SFTS CHIMES | Fall 2012
McDonald, Noel contribute to lectionary
commentary that reflects on social justice issues
ev. Dr. Jim McDonald and
Rev. Dr. James Noel have
contributed to a
unique commentary that
helps preachers identify and
reflect on the social implica-
tions of the biblical readings
in the Revised Common Lec-
Preaching God’s Trans-
forming Justice
is the second of
three volumes of a collection of
essays that concentrates on the
themes of social justice in the
weekly texts. It also highlights
how those themes can become
teachable moments for preach-
ing social justice in the church.
McDonald is president and
professor of faith and public life
at San Francisco Theological
Seminary. Noel is the H. Eugene
Farlough, Jr. Professor of African
American Christianity at SFTS.
McDonald and Noel also contrib-
uted to the first volume of
ing God’s Transforming Justice
They are among 90 authors who
have provided commentary on biblical
texts. Their essays are designed to help
preachers and congregations develop a
deep and broad theological vision out
of which to interpret the social world.
In addition to providing com-
mentary for each day in the lection-
ary calendar, the series features 22
Holy Days for Justice. These days
are intended to enlarge the church’s
awareness of God’s call for justice and
of the many ways that call comes to
the church and world today. The days
include Martin Luther King Jr. Day,
Earth Day, World AIDS Day, Inter-
national Women’s Day, Cesar Chavez
Day, Yom HaShoah and Juneteenth.
McDonald, who came to SFTS in
2011 after 13 years with Bread for the
World, has written on World Food
Day, one of the Holy Days for Justice.
McDonald suggests that preachers
can encourage their congregations
to engage in comprehensive efforts
to end hunger by directly providing
food for hungry people, pressing
for patterns of growing and using
food that benefit local communi-
ties, taking action designed to
change systems of food produc-
tion and distribution, and advo-
cating healthy and responsible
“God’s presence is assured
when we do justice, not be-
cause our actions make us bet-
ter people, but because doing
justice changes our relationship
with others and transforms the
world in accord with God’s
purposes,” McDonald said.
“This is why ending hunger is
sacred work.”
Noel begins his essay by
discussing judgment, justice
and righteousness. “Justice
occurs when God delivers
the poor and oppressed from
their plight and in so do-
ing renders them justified
or righteous,” Noel writes. Noel also
points to prominent metaphors of
slavery and freedom in Paul’s letters,
cautioning against downplaying their
eschatology in favor of individualistic
interpretations and applications.
Noel preaches at New Liberation
Presbyterian Church in San Francisco
and regularly includes social justice
issues in his sermons. To hear Noel
preach, go to:
McDonald regularly preaches
throughout the West. To see where he
is preaching, go to:
Preaching God’s Transforming
Justice is 544 pages and retails
for $50. It was published by
Westminster John Knox Press.
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