Bruce G. Epperly

Proper 17A

August 28, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Exodus 3:1-15
Reading 2: 
Psalm 105: 1-6, 23-26, 45c
Reading 3: 
Romans 12:9-21
Reading 4: 
Matthew 16:21-28
By Bruce G. Epperly

Can God be experienced in all the seasons of life? Do divine revelations and inspirations come to us in times of challenge and desolation as well as success and elation?

The story is told of a controversy among rabbis, surrounding the question “Why was the bush burning but not consumed? Many possible answers were given, but the arguments ceased when one rabbi asserted, “The bush was burning but not consumed so that one day when Moses passed by he would finally notice it!”

Proper 16A

August 21, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Exodus 1:8-2:10
Reading 2: 
Psalm 124
Reading 3: 
Romans 12:1-8
Reading 4: 
Matthew 16:13-20
By Bruce G. Epperly

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Proper 15A

August 14, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Genesis 45:1-15
Reading 2: 
Psalm 133
Reading 3: 
Romans11:1-2a, 29-32
Reading 4: 
Matthew 15:21-28
By Bruce G. Epperly

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost 

Today’s readings integrate issues of providence, grace, and God’s relationship with the Jewish people. The expansion of the gospel beyond the boundaries of Judaism does not supersede God’s love for Israel, but reflects God’s love and inspiration of all people.

Proper 14A

August 7, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Genesis 37:1-4. 12-28
Reading 2: 
Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b
Reading 3: 
Romans 10:5-15
Reading 4: 
Mark 14:22-33
By Bruce G. Epperly

The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead asserts that God’s vision or aim for any moment of our lives is “the best for that impasse.” Even if the best is not always good, considering ideal options, it may be the most positive option given our context and circumstances. This appears to be the case in the story of Joseph and his brothers. Jealous of his father Jacob’s obvious favoritism, they conspire to kill the dreamer. Their knives are sharpened; but they spare him when Reuben intercedes presenting an unpleasant but preferable alternative – throw him in the pit.

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.

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