process biblical interpretation

1st Sunday of Advent

December 2, 2007
See Also: 

Advent Liturgy

John Cobb on Incarnation

Daniel Day Williams on incarnation
Preaching Christmas

Reading 1: 
Isaiah 2:1-5
Reading 2: 
Psalm 122
Reading 3: 
Romans 13:11-14
Reading 4: 
Matt 24:36-44
By Paul S. Nancarrow

The season of Advent is a time of preparation for the coming (Latin adventus) of Christ. We usually think of this as preparing for the church’s remembrance of the coming of Christ in the birth of Jesus, celebrated in the feast of Christmas. But another ancient theme in the Advent season is preparing for the coming of Christ at the end of time, the “second” coming in which this created order will be deconstructed and reconstructed into the realized Reign of God.

1st Sunday of Advent

November 28, 2004
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 2:1-5
Reading 2: 
Psalm 122
Reading 3: 
Romans 13: 11-14
Reading 4: 
Matthew 24:36-44
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

What is most striking about the passages selected for the first Sunday of Advent is that none of them deal with the coming of Jesus. The closest, I suppose, is Matthew 24:36-44, but this is talking about the coming of the Son of Man. Whether Jesus actually predicted this event is a matter of dispute among scholars, but the text places these words on the lips of the Jesus who has already come. Unless it is understood as a promise of his own return, the connection of the passage to anticipation of Jesus is very slight.

1st Sunday of Advent

December 2, 2001
See Also: 

Year A
Year B
Year C

Advent Candle Liturgy

John Cobb on Incarnation
Daniel Day Williams on incarnation
Preaching Christmas

Reading 1: 
Isaiah 2: 1-5
Reading 2: 
Psalm 122
Reading 3: 
Romans 13: 11-14
Reading 4: 
Matthew 24: 36-44
By Bruce G. Epperly

"A Time of Becoming"

Proper 26 Reformation Sunday

October 31, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Reading 2: 
Psalm 119:137-144
Reading 3: 
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Reading 4: 
Luke 19:1-10
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s readings portray faithfulness amid challenge. As Habakkuk proclaims, “the righteous live by their faith.” Faith always expects that reality is more than meets the eye. While faith is grounded in a realistic assessment of our personal and social context, it joins realism with openness to unexpected divine possibilities and energies. Neither our financial situation, nor our medical diagnosis or congregational budget tells the whole story of our lives or the world.

Proper 25

October 24, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Joel 2:23-32
Reading 2: 
Psalm 65
Reading 3: 
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Reading 4: 
Luke 18:9-14
By Bruce G. Epperly

What does it mean to say that God is faithful? In the spirit of my Baptist roots, one of my favorite hymns is “Great is Your Faithfulness.” After our son recovered from a rare cancer, this gospel hymn burst forth from my heart and lips:

Proper 24

October 17, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 31:27-34
Reading 2: 
Psalm 119:97-104
Reading 3: 
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Reading 4: 
Luke 18:1-8
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s lectionary readings are about the interplay of divine call and human response, and the objective and subjective aspects of faith. Despite the post-modern critique of the quest for a universal ethic or world view, people of faith nevertheless affirm certain guideposts for the journey. While we affirm the evolving nature of faith and need for humility whenever we speak about God, these guideposts give us a sense of values, of what we can live and die for – they provide a spiritual compass for our holy adventure as companions of the living God.

Proper 23

October 10, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Reading 2: 
Psalm 66:1-12
Reading 3: 
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Reading 4: 
Luke 17:11-19
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s scriptures weave together images of joy, hope, and gratitude. Jeremiah is almost giddy with hope and confidence in God’s future for the people. After years of struggle and hardship, the prophet proclaims that “happy days are here again,” or just around the corner. God is doing a new thing and hope is in the air. The nation will be restored to new glory. And so the prophet counsels, “Buy homes, get married, have children!” The upturn Jeremiah is expecting is both spiritual and economic. God will provide a future and a hope for the nation.

Proper 22

October 3, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Lamentations 1:1-6
Reading 2: 
Psalm 137
Reading 3: 
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Reading 4: 
Luke 17:5-10
By Bruce G. Epperly

This week’s readings present a challenge to the preacher. Should he or she disregard the readings from Psalm 137 and Lamentations as too theologically problematic and thus avoid reading them in church, or attempt to challenge their theology and use the texts as opportunity to present alternative visions of God’s relationship with the world. One caution: if they are read in church, you must address them. Too often, morally and spiritually challenging passages are read with no commentary.

Proper 21

September 26, 2010
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
Alt Reading 2: 
Psalm 146
Alt Reading 1: 
Amos 6:1a, 4-7
By Rick Marshall

Discussing the texts
The texts for this Sunday have to do with wealth and property, and the possibilities and the pitfalls of money.

Proper 15

August 15, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 5:1-7
Reading 2: 
Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Reading 4: 
Luke 12:49-56
Alt Reading 2: 
Psalm 82
Alt Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 23:23-29
By Rick Marshall

Reflecting on preaching

Proper 16

August 22, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Reading 2: 
Psalm 71:1-6
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 12:18-29
Reading 4: 
Luke 13:10-17
Alt Reading 1: 
Isaiah 58:9b-14
By Rick Marshall

Reflecting on preaching

Proper 17

August 29, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 2:4-13
Reading 2: 
Psalm 81:1,10-16
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Reading 4: 
Luke 14:1, 7-14
By Rick Marshall

Reflecting on preaching
Sometimes, when I’m in a quiet place and trying to be in the present moment, I am aware of the mental chatter of my mind that pulls me in so many different directions. The description of the mind’s chatter is aptly called “monkey mind. I have found that simple breathing techniques help me tune into the present moment, in spite of my mind’s own agenda. I find myself listening to the sounds around me, and to my mind that is chattering away. I observe and listen and focus on breathing.

Proper 18

September 5, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 18:1-11
Reading 2: 
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
Reading 3: 
Philemon 1-21
Reading 4: 
Luke 14:25-33
Alt Reading 2: 
Psalm 1
Alt Reading 1: 
Deuteronomy 30:15-20
By Rick Marshall

Reflecting on preaching

Proper 19

September 12, 2010
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
Reading 2: 
Psalm 14
Reading 3: 
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Reading 4: 
Luke 15:1-10
Alt Reading 2: 
Psalm 51:1-10
Alt Reading 1: 
Exodus 32:7-14
By Rick Marshall

Discussing the texts

Proper 20

September 19, 2010
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
Alt Reading 2: 
Psalm 113
Alt Reading 1: 
Amos 8:4-7
By Rick Marshall

Reflecting on preaching
Clergy burnout has been in the news lately. Studies are often published, books and articles written, about the subject. NPR recently had a half-hour program with the title “Clergy Suffering From Burnout, Poor Health.” An op-ed piece appeared recently in the New York Times by Jeffrey MacDonald, a UCC pastor, about clergy burnout. This recent flurry of attention might raise awareness in church pews, but not in church pulpits; clergy are well acquainted with the state of burnout.

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