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Word of God, Word of Earth (Series)

July 6, 2019

This page serves as an introduction to a summer sermon series I am preaching called Word of God, Word of Earth in which I am exploring ways the natural world challenges, comforts and gathers out attention so that we might be gathered in by God and awoken to our responsibilities in, with, and for creation. We will set these sermons in the cosmic context of Biblical Wisdom and then spend most of our weeks with the Elijah and Elisha narratives in First and Second Kings.

About the title for the series: A couple of years ago when I was studying the Elijah-Elisha narratives with Walter Brueggemann’s Smyth and Helwys Bible Commentary on 1 & 2 Kings, I came across a series of side-bars and footnotes alluding to Davie Napier and a small book of Napier’s called Word of God, Word of Earth. I was intrigued. Napier was an ordained Congregationalist minister, had taught at Yale and later Stamford and served until his retirement as President of the Pacific School of Religion. He was also a life-long activist. Word of God, Word of Earth, first published in 1976, was an early commentary on Elijah and Elisha with a decidedly eco-justice lens. The book also included Napier’s own fresh translation of the Elijah-Elisha Narrative. The entire text was fully revised for publication as part of The Best of Davie Napier in 1992. I have used it as a go-to ever since. I have borrowed Napier’s expression as the title for this short summer series because it demonstrates what Prof. Ellen Davis, in Getting Involved With God: Rediscovering the Old Testament, has called a ‘healthy materiality” or “Torah from the Earth.”

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