For years now – over a decade – it has been my practice to provide some food for thought on the readings for worship. This does several things. It helps me begin my process of thinking about the texts for the upcoming Sunday, including some preliminary isogogical and exegetical work. It also hopefully has been helpful to my parishioners devotionally, supplementing their use of Portals of Prayer and other resources for daily meditation, and in the process better preparing them for Word & Sacrament in worship. And hopefully it will allow them to better receive the sermon because they’ve had time to think about and pray about the assigned texts for the day. Some folks even use them as the basis of group Bible studies.
My practice has always been to use the Revised Common Lectionary (the LCMS version). It keeps me honest rather than allowing me to drift into favorite themes or sections of Scripture. And I like the idea that there are Christians around the world who are gathering for worship around similar Scripture verses. I don’t have a problem with sermon series and other alternate approaches, this is just my preference.
I’m going to start sharing these text reflections here. If they’re helpful to you, great! I like the idea that it will keep me in the habit of reflecting on similar texts to what some (many?) of you are hearing each week. Perhaps they’ll be helpful to you in better receiving God’s Word in your home parish. Even better, maybe they’ll stimulate thoughts and questions and more ways for us to interact. You’re always welcome to post observations and questions here and I’ll respond.
The format is simple. I provide the date – which is always the upcoming Sunday, and indicate what part of the liturgical season it falls in and whether there are special observances associated with it. I list out the texts as per the RCL. I provide a very short contextual introduction that (hopefully!) provides a bit of insight into how the texts work together. I always read the texts in conjunction with one another rather than as separate, stand-alone readings (although sometimes, such as the Epistle reading during Ordinal/Ordinary/Common Time such a stand-alone reading is necessary). Then I explore each of the texts in turn. Nothing massive. Sometimes there’s historical context (particularly with the prophets). Other times it’s highlighting how the text interacts with the other readings assigned for the day. Sometimes there’s a focus on a key word or section of the reading. And other times I just walk through the basic flow of thought in the reading as a whole.
As always, to God be the glory!