a). What lies between those references forms the basis for those calls, both for the apostle and all of God’s dearly beloved people to whom the Spirit speaks through him. However, preachers who wish to talk about calling need…

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Isaiah 35:1-10

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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Luke 1:46b-55

The Year A Lectionary presents two options on this week’s Psalm.  One option is what I will reflect on here from Luke 1.  The other is a portion of Psalm 146.  I am not writing on that psalm as this entire psalm was the Lectionary psalm just a couple of months ago.  If you wish…

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James 5:7-10

The central place the New Testament gives to the prospect of Christ’s return may surprise Christians for whom the prospect of that return is largely peripheral to their daily lives. The book of Revelation, for example, devotes much attention to it. Paul also speaks at length of Christ’s second coming especially in his letters to…

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Matthew 11:2-11

Comments, Questions and Observations We are a far cry from last week’s gospel lectionary text. Then, John was fire and brimstone, calling out the people of God, baptizing and supporting people’s repentance work. Now, months later in the gospel timeline, John is in a prison-cave cell at Herod Antipas’ Machaerus fortress—itself in the wilderness land…

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Matthew 3:1-12

Comments, Questions, and Observations During Advent we follow God’s people to the wilderness and heed the prophetic wisdom of John the Baptist. What was true for waiting for the coming Messiah still holds for those waiting for the second and final advent of our King. Was it John’s eccentric ways that drew the crowds to…

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Romans 15:4-13

Few things are arguably in shorter supply in both our culture and the Church of Jesus Christ than unity. It’s not just that the Church has long been divided into Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant camps. It’s also that 21st century churches and denominations seem to be dividing nearly as often as some of us…

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Isaiah 11:1-10

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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Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

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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Isaiah 2:1-5

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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Matthew 24:36-44

Comments, Questions, and Observations Here we are at the beginning of the Christian year; advent has begun, and we are reminded that we are people who are waiting. If you follow the gospel lectionary, then you know that we ended the year with a celebration of Jesus Christ and the kind of reign he has…

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Romans 13:11-14

Doesn’t it almost seem as if the Revised Common Lectionary’s editors must have been citizens of the northern hemisphere? Of course, this Sunday’s first in the season of Advent makes their choice of Romans 13’s reflections on Christ’s return appropriate. But Paul sure spends a lot of its time talking about darkness in it. Citizens…

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A Change of Plans

“A CHANGE OF PLANS” December 18, 2016 – 8:30 am Rev. Len Vander Zee Church of the Servant Sermons

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Disappointed with Jesus

Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another? That’s one of the most haunting questions in the whole Bible. And look who’s asking it. John the Baptist, that tough, seasoned prophet who preached repentance. John the Baptist who stood up to the Pharisees and Sadducees out there in…

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Advent 1A: Steady and Ready

There are basically two kinds of shoppers. There are those who shop with the goal of a particular purchase in mind, and those for whom the shopping itself is the goal. For the first group shopping goes something like this: You notice that the elastic on your underpants is getting fairly loose, so you head…

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Advent 4A: God With Us

A number of years ago, somewhere in England, a schoolboy wrote these words in an essay: Why are so many twins born into the world today? I believe it is because little children are afraid of entering the world alone. That’s deep thinking for a schoolboy. This boy pointed his small finger at a big…

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Advent 2A: Shedding Your Skin

Every time Advent rolls around we discover again that we can’t get to the manger and the stable without going past John the Baptist. There he is, out there in the wilderness, with his ragged leather clothes, and locust wings stuck between his teeth. Barbara Brown Taylor says that John always seems to her like…

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Advent 2A: Rearranging Our Price Tags

Our eyes naturally focus on stars — baseball and football greats, movie actors, TV personalities, famous authors, rock stars and tennis players. These are the people who dazzle us and dominate our magazines and television screens. We pour over the details of their lives: the clothes they wear, the people they love, the way they…

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Advent 1A: The Days of Noah

There is a photo that has been making the rounds on Facebook lately.  It is ostensibly from inside a bookstore that has posted a sign that says “Books on the Apocalypse Have Now Been Moved to the Current Events Section.”  Well, maybe.  All through history there have been eras when people were convinced they were…

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Advent 4B: Strangers on the Earth

Those of us who are parents, grandparents, uncles, or aunts all know what it is like to watch our children when they are in the spotlight. Maybe it’s your son’s piano recital or perhaps it is your niece singing a solo at church. Maybe it’s your son at the basketball freethrow line with one-second left…

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Advent 1B: When the Rooster Crows

In one of his sermons, the great preacher Fred Craddock told a story about something that happened many years ago while he was driving by himself cross-country. He had stopped at a small diner somewhere in the South to refresh himself with an early breakfast and some coffee. He had been driving through the night…

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Advent 4A: God With You

Parents typically give the naming of a child a lot of thought. Sometimes the discussions go on so long that you run across a couple in the maternity ward who, even the day after the child’s arrival, still don’t know what to name him or her. That always takes me aback a bit. You’d think…

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Advent 3A: Watch Your Step

Have you ever felt really let down by something? Maybe it was a meal at some well-known restaurant. You’d looked forward to tasting this particular chef’s cuisine for so long but when you actually got to try the food, it was strikingly ordinary. Or perhaps it was some long-anticipated movie: maybe it was the sequel…

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Advent 2A: Advent Disappointment

While preparing some food in the kitchen the day before Thanksgiving some years back, I had the radio on and caught most of an interview with the New Testament theologian John Dominic Crossan.  Crossan was once one of the leading scholars in the Jesus Seminar and is renowned for both his scholarship and his very…

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Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)

Though the power of Mary’s song always draws my heart’s cry for justice and hope, this year I’m particularly drawn to what we learn about the way of God in the support that Elizabeth offers to Mary. After Mary gives her big “YES” to God’s plan for the salvation of the world, past, present and…

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Luke 3:7-18

Last week we ended with a consideration of the possibility that these two Advent weeks spent in chapter 3 could be viewed as the covenant obligations on display. Verses 1-6 highlight what God will achieve, and here in verses 7-18 we receive the invitation from God (through the prophet John) to respond to God’s activity….

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Luke 21:25-36

Diana Butler Bass says it well when she reflects on the way we get right into it. “Advent 1 slaps us with the uncertainty and violence of human history.” From the get go, we’re told that there will be natural signs of turmoil, political distress, and chaos will hover over the earth, seemingly inescapable. Fear…

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Jeremiah 33:14-16

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

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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Advent 1: God’s Hopeful Story

This is a season of the year in which many of us find ourselves teetering between nostalgia and cynicism. We feel the tug of Christmas past. At the grocery store the other day I was encouraged by the muzak to “have myself merry little Christmas”, but the only way to do that, the song said,…

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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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Advent 4: Pregnant

Last May, Jeanne and I toured Turkey. One of the highlights was our visit to Ephesus. Ephesus, the biblical city, is now magnificent ruins, in fact probably the greatest ruins in the whole Middle East. We were staying at our hotel in the Aegean resort city of Kushadasi, a boisterous, glitzy place. The ruins of…

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Christmas

My youngest child Anton was born early one November morning. It was not an easy birth. We didn’t know it at the time, but his mother Judy was already experiencing the first symptoms of MS from which she later died, when Anton was 18. She was exhausted. I let her sleep for a couple of…

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Advent 2: The Shrill One

John was on a roll. For quite some time he had been preaching a fiery message to all kinds of people and with splendid results. They came to him in droves and responded to his message with genuine fervor. That is quite amazing given that John was not exactly what anyone would consider “seeker-friendly.” Today…

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Advent 1: At That Time

When I was in high school, I accompanied a friend to a youth group New Year’s Eve party at a local Pentecostal church. Mostly the party was what you would expect: lots of goodies to eat, pop to drink, games to play. But at one point in the evening all of us were gathered in…

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Advent 1: In the Interim

We live in between the first coming of Jesus Christ and his second coming, and most of us feel a lot better about the first one.  Christmas is about a baby, after all, and that makes everything easier.  We know about babies, and so we know how to domesticate Christmas.  We set up a creche,…

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Mark 1:1-8

Imagine yourself a Kindergarten teacher who gathers a group of wide-eyed five-and six-year-olds onto the square of carpeting in the classroom that is reserved for “Story Time.”  You smile into their innocent faces and begin your story. “Once upon a time a little girl named Goldilocks was fast asleep in a lovely little bed—a bed…

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Mark 13:24-37

Maybe nearing the end of 2020 it is not at all difficult to bend people’s thoughts to all things apocalyptic.  Most years when the Lectionary reading for the First Sunday in Advent directs us to the Olivet Discourse and Jesus’ words about the end of the world, it can be a stretch to do the…

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Matthew 3:1-12

“Across the United States in recent weeks, there have been tidal waves of accusation and blame, counter-accusations and blame, judgments and more judgments from the left and from the right and from all points in between.  Political parties are said to have been judged by the voters.  Individual politicians are said to have been repudiated…

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Luke 1:39-45 (46-56)

We like musicals.  Back in the day Hollywood turned out a great many films in this genre, though in recent years the movie musical has been pretty well restricted to Disney films like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  A recent exception was the exceptional La La Land that somehow managed to capture the power,…

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Micah 5:2-5a

This is the quintessential Advent text, because it was so clearly fulfilled in the birth of Christ. In Matthew 2: 5, the chief priests and teachers of the law answer Herod’s frantic question about the birthplace of the long promised King of the Jews.  “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the…

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Hebrews 10:5-10

What on earth is this whole Christmas business about?  Why is it worth all the effort so many people put into celebrating it?  To answer that, not just the Church but also the world needs to know just why Jesus came to be not only born in Bethlehem, but also to grow up to live,…

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Luke 3:7-18

Well what did you expect John would say?  His preaching was getting through to the people.  Bigly.  His “in your face” approach to getting a message of repentance across was succeeding and before you knew it, John’s got people of all sorts asking “What should we do?”  And in response to this earnest query, what…

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Philippians 4:4-7

The Bible is full of commands to “Rejoice.”  Yet they’re not always calls to God’s people to just “be happy.”  After all, the Scriptures’ calls to rejoice sometimes seem to come in the context of the least happy times and places. For example, the Paul who writes the Epistolary Lesson the Lectionary assigns for this…

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Luke 1:68-79

Someone once said that visits always bring pleasure because even if the arrival of a certain visitor didn’t make you happy, his departure will!  The comedic pianist Victor Borge also touched on this topic when he once noted that the mythic figure of Santa Claus has the right idea: you should visit people just once…

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Philippians 1:3-11

This second Sunday of the month of December seems like an appropriate time to explore Philippians 1:3-11.  Its theme of thanksgiving is, after all, consistent with the Thanksgiving holiday that Americans recently celebrated.  What’s more, this Sunday is also near the beginning of the Advent season in which we look forward to “the day of…

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Luke 3:1-6

I love Luke.  The man has style.  And he displays that style in narrative after narrative in his Gospel and in his sequel, The Book of Acts.  Tradition has it Luke was a doctor.  He clearly came mighty close to missing his calling.  Thankfully, the Spirit used Luke’s considerable literary powers after all to give…

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Malachi 3:1-4

A number of years ago I preached a series of sermons on the Minor Prophets entitled “The Gospel in a Minor Key.”  Obviously, that was a play on words, but it also reflected the fact that these unusual little prophetic books proclaim the Good News in unexpected, dissonant, almost off-key ways.  Our text for this…

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Psalm 25:1-10

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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1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

This first Sunday in the season of Advent liturgically marks the beginning of a season of waiting.  Not just of waiting to celebrate Jesus’ first coming.  Advent is also the season in which God’s adopted sons and daughters at least try to concentrate on waiting for Jesus’ second coming. We’ve had 2,000 years of practice…

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Luke 21:25-36

For Luke “as it was in the beginning” might be a good slogan to encapsulate his Gospel’s conclusion.  Because when Luke began, we heard a lot of very dramatic rhetoric as to what the coming of the Messiah would entail.  Even the Virgin Mary’s song in Luke 1—the Magnificat—is filled with violent imagery.  We read…

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Jeremiah 33:14-16

Advent begins this year in burned out cities littered with dead bodies and in a devastated countryside where the deer and the antelope do not play (Jeremiah 33:4-5 and 10).  After centuries of divine patience with Israel’s blatant covenant breaking, God has finally had it.  This dark book of Jeremiah is God’s word of judgment…

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Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

We often connect much of the Christmas season to happiness.  God’s people love to sing, “Joy to the World.”  We decorate our homes, stores and communities with bright lights.  Most of us like to celebrate with both the young in age and the young in heart. This Sunday, however, is also a part of a…

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Romans 1:1-7

“To God’s beloved ones in Rome.”  Such a simple, such a commonplace way to open a letter.  We read such a salutation in all of the New Testament’s many epistles.   And it’s easy to breeze right past it, hurry on by to get to the meat of the letter, the real important stuff about the…

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Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

I have given invocations at many events over the years—civic dinners with important speakers, the dedication of public and private buildings, the launching of significant social justice initiatives, even the inauguration of a local judge.  But I’ve never given the invocation at the swearing in of a President.  That is essentially what we have in…

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Micah 5:2-5a

When the Lectionary dishes up just 3.5 verses, skipping the first verse of a chapter and stopping just halfway through the fifth verse, you just know it’s like putting blinders on us readers to keep us from seeing something on either side of the lection. I don’t know why they made this choice but lyric…

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Hebrews 10:5-10

Sometimes you just have to wonder where the inventors of the Revised Common Lectionary got their ideas for the choices they made. I mean, here we are, 5 days away from Christmas, surely one of the most pregnant times in the church calendar. The other readings for this Fourth Sunday of Advent are clearly about…

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Zephaniah 3:14-20

Comments, Observations, and Questions 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: on some episodes the show’s characters would find themselves sunk very deep down into dreadfully complex circumstances.  The episode would devote something like 92%…

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Isaiah 12:2-6

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider Note: During Advent the Lectionary occasionally appoints other readings in place of a Psalm. This is Isaiah’s song of praise to the Lord for being his salvation.  It lies at what J. Ross Wagner calls a “crucial juncture in the book of Isaiah.”  Our text, after all, ends the…

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Philippians 4:4-7

Comments, Observations, and Questions Growing up in a family of modest means, I learned early the value of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.  We couldn’t afford the real thing, those lovely complete books, so we read those abbreviated and edited versions of bestsellers and classics.  They were very helpful, though not nearly as graceful as the…

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Malachi 3:1-4

A friend of mine who is an English professor once told me that he suggested to a friend that he might enjoy reading the great works of the author John Donne.  So this man did so.  Some while later the two met up again and the English professor asked him “What did you think of…

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Luke 1:68-79

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider Has the Lectionary lost its way already on the second Sunday of the church year?  The “psalm” the Lectionary appoints for this Sunday is, after all, not actually a psalm, but the song that Zechariah sings at his son’s birth.  He was, of course, an elderly priest who was…

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Philippians 1:3-11

Comments, Observations, and Questions Of the four lectionary readings for this Second Sunday of Advent, this passage from Philippians gives the lightest and least obvious perspective on Advent.  I say, least obvious, because apart from the two references to “the day of Christ,” there’s no clear Advent character to Paul’s words.  These two references occur…

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Jeremiah 33:14-16

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

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider How in the world can we preach or teach a Psalm on a Sunday when most of our listeners are already thinking about and mostly interested in getting ready for Christmas?  If they’re thinking about anything Scriptural, many Christians are thinking about Matthew and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ conception…

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