Tag: <span>preaching</span>

Summary: When a conversation between Jesus and a group of scribes and Pharisees moves from hand washing to the dangers of moral impurity, preachers have an opportunity to explore the capacity each of us has for doing harm to others. During our current journey with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are already well acquainted with the ways in which the actions or inactions of individuals can have widespread negative consequences. But preachers can find ways to put this Gospel text into conversation with our circumstances to help a congregation see the ways in which our existence and wellbeing are corporate, collective things. Facing the realities of our interdependence and the obligations we have to one another is an important step toward fostering a community that takes healing seriously.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: As it begins a story about Jesus feeding a crowd isolated in the wilderness, the Gospel according to Mark comments that Jesus felt compassion for the people because he saw them as “sheep without a shepherd.” They were people denied leadership. People who were considered expendable. People who could be manipulated for the gain and pride of their so-called leaders. Bad leadership has a way of dehumanizing people, because bad leaders choose domination and intimidation as their tools. The wider context of this part of Mark’s narrative, with its focus on numbers of people attracted to Jesus, reminds us that Jesus was not the kind of leader who imposed his will on others or who sought out followers. His qualifications were not about displaying his gifts, flashing his charisma, or manifesting courage; rather, he restored people. He demonstrated a commitment to their well-being and wholeness. Preachers might be inspired by this story to consider their own vocations as leaders. Sermons are opportunities to put leadership into action, not with the preacher insisting on their own authority or cleverness, but with the preacher offering the refreshment of the good news and reiterating the opportunity for all to share in God’s healing, restorative intentions for this work and its people.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers

Summary: The story of Philip’s encounter with an unnamed court official, an Ethiopian Eunuch, raises numerous questions about ancient culture, Greco-Roman attitudes toward people from far away, sex and gender, and the differences in people’s social locations. It’s important that preachers and other interpreters tend to those questions, so they can both appreciate and be critical of the ways in which the book of Acts imagines the consequences that the good news has for all people. This story and the ambiguity surrounding the characterization of the court official can serve as a reminder of the ways that Christian communities struggle to identify and include people who are strangers or “outsiders.” It’s notable to remember, then, that at the close of the story the Ethiopian is not merely a convert, he is also a theologian who demonstrates his understanding that the good news is for him, as he is.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preagcher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd, not because he is kind or gentle, but because he is powerful, vigilant, and self-giving. That comforting metaphor works because Jesus has ascended or, as John’s Gospel puts it, he has returned to the loving and intimate communion he shares with the God he calls his Father. His watchful care is a feature of his power. The care he provides does not mean we are kept safe from all harm in this dangerous world. Rather, it means that we can be confident that he holds our identity, our connection to him, and our participation in Divine love securely. The watchfulness and concern he provides comes as a sharp contrast to the ways our leaders, structures, and societies frequently let us down and treat people as expendable.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on John 10:11-18. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Believing in God’s love is much easier than trusting in it. Trust implies action and a willingness to open ourselves up. It has become increasingly difficult to trust in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and God’s love appears not to have motivated the most of our wider society to imitate it. To embrace a passage like the one in which Jesus insists that he has come because “God so loved the world,” we need to do more than just convince ourselves and our neighbors about God’s love and its benefits. We need to open ourselves up to the magnetic power of that love, something we experience less through intellect and more through desire.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on John 3:14-21. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: “The preaching of the word of God is the word of God.” If that old confession is correct, then Incarnation isn’t merely a past event or lifetime that we commemorate when Christmas rolls around. Incarnation continues to happen when preachers make Jesus Christ and the good news about him known. The Christmas story is a story of love, familiarity, companionship, and solidarity. It is a story that comes to us and that we experience through our humanity. In that way, Christmas and the mystery of Incarnation put the work of preaching into perspective, reminding us how important it is, whether in word or deed.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Titus 2:11-14 and/or Luke 2:1-20 on Christmas Eve. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The story Jesus tells about a person who entrusts “talents” (huge sums of money) to others often makes preachers and congregations uncomfortable. That’s precisely the point. The parable uses hyperbole to make two points: (1) to describe the incredible influence that Jesus’ followers possess as they live out their charge to continue the work that Jesus began; and (2) to name how critical the work of the good news is during a time when people suffer from oppression and lazy, self-congratulatory religion. In the wake of a divisive and angry election season and during a season when churches and their people are sacrificing their credibility, this parable reminds readers that the blessings Jesus intends to offer the world must not be hidden away.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 25:14-30. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: In Matthew’s Gospel, as soon as Peter correctly identifies Jesus as “the Christ,” Jesus offers an enigmatic saying: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” It’s noteworthy that the conversation about who Jesus truly is leads directly to a discussion about freedom. That reminds us who preach that our primary task is liberation — not inspiration, not instruction, but deliverance. If you’re going to preach “Jesus is the Christ,” then the purpose of your preaching has to be to set people free. Of course, people are bound by many things in these awful days. The locks that hold the chains tight are not always easy to locate, but fortunately preachers have a key that fits.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 16:13-20. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The Parable of the Sower (or Parable of the Soils) is simple enough, as a story about planting, growth, and yield goes. But the way the Gospels present it to us quickly reveals itself to be disturbing. Those who interpret the parable without consulting Matthew 13:10-17, the verses in which Jesus implies that his parables keep the truth hidden from many, miss the point. This is a parable that underscores the difficulty of the good news taking root in the world. It is a parable that asks us to consider the rest of the Gospel story if we are going to be able to consider difficult and unnerving questions about the goodness of God and the problem of resistant hearts. Fortunately, most preachers are well equipped and situated to venture into difficult places.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The story that Luke tells about the risen Christ becoming known to Cleopas and his partner at a dinner table in Emmaus makes a statement about the power of community and shared spaces. That statement is painful to hear, however, during an Easter when the Covid-19 pandemic has taken so much community and interpersonal interaction away from us. But Easter does not mean that we cannot lament the things we have lost and the things for which we long. The good news in this story isn’t simply that Jesus becomes recognized when he shares hospitality with friends; it’s also residing in the fact that he journeys alongside them, without being recognized, while they pour out their disappointment.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Luke 24:13-35. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary