Preaching from a lectionary has long been standard practice for numerous liturgical churches. However, other churches are now exploring this discipline. The Revised Common Lectionary appears to be fulfilling many current preaching requirements.
Preaching the lectionary is a discipline and a time-honored one. When Jesus returned to His home town of Nazareth, He was asked to read, in the Synagogue, the appointed scripture of the day. The Hebrews had a system of reading through the entirety of their scriptures in a prescribed cycle of readings much as our lectionary today.
Some will ask whether or not the lectionary restricts the movement of the Spirit in preaching. It does discipline the preaching. Nevertheless, God was able to speak through what Jesus was asked to read that day in Nazareth. He spoke so strongly that the people of Nazareth wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff.
Surely we need the Spirit of the Lord upon us if we truly want to preach God’s Word and not our own. The lectionary forces us to do some preparation before we preach. It eliminates the notion that the preacher need not prepare because the Spirit will spontaneously give him or her what to say from the pulpit. Perhaps the Spirit can do a better job of spontaneity when we do a better job of planning the sermon in advance.
Without the lectionary the preacher must decide what scriptures he or she will use as a text for the sermon. The danger is that certain scriptures will be emphasized because they may be favorites of the preacher while other scriptures may be entirely ignored. We need to preach and teach all of God’s Word.
Once when the apostles were imprisoned an angel of the Lord released them at night and gave them this instruction:
“Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. (Acts 5:20)
Following the spirit of the Revised Common Lectionary, this blog offers homiletic helps for the broadest spectrum in Christian churches and denominations. I trust that it will be helpful, especially for those new to the use of a lectionary. Check out the Vanderbilt Divinity Library for more information concerning the Revised Common Lectionary.