There is no holy land that locks, contains, or otherwise constrains the divine presence.
John the Baptist gives himself entirely as a martyr to his role as witness.
The word made flesh, who in both life and death is ever present, stands forever (Isa. 40:8).
Jesus comes in what he says and does, in parabolic word and perplexing deeds.
Jesus not only remains incognito as king but also identifies himself completely with the poorest of the poor.
We need to grasp how shocking and scandalous this parable would have been in Jesus’ time.
Again and again, the Bible describes the kingdom of God as a wedding feast, with Christ as the bridegroom.
A new spiritual family is coming into being to replace earthly families, tribes, and nations.
Even as we question God, God is questioning us.
God’s authority alone is absolute.
We are called to be joyful even in the most distressing external circumstances, because “the Lord is at hand.”
We’re just as capable of being wicked tenants as the chief priests and elders to whom the parable was first told.
The source of Jesus’ authority is the same as that of John the Baptist.
The householder in Jesus’ parable acts from mercy, giving the workers what they need, rather than what he owes them.
Forgiving those who have hurt us can be one of the most difficult demands of the Christian Gospel.
When a fellow church member sins against us, we offer them opportunities for repentance and reconciliation.
No profit comes unless it is by denying ourselves, taking up the cross, and following faithfully over time.
Our spiritual task is to die to self and live to God.
Jesus, expressing divine empathy, chooses a parenting metaphor.
Our Lord does not disdain to experience the opposition that his Church faces.
In response to his disciples’ apparent meager supplies, Jesus speaks a word of creation into nothingness.
For the kingdom of God, value is not limited to one space in history.
The Spirit of God, as we keep in step with him, is daily performing soul surgery on us.
Jesus challenges us to be sure we are a field well cultivated, and to help the Church be the same.
Jesus’ paradoxes reveal that motivation is more powerful than evidence for his hearers.
Once Judah began listening to inauthentic prophets, discerning the true voice of God became more and more difficult.
Persecution has come and gone for the body of Christ, much like the seasons’ variability.
The collect of the day proclaims that God has given us “grace, by the confession of a true faith.”
Christ travels to the bottom of our isolation, our humiliation, and our death. Then comes the ascent.
When someone else prays aloud, what goes through your mind?
Because of our creation by one God in his image, every tribe craves an intimate relationship with that one God.
Perhaps we can imagine Jesus laughing at Philip in a loving way, rather than scolding him.
Being a Christian has a great deal to do with growing more and more familiar with the voice of the shepherd.
Rebirth leads one to the world-defying mark of the Christian: mutual love from the deepest recesses of the heart.
Jesus appears and speaks the word the disciples need: peace.
That Christ seems to be a gardener has cosmos-rippling overtones.
We have each turned away from the Lord of all Love. And yet he comes to us.
Resurrection is this: “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live” (Ezek. 37:14).
“Everything exposed by the light becomes visible” (Eph. 5:13). Simply, God sees the truth.
Water gushing from the rock is an answer to the question “Is the Lord among us or not”?
A new life floats by the light pressure of providential freedom.
The New Adam barks down evil: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”
An open ear hears the Lord speaking in both a distant past and in the present moment.
Sanctity is about something akin to a decent human life.
The superabundant righteousness that Jesus commends places reconciliation even above religious observance.
It is pathetic and laughable to observe a strict fast, only to quarrel and fight and strike with the fist.
We die with Jesus and are affixed to him. Deathless life in him becomes our own life.
Jesus is “the great light,” the blazing radiance of the Father that illumines even “the region and shadow of death” (Matt. 4:16).
Woven into God’s salvific calling is the mystery of human anguish.
He that knew no sin became sin on our behalf.
What Jesus is in the life of God he remains even as his glory is hidden by his humanity.
The law is a gift, instruction for God’s people, treasured guidance for daily life.
Our peace and hope and faith, grounded in this holy child, is stronger than death itself.
Human agency must say, “Let it be to me according to your word,” but even this is a gift of prevenient grace.
Imprisoned, John the Baptist is in doubt about what he has done and what he has said.
Contemplating the brevity of life has its place, but loving death is the deadly sickness of those asleep to life’s wonder.
God comes in the person of Jesus Christ to defeat sin, the flesh, and the devil, a trinity but one horrific substance.
The Christ who comes to bring the kingdom comes to every door, window, and crevice of the heart.
Jesus came to preserve your body and soul unto everlasting life.
God will not be mocked.
The God of the Bible is seen in both fortune and misfortune.
Returning from exile, the people are planted like seed by the provident hand of God.
The people of the law go forth from Zion as exiles, resident aliens, strangers in a strange land.
Being faithful in small things, let us endure to the end.
Hope grows in the face of need, for need creates yearning.
The eyes of faith will see the Incarnation encoded in all of holy writ.
The earthbound sinner, set free, sees life as something new and astounding.
God devises a plan against what is contorted in us, shifting and fitting our affections to their rightful object.
The hearer rides the rhythm, floats upon the feeling of what is good, what is sorrowful, what is lost, what is found.
Formed in the womb, elected for words to the nations, the preacher is not a man of his own word.
Jesus’ love is the white flame that burns away our self-destruction, leaving only the brilliance of his own burning.
Coming to the altar with hatred toward your neighbor? Go home.
Christ is the key, the center, the end of all human history.
Discomfort with judgment is the sting of truth. God sees. The God of all-seeing truth is not, however, without loving-kindness.
God unfolds in bursting buds, pushes up a bluing heaven, asks questions with obvious answers, and paints pictures clear even to dim eyes.
Christ is the fulfillment of the law; he is not a false and cheap freedom that excuses crime and license.
A rejoicing and pure heart knows nothing of its inherent strength and competence.
We are vested for movement; a pilgrim Church in the eschatological age packs only the essentials, preferring titanium lightness.
The Lord is sheer silence. However sheer it may be, it is sound.
First reading and psalm: 1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14), 15-21a • Ps. 5:1-8
Alternate: 2 Sam. 11:26-12:10, 13-15 • Ps. 32 • Gal. 2:15-21 • Luke 7:36-8:3
3 Pentecost, June 9
First reading and psalm: 1 Kings 17:8-16 (17-24) • Ps. 146
Alternate: 1 Kings 17:17-24 • Ps. 30 • Gal. 1:11-24 • Luke 7:11-17
First reading and psalm: 1 Kings 18:20-21 (22-29) 30-39 • Ps. 96
Alternate: 1 Kings 8:22-23, 41-43 • Ps. 96:1-9 • Gal. 1:1-12 • Luke 7:1-10
Prov. 8:1-4,22-31 • Ps. 8 or Canticle 2 or 13 • Rom. 5:1-5 • John 16:12-15
Day of Pentecost
First reading and psalm: Acts 2:1-21 or Gen. 11:1-9 • Ps. 104:25-35, 37
Alternate: Rom. 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21 • John 14:8-17 (25-27)
Acts 16:16-34 • Ps. 97 • Rev. 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 • John 17:20-26
Acts 16:9-15 • Ps. 67 • Rev. 21:10,22–22:5 • John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9
Acts 11:1-18 • Ps. 148 • Rev. 21:1-6 • John 13:31-35
Acts 9:36-43 • Ps. 23 • Rev. 7:9-17 • John 10:22-30
Acts 9:1-6 (7-20) • Ps. 30 • Rev. 5:11-14 • John 21:1-19
Acts 5:27-32 • Ps. 118:14-29 or 150 • Rev. 1:4-8 • John 20:19-31
Although we prefer a second ￼naïveté (Paul Ricoeur), which admits a childlike wonder over every detail of Scripture, if asked, we will show our hermeneutic hand. “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). We read holy writ “that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in Jesus Christ” (BCP, p. 236).
First reading and psalm: Acts 10:34-43 or Isa. 65:17-25 • Ps. 118:1-2, 14-24
Alternate: 1 Cor. 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43 • John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12
Isa. 50:4-9a • Ps. 31:9-16 • Phil. 2:5-11 • Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49
Fifth Sunday in Lent
Isa. 43:16-21 • Ps. 126 • Phil. 3:4b-14 • John 12:1-8
Josh. 5:9-12 • Ps. 32 • 2 Cor. 5:16-21 • Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
The first time manna falls from heaven it is greeted with a question: “What is it?” (Ex. 16:15). This fine flaky substance on the surface of the wilderness evokes curiosity, not awe or wonderment. A miracle need not look miraculous. The morning dew ascends, and there it is. “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat,” Moses tells the people. Every morning the bread is new as every morning the day is new.
Ex. 3:1-15 • Ps. 63:1-8 • 1 Cor. 10:1-13 • Luke 13:1-9
As he arrives at Horeb, the mountain of God, Moses sees an angel of the Lord revealing the mystery of the Incarnation. For “this light did not shine from some luminary among the stars but came from an earthly bush and surpassed the heavenly luminaries in brilliance” (Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses). Or we may relate this to the Virgin Mary: “The light of divinity which through birth shone from her into human life did not consume the burning bush” (ibid).
Gen. 15:1-12; 17-18 • Ps. 27 • Phil. 3:17-4:1 • Luke 13:31-35
First Sunday in Lent
Deut. 26:1-11 • Ps. 91:1-2, 9-16 • Rom. 10:8b-13 • Luke 4:1-13
The first fruits are gathered in full knowledge that this is “the bounty of the Lord,” and thus a return is required. Only in giving back through oblation and recitation of the old story do the people affirm their utter dependency upon God. Their labor in the fields accrues to them not a mere speck of human merit, for this is “the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut. 26:2).
Neh. 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 • Ps. 19 • 1 Cor. 12:12-31a • Luke 4:14-21
Jer. 1:4-10 • Ps. 71:1-6 • 1 Cor. 13:1-13 • Luke 4:21-30
Today’s readings speak to us of vocation and of origin and of family, as well as of the often turbulent transition from childhood to maturity. Jeremiah recounts his vocation, saying: “the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’”
Neh. 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 • Ps. 19 • 1 Cor. 12:12-31a • Luke 4:14-21
This Gospel lesson centers on Jesus’ self-promotion in Nazareth, “where he had been brought up” (v. 16), and its environs. According to Luke, Jesus had just been baptized by John, and he had gone into the wilderness and there had been tempted by Satan. Now he arrives in Nazareth. This is therefore akin to our Lord’s debut, the first acts of his public ministry.
Isa. 62:1-5 • Ps. 36:5-10 • 1 Cor. 12:1-11 • John 2:1-11
First Sunday after the Epiphany
Isa. 43:1-7 • Ps. 29 • Acts 8:14-17 • Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
The Gospel reading for this day begins with confusion among the people on whether John might be the Messiah. John recounts to them his role as the forerunner, and tells them that the Messiah, when he comes, will be “more powerful than I” and that he will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Isa. 60:1-6 • Ps. 72:1-7, 10-14 • Eph. 3:1-12 • Matt. 2:1-12
The Greek root of Epiphany refers to a disclosure, and a primary aspect of the feast day is God’s disclosure of himself to the nations. This indeed had been a major theme of the Jewish prophets: God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants was for the blessing of all the nations on the face of the earth. As God said, “by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice” (Gen. 22:18).
Isa. 61:10-62:3 • Ps. 147 or 147:13-21 • Gal. 3:23-25, 4:4-7 • John 1:1-18
Mic. 5:2-5a • Canticle 3 or 15 or Ps. 80:1-7 • Heb. 10:5-10 • Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)
Zeph. 3:14-20 • Canticle 9 • Phil. 4:4-7 • Luke 3:7-18
“I will bear away everything from the face of the earth, says the Lord: man, beasts, birds of heaven, fish of the sea, all of it gone, swept away. This will be the ruin of the unrighteous” (Zeph. 1:2-3). The prophet is just starting. “I will extend a destroying hand over Judah, Jerusalem, the remnant of Baal, false priests, and those who bow to the hosts of heaven” (1:4-5). “A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation” (1:15).
First Reading: Bar. 5:1-9 Alternate: Mal. 3:1-4 • Canticle 4 or 16 • Phil. 1:3-11 • Luke 3:1-6
Jer. 33:14-16; Ps. 25:1-9 • Dan. 12:1-3; Ps. 16 • 1 Thess. 3:9-13 • Luke 21:25-36
To speak persuasively is to draw up worn words and tried images, a stockpile of poetry and story, and then to give these bones new life by fitting them to the prudence of the hearer (Cicero, De Oratione). Our Old Testament prophet opines no new thought, just an old-time tradition: Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus.
Christ the King
First reading: 2 Sam. 23:1-7; Ps. 132:1-13, (14-19) Alternate: Dan. 7:9-10, 11-14; Ps. 93 • Rev. 1:4b-8 • John 18:33-37
We will get to the godless, piercing them with an iron bar or the shaft of a spear, and throwing them to an all-consuming fire (see 2 Sam. 23:6,7).
First reading: 1 Sam. 1:4-20; 1 Sam. 2-1-10 Alternate: Dan. 12:1-3; Ps. 16 • Heb. 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25 • Mark 13:1-8
First reading: Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17; Ps. 127 Alternate: 1 Kings 17:8-16; Ps. 146 • Heb. 9:24-28 • Mark 12:38-44
All Saints Sunday observed
First reading: Ruth 1:1-18; Ps. 146 Alternate: Deut. 6:1-9; Ps. 119:1-8 • Heb. 9:11-14 • Mark 12:28-34
Today the preacher would do well to speak of love and love’s obedience. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. This preacher, on All Saints Sunday, will not withhold from memory a dead daughter and a dead father and that countless throng with whom their bones rest. The preacher will announce a love that extends to the living and the dead.
First reading: Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Ps. 34:1-8 (19-22) Alternate: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Ps. 126; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52
In the end Job’s fortune is restored. He has sons and daughters, livestock and cash, lengthening of days equaling 140 years. God comes to him in wonder, a whirlwind and a voice exceeding all human knowledge. Who is Job to question? “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me” (42:3).
First reading: Job 38:1-7 (34-41); Ps. 104:1-8, 25, 37b Alternate: Isa. 53:4-12; Ps. 91:9-16 • Heb. 5:1-10 • Mark 10:35-45
First reading: Job 23:1-9, 16-17, Ps. 22:1-15 Alternate: Amos 5:6-7, 10-15, Ps. 90:12-17 • Heb. 4:12-16 • Mark 10:17-31
First reading: Job 1:1; 2:1-10, Ps. 26 Alternate: Gen. 2:18-24, Ps. 8 • Heb. 1:1-4; 2:5-12 • Mark 10:2-16
First reading: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22; Ps. 124 Alternate: Num. 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; Ps. 19:7-14 • James 5:13-20 • Mark 9:38-50
First reading: Prov. 31:10-31; Ps. 1 Alternate: Wis. 1:16-2:1 or Jer. 11:18-20; Ps. 54 • James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37
First reading: Prov. 1:20-33; Ps. 19 or Wis. 7:26-8:1 Alternate: Isa. 50:4-9a; Ps. 116:1-8 • James 3:1-12 • Mark 8:27-38
First reading: Prov. 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Ps. 125 Alternate: Isa. 35:4-7a; Ps. 146 • James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17 • Mark 7:24-37
First reading: Song 2:8-13; Ps. 45:1-2, 7-10 Alternate: Deut. 4:1-2, 6-9; Ps. 15 • James 1:17-27 • Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
First reading: 1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43; Ps. 84 Alternate: Josh. 24:1-2a, 14-18; Ps. 34:15-22 • Eph. 6:10-20 • John 6:56-69
First reading: 2 Sam. 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Ps. 130
Alternate: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34:1-8
Eph. 4:25-5:2 • John 6:35, 41-51
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus tells the grumbling crowd. It’s an immense claim, and they rightly jump at its implications. He does not say I am a bread of life: a wise teacher, one who has come to reveal God’s will to you, but the bread of life, for which you have long hungered.
First reading: 2 Sam. 1:1, 17-27; Ps. 130
Alternate: Wis. 1:13-15, 2:23-24
or Lam. 3:21-33; Ps. 30
2 Cor. 8:7-15 • Mark 5:21-43
Blood. For twelve years it had been blood, day after day, without any hint of relief. All her clothes were stained by it, its stench always hung about her body. It had cost her all her money, all her friends. No one would share a meal with her, no one would hold her tenderly with love. It was all the world could see in her — an outcast, marked indelibly by this curse.
First reading: 1 Sam. 15:34-16:13; Ps. 20
Alternate: Ez. 17:22-24; Ps. 92:1-4, 11-14
2 Cor. 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17 • Mark 4:26-34
In his parables of the kingdom, Jesus speaks with striking audacity. In the eyes of the world, he is a barely tested young rabbi, hardly known outside his native region. He has only a few followers. Most authorities who have encountered him are full of questions and condemnation.
First reading: 1 Sam. 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15); Ps. 138
Alternate: Gen. 3:8-15; Ps. 130
2 Cor. 4:13-5:1 • Mark 3:20-35
It’s hard to talk about God. We live in a world where words are slippery and promises contingent.
Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21 or Ezek. 37:1-14
Rom. 8:22-27 or Acts 2:1-21
John 15:26,26; 16:4b-15
On this sacred day, the breath of the Lord, coming as violent wind, flickering tongues of fire, native speech to the nations, is entirely life-giving. This is the Spirit poured out upon all flesh. Prophecy, visions, and dreams are ignited by the sparking wind. Everyone hears and dreams about the wonders of God “in their own language.” The turbulence of the Spirit is directed toward a single intelligence. Everyone understands.
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 • Ps. 1
John 5:9-13 • John 17:6-19
Acts 10:44-48 • Ps. 98
1 John 5:1-6 • John 15:9-17
Knowing that the grace of the Holy Spirit had fallen upon foreign nations, hearing them speak in tongues and glorifying God, Peter responds. Indeed, “he commands them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 10:48). Not offended by his forthright words, they obey to the letter and “ask Peter to remain with them a few days.” Peter acts as an Abba, a spiritual father commissioned with authoritative words. His words compel obedience and invite a deeper listening. “Stay with us a few days.”
Acts 8:26-40 • Ps. 22:24-30
1 John 4:7-21 • John 15:1-8
The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise my love, my fair one, and come away. The garden is a garden of delight and an irresistible invitation. Love. Jesus says, “I am the true vine and my Father is a farmer.” The farmer shows his cutting care, discarding the fruitless branch for the fire and pruning where the fruit grows. Thus his care is loving and life-giving.
Acts 4:5-12 • Ps. 23
1 John 3:16-24 • John 10:11-18
Acts 3:12-19 • Ps. 4
1 John 3:1-7 • Luke 24:36b-48
In the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples begin to do what Jesus did; his life in them, they replicate his actions, though being careful to confess that they act “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Peter reaches out to a man lame from birth and raises him to exuberant life and strength. Explaining himself, Peter says, “You Israelites!” Our ears awaken and twitch with discomfort! “Jesus whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate” (3:13); “you killed the author of life” (3:15).
Acts 4:32-35 • Ps. 133
1 John 1:1-2:2 • John 20:19-31
A quick conversion illustrated: the enthroned ego leading a chaotic life is replaced by an enthroned Christ who puts one’s daily agenda in manageable if not perfect order. Clear, but not true. Conversion is not merely private, nor is Christian transformation immediate. Insisting that one go from habitual sin to super sanctity in short order makes a sorry Christian: irritable, unhappy, unwise.
Acts 10:34-43 or Isa. 25:6-9
Ps. 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Cor. 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43
John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8
Is. 50:4-9a • Ps. 31:9-16 • Phil. 2:5-11
Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39 (40-47)
The Fifth Sunday in Lent
Jer. 31:31-34 • Ps. 51:1-13 or 119:9-16
Heb. 5:5-10 • John 12:20-33
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
Num. 21:4-9 • Ps. 107:1-3,17-22
Eph. 2:1-10 • John 3:14-21
The Third Sunday in Lent
Ex. 20:1-17 • Ps. 19
1 Cor. 1:18-25 • John 2:13-22
The Second Sunday in Lent
Gen. 17:1-7, 15-16 • Ps. 22:22-30
Rom. 4:13-25 • Mark 8:31-38
The First Sunday in Lent
Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
The Fifth Sunday of Epiphany
Isa. 40:21-31 • Ps. 147:1-12, 21c
1 Cor. 9:16-23 • Mark 1:29-39
Religious studies, however compelling and intriguing to a few, is not the subject of Christian preaching. The preacher is not a “disinterested” academician, though he is, to be sure, often found among books. He preaches under a divine necessity: the One True God.
1 Epiphany: Baptism of Our Lord
The Holy Name
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
The Third Sunday of Advent
The Second Sunday of Advent
The Last Sunday after Pentecost