Preaching Connection: Glory

Movies for Preaching

The Thin Red Line (1998) – 4

The Thin Red Line (1998).  Written and directed Terrence Malick.  Starring James Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, and Elias Koteas.  170 mins; rated R.  Metacritic: 78%; Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Pictures worth a thousand words?  Sometimes maybe, especially when mixed with music.  And then, perhaps, if done well, such can skin the soul alive, so to…

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The Thin Red Line (1998) – 1

The Thin Red Line (1998).  Written and directed Terrence Malick.  Starring James Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, and Elias Koteas.  170 mins; rated R.  Metacritic: 78%; Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. The big question, crisply and resonantly put, comes late in the film, though throughout it has echoed and ramified through people and events.  It comes in…

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Reading for Preaching

“The Weight of Glory,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses

Lewis reflects on human dignity, human weightiness.  He calls it a “weight of glory” and then adds this (one of the truly famous Lewis passages): “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one...
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Gilead

John Ames, a 76-year-old minister, dying from heart failure, writes to his son about how he has experienced life.  “There was a young couple strolling along half a block ahead of me.  The sun had come up brilliantly after a heavy rain, and the trees were glistening and very wet.  On some impulse, plain exuberance...
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East of Eden

“Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is...
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Additional content related to Glory

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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Exodus 34:29-35

To understand the end of Exodus 34, you need to catch up on two things: the immediate context of this chapter in Exodus and also what happened in the first 9 verses of this 34th chapter, the final effect of which you can read in the Lectionary selection of verses 29-35. First of all, then,…

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Psalm 99

All these millennia later it is easy to read the Psalms, especially one like Psalm 99, and forget how at once scandalous and vaguely ridiculous they might appear to be.  Or at least how they could appear to an outsider to Israel who was looking in.  After all, in poems like this one, the psalmist…

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Luke 9:28-36

Comments, Questions, and Observations Given that this passage is often on the Sunday that immediately precedes Lent, I have often thought of it as a story that is mostly about Jesus giving his disciples a strong picture of him to hold on to as they enter the dark days of his suffering and death in…

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Isaiah 6:1-8 (9-13)

It was the year King Uzziah died. Or, it was the year President Kennedy died. Or it was the year 9/11 rattled the world to its core. Or it was the year the COVID pandemic began. It was the year when things fell apart, when foundations were shaken, when the markets crumbled, when all that…

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John 2:1-11

This text is an example of how we can miss important revelation from God if we get too caught up in, for lack of a better term, the humanness of the Gospel narratives. Or, more precisely, maybe it’s more that our cultural baggage and experiences that get us stuck when we read these texts. I…

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Psalm 29

Psalm 29 is a favorite of the Revised Common Lectionary.  Indeed, if you search the Sermon Commentary Library here on CEP, you will find not fewer than ten such commentaries from recent years.  Psalm 29 comes up most every year on the Baptism of our Lord Sunday after Epiphany and it pops up here and…

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Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider At least partly because I struggled to relate it to life in the 20th and 21st centuries, I didn’t preach a series of sermons on the book of Hebrews for the first 20 years of my ministry. Since the book had always seemed to me to be so impractical,…

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Ephesians 1:3-14

Christians know that God didn’t create us to “eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we die.” Yet that popular philosophy raises a number of interesting questions. It makes us wonder how God’s people should evaluate the purpose of our lives. How do we think about why God has put us here? Something in a…

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2 Corinthians 12:2-10

[God’s] power is made perfect in weakness might be one of the most appropriate and hopeful things the inspired Paul could say to his 2021 hearers. After all, in the past 18 months we’ve surely learned if not been reminded that we are weak. Among the countless reasons why the COVID-19 pandemic may have proven…

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2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

The COVID-19 global pandemic has taken away more things than we can count. It has robbed countless people of their lives and livelihoods, as well as mental and physical health. But one loss that’s easy to overlook is our loss of funerals and memorial services that are attended by more than about 10-15 people. That…

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Ephesians 1:3-14

Christians know that God didn’t create us to “eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we die.”  Yet that popular philosophy raises a number of interesting questions.  It makes us wonder how God’s people should evaluate the purpose of our lives.  How do we think about why God has put us here? Something in a…

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2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

Both First and Second Thessalonians spend a lot of their ink on the second coming of Christ, the Parousia. In the verses for today, Paul takes on some fake news spreading about Christ’s return head on. The first five verses of chapter two, in a nutshell, are meant to bring comfort to the church. To…

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Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Sample Sermon:  You wouldn’t think a wasp could do so much damage.  Unless you are allergic to bee and wasp stings, getting stung by these bugs, though briefly painful and annoying, does not generally create any lasting effect or damage.  However, about 150 years ago there was one particular kind of wasp that appears to…

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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 here. What does Jesus mean by all his talk here about “glory”? “I…

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Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5

If we were to ask our hearers for a list of the books of the Bible that most puzzle them, at least some them would likely list both Ezekiel and Revelation.  So it may intimidate those who follow the RCL to know that its Easter Season’s next to last Epistolary Lesson is a passage in…

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John 10:22-30

For the last 12 or so years, few names in the world have been more famous than that of Barack Obama.  Not so long ago, however, that was not the case.  Indeed, not so very long ago almost no one had ever heard of Obama.  A scant four years before he managed to get nominated…

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Philippians 2:5-11

The retired American basketball star Charles Barkley once famously said in a television commercial, “I’m not a role model … Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”  In doing so, he displayed the kind of wisdom that other public figures sometimes lack. The Epistolary Lesson the RCL appoints for…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Psalm 29

Thunderstorms.  On average each day 45,000 such storms occur on Planet Earth.  They are among the most powerful forces we know.  In the simplest, but also in perhaps the most boring, sense a thunderstorm is an atmospheric stabilizer.  Acting like a giant heat machine, a thunderstorm forms when there is a lot of cold air…

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Psalm 72:1-4, 10-14

It is easy to see why this poem was chosen for the Day of Epiphany: it’s all about foreign kings and dignitaries bowing before the King of Israel.  Think Magi and all that.  The Bible I used for Psalm 72 says up top that this poem is “Of Solomon,” even though at the end of…

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Colossians 3:12-17

Some people who proclaim Colossians 3 this week are old enough to remember a kind of worship battle that largely preceded today’s battles over music.  Some of those battles were fought over appropriate clothing for wearing to worship. During the 1960’s and 70’s my dad always wore a suit and tie and my mom wore…

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Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12

Until relatively recently I’d never preached a series of sermons on the book of Hebrews.  That’s partly because I’ve struggled to relate it to life in the 20th and 21st centuries. Hebrews has always seemed to me to be so impractical and theological.  So I’ve shied away from much of its talk about things like…

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Psalm 29

The Revised Common Lectionary chooses this Psalm for this first Sunday after the Epiphany of Christ in all three years of its reading cycle.  Clearly the Lectionary sees Psalm 29 as a parallel to the baptism of Jesus, because in both the voice of God rings out over the waters.  Psalm 29 shows us an…

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Psalm 99

Psalm 99 is the last of the Enthronement Psalms that proclaim that Yahweh reigns not only over little Israel, but also over the entire world.  It is a particularly exquisite declaration of Yahweh’s reign because of its symbolic use of numbers, notably the numbers seven and three.  The former is the number of perfection throughout…

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Psalm 99

On this Transfiguration Sunday, Psalm 99 provides us with a tantalizingly different way to preach on that brilliant Epiphany of Christ’s glory on the mountain. In our Transfiguration Day sermon we could do what the disciples wanted to do in Luke 9; we could build shelters/booths/museums to preserve the moment. We could keep retelling the…

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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…

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Exodus 34:29-35

To understand the end of Exodus 34, you need to catch up on two things: the immediate context of this chapter in Exodus and also what happened in the first 9 verses of this 34th chapter, the final effect of which you can read in the Lectionary selection of verses 29-35. First of all, then,…

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John 8:48-59

There’s a very well-known story about a man trapped in the water (variations include him on a roof during a flood, lost on a large lake without his oars, or lost at sea). The man, being a good Christian, prays and believes that God will rescue him. A boat happens upon him and offers to…

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Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

Comments and Observations In all the Bible studies I’ve been part of for the last 40 years, I can’t remember anyone exclaiming, “Let’s study Hebrews!”  At least once a year someone will urge the group to study James, the focus of the lectionary last month, because “it’s so practical!”  Hebrews is so… impractical, so theological…

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Symposium 2007: Cruciform Glory

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