Preaching Connection: Mercy

Additional content related to Mercy

Luke 1:46b-55

The Year B Lectionary makes Mary’s song, “The Magnificat,” an alternative Psalm lection for both the Third and Fourth Sundays in Advent.   For Advent 4B the main Psalm lection is from Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26.  This commentary will be on Luke 1 and Mary’s song but if you want to read a prior Advent sermon commentary…

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Psalm 23

Psalm 23 bears a lot of resemblance to any number of poems in the Hebrew Psalter.  This is not the only sunny-side-up psalm that exudes confidence at every turn.  It is not the only psalm to use pastoral imagery or to invoke the specter of “enemies” in whose presence God will vindicate the psalmist.  Yet…

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Matthew 18:21-35

Having just been told that their community will be one known for its willingness to stand by people who are repenting and in need of reconciliation, Peter now asks Jesus how personal this work shall extend. Peter’s question makes me feel more confident that the “against you” in verse 15 (which we talked about last…

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Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21

The RCL had us in the heart of Psalm 145 a scant month ago for its July 9, 2023, psalm lection.  Why we are looping back to some of these same verses so soon is not clear.  In any event, I refer you to that sermon commentary and will not here repeat everything I said…

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Psalm 145:8-14

The Lectionary carves out for us the middle third of this psalm and so although there are multiple (albeit overall related) themes in this poem, we will focus on verse 8 and how it sets the tone for the verses before us.  “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” …

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Acts 2:14a, 22-32

“And for all who are far off . . .” I guess that’s us. I guess that’s everybody. It was even, at least for a time, Peter and company.  After all, the crucifixion accounts make it clear that the disciples watched Jesus die from a distance.  It’s the same word as in Acts 2: makran,…

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Isaiah 50:4-9a

Although one would think the Old Testament offers up lots of compelling possible Lectionary texts for Palm/Passion Sunday, the RCL likes Isaiah 50 for this particular day and so assigns it in Years A, B, and C.  It is definitely a text that tilts away from all things “Triumphal Entry” and more definitively in the…

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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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Psalm 51:1-10

Every once in a while in a movie or on a TV show—and often used for comedic effect—there will be a character whose self-esteem is so low and so fragile that those who know this person are loathe ever to criticize him.  If you point out even one little mistake to Larry, Larry will immediately…

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Jeremiah 18:1-11

The image of a potter at a wheel molding a wet lump of clay into various shapes is both a vivid image and one that most people can picture easily in their minds—it even cuts across multiple cultures seeing as the art of pottery making is quite ancient.   Skilled potters are downright amazing in their…

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Hosea 11:1-11

When trying to teach seminary students some techniques for effective Bible reading, Hosea 11 is a chapter I often assign.  I ask students to ponder the text and to then make a recording for me of what they would deem to be an effective interpretive reading.  I am often floored by how bloodless some such…

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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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Isaiah 50:4-9a

Years ago when my son was in the 8th Grade, his Christian school teacher was preparing the students to watch the whipping scene from the Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of the Christ, which at the time had come out quite recently.  Long before they got to viewing the actual video clip—in fact, they never…

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Hebrews 4:12-16

Even adults are, in some ways, masters of hiding. We generally no longer hide in closets or behind furniture as we did when we played “Hide and Seek” as children. Yet we still manage to keep a lot of things hidden from each other – and, sometimes, even ourselves. So those who proclaim Hebrews 4…

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Psalm 4

It is easier so see in some Psalms more than others but many of the Psalms were written for two or sometimes three voices.  Psalm 4 is clearly to be understood as having two speakers (at least two): the psalmist and Yahweh, the God of Israel.  It’s pretty obvious that the psalmist is speaking in…

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Jonah 3:1-5, 10

If you pay attention to the liturgical year, you know that we are still in the season of Epiphany.  At first reading, I wondered what the story of Jonah has to do with Epiphany.  Upon further meditation, I saw that it is a revelation of the grace of God in the most unexpected places– at…

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Judges 4:1-7

We are nearly at the end of our journey through Ordinary Time.  Next Sunday is the celebration of Christ the King and then the liturgical year begins again with Advent.  This first Lectionary reading for today is at once discouraging and encouraging, depending on where we focus our attention. Similarly, Israel has come to the…

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Exodus 32:1-14

In this text, Paradise has almost been regained.  Oh, yes, Israel is in a dry desert, not a lush garden.  But so much of what had been wrong has been put right.  Israel has been released from the house of bondage.  Their covenant Lord is leading them to the land of milk and honey, providing…

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Matthew 18:15-20

In some segments of the Christian church, “Matthew 18” has become rather like “Miranda Rights.”  As anyone who has ever watched police dramas on TV knows, when arresting a suspect for any reason, the arresting officer is supposed to “read him his rights,” which is a set series of statements that most of us have…

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Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

Your attitude towards disobedience may depend on whether you view it from a parent’s perspective or a child’s.  After all, as the wonderful American preacher Fleming Rutledge notes, parents want children who obey. We want sons who don’t do things like touch hot stoves or abuse alcohol.  You and I want daughters who do things…

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Genesis 29:15-28

If I am Esau, sitting back home in Beersheba, the injustice of my situation is infuriating.  I’ve been deceived and robbed.  My life has been forever changed by the slippery ways of my little brother.  My birthright is gone; so is my blessing.  I’m left here with my blind old father and a mother who…

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Micah 6:1-8

In the midst of the glory of Epiphany we encounter this sobering and bracing text about God’s lawsuit against his sinful people.  How is this an Epiphany text?  The only connection I could find lies in that little word “showed” in verse 8.  After the whole court proceeding laid out in verses 1-7, God reveals…

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Hebrews 11:29-12:2

It sometimes seems like human nature to long for heroes.  Today, however, it’s difficult to find heroes to whom we can steadily look up.  The bright lights of things like 24-hour cable networks, YouTube and social media expose even the most famous people’s moral spots and wrinkles. So it may seem nice to have a…

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Hosea 1:2-10

How on earth can you preach this strange and sordid text?  Well, ask yourself this question. How do you get someone to stop doing something dangerous when they simply won’t listen to you? The other day my youngest grandson, a daring dynamo of perpetual motion, had entered a goofy phase and was riding one of…

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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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Hebrews 4:12-16

At least some Christians generally think of corporate worship as relatively sedate.  I suspect that the worship services of most of us who write and read these sermon commentaries leave worshipers feeling pretty safe. However, the author Annie Dillard, in her book Teaching a Stone to Talk, writes about the dangers of meeting God in…

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Psalm 123

Psalm 123 is the fourth of the Songs of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) and the first that is a prayer.  Most scholars think that Israelite pilgrims from all over the Promised Land (and perhaps beyond, if this is an early post-Exilic Psalm) sang these words as they journeyed up to Jerusalem and maybe even as they…

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Exodus 32:1-14

Almost all of us have experienced our text’s Aaron’s feelings at one time or another.  He’s caught, after all, quite literally between a rock and a hard place.  Aaron is trapped between a glorious past and an uncertain future. Israel’s memories of her escape from Egyptian slavery remain as clear as a dry, cool night…

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Matthew 18:15-20

In some segments of the Christian church, “Matthew 18” has become rather like “Miranda Rights.”  As anyone who has ever watched police dramas on TV know, when arresting a suspect for any reason, the arresting officer is supposed to “read him his rights,” which is a set series of statements that most of us have…

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Psalm 113

Psalm 113 is a thing of beauty, both in its form and in its content. It is a beautiful example of the forms of Hebrew poetry, consisting of three perfectly rounded stanzas: the call to praise Yahweh in verses 1-3, the praise of Yahweh’s majesty in verses 4-6, and the praise of Yahweh’s mercy in…

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Psalm 103:1-8

In the dog days of August, in the heart of Ordinary Time, Psalm 103 is an immensely helpful self-initiated reminder not to forget all that God does for us, which is, simply, everything. That’s probably why my teachers back at Denver Christian Elementary School made me memorize these very verses at the ripe old age…

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Jude

Though it seems like the bulk of Jude’s letter deals with negative examples, he surrounds the negative with some very strong positives. The key is to slow down and pay attention to why Jude says what he says the way he says it. The main thing Jude wants to say to the community is found…

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Jonah 1-4

Some years ago, Will Smith played a character named Robert Dean in the movie Enemy of the State.  Dean unwittingly ends up possessing a surveillance tape that a high ranking government official does not want him to have.  This official is not sure who Robert Dean is, or how he ended up with the tape. …

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Luke 1:47-55

While we sometimes think of Christmastime as making some things in our families, circle of friends and church right again, Mary’s song suggests Christmas actually turns the whole world upside down. The world about which she sings in our text is, indeed, a world turned on its head. Yet few people would call this a…

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