Bruce G. Epperly

6th Day of Easter

May 29, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Acts 2:22-31
Reading 2: 
Psalm 66:18-20
Reading 3: 
I Peter 3:13-21
Reading 4: 
John 14:15-21
By Bruce G. Epperly

The lectionary readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter invite us to reflect on Christian faith in a pluralistic, postmodern world. Paul’s speech at the Areopagus will be the lens through which we will understand this Sunday’s scriptures.

5th Sunday of Easter

May 22, 2011
Reading 1: 
Acts 7:55-60
Reading 2: 
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
Reading 3: 
I Peter 2:2-10
Reading 4: 
John 14:1-14
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s readings focus on trust in a time of turmoil. Trusting God’s care in challenging times is not only the source of hope but also creative transformation. Confident that God is with us in all the seasons of life, we can reach out in mission to others despite our own difficulties.

4th Sunday of Easter

May 15, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Acts 2:42-47
Reading 2: 
Psalm 23
Reading 3: 
I Peter 2:19-25
Reading 4: 
John 10:1-10
By Bruce G. Epperly

This Sunday’s lectionary readings can be interpreted through the lens of John 10:10, whose words may be quite countercultural in our current era of personal, congregational, and political scarcity thinking. “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” Today’s moderate and progressive Christians are constantly receiving messages of gloom and doom – shrinking budgets, program cutbacks, marginalization, and the demise of the institutional church as we’ve known it.

Proper 21

September 26, 2004
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 32:1-3, 6-15
Reading 2: 
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
Reading 3: 
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Reading 4: 
Luke 16:19-31
By Bruce G. Epperly

Pastor and homiletics professor Ernie Campbell once noted that “there are only two kinds of persons in the world--those who are in God’s hands and know it, and those who are in God’s hands and don’t know it.”

Proper 21

September 30, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
Reading 2: 
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
Reading 3: 
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Reading 4: 
Luke 16:19-31
By Bruce G. Epperly

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord.” The United Church of Christ proclaims “God is still speaking” and this affirmation is at the heart of the prophetic message. God is at work in the world. All things reveal God’s presence; all persons can be media of divine revelation. The universal God speaks uniquely and variably in each moment of experience. Divinity chooses all of us, but each one has a differing role in the interplay of divine call and human response.

The Last Sunday after Epiphany/Transfiguration Sunday

March 6, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Exodus 24:12-18
Reading 2: 
Psalm 99
Reading 3: 
2 Peter 1:16-21
Reading 4: 
Matthew 17:1-9
By Bruce G. Epperly

Transfiguration Sunday

The Eighth Sunday after Epiphany

February 27, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 49:8-16a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 131
Reading 3: 
I Corinthians 4:1-5
Reading 4: 
Matthew 6:24-34
By Bruce G. Epperly

Divine intimacy and care are at the heart of today’s lectionary readings. God is near: as near as our breathing and present with us in every season of life. God feels our joy and sorrow, and lovingly responds to our life’s challenges. God will not forsake us, and God’s awareness of our condition enables us to courageously follow our vocation to share God’s good news in healing ways. Such confidence is the foundation for courage and confidence in our quest for personal growth and healing and our commitment to be God’s partners in justice-seeking and global healing.

Proper 20

September 19, 2004
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 18:18-19:1
Reading 2: 
Psalm 79:1-9
Reading 3: 
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Reading 4: 
Luke 16:1-13
By Bruce G. Epperly

Authentic spirituality addresses the totality of life. Today’s scriptures weave together intercession and lament, personal and social transformation, and parable and spiritual counsel.

The passage from Jeremiah presents a moving picture of grief and lamentation. The nation is ravaged and hope is lost. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Grief is expressed in multiple voices – in the lament of the prophet, the disappointment of the people, and in the pain of God.

Proper 20

September 23, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
Reading 2: 
Psalm 79:1-9
Reading 3: 
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Reading 4: 
Luke 16:1-13
By Bruce G. Epperly

“My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick,” Jeremiah wails as he considers the state of his nation. Judah has turned its back on God and will eventually suffer the consequences of its injustice, idolatry, and failure to follow God’s path of life. Salvation is nowhere in sight and the people live in fear of enemy attack.

Proper 12

July 29, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Hosea 1:2-10
Reading 2: 
Psalm 85
Reading 3: 
Colossians 2:6-15
Reading 4: 
Luke 11:1-13
By Bruce G. Epperly

We must challenge certain scriptural passages in order to be faithful to the gospel. While Hosea is often cited as an example of God’s redemptive love, it also paints a picture of divine abuse and misogyny that can neither be theologically nor ethically justified. If we choose this passage as part of our sermon, we have to be honest about its explicit violence and the harm such passages have caused throughout the ages.

Proper 11

July 22, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Amos 8:1-12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 52
Reading 3: 
Colossians 1:15-28
Reading 4: 
Luke 10:38-42
By Bruce G. Epperly

Amos presents the image of a famine of hearing the word of God. In a nation where the word “God” is glibly announced in political campaigns and entertainment programs, and invoked to support violence, economic exploitation, empire, sexism, and heterosexism, Amos reminds us that our familiarity with divine language may eventually threaten our experience of God, if we do not connect our words with actions that promote justice and wholeness.

Proper 10

July 15, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Amos 7:7-17
Reading 2: 
Psalm 82
Reading 3: 
Colossians 1:1-14
Reading 4: 
Luke 10:25-37
By Bruce G. Epperly

Love God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself. Today’s scriptures move from abstract ethical and theological reflection to concrete action. They call us to go from words to deeds, to truly experience the persons whose lives are shaped by our decisions on a daily basis.

Proper 9

July 8, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Kings 5:1-14
Reading 2: 
Palm 30
Reading 3: 
Galatians 6:7-16
Reading 4: 
Luke 10:1-10, 16-20
By Bruce G. Epperly

The healing of Naaman presents a countercultural vision of the pathway to wholeness.

Proper 8

July 1, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Reading 2: 
Psalms 77:1-2, 11-20
Reading 3: 
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Reading 4: 
Luke 9:51-62
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s readings highlight God’s grace revealed in healthy and life-supporting relationships and mentoring. While moderns and post-moderns may struggle with the apparent supernaturalism, described in the account of the passing of the mantle from Elijah to Elisha, the passage highlights healthy mentoring as a matter of both sharing and letting go. Elisha asks for a double-portion of his mentor’s spirit and receives the powerful gifts that shaped his mentor’s own ministry.

Proper 7

June 24, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
1 Kings 19:1-15a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 42
Reading 3: 
Galatians 3:23-29
Reading 4: 
Luke 8:26-39
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s readings portray different aspects of the quest for wholeness in the personal and communal spheres of life. There is a movement toward wholeness that cannot be overcome by illness or social alienation. Although the quest for wholeness is constantly under threat, the reality of God’s presence in our lives and in the world gives us hope for healing and wholeness and the energy to become God’s partners in the quest.

Proper 6

June 17, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
1 Kings 21:1-21a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 5:1-8
Reading 3: 
Galatians 2:15-21
Reading 4: 
Luke 7:36-8:3
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s readings reflect the many sides of interdependence. While the experience of interrelatedness is often graceful, it can also be punitive.

Proper 5

June 10, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
1 Kings 17:8-24
Reading 2: 
Psalm 146
Reading 3: 
Galatians 1:11-24
Reading 4: 
Luke 17:11-17
By Bruce G. Epperly

Any preacher who comes to this Sunday’s lectionary readings without fear and trembling or a sense of being caught in tightly-woven theological trap, has not read the appointed passages from I Kings and the Gospel of Luke! While we may “suspend our disbelief” in the spirit of encountering good fiction or drama, we must acknowledge that the original readers of these texts as well as Christians throughout the centuries have taken these narratives as factual accounts of God’s ability to revive the dead.

Trinity Sunday

June 3, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Reading 2: 
Psalm 8
Reading 3: 
Romans 5:1-5
Reading 4: 
John 16:12-15
By Bruce G. Epperly

Wisdom is calling! Wisdom is still speaking – on the street corner, at the marketplace, as you read the newspaper, as you consider the bumble bee, and watch the clouds scudding by on a summer afternoon. Wisdom’s call is “to all that live.”

Wisdom is calling – everywhere and within everything! Proverbs 8 proclaims the ubiquity of divine wisdom. Is Wisdom God herself, or the Logos, or the Spirit embodied in ordinary moments as well as moments of dramatic revelation? God is love, and divine love is wisdom embodied in acts of beauty and justice.

Pentecost Sunday

May 27, 2007
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Reading 3: 
Acts 2:1-21 or Romans 8:14-17
Reading 4: 
John 14:8-17, (25-27)
By Bruce G. Epperly

As I was reflecting on the Pentecost reading this morning, I came home from my pre-dawn walk to the morning paper’s headline, “if we don’t pray who’s going to?” While I have long heard that Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is at the heart of the Bible-belt of the North, I was surprised that the article was not about a recent tragedy or act of violence, but the National Day of Prayer. I frankly didn’t even know that May 3 was singled out as this year’s day of American prayer and fasting.

7th Sunday of Easter/Ascension Sunday

May 16, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 47
Reading 3: 
Acts 1:1-11 and Ephesians 1:15-23
Reading 4: 
Luke 24:44-53
By Bruce G. Epperly

“What shall we say as moderate and progressive Christians about Jesus’ ascension?” The Ascension narrative raises an unspoken, but significant, question “What shall we do about the Risen Jesus?” The Ascension, as a literary device, serves to get Jesus “off stage” and let the disciples get on with the work of the church. Everything in the post-resurrection narratives is foreshadowing a time in which the disciples will move from followers to leaders, shaping the future of Christ’s mission.

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