Bruce G. Epperly

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

3rd Sunday of Easter

May 7, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 2: 
Psalm 4
Reading 3: 
Acts 3:12-19 or 1 John 3:1-7
Reading 4: 
Luke 24:36b-48
By Bruce G. Epperly

Easter Weeks 3-6

Transfiguration Sunday (Last Sunday after Epiphany)

February 22, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Kings 2:1-12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 50:1-6
Reading 3: 
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Reading 4: 
Mark 9:2-9
By Bruce G. Epperly

The scriptures for Transfiguration Sunday invite us into a world of wonders in which we can experience divine light shining in and through all things. Today is a day for mystics—and for mystics to be—and for those who believe in miracles. While some use the word “supernatural” to describe the miraculous, in my understanding of miracles, grounded in the insights of process theology, there is no dualism of God and the world, sacred and secular, or divine causality and natural causality in these scriptures.

6th Sunday after Epiphany

February 15, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Kings 5:1-14
Reading 2: 
Psalm 30
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Reading 4: 
Mark 1:40-45
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s lectionary readings can be read through the lens of an interchange between Jesus and a man suffering from a life-changing skin disease. The man calls out to Jesus, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, pity, or anger, or all three emotions, depending the translation, Jesus responds in both deed—by stretching out his hand—and word, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Three healings occur simultaneously: theological healing, physical healing, and relational healing.

5th Sunday after Epiphany

February 8, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 40:21-31
Reading 2: 
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Reading 4: 
Mark 1:29-39
By Bruce G. Epperly

“Have you not known have you not heard” . . . where you stand in the universe, O mortals? Today’s passages join the cosmic and infinitesimal, the infinite and the intimate, and the grandeur of the universe and the wonder of each moment of experience.

4th Sunday after Epiphany

February 1, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Reading 2: 
Psalm 111
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Reading 4: 
Mark 1:21-28
By Bruce G. Epperly

As I read today’s lectionary readings, I was struck by the passage related to prophesy, found in Deuteronomy 18:15-20. While the fit is not exact among the readings, one pathway to preaching this Sunday is to see the lectionary readings in light of the meaning of the prophetic word and the vocation of prophet in our time as well as in the ancient past.

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