Lectionary Commentary

Fourth Sunday of Easter

May 11, 2014
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

Healthy spirituality is all-season: it embraces mind, body, spirit, and relationships; individual and community; sickness and health; contemplation and action; and abundance and scarcity. It promotes individual transformation, and points individuals toward God’s larger global missions.

Third Sunday of Easter

May 4, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Acts 2:1-4a. 36-41
Reading 2: 
Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
Reading 3: 
I Peter 1:17-23
Reading 4: 
Luke 24:13-25
By Bruce G. Epperly

Salvation or wholeness comes in many ways. If God has a truly personal relationship with each of us, then there is no “one size that fits all” approach to salvation on the pathway to wholeness. Rather, there are many ways to experience God’s empowering and transforming presence.

Second Sunday of Easter

April 27, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Acts 2:14a, 22-32
Reading 2: 
Psalm 16
Reading 3: 
I Peter 1:3-9
Reading 4: 
John 20:19-31
By Bruce G. Epperly

We can experience resurrection power in miraculous ways. We can experience divine resuscitations, breathing with Jesus, restoring spirits and communities in ways we never would have expected.

Easter Sunday

April 20, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Acts 10:34-43
Reading 2: 
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Reading 3: 
Colossians 3:1-4
Reading 4: 
John 20:1-18
Alt Reading 2: 
Matthew 28:1-10
Alt Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 31:1-6
By Ignacio Castuera

 

 

This is the day when preachers have the opportunity to speak to many who come to church only for the “high holidays” of our faith. The Scriptures provided for pastors are chock full of opportunities to make a lasting impression on those who come infrequently. On the other hand, the faithful flock also needs to hear the eternal message of EasterEcology,  with new angles, new vigor, well, new life!

Good Friday

April 18, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 22
Reading 3: 
John 18:1-19:42
Reading 4: 
Hebrews 10:16-25
Alt Reading 1: 
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
By Ignacio Castuera

I have read several of the past years Lectionary Commentaries in Process & Faith for both Good Friday and Easter. I also read Ask Dr. Cobb responding to questions about sacrifice in August of 2013.

Sixth Sunday in Lent

April 13, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 31:9-16
Reading 3: 
Philippians 2:5-11
Reading 4: 
Matthew 27:11-54
By Marjorie Suchocki

With some reluctance I move from the texts in John, with their amazing theological insight, into the synoptic Matthew. Each of the gospels gives its own unique perspective on the culminating event of crucifixion/resurrection. John's account is deeply personal, beginning with the intimacy of foot washing at the last supper, the words of comfort and encouragement to the fearful disciples, the depths of prayer in Gethsemane, and then the culminating "lifting up" language that connects the crucifixion with the glory prefigured in the book of signs.

Fifth Sunday in Lent

April 6, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Reading 2: 
Psalm 130
Reading 3: 
Romans 8:6-11
Reading 4: 
John 11:1-45
By Marjorie Suchocki

The raising of Lazarus is the culminating sign in John's "book of signs." The previous signs have been the miracles and the discourses succeeding them, in which Jesus interprets the signs, often including an "I am. . . " statement. Now, in this final sign, Jesus prefigures his own death and resurrection and gives his final "I am. . ." declaration within the book of signs. Consider the progression of these self-interpretive descriptions of Jesus:

Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 30, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
I Sam 16: -1-13
Reading 2: 
Psalm 12
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 5:8-14
Reading 4: 
John 9:1-41
By Marjorie Suchocki

The texts deal with good versus evil, with I Samuel challenging assumptions concerning inward versus outward goodness, and the Psalm repeating the ever-present plaint: why do evil doers flourish while the righteous go unrewarded? The New Testament texts continue the theme of good versus bad actions, using imagery of moral light and darkness in Ephesians, and physical versus spiritual blindness in the gospel.

Third Sunday in Lent

March 23, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Exodus 17:1-7
Reading 2: 
Psalm 95
Reading 3: 
Romans 5:1-11
Reading 4: 
John 4:5-42
By Marjorie Suchocki

The texts from Exodus and John give us significant imagery of water--water springing from a rock; living water that comes from no well. The Psalmist gives an exultant commentary on Exodus 17, and Paul gives us a theological interpretation of the Johannine text.

Second Sunday in Lent

March 16, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Genesis 12:1-4a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 121
Reading 3: 
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
Reading 4: 
John 3:1-17
By Marjorie Suchocki

Once again the Lenten texts take us through salvation history, starting this time with Abram called to journey in faith "to a land that I will show you," to the Psalmist's confident faith in God's unfailing care, to Paul's emphasis on faith's role in salvation, to the quintessential Johannine confession of faith, "God so loved the world..."

One could focus on any one of the texts individually or else take them collectively.

First Sunday in Lent

March 9, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Reading 2: 
Psalm 32
Reading 3: 
Romans 5:12-19
Reading 4: 
Matthew 4:1-11
By Marjorie Suchocki

The texts inaugurate Lent by taking us through the sweep of salvation history: the fall in the garden, the lament over sin in the Psalms, the hope of redress through Christ given in Romans, and then straight to the story of the temptation of Jesus, participating in our frailties yet triumphing over them, in Matthew,

The Last Sunday after Epiphany/Transfiguration

March 2, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Exodus 24:12-18
Reading 2: 
Psalm 2
Reading 3: 
2 Peter 1:16-21
Reading 4: 
Matthew 17:1-9
Alt Reading 1: 
Psalm 99
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

We have been immersed in the past few weeks in Jesus’ message. This focused on the Commonwealth of God that through his work was beginning to appear, and on the radical character of the life it called into being. We have seen that his message both continued the prophetic tradition of Israel and also transformed it. Christians understand that Jesus announced and enacted the fulfillment of that tradition.

Seventh Sunday after Epiphany

February 23, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
Reading 2: 
Psalm 119:33-40
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
Reading 4: 
Matthew 5:38-48
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

This Sunday’s readings provide a basis for deep reflection about the difference between Judaism and Christianity. For Jews the Torah is central. It may be paired with the prophets because to a large extent its teachings implement the prophetic call for justice. Today’s reading from Leviticus is a beautiful example. It spells out quite specifically how to implement justice. It is clear that employers then and now are tempted to take advantage of the powerlessness of those who work for them by delaying payment of wages.

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

February 16, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Reading 2: 
Psalm 119:1-8
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Reading 4: 
Matthew 5:21-37
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

Today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount comes from the heart of Jesus’ message, from what distinguishes Jesus from the previous members of the prophetic tradition in which he stood. That is exactly the way the message is formulated. “It has been said” and “I say.” Last week we saw that for Jesus this was not setting aside the law and the prophets but fulfilling them. It was not reducing the heavy demands of the law but intensifying them.

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

February 9, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
Reading 2: 
Psalm 112:1-9 (10)
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)
Reading 4: 
Matthew 5:13-20
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

Today’s scriptures for the most part deal with righteousness. What is true righteousness? The passage from the Sermon on the Mount is the most puzzling. It is clear from many passages, including other passages in Matthew, that Jesus put meeting human needs above literal obedience to some of the laws about the Sabbath.

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

February 2, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Micah 6:1-8
Reading 2: 
Psalm 15
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Reading 4: 
Matthew 5:1-12
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

Beginning with Jesus’ call immediately after his baptism we have been asking how he understood his mission in order to throw light on what we who want to follow him are now called to be and do. Since what we call the Old Testament was Jesus’ Scripture, we can assume that his understanding of his mission was largely formed by it. We can also assume that it was the prophetic message in that scripture that chiefly guided him. The Micah passage is a classical expression of the message we have been reading in Isaiah.

Third Sunday after Epiphany

January 26, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 9:1-4
Reading 2: 
Psalm 27:1, 4-9
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Reading 4: 
Matthew 4:12-23
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

We have been seeking in the passages assigned from Isaiah and the Psalms clues to how Jesus may have understood his mission. The Isaiah passage for today is one that Christians have been accustomed to using to announce the coming of Jesus. It could have been influential with Jesus own thinking, but that seems less plausible. It is written as if the event had occurred. Presumably the writer was excited about the birth of a descendant of David expected to rule. He prophesied that this new king would bring freedom and peace to Israel.

Second Sunday after Epiphany

January 19, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 49:1-7
Reading 2: 
Psalm 40:1-11
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Reading 4: 
John 1:29-42
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

Last Sunday we talked about the mission of Jesus. We found especially in the Isaiah passage, an understanding of what the expected one was to do that fit Jesus quite well. We treated it from that point of view.

Baptism of Christ/First Sunday after Epiphany

January 12, 2014
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 42:1-9
Reading 2: 
Psalm 29
Reading 3: 
Acts 10:34-43
Reading 4: 
Matthew 3:13-17
By John B. Cobb, Jr.

Today the church celebrates the calling of Jesus to his ministry. This took place in conjunction with his baptism by John. But the gospels are at some pains to assert that it was not the baptism into John’s community that was important but rather the intensely personal vision and audition that came after Jesus returned to the shore. According to the synoptic gospels, Jesus saw God’s Spirit descending on him and a voice proclaimed that he was the “Son of God,” the one in whom God was “well pleased.” Just what this meant he was to do was not immediately clear.

First Sunday after Christmas

December 29, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 63:7-9
Reading 2: 
Psalm 148
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 2:10-18
Reading 4: 
Matthew 2:13-23
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s readings describe incarnational encounters. God is present in Jesus, and God continues to communicate with us through the life and teachings of Jesus, the Christian movement, and our human and non-companions on planet Earth. The Christmas season is a continual reminder that God is with us, sharing in our joy and sorrow, moving through ordinary life and providing insights and intuitions when we are in greatest need of them.

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