Lectionary Commentary

Good Friday

March 29, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 22
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9
Reading 4: 
John 18:1-19:42
By Bruce G. Epperly

What are progressive Christians to do about Good Friday? How do we preach good news that transforms on a day whose purpose in many churches is to celebrate the shedding of blood and the necessity that Jesus die for our sins? I do not believe preaching or teaching is intended to deconstruct without providing a new constructive vision. But, what constructive theological vision can we affirm on Good Friday? If we just celebrate a toned down version of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” we might as well leap from Palm Sunday to Easter.

Fifth Sunday in Lent

March 17, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 43:16-21
Reading 2: 
Psalm 126
Reading 3: 
Philippians 3:4b-14
Reading 4: 
John 12:1-8
By Paul S. Nancarrow

Isaiah 43:16-21

Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 10, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Joshua 5:9-12
Reading 2: 
Psalm 32
Reading 3: 
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Reading 4: 
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
By Paul S. Nancarrow

Joshua 5:9-12

Third Sunday in Lent

March 3, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 55:1-9
Reading 2: 
Psalm 63:1-8
Reading 3: 
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 13:1-9
By Paul S. Nancarrow

Isaiah 55:1-9

Second Sunday in Lent

February 24, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Reading 2: 
Psalm 27
Reading 3: 
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Reading 4: 
Luke 13:31-35
By Bruce G. Epperly

Lent is traditionally observed as a season of simplicity and penitence. It is more importantly a season of abundant life. Today’s lectionary readings remind us that God’s abundance is present within our perceived scarcity or ignorance of God’s vision. The point of a simple life is to focus on what’s truly important and discover that in opening to our deepest desires—grounded in the interplay of our agency and God’s vision for us—we will experience what it means to be fully alive.

First Sunday in Lent

February 17, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Reading 2: 
Psalms 91:1-2, 9-16
Reading 3: 
Romans 10:8b-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 4:1-13
By Bruce G. Epperly

The reading from Luke 4:1-13 is the traditional centerpiece for the First Sunday in Lent, and it should be. In many ways, Lent invites us to explore our values. The Lenten season invites us to self-examination: What is truly important to us? Where are our deepest values and how do we embody them in daily life? Where is God in our lives? 

Transfiguration Sunday

February 10, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Exodus 34:29-35
Reading 2: 
Psalm 99
Reading 3: 
2 Corinthians 3:17-4:2
Reading 4: 
Luke 9:28-43
By Bruce G. Epperly

Transfiguration Sunday joins mysticism and mission, both of which are necessary for a holistic, life-giving faith. In some quarters, mysticism has a bad name: old school evangelicals worry that any experience of God unmediated by scripture or orthodoxy takes us away from Jesus; old school liberals see mysticism and contemplation as temptations to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

February 3, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Reading 2: 
Psalm 71:1-6
Reading 3: 
I Corinthians 13:1-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 4:21-30
By Bruce G. Epperly

Epiphany proclaims the universality of divine revelation and inspiration. Strangers from East are inspired to follow a star that leads to the baby Jesus. Within the body of Christ everyone is gifted for the good of the whole. Everyone has a vocation, a calling that brings fulfillment to themselves and health to the community. Along with the ubiquity of revelation comes the counsel to humility.

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

January 27, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Reading 2: 
Psalm 19
Reading 3: 
I Corinthians 12:12-31a
Reading 4: 
Luke 4:14-21
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s lectionary readings reflect on the relationship of order and novelty on the micro and macro levels of cosmic and human existence. While evolving and contextual in nature, the “law” of God is the ground of value and wholeness and not imposed from without. When we are in tune with the flexible visions of divine wisdom for the large and small, and the long-haul and momentary aspects of life, we experience joy and fulfillment.

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

January 20, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 62:1-5
Reading 2: 
Psalm 36:5-10
Reading 3: 
I Corinthians 12:1-11
Reading 4: 
John 2:1-11
By Bruce G. Epperly

The Season of Epiphany inspires us to look for the light in ourselves and in the world around us. In God’s light, we see light, the Psalmist proclaims, and if God’s light is omnipresent, then all places vibrate with divine energy. Divine energy moves through all things presenting them possibilities and the inspiration and eros to embody them. Still, we are free to shape God’s energetic possibilities and even turn away from them by ignoring them or misusing them. When we open to the light, we see divine light in ourselves and others.

Baptism of Jesus

January 13, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 43:1-7
Reading 2: 
Psalm 29
Reading 3: 
Acts 8:14-17
Reading 4: 
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. In our ecumenical and interreligious context, we lift up baptism as one way of affirming God’s ultimate care for creation. Sacraments are visible signs God’s ubiquitous grace. Although sacraments have often been the source of controversy, their purpose is to inspire, assure, and affirm.

Epiphany Sunday

January 6, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 60:1-6
Reading 2: 
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Reading 3: 
Ephesians 3:1-12
Reading 4: 
Matthew 2:1-12
By Bruce G. Epperly

Epiphany is a wonderful season for process-relational preaching. Epiphany reflects the heart of process theology: God is with us in the humble and great, the obvious and unexpected, the neighbor and the stranger, and the church goer and persons of other faiths and seekers. God’s revelation is cast broadly and variously throughout the universe. Zoroastrian magi and Jewish shepherds experience the light of the world shining in and on them. The Epiphany season asks us to open our senses to the divine word and wisdom in ourselves and in diverse places.

First Sunday of Christmas

December 30, 2012
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Reading 2: 
Psalm 148
Reading 3: 
Colossians 3:12-17
Reading 4: 
Luke 2:41-52
By Bruce G. Epperly

Christmas Eve & Day

December 25, 2012
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 9:2-7
Reading 2: 
Psalm 96
Reading 3: 
Titus 2:11-14
Reading 4: 
Luke 2:1-12
Alt Reading 2: 
Hebrews 1:1-4
Alt Reading 1: 
Isaiah 52:7-10
By Bruce G. Epperly

Change is in the air. Hope is on the way. God is with us in a humble manger and in all the quotidian adventures of our lives. The promise of new possibilities is emerging—in ancient times and in our own precarious personal and planetary situations. This is no time for passivity, but the challenge is in front of us, the adventure of embracing something new and unexpected, and midwifing the embodiment a reality that will change everything. Around Christmas we always hear the comment, “Why can’t we have Christmas all year round?

Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 23, 2012
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Micah 5:2-5a
Reading 2: 
Psalm 80:1-7
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 10:5-10
Reading 4: 
Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)
By David Grant Smith

Micah 5:2-5a

Third Sunday of Advent

December 16, 2012
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Zephaniah 3:14-20
Reading 2: 
Isaiah 12:2-6
Reading 3: 
Philippians 4:4-7
Reading 4: 
Luke 3:7-18
By David Grant Smith

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Second Sunday of Advent

December 9, 2012
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Malachi 3:1-4
Reading 2: 
Luke 1:68-79
Reading 3: 
Philippians 1:3-11
Reading 4: 
Luke 3:1-6
By David Grant Smith

Malachi 3:1-4

First Sunday of Advent

December 2, 2012
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Reading 2: 
Psalm 25:1-10
Reading 3: 
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 21:25-26
By David Grant Smith

Jeremiah 33:14-16

Proper 29

November 25, 2012
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 23:1-7
Reading 2: 
Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18)
Reading 3: 
Revelation 1:4b-8
Reading 4: 
John 18:33-37
By Russell Pregeant

“What is truth?” (John 18:38) By ending the gospel reading at 18:37, the lectionary deprives a potent scene of its climax in this enticing question. To end with a question might seem to leave the interchange between Jesus and Pilate hanging, but to do so is perfectly in line with the Johannine device of contrasting speech that is “from below” (that is, based upon defective, worldly understanding) with speech that is “from above” (that is, based upon knowledge of the truth, which is grounded in heavenly reality). In v.

Proper 28

November 18, 2012
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Daniel 12:1-3
Reading 2: 
Psalm 16
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25
Reading 4: 
Mark 13:1-8
By Russell Pregeant

Mark 13:1-8

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