Preaching Connection: Epiphany

Home » Preaching Connections » Epiphany

Additional content related to Epiphany

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

Some biblical texts hit so close to home that their proclaimers find them hard to proclaim. 2 Corinthians 3 and 4 is one of those texts. I can’t read this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson without seeing in my mind’s eye dear people like Bill and Carl, as well as Sharon, Ashley*, and countless others. I, honestly,…

Explore

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50

One of the central questions some Christians have about the resurrection is, “Will we recognize each other’s resurrected persons in the new creation?” It echoes this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’ verse 35 where Paul quotes some people as asking, “With what kind of body will [the dead] come [to life]?” Both questions suggest that Christians sometimes…

Explore

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

1 Corinthians 13 is among the loveliest and most lyrical chapters in all of the Scriptures. It virtually sings in praise of love. Its truths are also, through the work of the Spirit, timeless. All of that and more, however, makes it easy to forget that Paul grounds this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson in the first…

Explore

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

An old cliché suggests that the more things change, the more they stay the same. However, Christians might like to think that the Church is immune to such inertia. After all, among the Reformers’ most cherished claims about the Church is that she is “always reforming.” Yet a comparison of Paul’s first letter to Corinth’s…

Explore

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

The Sunday text near Epiphany is the Sunday we commemorate the Baptism of the Lord. And yet, in the gospel of Luke, we pretty much miss the whole thing! Luke describes it in the past tense: Jesus was one of “all” the people who were baptized by the John the Baptist. Instead, Luke’s baptism account…

Explore

Acts 8:14-17

Familiarity may, as the old cliche goes, breed contempt. But sometimes it also breeds a kind of blindness. I’ve written a sermon commentary on Acts 8:14-17. I’ve preached on it multiple times. My familiarity with it hasn’t yet dimmed my fascination with one of the Scriptures’ most mysterious and intriguing stories. However, my relative familiarity…

Explore

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul tries to clear up some theological misunderstandings about the resurrection. Yet he insists that the Corinthians’ confusion about it isn’t just one among many problems that he’s already addressed. Lack of clarity about the resurrection isn’t like confusion about, for example, sexuality, food offered to idols and lawsuits that plague…

Explore

Luke 9:28-36

Not for nothing are they called “Mountaintop Experiences”!  In the Bible, when a story takes us up to a mountaintop, it’s a fair bet that something dramatic is going to happen—indeed, it’s a fair bet that something deeply revelatory is going to happen.  Luke 9 is no exception.  But the drama up there on that…

Explore

Exodus 34:29-35

Fittingly, the season of Epiphany ends with Transfiguration Sunday.  With the possible exception of his resurrection, Christ’s Transfiguration was the most spectacular exhibition of his glory in his life.  Indeed, the Transfiguration was arguably even more glorious than the Resurrection, because Jesus resurrected body did not have about it the unmistakable glory of his transfigured…

Explore

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

Sometimes the lessons the Lectionary appoints for a particular Sunday seem about as loosely tied as some teenagers’ tennis shoes.  On this Transfiguration Sunday, however, that’s not the case.  It doesn’t take much work to recognize the themes that run through the Old Testament, Psalm, Gospel and Epistolary lessons.  Each in its own way reflects…

Explore

Luke 6:27-38

If you are a preacher who likes to highlight the fact that Jesus was always friendliest toward the very same “sinners” that were shunned by the religious authorities of his day, then it can be a little disconcerting to hear Jesus in this passage use the word “sinners” in what sounds like a pejorative way. …

Explore

Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40

Across the spectrum of poems in the Hebrew Psalter are prayers that fit most every occasion and season in life.  Laments, petitions, confessions, praise, thanksgiving; songs that fit happy days and songs that fit rotten days; lyric expressions of trust and bitter cries of abandonment and anger.  It’s all in there.  That’s an important thing…

Explore

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50

It may be a good thing that the Epistolary Lesson the Lectionary appoints for this Sunday comes up only about “once in a blue moon.”  Its sections of 1 Corinthians 15 contain, after all, what N.T. Wright, to whose book, Paul for Everyone: I Corinthians, (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003) I owe great deal…

Explore

Luke 6:17-26

Whereas Matthew gives us the famed “Sermon on the Mount,” Luke gives us much of that same material in what is often called the “Sermon on the Plain.”  It’s difficult to know whether this is the same sermon described in two different ways by two different evangelists or whether Jesus had a few sermons in…

Explore

Jeremiah 17:5-10

It is hard to see why this text was chosen by the Lectionary for this Sixth Sunday of Epiphany, except that its “blessed/cursed” formulary sounds much like Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain, which is the Gospel reading for today (Luke 6:17-26 and see the reading from Psalm 1).  But there’s nothing here about the revelation…

Explore

Psalm 1

Few of us do what many monastic and other traditions have done in history with the Psalms: namely, read them straight through and in order.  Instead we bob and weave our way through the Psalms, picking and choosing to read this Psalm or another for no particular rhyme or reason.  And so it’s easy to…

Explore

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Few things are sadder than the sight of people who place their hopes in something that can’t deliver that for which they hope.  Think, for example, about the sad specter of people lined up to buy lottery tickets, pinning their hopes for wealth on a generally worthless piece of paper.  Or think about terminally ill…

Explore

Luke 5:1-11

We’ve come to call it “the Holy Land.”  From the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the country of Jordan in the east, from Syria in the north to the Sinai in the south travel companies, tour groups, and tourists treat this piece of Middle Eastern real estate as a unity.  It’s where Jesus walked…

Explore

Isaiah 6:1-13

Somewhere in my reading recently, I ran across this familiar rant about God’s invisibility.  “If God really wants us to believe in him, why doesn’t he come out of hiding, you know, make himself visible, write in words across the sky, speak audibly so that everyone can hear his voice, do some miracle that would…

Explore

Psalm 138

Our prayer life should be our autobiography, C.S. Lewis once observed.  But that is also why Lewis thought the Hebrew Psalter was such a fitting prayer book since it contains prayers that fit a wide variety of life’s experiences.  Were the 150 Psalms all in one particular emotional register, what help would it be for…

Explore

Luke 4:21-30

I don’t quite understand this passage.  Or at least I don’t understand how it turns out.  It’s not so much what is contained in this Lectionary snippet of verses 21-30 as how this call follows on what we saw last week in the first part of this story.  After all, Luke 4:15 assures us that…

Explore

Jeremiah 1:4-10

As encouraging and upbeat as Nehemiah 8 was for preachers last week, Jeremiah 1 is more than a bit intimidating and negative.  Nehemiah 8 depicted a preacher’s dream: a willing congregation that invited Ezra to open the Word of God, visibly demonstrated their ready hearts, listened intently to the Word and its interpretation, and responded…

Explore

Psalm 71:1-6

There is a part of the well-known story (and the popular Sunday School story) of “Jacob’s Ladder” that most people don’t know about or just ignore.  The outlines of the story are familiar and are also accurate enough to the biblical text in Genesis: Jacob is on the lam, fleeing the fury of his brother…

Explore

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

In the more than twenty years that I’ve ministered with and to the church I currently serve, I’ve never preached on 1 Corinthians 13.  Now I remember why.  Not only is it so lovely that it nearly defies description.  It’s also like a figurative lit stick of dynamite.  So I take comfort in the assertion…

Explore

Luke 4:14-21

Suspense!  If you stop at verse 21 as the Lectionary would have you to do and hold off on what happens in verses 22 and following next week, then a sermon on this text ends in some suspense as we wait to see how the people will react to what Jesus has just said and…

Explore

Nehemiah 8:1-10

This passage will deeply move every preacher who reads it, either to joy or to sorrow, to gratitude or to envy.  I mean, what happens here is a preacher’s dream.  The whole congregation– men, women (not typical in a Temple service), and children old enough to understand what was going on—spontaneously gathered for worship.  They…

Explore

Psalm 19

Almost 115 years ago an unknown patent clerk named Albert Einstein published a series of papers detailing what he called “special relativity.”  At one fell swoop, Einstein shattered centuries’ worth of scientific theories about the fundamental nature of reality.  The theories of Isaac Newton and his mechanical understanding of the universe’s functioning were swept away,…

Explore

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

When asked to define “church,” at least some people answer by talking about a place like a building, an event like a worship service, or even a kind of organization that people join.  But when Paul defines “church,” he speaks of a living organism into which God’s children are born again, by God’s grace.  He…

Explore

John 2:1-11

Apparently we are going to have to revise our definition of “glory.” Sometimes things happen in life that make us update long-held notions and definitions.   It reminds me of the scene from the movie A Beautiful Mind in which the socially inept genius mathematician John Nash (played by Russell Crowe) haltingly proposes to his…

Explore

Isaiah 62:1-5

At first I was puzzled by the Lectionary’s choice of this Old Testament reading for this second Sunday of Epiphany, but then I saw the light, literally.  In verse 1 Jerusalem is told that “her righteousness [will] shine out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch,” and, adds verse 2, “the nations will…

Explore

Psalm 36:5-10

Once again our friends who put together the Revised Common Lectionary are trying to give us a kinder, gentler version of Scripture.  By carving out the middle half-dozen verses of this psalm and by leaving out verses 1-4 and 11-12, the Lectionary would have us only celebrate the goodness of God without having to be…

Explore

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

God’s adopted sons and daughters generally like being related to Christ.  Through him, after all, we receive not only the gift of salvation, but also eternal life.  On top of that, we don’t have to deal with our brother Christ face to face.  So he doesn’t get on our nerves by doing things like hanging…

Explore

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Luke’s substantial narrative powers surely did not suddenly fail him in this third chapter.  So we need a different kind of explanation for the curious way by which Luke frames up this part of the story.  Consider: First, we get the odd insertion in verses 19-20 about John’s imprisonment following his finally crossing the line…

Explore

Isaiah 43:1-7

On this second Sunday in the Epiphany season, the church focuses on the Baptism of Jesus, arguably one of the greatest manifestations of his glory.  This Old Testament reading was undoubtedly chosen because of its baptismal echoes of passing through the waters and being called by name.  In the same way that Isaiah 60 anticipated…

Explore

Acts 8:14-17

While it’s at least tangentially related to this Sunday’s gospel lesson, Acts 8:14-17 may seem like a rather odd text for the second Sunday of the new year.  It isn’t, after all, just a mysterious text that even the most learned scholars struggle to fully understand.  While the Lectionary longs to unite Christians around the…

Explore

Psalm 29

Anyone who regularly preaches on the Lectionary knows all too well that the there are times when the choice of readings doesn’t make sense.  That is not the case for this First Sunday after Epiphany when we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus.  The “main” reading from the Gospels is, of course, about the baptism of…

Explore

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

Setting aside Donald Trump’s recent exigetically disastrous and self-serving use of a verse in this week’s Epistle lection, most of us who preach would admit that this is not an easy text to get right. Paul’s second letter to Corinth contains wonderful pockets of now well-known words and images. But weaving in and around those…

Explore

Luke 9:28-36

Not for nothing are they called “Mountaintop Experiences”! In the Bible, when a story takes us up to a mountaintop, it’s a fair bet that something dramatic is going to happen—indeed, it’s a fair bet that something deeply revelatory is going to happen. Luke 9 is no exception. But the drama up there on that…

Explore

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Luke’s substantial narrative powers surely did not all suddenly fail him in this third chapter. So we need a different kind of explanation for the curious way by which Luke frames up this part of the story. Consider: First, we get the odd insertion in verses 19-20 about John’s imprisonment following his finally crossing the…

Explore

Psalm 29

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider Psalm 29 is a hymn of praise to the God of creation.  It’s a rather “noisy” psalm that the poet fills with the sounds of praise, thunder, wind and even the sound that earthquakes make.  It’s a psalm that the psalmist also fills with vivid images of angels around…

Explore