|McDonald, Noel reflect on Bible's social implications in lectionary commentary|
Rev. Dr. Jim McDonald and Rev. Dr. James Noel have contributed to a unique commentary that helps preachers identify and reflect on the social implications of the biblical readings in the Revised Common Lectionary.
Preaching God’s Transforming 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 preaching 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 contributed to the first volume of Preaching God’s Transforming Justice last year.
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 commentary for each day in the lectionary 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, International 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, by pressing for patterns of growing and using food that benefit local communities, by taking action designed to change systems of food production and distribution, and by advocating healthy and responsible eating.
“God’s presence is assured when we do justice, not because our actions make us better 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 doing 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, click here: http://www.sfts.edu/faculty/noel/sermons/index.asp
McDonald regularly preaches throughout the West. Click here to see where he is preaching next: http://www.sfts.edu/news/view_event.asp?ID=260
Preaching God’s Transforming Justice is 544 pages and retails for $50. It was published by Westminster John Knox Press.