Preaching Connection: Justice

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Reading for Preaching

“The Subjection of Women”

“Some will object that it’s not fair to compare the government of the male sex with the other forms of unjust power that I have discussed, because it is natural while the others are arbitrary and brought about by mere usurpation. But was there ever any domination that didn’t appear natural to those who possessed...
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Additional content related to Justice

Micah 6:1-8

For some years I co-taught a Bible course on the prophets with one of my colleagues from the Old Testament division at Calvin Seminary.  My main task in that course was to talk about how to preach from the Prophets and then to grade a sermon the students write on a passage from Micah.  Somewhat…

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Isaiah 42:1-9

Throughout the “Servant Songs” in this part of Isaiah, despite the focus on the Servant, there is no question who is really in charge and calling all the shots.  The Servant has work to do and will achieve that work to a stunning degree of effectiveness.  Nothing short of the bringing of justice to all…

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Psalm 96

Perhaps it counts as something of an irony that the Lectionary calls on us to reflect on Psalm 96 on Christmas Day.  After all, if ever there were a day in the church year when we do not want to do what Psalm 96:1 says—namely, sing to the Lord a new song—this day is it! …

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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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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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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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Psalm 98

Reading Psalm 98 is like uncorking a well shook-up bottle of champagne.  The cork rockets upward and the bubbly inside the bottle fountains forth in exuberance.  We’ve all seen those locker rooms after a team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl when players spray each other with such bottles—some years ago someone finally…

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Luke 18:1-8

The “unjust judge” is the key comparison in this parable: it is the judge from whom we are meant learn something about God. This is made clear by the fact that this is a parable of comparison. If this judge, who is at the other end of the spectrum of what we know God’s character…

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Psalm 82

What are we to make of Psalm 82?  Who are the “gods” that get referred to multiple times?  If you as an orthodox believer are convinced there really are no other gods beyond the God and Father of Jesus Christ, then these references to other gods may be a bit unsettling.  But as I read…

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Isaiah 5:1-7

As commentators note, Isaiah 5 begins with what looks like some light-hearted romantic ballad. A kind of troubadour opens this chapter by saying, “Listen up! I’m going to sing you a ballad about my beloved one–a song about the vineyard of our love!” It looks like a love song but quickly changes into a lament….

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Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

To get the full impact of Isaiah 1:10-20, you need to back up to verse 9 (left out regrettably by the Lectionary) in which the people of Israel say to themselves (in the wake of great desolation in their land) that with at least a few folks still living, they were not quite as bad…

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Hosea 1:2-10

We teach a certain rule-of-thumb to our seminary students.  We talk about it as colleagues in ministry.  And deep down we intuitively know this truth anyway.  We preachers know that it’s at best dicey to use our spouse and children as sermon illustrations, exemplars of behavior good or bad, or just generally as the starting…

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Amos 8:1-12

The Old Testament is downright chock-full of God’s overweening concern for that traditional triplet of the widows, the orphans, and the resident aliens within Israel.  Each group was vulnerable in the ancient Near East. By tradition, Israel was a male-dominated society.  Family and inheritance were key factors in a person’s having a stable place in…

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Genesis 45:3-11, 15

Easter in the Western Church can come as early as the third Sunday in March and as late as the last Sunday in April.  Falling as it does on April 17 this year, Easter’s late date means an extra-long season after Epiphany and that in turns means getting to some RCL texts we don’t see…

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Psalm 36:5-10

One of my Christmas gifts to my wife was a cookbook on making bread written by Paul Hollywood, one of the judges on the much-loved Great British Baking Show.  When I put a picture of the book’s cover on Facebook along with a picture of my wife’s first and fantastic looking loaf, a couple people…

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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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Psalm 85:8-13

To be honest, Psalm 85 is a little all over the place.  The first four verses reflect a time when God forgave Israel for some transgressions and restored them.  But then the next set of verses seems to indicate Israel went backwards, sinned again, and so found itself under the wrath of God again.  And…

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1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

As we continue to trace the development of the monarchy in Israel and use that history to reflect on the relationship between human leadership and divine sovereignty in our own lives, we come to this famous story of David and Goliath.  It is the second chapter in the story of David’s rise to power in…

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Matthew 25:31-46

Why don’t we pay more attention to life as we live it?  Why do we miss so much?  In Matthew 25 both groups, sheep and goats alike, say they didn’t realize that the poor of the world represented Jesus. Both missed that connection. Ever noticed that before?  The righteous are not commended for spying Jesus…

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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 as this entire psalm was the Lectionary psalm just a couple of months ago.  If you wish to…

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Isaiah 11:1-10

From the First Sunday of Advent to the Second, the imagery changes, but the message doesn’t.  We move from mountains and military in Isaiah 2 to plants and animals and a little child in Isaiah 11.  But both texts promise a day when there will be justice and peace on earth.  Isaiah 2 was less…

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Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

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 nearly 39 years.  During those almost four decades of time, Carter’s reputation has soared but, of course, he…

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Isaiah 2:1-5

What a text for this first Sunday in Advent! What a text for this moment in history!  This promise of universal peace arouses hope in our war torn world.  Or it sounds like an impossible dream.  As I write this, President Trump has just removed all US troops from northern Syria and Turkish forces have…

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Psalm 122

Psalm 122 is one of fifteen psalms extending from Psalms 120-134, each of which is labeled “A Song of Ascents.”  The sense of that title is that these were pilgrimage songs sung by Israelites as they ascended up to Jerusalem.  Not surprisingly, therefore, the terms “Jerusalem,” “Zion,” and “house of Yahweh” occur with great density…

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Jeremiah 23:1-6

All over the world the church celebrates the reign of Christ the King today.  For many of us, that is very good news because we live in places where there is huge controversy over the leadership of our countries.  Whether it’s Hong Kong where protestors clash with police over increasing communist control, or it’s Canada…

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Psalm 98

Reading Psalm 98 is like uncorking a well shook-up bottle of champagne.  The cork rockets upward and the bubbly inside the bottle fountains forth in exuberance.  We’ve all seen those locker rooms after a team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl when players spray each other with such bottles—some years ago someone finally…

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Psalm 82

What are we to make of Psalm 82?  Who are the “gods” that get referred to multiple times?  If you as an orthodox believer are convinced there really are no other gods beyond the God and Father of Jesus Christ, then these references to other gods may be a bit unsettling.  But as I read…

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Acts 9:36-43

Reading Dr. Luke’s account of the growth of the early church is a bit like watching a frog hop from lily pad to lily pad—from Jerusalem to the Gaza Strip to Samaria to Damascus to Joppa, from Peter and John to Philip to Stephen to Paul and now back to Peter.  OK, maybe the image…

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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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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…

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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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Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

As this is being written, grim news fills our media. Terrorist attacks. Police shootings. Ambushes of police officers. Civil wars and attempted coups. They remind us that while the text the Lectionary appoints for this Sunday may be nearly 3,000 years old, both its context and the sins it describes are nearly as contemporary as…

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Psalm 5:1-8

For the second week in a row, I’m going to write on the alternate reading from the Psalter, since I covered Psalm 32 just a few months ago as part of Lent. In a sense, Psalm 5 and Psalm 32 are about the same thing—egregious evil—though Psalm 32 focuses on the evil we commit ourselves,…

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Numbers 14

Where does one begin with this story? Do you focus on how an entire people betray their faithfulness Saviour? Do you try to skip over how angry God is about their betrayal? Do you draw upon Moses’ request for Yahweh to forgive as the spot of hope in an otherwise very sad story? For that…

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Habakkuk 3

To really understand the gravity of the prayer that Habakkuk offers in this chapter, you cannot skip over the two preceding chapters. This is easily avoided when you preach this text in a series; but if you’re highlighting chapter 3 only, you’d do well to lay the groundwork of Habakkuk’s questions to God from earlier…

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Exodus 2:11-25

Comments and Observations Sometimes deliverance takes a long time. The Israelites lived in Egypt for almost four hundred years before God raised up their deliverer. In the midst of forced labor and the murder of their infant sons, Moses was born. Miraculously, God delivered him from what should have been a certain death, because he…

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