Preaching Connection: Ministry

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Is There any Word from the Lord?

On a street in New Haven, Doug Nelson witnessed something he never forgot. “Sitting in my parked car on a miserable, rainy, windy day, I watched a very small, very frail old black man walking by.  He had on his head a magnificent new hat, immaculately pearl gray, slanted at a rakish angle.  But the...
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Gilead

The 76-year-old minister John Ames writes a letter to his 7-year-old son Robby (to be saved and read by Robby when he grows up).  Ames had spent many years as a single pastor, in between marriages.  During this time, women from church would walk freely into the parsonage and leave him a casserole, or baked...
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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.  He tells of approaching a couple of men who work in the local auto garage.  They’re having a smoke.  And they’re laughing.  “When they saw me coming, of course the joking stopped, but I could see...
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The Mill on the Floss

Mr. Tuliver contemplates sending his son to a good tutor where he can learn business and engineering and thus contend with the products of the devil: rats, weevils, and lawyers. His friend, Mr. Riley, suggests an Oxford trained parson. This renders Mr. Tulliver meditative. ‘There’s one thing I’m thinking on,’ said Mr. T . ....
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Additional content related to Ministry

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a

Sample sermon: When I go to different parts of the U.S. or Canada to speak or to preach, I often travel alone.  When I do, I sometimes enjoy going out to eat by myself at a restaurant.  It can be very interesting just to watch people and observe what is going on in ways you…

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John 14:8-17 (25-27)

The lectionary helps us to focus on the Holy Spirit in this passage by assigning this text to Pentecost Sunday, the Sunday in which we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost we remember and express gratitude for yet another one of God’s promises fulfilled: the promise of a “True Friend” (Dale Bruner’s…

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Acts 16:9-15

How did the Holy Spirit prevent Paul and company from entering into the regions of Asia, as Acts 16 narrates this for us?  Yes, Luke (our narrator) makes clear that the Spirit “prevented” them from going in the direction they were minded to go, but I wonder just how that all worked out.  Should we…

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Acts 9:36-43

Call her “Tabitha” or call her “Dorcas” the meaning in both Aramaic and Greek was the same: “Gazelle.”  Was it her given name or a nickname that matched her lifestyle?  We don’t know but by all appearances the woman best known as Dorcas was gazelle-like indeed.  She was lightning fast at helping the poor and…

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Jeremiah 1:4-10

My wife mentions this semi-often as an item of some consternation.  The issue is vocation, “calling,” and it crops up in conversation between the two of us whenever someone asks me once again to tell my “call story” to be a minister or in case some other preacher—in the course of a sermon perhaps—tells her…

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Psalm 146

The Lectionary likes Psalm 146 a lot and so it comes up with some frequency, including only 2 short months ago the first Sunday in September.  The last couple of times that I wrote a commentary on Psalm 146 were pretty similar but this week I will take it in a different direction.  If you…

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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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1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a

This is one of the great short stories in the Bible, indeed, in all of literature.  It has all the elements of a riveting story—a twisting plot, clever symbolism, stylistic devices, unexpected irony, deep pathos, raw humanity, stunning theophanies, and an ending that we don’t see coming.  But best of all, it speaks a message…

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1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26

You will be quickly forgiven if, upon first reading, you decide not to preach on this little snippet of Scripture.  How can you build a helpful Gospel centered sermon on this gerrymandered bit of fluff?  Why in the world would the RCL land here for this first Sunday after Christmas?  I mean, the first Sunday…

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Luke 21:25-36

For Luke “as it was in the beginning” might be a good slogan to encapsulate his Gospel’s conclusion.  Because when Luke began, we heard a lot of very dramatic rhetoric as to what the coming of the Messiah would entail.  Even the Virgin Mary’s song in Luke 1—the Magnificat—is filled with violent imagery.  We read…

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Acts 9:36-43

The text the Lectionary appoints for the fourth Sunday in Easter is a happy, hopeful one of healing in the face of chronic illness and life in the face of death. Yet it sticks out like a sore thumb in its Scriptural context. Its story of healing and raising to life just doesn’t seem to…

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