I am a topical preacher.
I try to determine the primary needs within the community of people that God has called me to shepherd and then ask the Lord to help me craft a sermon series that will address those needs from a biblical perspective.
I enjoy preaching this way.
It enables me to plan out my sermons in advance, which allows the creative arts team to figure out ways of supporting the themes through music and the arts, and it provides a way of helping the congregation know what to expect week after week.
This Lenten Season, however, the pastoral staff decided to preach the lectionary.
And I must say that I am really enjoying this.
I can definitely see the benefits of preaching the lectionary throughout the year. The Biblical narrative truly comes alive, and the congregation is offered chunks of Scripture that they probably would never get in a topical sermon series. As a preacher, I am forced to study and communicate texts that I would never choose otherwise. One of my biggest fears about lectionary preaching was that it would not be relevant. What a mistake! The entire biblical narrative is amazingly relevant. Applying the assigned texts to real life is not complicated at all.
For example: the past two Sunday’s Gospel lessons have come from John 3 and 4: the story of Jesus and Nicodemus, and the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. I have thoroughly enjoyed exegeting (that’s a fancy seminary word that means to interpret) these passages, and then finding ways of applying them to the situations that we all find ourselves in these days. The longing deep within us is very real, and Jesus offers us new life by being “born again,” and by drinking from the “living water” which he offers. If this isn’t relevant to our lives today, then nothing is. We live in a world of unrest, turmoil, confusion and violence. Our lives are falling apart, and into the midst of this craziness comes a word from the Lord: ““For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16), and also “… those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4.14). That’ll preach!
So, as a preacher I have taken a step of faith. I have moved away from what is comfortable for me, and tried something new. As my teenage daughter often reminds me, “life’s an adventure!”
And it is.
I want to challenge you today: try something new. Maybe you are a creature of habit and you always do the same things the same way all the time. Take a risk; mix it up; do different things in different ways and see what happens.
I guarantee you that God will be there waiting to show you something fresh and new that you wouldn’t see otherwise.
And who knows you might actually enjoy it.