Preaching Connection: Easter

Additional content related to Easter

John 15:1-8

Do you prefer to translate Jesus’s oft-repeated menō as “remain” or “abide”? Remain surely carries the tone of a command, but Jesus also uses the word descriptively, relating a mutual being together. Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear Jesus say, “Remain in me…” I picture him simultaneously reaching out his arm and gently…

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1 John 4:7-21

The New Testament uses some form of the Greek word agape (“love”) more than 140 times to describe both God and humans’ actions. But in few places does the Spirit inspire its writers to link God’s love to God’s people’s love more closely than in this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson. God’s dearly beloved people can hardly…

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1 John 3:16-24

Reading this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson always seems to be a bit like trying to drink from a firehose. So many theological themes and images gush out of it that we may feel like we can swallow only a fraction of 1 John 3:16-24’s life-affirming truths. My colleagues Scott Hoezee and Stan Mast offer a wealth…

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John 10:11-18

Jesus’s rich self-revelation as the Good Shepherd gives us a number of aspects to highlight in a message about God’s provisional care. Within his identity as the Good Shepherd, there’s a stark comparison to the “hired hands” we silly sheep get wrapped up in following—only to be abandoned to the hand’s selfish bravado. There’s the…

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Luke 24:36-48

We have a different version of last week’s text. It is a gift to us because it highlights another aspect of the human condition. Instead of last week’s gripping fear keeping the disciples from action and belief, this week they are confused and trying to reason things out. The results are the same: both situations…

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1 John 3:1-7

Several years ago a colleague and I had a conversation about God’s adoption of God’s children. My colleague noted that human adoption is often a sort of mixed blessing. Among other things, it raises questions of identity. Is an adopted person the child of her birth parents or adopted parents? My colleague’s identity was clouded…

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John 20:19-31

The second Sunday of Easter brings us to this text. The disciples have heard from the women that Jesus has risen from the dead but they are so afraid that they have locked themselves up tight, worried that their lives are in danger by those who put Jesus to death. Fear trumps the witness of…

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1 John 1:1-2:2

The concept of “daylight savings time” is a rather strange one. After all, the label suggests to some people that by moving our clocks one hour ahead people can somehow “save” daylight. But, course, no human being can add even one more second of light to our days. When we move our clocks ahead, we…

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Psalm 114

The Lectionary assigned parts of Psalm 118 for both Palm/Passion Sunday and Easter and since the March 24 sermon commentary here on the CEP website was on Psalm 118, I will direct you to look that up in our Sermon Commentary Library.  But for this commentary we will take the psalm for Year B Easter…

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1 Corinthians 15:1-11

When I was a teenager, members of our church’s youth group would play a variety of games together. Among them was “Telephone.” In it a group of people sit in a circle as a message is verbally passed from person. Among the most humorous parts of the game is the way that message almost inevitably…

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Mark 16:1-8

Mark’s Easter story is a shocker. Even though it’s the earliest written of the gospel accounts, it has the least amount of details and Jesus himself is merely talked about in the passage. And once you’ve become accustomed to the John’s intimate garden encounter between Mary and Jesus or the women’s quick obedience in Matthew…

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1 Peter 3:18-22

It may be a good thing that the RCL appoints 1 Peter 3:18-22 as this Sunday’s (as well as an earlier Easter) Epistolary Lesson. Otherwise, preachers might succumb to the temptation to skip over it without ever addressing this passage that’s both so theologically rich and, in some places, deeply mysterious. This Sunday marks the…

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1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11

Near the end of his first letter to the Christian diaspora, Peter returns to one of its main themes: suffering for the sake of the faith. But as he does so, he also both puts an eschatological “spin” on and offers a promise in regard to that Christian suffering. This Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson contains a…

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John 17:1-11

Unity, it seems, is that elusive description for God’s church. We hear the calls for it but disagree on the terms. We know it is part of God’s solution for what ails humanity, but we cannot grasp the way of sacrifice on the road to peace. We rightly identify it as the way that Jesus…

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John 14:15-21

Separating this part of Jesus’s conversation with the disciples from last week’s helps us focus on the bonded (in the sense of stuck to/with) nature of God-with-us, no matter which particular person of the Trinity it is who is with us. The ties that bind us, of course, is the love of God. If we…

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1 Peter 3:13-22

One of Bob Dylan’s most famous songs begins, “You may be an ambassador to England or France/ You may like to gamble, you might like to dance/ You may be the heavyweight champion of the world/ You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.” “But,” Dylan repeatedly adds, “you’re going to have…

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John 14:1-14

Comments, Questions, and Observations “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” These words can apply to so many different situations, but in this particular text, they immediately follow Jesus’s prophetic promise that he is about to be betrayed by one them, will be leaving them, and will be denied by one of the most loyal…

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1 Peter 2:2-10

Hiking is a kind of art form. After all, people who do it well manage, among other things, to keep a watchful eye on both what’s on the ground on which they walk and what’s above that ground. Artful hikers understand that there is generally much that has the potential to both trip up and…

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1 Peter 2:19-25

God has graciously called God’s dearly beloved people out of spiritual darkness and into the light of God glorious salvation. God has also called God’s adopted children to be God’s elect, God’s chosen people and heirs of God’s riches blessings. However, in this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson, Peter describes another high calling from God. God has…

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John 10:1-10

Each year on the fourth Sunday after Easter, the lectionary brings us to a passage that relates to the Good Shepherd narrative. Notice, though, that in our passage this week, the I AM statement that Jesus focuses on in verses 7-10 are about being the door, or gate, depending on your translation. (I’ll be using…

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1 Peter 1:17-23

No one has, to my knowledge, ever produced a television series or movie entitled, “Strangers.” We prefer our shows to have titles like, “Friends.” So Peter’s first letter’s repeated references to “strangers” may seem to have no place in either our longings our culture. After all, few people want to be strangers. Most of us…

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Luke 24:13-35

The Easter season is all about coming to faith and belief, of having the testimonies of one another be heard and trusted, of receiving personal confirmation via experience, and of being reminded that sometimes we ask for more proof than we actually need. Throughout, we see how it takes people different kinds of experiences and…

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1 Peter 1:3-9

Suffering may seem like a theme that’s incongruous with the season of Easter. Last Sunday, after all, all but the Orthodox part of Christ’s Church celebrated Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Some Christians are, what’s more, leery about talking about Jesus and Christians’ suffering at any time of the year. In the Easter season, some…

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John 20:19-31

What does it take to believe? Just that morning, Mary herself had told them that Jesus was resurrected, and the beloved disciple, having seen the folded-up graveclothes, believed something (though we aren’t sure what). Now, many of them are huddled together in fear, locked away from those who they believe want to do them harm….

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John 20:1-18

Perhaps you have heard, or even led, the same prayer as me before preaching: it’s something along the lines of, “Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts and minds to understand, and hands and feet willing to go and do what we hear from you in the Word today.” These petitions are…

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Acts 10:34-43

“He was not seen by all the people.” I’ll say. This is what Peter tells Cornelius in Acts 10 as he sums up the story arc of Jesus’ life, including the world-altering fact of his having been raised from the dead.   Jesus was raised again!  He arose!!   But . . . by way of a…

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Colossians 3:1-4

This Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson challenges and stretches Christians’ understanding of Easter’s ongoing importance. Christians profess that approximately two thousand years ago, God the Father didn’t let God the Son stay dead. God raised Jesus from the dead (1). Jesus’ friends also understand at least some of the future implications of Jesus’ resurrection. Because God refused…

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Psalm 118:1, 2, 14-24

What every preacher needs on Easter Sunday is an angle.  Everyone already knows the story, so it is hard to astonish people as the women astonished the disciples with the news of an empty tomb on that first Easter morning.  To help people experience that primitive astonishment and the kind of joyful thanksgiving to which…

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Easter: Soar We Now

Anyone who has ever taken a class in physics may remember Newton’s laws of motion. Even if you’ve never taken physics or specifically had to memorize Newton’s laws, you’re probably familiar with the basics. One law is the simple observation that an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless some outside force acts…

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Easter: Enough

Dan Brown’s suspense novel, The DaVinci Code, was a New York Times #1 bestseller for over a year, selling in the end millions of copies.  As some of you may recall from The DaVinci Code, Mary Magdalene occupies a central place in the narrative.  Yes, the same Mary who figures in so importantly in the…

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Easter 5B: Fruitfulness or Productivity

Jesus says, “Remain in me as I remain in you.” To my mind, that’s one of the lousiest translations I can think of. It completely ignores the personal and spiritual dimensions of what Jesus is talking about here. In Greek, the word is menein. It’s one of the most important words in this whole gospel,…

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Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

Relatively few avid readers that I know enjoy surprise endings, especially to books they’ve come to savor. After all, life seems to end all too often in tragedy. Perhaps partly as a result, most readers prefer our literature to end at least hopefully, if not happily. Sometimes, however, books end not surprisingly or hopefully, but…

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John 17:20-26

Though Jesus prayed this prayer before his crucifixion and resurrection, as part of the season of Easter this passage continues to shape our understanding of the Resurrection New Life that God invites us to live. This is especially true because Christ’s prayer is for his people across time and space—and not just the disciples who…

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Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5

Revelation 21 is the last stop on the RCL’s “tour” of the book Revelation. That tour is so short that I sometimes wonder if those who constructed it were impatient to get to its happy ending. It’s almost as if they so tired of Revelation’s horrors that they decided to hurdle most of them so…

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John 5:1-9

The Lectionary gives us a choice on texts this week. I’m choosing to work with the healing on the Sabbath that occurred at the pool of Bethesda. By the way, if you’re looking to preach on the other lectionary text option this week, my colleague Scott wrote on it the last time through the Year…

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John 13:31-35

God glories in every act of love. We know this already about God’s own acts, but we might forget how it applies to our acts of love as well. The opening of the lectionary passage immediately follows the reveal of Judas—who is entered by Satan—as Jesus’ betrayer (it’s Judas who is referred to as leaving…

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Revelation 21:1-6

While we sometimes say, “The devil is in the details,” we might say part of this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’s “gospel is in the details.” After all, some of Revelation 21’s greatest news lies in its verb tenses. In it, the Spirit inspires John to see “a new heaven and a new earth” (1). This is,…

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John 10:22-30

This passage follows very closely Jesus’ “I am the good shepherd” speech. People were already suspicious of Jesus and how he described himself, thinking he had a demon or was out of his mind. There were some, though, who thought there might be more to Jesus than madness or possession (verse 20). Some scholars see…

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Revelation 7:9-17

When Christians recite the Apostle’s Creed, we profess that we believe in “the holy catholic church.” But sweet Miss Virginia always stayed silent during that part of the profession. “I’m sorry, Pastor,” she once apologized to me. “I was raised to believe that Catholics aren’t Christians. So I still have a very hard time saying…

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John 21:1-19

Perhaps like you, most of the times that I have preached this text I have honed in on Peter being re-rooted in Christ and commissioned for what will come in his life and ministry. So, this year I’m focusing on what happens to the group of disciples, Peter included. It helps that our text today…

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Revelation 5:11-14

This Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’s John reminds me of young children who tell their parents or grandparents a story that so excites them that it tumbles out of them in a string of run-on sentences that begin with “And ….” You may know the form. “I was walking home from school and I saw this big…

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John 20:19-31

Comments, Questions and Observations Often, the focus of this week’s Easter Lectionary is on Thomas. His “doubt” is rather relatable, and it seems to be what Jesus reflects directly upon when he declares a beatitude about belief.  (It really is too bad for Thomas that he wasn’t there that Easter evening with the other disciples….

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Revelation 1:4b-8

Comments, Observations, and Questions Revelation is the Bible’s final book. That may be one reason why many Christians have historically thought of it as largely future-oriented. But the Spirit who inspires its author doesn’t just point John and his readers toward the future. The Spirit also reaches back into the mists of eternity. Revelation isn’t…

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Luke 24:1-12

Comments, Questions and Observations When we begin reading this account it might seem like it is an anonymous group headed to the tomb at dawn—the members of the group aren’t named until all the way in verse 10. But, we know from the close of the previous chapter, as they followed Jesus’ body to his…

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1 Corinthians 15:19-26

Comments, Observations, and Questions Death stinks – both literally and figuratively. While such a reminder may not seem like a particularly popular (or common) way to begin an Easter proclamation, it is the context within which we begin any and every proclamation of Easter’s great news. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, death still…

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Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Comments, Observations, and Questions Call it the little Psalm that could.  Call it the Psalm of stealth and surprise.  Call it the Psalm that fits the Gospel bill. Why?  Because out of all the 150 psalms in the Hebrew Psalter, many people have their favorites but those favorites—most anybody’s “Top 10 Greatest Hits of the…

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1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Paul calls Jesus’ resurrection “of first importance.” Yet does it really matter whether Jesus rose, in John Updike’s lyrical words, “as His body” (Seven Stanzas at Easter), or as Gerd Ludemann insisted in a 2012 debate, the Scripture’s accounts of it were just a “legend, not objective description”? Does it really make any difference whether…

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1 Corinthians 15:1-11

I am a child of the North American 60’s who grew up watching some Saturday morning cartoons. So I can hardly hear 1 Corinthians 15:10a without hearing Popeye’s, “I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam. I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.” That might seem like a rather strange onramp to a consideration…

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Easter: While It Was Still Dark

A few short days ago many of you attended a Tenebrae service. If you did, then you know that that service of shadows ends in darkness and silence. Liturgically that service is the deepest shade of purple that culminated the purple season of Lent.  This Easter morning, however, you came to church anticipating the color…

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Mark 16:1-8

[Note: John 20 gets assigned by the Lectionary for every Easter Sunday in the three-year cycle. Since I have posted sermon ideas on that text often over the years, this year I will go with the alternative text from Mark 16.  But if you want to view a John 20 sermon commentary from last year,…

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Psalm 114

[Note: The Year B Lectionary assigned Psalm 118 for both Passion Sunday and Easter.  I chose to post on that for Passion/Palm Sunday last week and the Easter evening Psalm for this week.  If you want to see last week’s post on Psalm 118, click here.] Psalm 114 is a curious choice for Easter Evening…

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Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)

As I said last week in my comments on Acts 5, during the season of Easter the Lectionary switches from its customary focus on the Old Testament in the first reading, in order to follow the effects of Easter on the early church in the book of Acts.  It is an ingenious way to show…

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John 20:1-18

A friend of mine who is a true believer in the Gospel once confessed to me that Easter services can be a little hard on him.  There’s just something about all that exuberance, all that blaring brass, all those bright lights and white lilies that combine to go sufficiently over the top in ways he…

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Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Call it the little Psalm that could.  Call it the Psalm of stealth and surprise.  Call it the Psalm that fits the Gospel bill. Why?  Because out of all the 150 psalms in the Hebrew Psalter, many people have their favorites but those favorites—most anybody’s “Top 10 Greatest Hits of the Psalter” list—would likely not…

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1 Corinthians 15:19-26

Some biblical texts deal with rather ordinary things such stealing, eating and even caring for animals.  Other texts, however, open readers’ eyes to far bigger issues.  While Paul talks much about daily concerns early in his first letter to the Corinthians, he closes it by talking about bigger concerns.  As Daniel J. Price to whose…

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Isaiah 65:17-25

Every preacher knows what a challenge it is to preach on Easter.  On the one hand, it is the epicenter of the Gospel, the event that makes or breaks the claims of Jesus, as Paul says in I Corinthians 15.  So, how can we mere mortals do justice to such a world changing moment in…

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Song of Solomon 2:8-13

This is first and only time the Song of Songs appears in the Revised Common Lectionary, and it is an odd time.  I mean that the reading clearly refers to the first days of spring, while we are in the last days of summer.  What can we do with this oddly timed and controversial reading?…

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Symposium 2018: Dusty Faith

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Psalm 133

As is so often the case with the RCL, Psalm 133 seems an odd choice for this second Sunday of the Easter season– until we read it in conjunction with the other readings for today.  Read in the context of Acts 4:32-35 in particular, it is very clear why we should focus on Psalm 133. …

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John 20:19-31

Poor Thomas.  He is the classic example of the old saying, “Make just ONE little mistake and you’re labeled for life!”  Or in Thomas’s case, labeled for something more like FOREVER!  But honestly, would any of us be so different were we faced with what Thomas confronted?  Probably not.  We’d be skeptical too.  After all,…

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Psalm 16

Psalm 16 is the perfect Psalm for this second Sunday of the Easter season. The last 3 verses were the text for Peter’s Pentecost sermon, in which he proved from Scripture that Jesus’ death and resurrection had always been at the heart God’s plan of salvation.  Psalm 16 is also the perfect Psalm for our…

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Matthew 28:1-10

We are accustomed to associating Easter Sunday with travel.  What we are perhaps not accustomed to realize is that the Easter story involves travel, too.  Today we don’t mind traveling in order to see loved ones, including on holidays like Christmas or Easter.  Some of us routinely pack up our cars and hit the highway…

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Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

What every preacher needs on Easter Sunday is an angle.  Everyone already knows the story, so it is hard to astonish people as the women astonished the disciples with the news of an empty tomb on that first Easter morning.  To help people experience that primitive astonishment and the kind of joyful thanksgiving to which…

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Colossians 3:1-4

No one likes being accused of “being so heavenly minded as to be of no earthly good.”  Karl Marx has his own version of this (religion = narcotic) as have any number of cynics and critics of faith.  Yet there it is in Colossians 3: if you have been raised with Christ, set your minds…

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Psalm 30

Easter and Eastertide have now passed this calendar year and yet in the Sundays after Pentecost the Lectionary provides us with some wonderful poetry to help us continue living into and celebrating Easter. With its imagery of death and resurrection, Psalm 30 is a perfect post-Easter Psalm. Its purpose is to keep the memory of…

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Acts 16:16-34

TANSTAAFL is an acronym for the old adage, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” reportedly coined by Robert Heinlein. Quite simply, it means even if something appears to be free, there’s always some kind of catch. So your friendly neighborhood lobbyist (or pastor) may buy you lunch or dinner. However, she’s probably…

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John 17:20-26

One of the most creative preachers I know who always manages to approach texts in a very fresh way is Debbie Blue.   For this text, she reminds us that biblically “glory doesn’t shine, it bleeds.”   You can hear that sermon by clicking on this link. What does Jesus mean by all his talk here about…

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Acts 16:9-15

Occasionally the Lectionary’s choice of where to begin and end a text boggles preachers’ and teachers’ minds. This Sunday’s text is a good case in point. It’s not just that it begins in the middle of a paragraph in most English translations. It’s also that this text begins in the middle of what we often…

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Psalm 67

Easter is long gone, but Psalm 67 and the other readings for this sixth Sunday of the Easter season keep the Easter theme alive by foreshadowing one of the most astonishing results of Christ’s resurrection. Let me explain that by putting Psalm 67 in liturgical perspective. Next week, we will celebrate Christ’s Ascension when, according…

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