- Walk and Not Faint
Lectionary Date: February 7, 2021 [5th Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B]
Rachel shares a deep insight from one of her students.
- A Prophet Like Moses
Lectionary Date: January 31, 2021 [4th Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B]
How do we hear what God wants to say to us?
- Absurd Words for an Absurd World
Lectionary Date: January 24, 2021 [3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B]
It’s our 100th podcast episode! We give some interpretive tips for Jonah 3, and then look back at some of the highlights of our first 100 episodes of First Reading! Also: take two minutes to check out our 100th celebration video here: https://youtu.be/m34A459ENYY
- Speaking Truth to Power
Lectionary Date: January 17, 2021 [2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B]
The calling of Samuel is a nice story, but don’t forget the message itself!
- Bereshit Bara Elohim…
Lectionary Date: January 10, 2021 [1st Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B]
Fun with Hebrew, and a look at the connections between Genesis and the Baptism of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel.
- Hope for Those Beneath Life’s Crushing Load
Lectionary Date: January 3, 2021 [2nd Sunday after Christmas, Year B]
A window of hope in a book full of doom—might be just what we need for the first Sunday of 2021!
- Praise God—Do It!
Lectionary Date: December 27, 2020 [1st Sunday after Christmas, Year B]
We’re going with the psalm reading, for a change of pace. What does this litany of praise have to do with the Christmas story?
- Who Makes a Name for Whom?
Lectionary Date: December 20, 2020 [4th Sunday of Advent, Year B]
What does a proposed temple-building project 3,000 years ago have to do with Advent this year? Rachel and Tim consider 2 Samuel 7 in an Advent context, and play an “encore” of their very first First Reading episode, with guest Dr. Jacob Wright, professor of Hebrew Bible at Emory University and Candler School of Theology. Jacob’s latest book, War, Memory, and National Identity in the Hebrew Bible, is hot off the press (July 2020) and very relevant to the issues we discussed when we recorded our pilot episode of First Reading!
Learn more about Jacob Wright, and check out his other books: David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory and Rebuilding Identity: the Nehemiah Memoir and its Earliest Readers.
- Binding Up the Broken-Hearted
Lectionary Date: December 13, 2020 [3rd Sunday of Advent, Year B]
What’s broken in a broken heart? And how does God plan to repair it? News you can use for this lamentable Advent season.
- Comfort, Comfort Now My People
Lectionary Date: December 6, 2020 [2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B]
This famous passage isn’t about Pollyannaism—it’s comfort from the middle of real trauma (something many of us can relate to this Advent).
- Preach Advent Slant
Lectionary Date: November 29, 2020 [1st Sunday of Advent, Year B]
Welcome to Advent and to Year B in the lectionary! Rachel is taking the lead during Advent with tips on how to preach it “slant” — to use Emily Dickinson’s term.
- I Myself Will Shepherd Them
Lectionary Date: November 22, 2020 [25th Sunday after Pentecost, Reign of Christ Sunday, Year A]
The 23rd Psalm is not the only biblical text to feature the shepherding metaphor! This week Rev. Dr. Safwat Marzouk joins Rachel and Tim to discuss Ezek 34, a powerful critique of Judah’s “shepherds” and a promise of divine shepherding for the vulnerable of God’s flock. Dr. Marzouk is Assoc. Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Anabapist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, in Elkhart, IN. We recommend his books, Intercultural Church: A Biblical Vision for an Age of Migration and Egypt as a Monster in the Book of Ezekiel. Safwat is also a contributor to the “Politics of Scripture” blog at politicaltheology.com. First Reading is happy to be partnering with the Political Theology Network by sharing this week’s episode as the “Politics of Scripture” blog entry for Nov 16!
- By the Hand of a Woman
Lectionary Date: November 15, 2020 [24th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A]
It’s the only entry from the fabulous book of Judges in the Lectionary! Tim has a couple ways to think about preaching this text about Deborah.
- Gotta Serve Somebody
Lectionary Date: November 8, 2020 [23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Year A]
At the end of Joshua, he calls the people to make a choice—but it’s not an uninformed decision. Tim has some thoughts about this.
- They Crossed on Dry Ground
Lectionary Date: November 1, 2020 [22nd Sunday after Pentecost, Year A]
Tim talks about how crossing the Jordan River is a bookend to the liminality of the wilderness, and what that could mean for us in this strange, time-out-of-time COVID/Election moment.
- I’ve Been to the Mountaintop
Lectionary Date: October 25, 2020 [21st Sunday after Pentecost, Year A]
The Torah ends with the description of Moses’ death—kind of a downer! How can we make sense of this scene and how could it inspire a helpful sermon in the age of COVID-19? This week, Rachel and Tim are joined by Dr. Denise Flanders, assistant professor of Biblical Studies at Taylor University in Upland, IN, and an adjunct professor of Biblical Languages at Fuller Theological Seminary. She is currently working on the 1–2 Samuel volume for the commentary series The Bible in God’s World. Denise is passionate about introducing students to the ethical and spiritual relevance of the Hebrew Bible to faith and life today. To see more of her work, visit her website at www.deniseflanders.com.
- Show Me Your Glory
Lectionary Date: October 18, 2020 [20th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A]
Rachel keeps the story rolling in Exodus, with the roller coaster going from scary threat of divine abandonment to powerful experience of divine intimacy.
- What will the Egyptians think?
Lectionary Date: October 11, 2020 [19th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A]
Tim is stumped by the violence of this difficult text. Can you help him out?
- Other Gods? — Don’t You Go-der.
Lectionary Date: October 4, 2020 [18th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A]
Rachel looks at the famous “ten commandments” and proposes a couple ways to preach this familiar/unfamiliar text.
- The People are Thirsty
Lectionary Date: September 27, 2020 [17th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A]
Is God really among us? In the midst of pandemic, natural disaster, and centuries-deep racial violence, you and your congregation might be asking this question—but you are not the first! This week, Rachel and Tim look back at this same question in the wilderness narrative of Exodus, with guest exegete, Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman. Dr. Bridgeman is a perfect fit for the podcast, because she is an Associate Professor of Homiletics and Hebrew Bible at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, where she is also the Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Her research interests range from Womanist approaches, to prophetic biblical literature, to African-American women preachers, to embodied ritual remembrance… If you’re also interested in more of her work, we’d recommend you check out her contributions to WorkingPreacher.