Emerge and Restore

Exploring faith, God, and church in the 21st century...

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Location: Kansas, United States

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


One thing I hate to do is get in a rut when it comes to sermon preparation. I prepare each sermon in a series in the same manner, but I prepare for different groups of sermons in very different ways. I refuse to admit that there is one right way to preach. My favorite approach so far has been (I recently finished preaching through the entire Gospel of John) eliminating all preparation except for extended meditation on the text itself and what it is saying to me in my current situation. I love to play around with the way I prep and the way I preach. I have no rules except for a commitment to Him and His Word. Maybe that's a young preacher's game, but hey, I've been doing this less than a year.

So now I'm entering into a whole brand new experiment. In an effort to connect with other branches of Christianity and experience some solidarity with other tribes, I'm going to spend a year following and preaching from the Revised Common Lectionary. A lectionary is simply a collection of passages of scripture arranged for use during worship. Many churches from the Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, and Methodist traditions (and others) base their liturgies on the RCL. It cycle starts again every three years.

Liturgies (or table readings, as they used to be called) have been in use since the fourth century, first utilizing continuous readings, where each Sunday picked up in scripture where the last left off (the readings during the month of March must have been inspiring = Numbers and Leviticus). Now four passages of scripture have been carefully chosen for each Sunday; one from the Old Testament, one Psalm, one epistle, and one passage from a Gospel. There have been many lectionaries over the centuries, but the main one was the Vatican's Lectionary for Mass (1969). The Revised Common Lectionary (1992) is based on and derived from that, and is the most common one worldwide.

What I like about the RCL system:

1). It's anchored in history. It's older than my roughly 150 year old tradition. It's been tried and refined for centuries by some of the greatest scholars the church has ever had. I like being tied to the ancient ways.

2). It's catholic. That word really just means universal. I love the idea of Christians all over the world, all over my city, encountering the same text with me every week. I think that's beautiful.

3). It's scripturally healthy. We're kept with a healthy diet of scripture and not allowed to give one portion too much emphasis over another. I like the balance.

4). It's Christ-centered. One portion a week from a Gospel. Every service and sermon is rooted in Christ. Nuff said.

Wish me good luck. This coming Sunday is the first week of the lectionary year (year B). We'll see how it goes (especially during Holy Week - days my church is loathe to recognize). Anybody else want to try?


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