Bruce G. Epperly

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.

6th Sunday of Easter

May 20, 2001
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 67
Reading 3: 
Acts 16:9-15 and Revelation 21:1-10, 21:22-22:5
Reading 4: 
John 14:23-29
By Bruce G. Epperly

Acts 16:9-15

6th Sunday of Easter

May 9, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 67
Reading 3: 
Acts 16:9-15 and Revelation 21:1-10, 21:22-22:5
Reading 4: 
John 14:23-29
By Bruce G. Epperly

Once again, the lectionary asserts that mysticism leads to mission. The journey inward prompts the journey outward. Acts describes Paul’s visionary experience that leads him to change his plans and journey to Philippi. John suggests that we can “live” Christ’s word. Psalm 67 awakens us to living in a world of praise and Revelation challenges us to live with mindfulness and integrity.

5th Sunday of Easter

May 13, 2001
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 148
Reading 3: 
Acts 11:11-18 and Revelation 21:1-6
Reading 4: 
John 13:31-35
By Bruce G. Epperly

Acts 11:11-18

5th Sunday of Easter

May 2, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 148
Reading 3: 
Acts 11:1-18 and Revelation 21:1-6
Reading 4: 
John 13:31-35
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s readings integrate diversity and intimacy in light of the unitive power of love, both God’s and our own. A commitment to loving one another, despite our differences, may deliver us from the rampant acrimony that has infected politics and church life. God seeks diversity in non-human and human life, and faithfulness to God calls us to embrace difference, even theological and liturgical, as a gift from God.

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