Bruce G. Epperly

Proper 28

November 15, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
1 Samuel 1:4-20 and 1 Samuel 2:1-10
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-25
Reading 4: 
Mark 13:1-8
By Bruce G. Epperly

Once again, the sensitive preacher is presented with challenges as she creatively and faithfully interprets today’s lectionary readings to a contemporary congregation.

Proper 27

November 8, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17
Reading 2: 
Psalm 127
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 9:24-28
Reading 4: 
Mark 12:38-44
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s scriptures focus on security, relationship, and judgment. Within this week’s lectionary readings, however, there are a handful of theological minefields that the preacher may need to address explicitly, or omit the scriptures altogether, in order to challenge potentially destructive theological positions.

Proper 26

November 1, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Ruth 1:1-18
Reading 2: 
Psalm 146
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 9:11-14
Reading 4: 
Mark 12:28-34
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s passages focus on divine and human fidelity. Faithfulness is an all-season spiritual virtue, encompassing moments of celebration and tragedy, intimacy and alienation. When we are most vulnerable—and, in fact, all of us are always both secure and vulnerable—we need to know that we will not abandoned by those upon whom we depend. We need to know that God is faithful in both life and death; and that God will not abandon us, despite our failings, even in at the moment of death.

Proper 17

August 30, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Song of Solomon 2:8-14
Reading 2: 
Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9
Reading 3: 
James 1:17-27
Reading 4: 
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s lectionary readings inspire reflection on holistic and embodied approaches to theology, spirituality, and ethics. What would congregational life be like if we were to “come with joy” (Brian Wren) expecting to encounter wonder and beauty in one another whenever we gathered for worship, study, service, or congregational decision-making? Today’s readings challenge “buzz kill theologies” of the left and the right, which presume (always) to know what’s best and to enforce, subtle or directly, certain joy-less codes of conduct as essential to the life of faith.

Proper 16

August 23, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43
Reading 2: 
Psalm 84
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 6:10-20
Reading 4: 
John 6:56-69
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s passages affirm the dynamic and sometimes dramatic interplay of divine universality and intimacy. Solomon’s dedication of the Jerusalem Temple proclaims God’s faithfulness to the children of Israel and then extends that fidelity to include faithful foreigners. Psalm 84 rejoices in Temple worship, but also recognizes that the God we worship is global as well as regional. Ephesians counsels us to seek, embrace, and practice divine protection through “putting on the whole armor of God” in the context of internal and external threat.

Proper 16

August 21, 2006
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11,22-30,41-43
Reading 2: 
Psalm 84
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 6:10-20
Reading 4: 
John 6:56-69
By Bruce G. Epperly

In the Celtic spiritual tradition, pilgrims often draw a circle around themselves before  embarking on a journey. Initially standing still, the pilgrim points her finger outward and then rotates in a clock-wise direction until she completes the circle. This practice of faith, the “caim” or “encircling,” reminds the traveler that God surrounds him wherever he goes. Despite the threat of thieves and robbers, malign spirits, or opponents of the faith, the pilgrim is constantly within God’s circle of protection, the everlasting circle of divine love.

Proper 15

August 16, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14
Reading 2: 
Psalm 111
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 5:15-20
Reading 4: 
John 6:51-58
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s scriptures counsel us to seek God’s creative wisdom in all things. Divine wisdom embraces, inspires, and joins the cosmic and the local and divine handiwork and human creativity. The universe reflects the movements of divine wisdom in the heavens above and in the orderly progression of the seasons.

Proper 15

August 20, 2006
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14
Reading 2: 
Psalm 111
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 5:15-20
Reading 4: 
John 6:51-58
By Bruce G. Epperly

The Biblical tradition invites us to ponder the interrelatedness of sacred time and sacred space. Some of our favorite Bible stories involve “thin places” where the temporal and spatial worlds reflect God’s presence in surprising and transformative ways. Process theology invites us to “lived omnipresence,” that is, to experience God everywhere. But, process theology also reminds us that God’s presence is variable and can be dramatic and surprising.

Proper 14

August 9, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
Reading 2: 
Psalm 130
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Reading 4: 
John 6:35, 41-51
By Bruce G. Epperly

“So then, put away falsehood, let us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25) Today’s scriptures focus on relationships, those that heal and those that alienate. When I share my reflections with my congregation, Disciples United Community Church in Lancaster, PA, on Saturday, August 8, my own approach will be to share the good news of healthy, interdependent communities of shalom through the lens Ephesians 4:25-5:2.

Proper 14

August 13, 2006
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
Reading 2: 
Psalm 130
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Reading 4: 
John 6:35, 41-51
By Bruce G. Epperly

Process theology affirms an intimate partnership between God and the world at both the micro and macro levels. God provides each and every moment of experience with a vision of possibilities and the energy to achieve that vision. Yet, God’s passion for beauty and wholeness is profoundly conditioned by our actions and the world in which we live. The initial aim is always “the best for the impasse,” the highest possibility for each arising moment of experience. But, this divine aim is always contextual.

Proper 13

August 2, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 51:1-12
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 4:1-16
Reading 4: 
John 6:24-35
By Bruce G. Epperly

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus’ promise to his followers then and now is a call to discernment: what truly brings meaning and wholeness in our lives? Jesus’ words are an invitation to explore what Paul Tillich described as our “ultimate concern.” Do we shape our lives around what perishes or what endures? Do we will build our house on the sand or on the rock? Do we live by scarcity or abundance, fear or love?

Proper 13

August 6, 2006
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 51:1-12
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 4:1-16
Reading 4: 
John 6:24-35
By Bruce G. Epperly

Process-relational theology proclaims the intricate interconnectedness of life. The whole universe conspires to create each occasion of experience, and each occasion of experience contributes to the formation of its successors, both near and far. While each moment of experience is a unique embodiment of the creative process, free to shape the world from its own unique perspective, each moment of experience is also the product of its environment, whose influence provides both limits and possibilities for its process of self-creation.

Proper 12

July 30, 2006
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 11:1-15
Reading 2: 
Psalm 14
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 3:14-21
Reading 4: 
John 6:1-21
By Bruce G. Epperly

The preacher is presented with an either/or situation here – preach the New Testament or reflect on the Hebrew scriptures. The Hebraic scriptures focus on the consequences of our behavior and the universal reality of human sinfulness. The New Testament emphasizes God’s abundance flowing through our lives and out into the world. For the most part, I will focus on the New Testament theme, with brief allusions to the Hebraic scripture readings.

Proper 11

July 23, 2006
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 89:20-37
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 2:11-22
Reading 4: 
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
By Bruce G. Epperly

Do you have a “deserted place” where you retreat for silence and re-creation? Today, many of us – pastors and lay persons alike – are “on duty” 24/7 – we are connected to our families, co-workers, congregations, clients by blackberries, PDAs, cell phones, e-mail, and text messaging. Many of us, myself included, check our e-mail before bedtime and, then, first thing in the morning, not wanting to miss any event that might have happened while we relaxed with our families or friends, watched a movie, or were asleep.

Proper 10

July 16, 2006
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
Reading 2: 
Psalm 24
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 1:3-14
Reading 4: 
Mark 6:14-29
By Bruce G. Epperly

Each morning in spring and summer, I awaken just before sunrise to symphonies of singing birds. They remind me to begin each day with the words of the Psalmist, “this is the day that God has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!” While I cannot translate their melodies, I agree with process philosopher Charles Hartshorne that these companion birds are singing their joy and celebration of this new and wonder-full day. They have awakened with beauty and nothing can keep them from singing!

Proper 9

July 9, 2006
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
Reading 2: 
Psalm 48
Reading 3: 
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Reading 4: 
Mark 6:1-13
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s scriptures examine the nature of power—divine and human—and invite us to reflect on what we can expect of God and what we can expect of ourselves in the interplay of divine and human power.

Proper 8

July 2, 2006
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
Reading 2: 
Psalm 130
Reading 3: 
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Reading 4: 
Mark 5:21-43
By Bruce G. Epperly

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O God. God, hear my voice!” The Psalmist sets the stage for today’s lectionary readings and provides one possibility for the process-relational preacher’s homiletical reflections. Sadly, lamentation and grief seldom provoke, what Katie Day calls, “difficult conversations” in the church. In fact, the Psalms of lament are notable by their absence in hymnals and lectionary texts, despite the fact that lament is an unavoidable part of life.

6th Sunday of Easter

May 28, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 98
Reading 3: 
Acts 10:44-48 or 1 John 5:1-6
Reading 4: 
John 15:9-17
By Bruce G. Epperly

Easter Weeks 3-6

5th Sunday of Easter

May 21, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 22:25-31
Reading 3: 
Acts 8:26-40 or 1 John 4:7-21
Reading 4: 
John 15:1-8
By Bruce G. Epperly

Easter Weeks 3-6

4th Sunday of Easter

May 14, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 23
Reading 3: 
Acts 4:5-12 or 1 John 3:16-24
Reading 4: 
John 10:11-18
By Bruce G. Epperly

Easter Weeks 3-6

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