Preaching Connection: Witness

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Psalm 22:25-31

No, it’s not your imagination: the Year B Revised Common Lectionary has put Psalm 22 in front of us now three times in calendar year 2024.  Almost this exact same lection was the reading for the Second Sunday in Lent and the entire Psalm was assigned for Good Friday.  Now here it is again as…

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John 20:19-31

The second Sunday of Easter brings us to this text. The disciples have heard from the women that Jesus has risen from the dead but they are so afraid that they have locked themselves up tight, worried that their lives are in danger by those who put Jesus to death. Fear trumps the witness of…

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Genesis 45:1-15

After chapters and chapters of third person narration, reading Joseph’s story through someone else’s lens, we might come to this chapter eager to hear how Joseph makes sense of the unfolding events. At last, Joseph lets his brothers know who he is. He tells his own story. He could have told a story about a…

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Psalm 67

When we think of getting a blessing, we tend to focus on ourselves as the recipient of something good—something that will be good for us, something that will benefit us.  The classic Aaronic Benediction from Numbers 6—that is clearly echoed in Psalm 67:1—is a good example.  When I give this benediction in church, I am…

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Acts 7:55-60

On the face of it, a six-verse Bible passage that centers on the brutal murder of an innocent man does not appear to be an edifying preaching text.  Perhaps that seems all the more to be the case when we realize this passage is assigned in the Year A Lectionary for the Season of Eastertide…

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Acts 5:27-32

Oh how I wish the Lectionary had extended this lection to include the words of Gamaliel that follow.  Because there this key leader of the Sanhedrin says something that is at once utterly sensible and miraculously prescient.  Once Peter makes it clear that they cannot be frightened into silence by the likes of the Sanhedrin,…

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Psalm 138

It’s only 8 verses long and yet Psalm 138 pulls off a pretty nifty feat: it encapsulates most of the major themes of the entire Hebrew Psalter!  Let’s make a list of the kinds of prayers and motifs that get mentioned across these very few verses: A vow to praise God continually A vow to…

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Acts 7:55-60

On this fifth Sunday of the Easter season, we continue our journey through the Acts of the Apostles or, as some call it, the Acts of the Holy Spirit.  That title fits Luke’s constant emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in the growth of the early church. That is surely the case in…

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2 Peter 1:16-21

To paraphrase an old cliché, for the RCL’s preachers and teachers, “It’s a good thing Transfiguration Sunday comes but once a year.”  After all, it can be challenging enough to proclaim the gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ transfiguration.  The challenge may become even greater for those who choose to proclaim the Epistolary Lesson the RCL appoints…

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Acts 4:32-35

Acts 4 is enough to break your heart. Was it really true at the earliest stage of the Christian community that the believers were completely one in heart and mind? Did they really share absolutely everything even as they fell adoringly and reverently at the feet of the apostles, hanging on their every word (and…

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Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Sometimes actions have surprisingly pleasant results.  A soccer players weakly strikes a ball that ricochets off a defender and into the goal.  Or a chef blends guacamole, tuna fish and lima beans into a recipe that somehow turns out to be delicious. Other actions, however, have surprisingly unpleasant results.  With perfect form a basketball player…

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2 Peter 3:8-15a

“Like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”  So some Christians have characterized ecological stewardship efforts within the church.  And it is not difficult to discern why parts of this passage in 2 Peter 3 have been used to prop up the idea that Christians who work to save the environment are battling a lost…

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Acts 2:1-21

Just before he ascended to the heavenly realm Jesus promised his disciples they’d his “witnesses … to the ends of the earth.”  Yet nothing any of them had done or said up to that point had even hinted that they were up to that task. In fact, the gospels consistently portray Jesus’ disciples as a…

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Acts 1:6-14

Why do you stand here looking into the sky? is the compelling question around which, in some ways, the text the Lectionary appoints for this Sunday revolves.  However, it’s also a question that the Lord might pose to Acts 1’s preachers, teachers and those who listen to us: Why do you stand here looking into…

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Acts 17:22-31

How do Acts 17’s preachers, teachers and those who listen to us share our faith with those who know little or nothing about what it means to be a Christian?  How do God’s adopted sons and daughters speak the gospel to people for whom words like “grace” and even “sin” may sound like so much…

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1 Peter 3:13-22

Back in the 19th century the Know-Nothing political party came into existence at least partly to demand that the government curb what many American Protestants perceived at the time to be an alarming increase in Roman Catholic immigration to this country. And fifty-seven years ago Senator John F. Kennedy had to appear before a convention…

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Psalm 40:1-11

“The correct ‘voice’ for Psalm 40 is not in doubt,” says Patrick Henry Reardon in his Christ in the Psalms.  “We know from Hebrews 10 that these are words springing from the heart of Christ our Lord and have reference to the sacrificial obedience of his Passion and death.”  That may be ultimately true and…

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Isaiah 52:7-10

I’ve seen the feet of a few preachers and teachers who proclaim the gospel’s “good news.”  Some are big, others are fairly small.  Some are quite flat.  Preachers and teachers’ feet can even be pretty smelly.  But I’m not sure even their closest family members and friends would call them “beautiful.” Yet no one who…

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Hebrews 11:29-12:2

There is a terrible moment early in the movie Saving Private Ryan. Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) and most of his men have somehow survived the utter carnage of the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach and are now on a high bluff overlooking a scene of utter destruction. One of Miller’s men says “That’s quite a…

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Acts 9:1-6,(7-20)

The Lord is willing to do almost whatever it takes to get people’s attention. So we save both God and ourselves a lot of time and energy if we just pay attention to the Lord right away. C.S. Lewis was among the most famous Christian authors of the twentieth century. He, however, initially paid virtually…

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Acts 28:17-31

General Reflections: “Let me tell you about that pastor.” I’ve had a conversation with a pastor who was new to a church and I asked him what he thought about his predecessor. His reply: “I’ve never met the pastor, but I don’t like him!” As a new pastor, there were people who had shared their…

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Acts 2:1-21

Note: The Common Lectionary during Eastertide substitutes readings from Acts for Old Testament lections. Comments and Observations.  Like a lot of us, I have seen my share of people at wedding receptions, at restaurants, and at beaches who have had too much to drink.  My son and I ate at a Chicago steakhouse a couple…

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