What to preach?
I know it’s annoying to be asked to look ahead on the calendar. But your accountant does it (tax time coming: ugh!). Whoever budgets in your household does it. Now your preacher is doing it: what should we preach on next?
The church doesn’t always ask this question. We have a set of assigned text for each Sunday, called the lectionary, which gives us an Old Testament lesson, a Psalm, a New Testament letter, and a Gospel text for each Sunday. I like the lectionary, but I don’t love it. It allows us preacher to share resources. It’s designed to keep us from returning to our pet texts and topics. But that doesn’t always work. And because we only have 52 Sundays a year, there are chunks of scripture the lectionary misses. A lectionary-only preacher will never get the Jacob stories in Genesis 35-50. Never touch Samson. Never wrestle with tales of wrath or judgment, which the lectionary tends to dodge. So it’s good—I tend to use it in celebratory seasons especially—but not perfect. Nothing is.
I learned from evangelicals to use “series,” in addition to the lectionary. That is, to focus on a particular topic or book for a time. We’ve been in a series on Exodus since Epiphany. I’m imagining future series on Paul and on Genesis. But the one I’m pondering for after Easter is on everything else. The also-rans. The stories we don’t commonly hear. If you like, the weird ones.
A series upcoming on the weird stories of scripture might include Samson. I’ve never preached on the daughters of Zelophehad, but it’s a great story (check it: Numbers 26:1-4). The conflict between Peter and Paul deserves a sermon (Galatians 2:11-14). The Jubilee deserves some attention (Leviticus 25). The weird vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:13-16 could stand a sermon. So too could some of the harsher texts we avoid with a sort of shudder: the daughter of Jephtheh story (Judges 11). Some of those stories have more redemption in them than we think. For example, the Sodom and Gomorrah story has surprising points of grace (n.b.: these have nothing to do with homosexuality).
This blog post is to ask you what you’d like to see included. There are only 16 Sundays between Easter and our summer preaching series in August, and my list has more than 16 texts on it already. But I’m still curious: what text would you love to hear a sermon on that’s always disturbed you? Thrilled you? Made you curious? Made you mad? Be in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org.