The readings from the Revised Common Lectionary for Sunday worship include an Old Testament reading, a reading from the Psalms, an Epistle reading, and a reading from one of the Gospels. Which one of these should the preacher focus on? The obvious answer would be the Gospel reading. Certainly the Gospel is essential to the sermon or homily. Nonetheless, the ‘Gospel reading needs to be seen in the broader context of the supportive readings: Old Testament, Psalm, and Epistle. Often the best commentaries on a verse of scripture are other verses of scripture.
The authors of the lectionary have done an excellent job of assembling complementary readings each week. The connection between the appointed readings may not always seem apparent. However, with prayer and reflection an overall theme will begin to emerge. Discovering this theme is an exciting process. We will trust God and approach the readings with joyful expectation. We will begin early in the week and let the readings resonate within us as we approach each daily task. They will provide guidance and strength.
Quite often the Revised Common Lectionary offers a choice between alternate sets of readings which may further confuse or complicate our selection of readings for sermon preparation. Choices can be good. They offer us more flexibility. Some ministers feel that the lectionary in general is too confining. Perhaps alternate sets of readings are a little less confining for some. (I have always found the lectionary readings a good discipline and focus for the week. Over the years it has proven more than helpful.)
As we listen to the still small voice of God within He will guide us the set of readings that we should choose. As the week unfolds the right readings will jump out. If we are focusing on what we want to say in the sermon we may miss out. Let us discover what God wants to say and let Him have His way. He will breathe life into the sermon – His life.