Preaching The Word

January 7, 2024
The Word: 

A Curious Relationship by Raj Nadella
Transformative leadership often requires resisting a chance to “be in control” and instead knowing how to empower existing leadership.

Reconciling Differences by Joy J. Moore
In Isaiah 60 and Psalm 72, the disenfranchised, disappointed, and divided discover a glimpse of the reign of God—an assurance that God’s promises of redemption and reconciliation will never fail.

The Flickering Light of Epiphany by Nancy Hastings Sehested
Christmas proclaimed the birth of love. Epiphany reminds us that are no limits placed on that love.

Walking With the Light of the World by Walter Brueggemann
The early church, faced with the challenge of bearing witness to a Jesus who outran all explanatory categories, turned to the prophets and psalms, then piled up their own images and phrases.

A Disturbing Gift by Laurel A. Dykstra
While we retain the details of wealth and power in the story of the Magi, we often lose the theme of justice that pervades Isaiah and Psalm 72: "God delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper."

A Birth Announcement by Kari Jo Verhulst
At the time of Jesus' birth there was a plurality of religious traditions crammed together in a mish-mash of relocated people from across the Roman Empire.

Summoned by Glory by Paula Gooder
In Isaiah 60 and the story of the magi - and when the people of God emanate brightness, as Ephesians 3 tells us - nations and rulers will be drawn to that light.

God's Glory Still by Shelley Douglass
Brother John is a 73-year-old friar who escaped Poland during World War II by walking cross-country on bare and bleeding feet. Epiphany comes in surprising ways.

In Context: 

A Story of Loss and Hope: A Community of Justice by Walter Brueggemann
In the prophet's grand sweep of exile and restoration, including Isaiah 60's vision of a glorious, justice-embracing Jerusalem, Isaiah asks two key questions: Who belongs? And what is true religious discipline?


Epiphany and the Nations (Matthew 2:1-12; Ephesians 3:1-12)

Epiphany Is a Time for Imaginative Leaps by Rose Marie Berger
We know the narrative detail: Mary and Jesus, a manger, the Magi’s star-trekking journey with camels and gifts to honor a “newborn king” (while Herod, like Pharaoh, plots a bloody offense). But Epiphany is a season for paradigm shifts. What if we scramble the details?

Epiphany by Bill Wylie-Kellermann
The history of the feast of Epiphany, which is partly rooted in the emperor Constantine's political goals, highlights a key message in Ephesians 3: God is sharing grace with all the nations - and that, to reach them, one must first recognize and address their principalities and powers.

The Body of Christ (Ephesians 3:6-10)

Building Family by Richard Rohr, OFM
The body of Christ, the spiritual family, is God's strategy; only in a network of committed, faithful relationships can God rightly be known, and God's wisdom be revealed, as Ephesians 3:10 tells us.

Has Evangelism Become Politically Incorrect?: The Common Life of the Church Shapes Society by Ronald J. Sider
God's ability to forge a body of believers across ethnic boundaries is, according to Ephesians 3, a "mystery" central to the gospel, Sider argues in this article inspired by John and Vera Mae Perkins.

Defending the Poor (Psalm 72: 1-4, 12-14)

God and Mammon: Defending the Poor by Peter H. Davids
In this survey of Hebrew scripture attitudes towards wealth, Davids shows that God's particular care for the poor should make them a priority for rulers - and everyone else.

Living Faith: 

From Survival to Prosperity by Angela Glover Blackwell
In Psalm 72, the good ruler defends the poor and helps bring prosperity, and in Isaiah 60 the nations bring their wealth to God. In the United States today, as Blackwell describes, public policy, engaged communities, and local businesses can work together to help people and neighborhoods not just survive, but thrive.


"To the credit of the rulers of this world, they at least had the good sense to look at Jesus and see that, in him, they were in big trouble. Matthew says that the moment King Herod heard about the birth of Jesus, he called together his political advisers and 'was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him' (Matthew 2:3). Herod had been in office long enough to know a threat to his rule when he saw one.

"Herod knew that, in this baby at Bethlehem, everything his kingdom was built upon was in mortal peril. So Herod responded in the way rulers usually respond: violence. Herod called out the army and they massacred all the Jewish boy babies (Matthew 2:13-18) - alas, only one of many violent attempts by governments to rid themselves of challenges to their power. In praying 'Your kingdom come,' we are in a power struggle that can become violent because the kingdoms of the world rarely give up power without a fight." - Stanley M. Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, "Your Kingdom Come," Sojourners (May-June 1996)