Year of the Lord's Favor, The

Year of the Lord's Favor, The

Proclaiming Grace in the Year of Luke

Pushes beyond traditional interpretation to get at what Luke is really saying.


The Year of the Lord’s Favor is commentary on the texts of the Revised Common Lectionary that is contextualized, politically engaged and unflinchingly honest. Comfort is cruel if it is based on an illusion. These reflections connect honestly and realistically with the ordinary circumstances of experience. They encourage the twenty-first century Christian to live in a way that transcends sentimentality and fear and live a faith that makes things happen.


This series of short sermons for the lectionary year C (mostly on the Gospel of Luke) offers stimulating enthusiasm to any jaded preacher this year and for 2015, 2018 etc. Bringing an American energy and wide study to his context of inner-city Cardiff, Arthur offers original and challenging insights . You will be unlikely to agree with all of it but it will bring the Scriptures alive and provoke you to engage, and that is good for all of us. ~ Neil Patterson, The Newspaper -The Diocese of Hereford

I have to say that this is the best lectionary preaching resource I've ever read. I wish I'd gotten "The Year of the Lord's Favor" by Tom Arthur back in November but am so glad I have it now. It's one of those books where I'm constantly interrupting my wife and saying, "Hey, listen to this!" Arthur seamlessly weaves together prescient insights into scripture, art, literature, church, society and life in general. He is astonishingly well-read and writes with a scholar's mind and a pastor's heart. He takes his readers on an amazing journey from the hills of western Pennsylvania to the streets of Chicago to the halls of Cardiff, all while introducing them to fascinating people and places around the globe. He connects the scripture to all of these experiences in such a way that the text appears new and shockingly relevant to our world today. I can't recall reading someone whose prose is so fluid, yet whose insights into such a breadth of materials is so deep. I'm very glad that I got this book during Year C, and as I continue to preach on the texts for this year, I'm confident that I'll be turning to this book time and time again. This is definitely a five-star book, and the experience of reading it was truly transformative for me. I wholeheartedly recommend it for preachers or anyone, especially while this Year C, "The Year of the Lord's Favor," is still with us! ~ David Akerman, Amazon

Never before have I found a commentary that was a page-turner. I could not stop reading. My wife and I read aloud to each other, not worrying about liturgical season. We pondered how well Tom Arthur challenged the meaning of being a Christian today as we laughed out loud. His scholarship provides provocative and pointed insight into what Luke expects of us as disciples. The language and images of The Year of the Lord's Favor bear witness to how Arthur has helped congregations on two continents become vital. He animates how we must strive to live today in relation to the Gospel, posing hard questions for all of us who seek to be twenty-first century Christians. ~ Barn Photographere, Windsor, CT, Amazon

Learning from Luke in Lent....thank you Tom Arthur for a fun, contemporary help in delving into and applying Luke's gospel to our living in this upcoming season...hard to put down! ~ Deborah Davis-Johnson, Amazon

Ha! How can so serious a topic be so entertaining? Not that the book is funny, per se, but that the writing kept a smile on my face all the while Arthur was indoctrinating me. Tom, please come back to the States and set up church in my neighborhood! This book is a not-so-subtle call to redirect our aim toward the original flavor of Christianity. The Lord's Supper, and the year of the Jubilee, become sort of the uprights of our goal posts. Arthur notes that the Year of the Lord's favor, its concern for the poor and its celebration of the joyful experience of reversed fortunes, establishes the framework for the entire Lukan narrative. While nothing should be taken away from Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, when Luke moves it down to the Plain-to the level of the people-its flavor changes, and it becomes more direct. The poor are the focus. Did you know that today, the average American consumes 50 times that of the average citizen of Bangladesh? Arthur proceeds to trek through the Gospel of Luke (and a few stray passages from other books) presenting opinionated discussion. Its three or four page reflections make for an excellent bathroom reader. (That's a compliment! Really!) By the final quarter of the book, however, the tone turns more somber. Perhaps Constantine managed to twist the cross into a swastika, but we've never managed to untwist it. The horrors of war are only one example of how Jesus' ministry has undergone a stark reversal. Is the Age of the Lord's Favor merely a pipe dream? ~ Dubious Disciple "Lee Harmon", Amazon

This is the ideal commentary to read alongside the weekly Lectionary. Tom has the gift to communicate his academic scholarship in language accessible to all and interweaves personal stories and experiences that open windows to the back story behind the bible text as we have it. This book is a must for anyone who wishes to be challenged and inspired afresh by familiar stories. ~ Sally Thomas "smt", Amazon uk

I have found this series of reflections linked to the Sunday lectionary readings to be refreshing, startling and provocative and I thoroughly recommend this book. The author emphasises the revolutionary nature of Luke's Gospel, and reminds the reader that the scriptures were written with urgency and passion for a particular people in a particular time and place. The book is an excellent example of contextual theological reflection. ~ Fiona Thomas, Amazon uk

What do you do when you first handle a new book? Might I guess that you look at the front cover, read the title, then turn the book over and read the blurb on the back? Sometimes, if you persevere and read the book, you feel the blurb bears little relation to the actual content of the book. Not so with Tom Arthur’s commentary. The blurb seems to me to be quotably accurate; it says the book is “commentary on the texts of the Revised Common Lectionary that is contextualised, politically engaged and unflinchingly honest. . . These reflection connect honestly and realistically with the ordinary circumstances of experience. They encourage the 21st century Christian to live in a way that transcends sentimentality and fear and live a faith that makes things happen.” Tom Arthur is an American (hence the title spelling) Presbyterian minister serving with the United Reformed Church in Wales. He combines erudition and an up-to-date knowledge of biblical scholarship with a canny ability to relate the lectionary’s readings with the world outside the church walls, in the best tradition of those who pray with their Bible in one hand and their newspaper in the other. The commentaries vary in length from two to five pages, and quite considerably in style—some anecdotal and easily accessible, and some requiring a bit of mental effort. I would have appreciated an index which listed the Bible readings in canonical order, for use at other times than when one is preparing a sermon, but that is nit-picking. I found myself profoundly challenged by Tom Arthur’s insistence that we emerge bravely from the ghetto of church life (what the writer calls “the emasculated sentimentality of today’s church”) and become “the midwives of new possibilities the world of buying and selling cannot imagine”. These commentaries move us on from simply understanding what the words of the text are saying, to the next step of opening our eyes to the significance of what is going on around us. ~ Ruth Allen, Reform magazine

Good biblical exposition, like good preaching, needs to connect with people as well as connect with the text. It also needs to connect with current issues. These racily written reflections on the lectionary’s year of Luke texts do all three as well as at the same time presenting the writer as a real person. Engaging and challenging, entertaining and confronting, they “play it again”, as one the titles puts it, faithfully presenting what has been the heart of the gospel from the beginning, but doing it in ways that keep it new and fresh. ~ William Loader, Murdoch University, Western Australia

Anyone who prepares sermons, or who regularly listens to sermons, knows the hazards and bland irrelevance of sermons that fail to connect. In this splendid book, Tom Arthur eloquently writes about what he calls “the here-and-nowness" of the gospel. Here is thoughtful writing by a pastor/scholar who has served and preached to congregations on two continents and in very different sociological contexts. He draws from his own rich experience and brings to his commentary voices from the world of the arts, literature, politics as well as religion, that is, from the amazing complexity of human life in the world. This is an important book that will be provocative and helpful to readers, preachers, listeners, and students, alike. ~ John Buchanan, Editor and publisher of The Christian Century

Tom Arthur's well-crafted and passionate reading of Luke's Gospel is a remarkable weaving together of solid exegesis, his own pastoral experience of some thirty years on two continents, and incisive reading of contemporary events in light of Luke's prophetic portrayal of Jesus. Strongly recommended for preachers, those interested in contextual theologies, and anyone caring about a ministry of social justice in today's world. ~ Robert Schreiter, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago; author of Constructing Local Theologies

Barth once said that the preacher should have the Bible in one hand and to-day's newspaper in the other. Tom Arthur does just that. This is Biblical exposition of a high order, sure-footedly tracing the journeys of God's grace in the lives of his people and the flux of the world. Read these reflections and let Scripture come alive for you. ~ David Cornick, General Secretary, Churches Together in England

Those who think that nothing of significance is being said in our churches will think again. Tom Arthur counts for me as a great preacher. He boldly addresses the issues of the age with a mind conversant with the most enlightened biblical scholarship. He is both crisp and pertinent. Those who heard Tom preach at City United Reformed Church in Cardiff (thanks to Tom now an 'Open and Affirming’ church) were always provoked to think, and challenged to live, in new ways. This book will multiply those so challenged many-fold. ~ John Henson, Baptist minister, author of 'Good as New', 'Bad Acts of the Apostles' etc.

What makes this book a must read is the way these well crafted reflections bring together experience, contexts and scholarship to open up spaces for readers to make their own connections. Faith is not found in neat and crisp propositions, but in the juicy and sticky stories of our relational encounters. These reflections overflow with freshness, generosity and hope! ~ Michael Jaggesar, Secretary for Racial Justice and Multicultural Ministries and 2012-2014 Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church

Two things are necessary for those who try to expound the scriptures – a deep knowledge, love and understanding of the texts coupled with the ability to see their relevance to our own contemporary life and its issues. These meditations succeed on both counts. ~ Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, The Church in Wales

A lot of “The Year of the Lord’s Favour” is quite hard hitting - and I'm speaking for myself. Tom Arthur brings freshness to familiar scenes. There's not much I read these days that I want to get on to the next page and see what's going to be the next twist, but this is one of the exceptions. And I like the humour. This is my kind of stuff. ~ Allan Pickard, Union of Welsh Independents minister and BBC journalist.

Tom Arthur's "The Year of the Lord’s Favour" stirs my soul and opens my mind to things I had thought I was familiar with, allowing me to see something new. He engages the reader with experiences from his own story and interesting and wide-ranging references to illuminate the scriptures and make them totally relevant to what is happening around us today. These reflections speak to our common human condition; they also expose much of what is wrong with our society - there is challenge, healing and hope here. Through it all the Good News speaks clearly. ~ Jeff Williams, National Secretary for Christian Aid Wales

Tom Arthur
Tom Arthur Tom Arthur is an American Presbyterian minister recruited in 1988 by the United Reformed Church in the UK to serve in Wales. Before that, he...