Preaching Connection: Kingdom

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Movies for Preaching

Places in the Heart (1984) – 3

Places in the Heart (1984).  Written and directed by Robert Benton (Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay).  Starring Sally Field (Academy Award for Best Actress), John Malkovich, and Danny Glover.  PG, 111 min. Finally, after travail upon travail, after tragic loss, everything finally looks like all will end happily, or least alright, for they fought…

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Places in the Heart (1984) – 2

Places in the Heart (1984).  Written and directed by Robert Benton (Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay).  Starring Sally Field (Academy Award for Best Actress). John Malkovich, and Danny Glover.  PG, 111 min. She’s suddenly a widow with two suddenly fatherless young children, and it is the depths of the Great Depression in rural Texas. …

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Tender Mercies (1983) – 2

Tender Mercies (1983). Written by Horton Foote.  Directed by Bruce Beresford. Starring Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, and Wilfred Brimley.  92 Mins.  Rated PG. Notions of what exactly is meant by the kingdom of God have regularly shifted vastly ever since the phrase came into being.  A lot of that fuzz continues still, needless to say,…

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The Innocents (2016)

The Innocents (French title Agnus Dei). 2016. Directed by Anne Fontaine.  Written by Peter Bonitzer and Anne Fontaine.  Starring Agata Buzek, Lou de Laâge, and Vincent Macaigne.  115 Mins.  Rated PG-13. In Poland during the last days of WW II a young French physician-in-training (Lou de Laâge) finds herself in a very difficult, and wholly…

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Additional content related to Kingdom

Matthew 5:1-12

According to Matthew, this isn’t Jesus’s first sermon, but it is the first one that Matthew records. Jesus is in Galilee, preaching, teaching, and healing, and drawing crowds from all over—mostly of the sick and those in need of healing. Imagine the people and their needs that Jesus has encountered—both those who he healed, and…

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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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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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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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Jeremiah 23:1-6

Just beyond the ending point for this particular Old Testament Year C reading is a rather striking line in Jeremiah 23:7-8.  Anyone who grew up hearing the Ten Commandments—as well as other Old Testament passages—read on a fairly regular basis in church or at the dinner table knows that one of the most famous catch-phrases…

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Psalm 46

It probably counts as something of an irony that for all its soaring comfort in proclaiming the sovereignty of God and God’s rule over all things, Psalm 46 is invoked most often precisely in those times when it is most difficult to believe that a good and loving God is providentially in charge of the…

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Luke 23:33-43

If you are new to the lectionary cycle, you may have found this week’s gospel passage quite jarring: the crucifixion in November? What is going on? It is the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Sunday that comes at the end of the church year, our quasi-New Year’s Eve, and on it our focus is…

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Colossians 1:11-20

When the people in Colosse originally heard Paul’s letter to them, they knew about the kinds of dominions about which he talks in verse 13. After all, when things went wrong in their day, their contemporaries didn’t generally blame each other. They, instead, blamed powers that their culture understood to be “in charge.” They pointed…

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Isaiah 65:17-25

It doesn’t get any more lyric than this!  Here in the 65th chapter of the sprawling book that just is Isaiah, we find the prophet sketching one huge vision for the renewal of all things.  But like many such visions in the Old Testament—and indeed throughout the Bible—what is striking here is how utterly earthy…

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Philippians 3:17-4:1

In this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson Paul calls his Philippian audience to “join with others in following” his “example” (17). To 21st century ears, however, such an invitation sounds like nails scraping an old-fashioned chalkboard. Its apparent arrogance doesn’t just, after all, hurt our ears. Such a bold call to imitation also no longer fits into…

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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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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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Jeremiah 31:7-14

You can’t accuse the Old Testament prophets of not being specific enough when it came to describing the blessings of God’s salvation! Sometimes believers today content themselves with generic or generalized descriptions of felicity in “heaven,” sometimes not advancing in their views of the New Creation much beyond the wispy, cloudy, ethereal realm that New…

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John 18:33-37

It is the last Sunday in the liturgical year and the lectionary marks it as Christ the King Sunday by bringing us deep into the Passion week narrative to Jesus’ encounter with Pilate. It can be a little jarring to just jump here from the teaching ministry in Mark, but a liturgical focus on Christ…

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2 Samuel 23:1-7

The so-called “last words of David” are curiously placed.  For one thing, there is quite a bit more action involving David in the balance of even 2 Samuel.  But there will be more words and more narrative to come in also the opening portion of 1 Kings.  It’s as though the author and editor of…

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Mark 12:28-34

The text’s message this week is simple. It’s the all-encompassing nature of the application that gets overwhelming. Did you know, for instance, that there are 613 commandments in the Pentateuch? Summarizing and prioritizing, as Jesus does here, was a normal practice among the rabbis and scribes of Judaism, not to mention that it’s a helpful…

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Mark 10:35-45

It turns out that Peter is not the only one of the disciples who can get in over his head in conversation with Jesus. This time it’s brothers, James and John, who think they know what they’re talking about. Though it isn’t included in our selection for today, James and John’s request comes right after…

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Mark 4:26-34

Like the message they convey, so also the two parables in this part of Mark 4 are mighty small.  This is no Parable of the Prodigal Son that takes up the better part of a whole chapter.  Jesus manages to convey something about the smallness of the kingdom via two stories that are themselves pretty…

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Matthew 4:12-23

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…

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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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Luke 20:27-38

“And no one dared to ask him any more questions.” That must have come as a great relief to Jesus in that he had lately been pummeled with one tricky query after the next.  Technically that line in verse 40 falls just outside the lection prescribed here, which ends in verse 38 (why it ends…

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Haggai 1:5b-2:9

For me, one of the greatest proofs of the Bible’s divine inspiration is its applicability to life in every era of history.  The prophecy given in Haggai was written in the last period of Old Testament prophetic activity, after Israel’s return from Exile, in the year 520 BC.  And yet its narrow focus on a…

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Joel 2:28-32

As we near the end of Ordinary Time, the Lectionary begins to point toward Advent with prophecies that are more distinctly Messianic.  After 9 hard weeks in Jeremiah which was addressed to a nation on the brink of Exile, we turn to the Minor Prophets, beginning with the one about bugs. Joel rose out of…

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Luke 13:31-35

Luke knew how to spin a tale!  Today he’d likely be a best-selling writer no matter what his genre: novels, biographies, essays.  Luke had style, narrative panache.  Dip into any of his stories in The Gospel that bears his name or in The Book of Acts (that he also authored) and you see this readily….

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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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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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Matthew 4:12-23

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…

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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 65:17-25

The “heavens and … earth” that Isaiah 65 describes are clearly “new.”  After all, they’re radically unlike the ones we know here and now.  In fact, the prophet’s picture of them is so earthly and yet different from what we now experience that it almost makes us weep with longing for what Isaiah’s vision symbolizes….

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Philippians 3:17-4:1

Was the church better off when it was persecuted or when it wielded significant political power and influence? It’s one of history’s bigger questions. Over the course of the first three or so centuries of the Christian church’s existence, a number of Roman emperors persecuted the church. One emperor, however, believed in the church, even…

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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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2 Corinthians 7

Comments and Observations Recently my congregation lifted up their voices and sang “Blessed Be Your Name” (Matt and Beth Redman).  The song speaks of the ups and downs in life – we sang of the times when we’re “in the land that is plentiful, where your streams of abundance flow” we sang of the times…

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