So last fall, I was asked to speak on a Sunday morning at an Episcopal church in Louisville, Kentucky. And like most Episcopal churches, this one joined hundreds of thousands of Protestant churches from around the world in following the Revised Common Lectionary as a general guide for which passages of Scripture would be read, preached on, and reflected upon that week.
Since I was a guest, (and not ordained), the rector told me I should feel free to speak on anything I liked. But when I looked up the gospel passage from the lectionary for that week—Luke 17:5-10—my interest was piqued. What’s this whole thing about a mulberry tree getting uprooted and planted in the ocean? That’s kinda weird.
Suddenly, I liked the idea of having an “assignment,” a sort of spiritual and creative challenge that kept the focus on the text and not on me. Furthermore, as I began preparing for that sermon, I discovered this whole world of online collaboration happening among clergy from Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, and Lutheran churches (and more!) all working through the same few passages in preparation for their services that week. And they weren’t just thinking about their sermons. They were joining with artists and musicians and liturgists and Sunday school teachers and writers and laypeople to think about how Luke 17:5-10 might translate into art, worship, poetry, children’s messages, even bulletin designs. (Even after the sermon was finished, I loved checking the blogs and sermon podcasts of some of my favorite pastors to see their “take” on the passage.)
And it struck me: This is exactly how the Bible is meant to be engaged—collaboratively, in community, with a diversity of people and perspectives represented.
It also struck me that the internet has given us the opportunity to do that like never before, bringing even more laypeople (like myself) into the conversation.
With that in mind, beginning tomorrow—Lord willing—I’ll be dedicating Thursdays to blogging with the lectionary. (Posts will look ahead, focusing on the upcoming Sunday’s texts.) Sometimes I’ll write a reflection, almost like a sermon. Sometimes I’ll write a poem or just a few brief thoughts. Sometimes I’ll merely pose a few questions and invite you to tackle the text in the comment section. Sometimes I’ll just share a photo or some art or someone else’s sermon, quote, or devotional on the topic. The format and style will likely evolve over time, and I hope you will help me shape it. I'm aware of the fact that I'm not a biblical scholar or trained teacher, so I'll be relying on (and sharing) a variety of sources and will certainly welcome input and challenges.
I’d also like to invite you to blog through the lectionary along with me. You can check out each week’s texts here. And you can find a whole host of resources to get you started here. Feel free to share links to your blog posts in the common section on Thursdays.
Here are this week’s texts:
First reading: Acts 7:55-60
Psalm: Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
Second reading: 1 Peter 2:2-10
Gospel: John 14:1-14
(Note: At first, I’ll probably lean toward the gospel readings, but occasionally we’ll jump into the first and second readings or the psalms.)
I love the Bible. I love reading it, wrestling with it, asking questions about it, writing about it, and talking about it with other people. And I hope this new series will be a fun, collaborative way to engage the Bible together.
Let me know if you have ideas, questions, additional resources, or suggestions. (I’m new to this, and open to learning more.) Pastors, I'm especially interested in hearing about any resources you find particularly helpful.
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