Who’s talking about this week’s readings from Scripture?

Lectionary ReflectionsAre you looking for interpretations or alternative views on this week’s lectionary texts? Are you doing research on a text coming up in the future?

I explained in my last post how a lectionary guides worship planning in many Christian congregations and how I have been collecting links to various commentary on these passages. I hope this article will help you better access and utilize the Lectionary Reflections I have collected for your benefit and the benefit of your congregation or other group.

The most recent articles I’ve found are shown at the top of the page. Typically these will be articles for the upcoming Sunday or other nearby weeks or Holy Days.

However, you may also want to look for some relevant material that was posted much earlier, whether because it was posted for a previous year or you are looking for commentary on a week that is in a different part of the current year.

LectionaryScoopTagsI have tagged each article with the assigned Sunday or holiday as well as the book and type of reading it covers. This means you can search for specific references.

To begin a search, click on the funnel icon in the upper right-hand corner of the website. It will pull up a long list of tags as well as a box for you to type a keyword.

Let’s say you want to read commentary for Transfiguration Sunday. You will notice when you scroll down the list of tags that there is a tag for Transfiguration A and Transfiguration C. This is because the lectionary is a three-year cycle. Right now we are in year A of the cycle. Select Transfiguration A, and you will see all the posts related to that Sunday.

Perhaps you are not following the lectionary, but are doing research on the book of Hosea. Select that tag and find all the posts related to that book. You may also use the keyword box when searching for items not in the tags.

I hope you find this tool useful whether you use it for personal reflection or for sermon preparation. Feel free to share the useful posts you find or click the Follow button in the upper left in order to stay informed about new posts.

Let me know what you think. I would be happy to make this site more useful for you.

Reading the Bible from a common lectionary

Lectionary TwitterEach week many preachers from many Christian denominations discuss the same passages from Scripture. This happens because they all follow a lectionary, a set schedule of readings for each Sunday or holiday in the Christian year.

Most who follow a pattern of readings use the Revised Common Lectionary. It is a three-year cycle that begins with Advent and typically includes four readings for each Sunday.

There is usually a reading from the Book of Psalms, another Old Testament reading, a reading from one of the four Gospels, and another New Testament reading. Preachers and worship leaders following the lectionary may choose one or more of these passages to preach on and/or have read during the service.

I have been tweeting excerpts from each lectionary passage for about five years. For the past couple years, I have also been collecting links to commentary and other web posts related to the upcoming week’s readings.

You can view these links at my Lectionary Reflections page. Typically you will find the most recent postings and commentary on the upcoming week at the top of the page. I will explain a little more about how to use this site in my next post.

Where’s the prophet from your community?

CEB Blog Tour: Live the Bible“The Lord your God will raise up a prophet like me from your community, from your fellow Israelites. He’s the one you must listen to.” – Deuteronomy 18:15 (CEB)

I was struck by the Common English Bible’s use of the word “community” in this lectionary passage for this coming Sunday. It makes me think about the community I live in and serve amongst.

Where may God be calling forth a prophet from among my community today? How would I know when there is a prophet in our midst?

Keep reading, and we hear God say, “I’ll put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything I command him” (vs. 18b). God’s word will be on the lips of the prophet.

I hope I will keep my ears open to whom is speaking the word of God in my community today. I hope you will too.

This post is written as a part of the CEB blog tour. I received a complimentary copy of the Common English Bible for my participation. You may receive a copy as well by commenting below. One person will be selected at random of all those who comment by 7 a.m. CST, Tuesday, January 31. Sorry, but only U.S. addresses are eligible for the complimentary CEB.

Trusting God with Few in Battle

My wife and I today read a devotion about King Amaziah dismissing a bunch of soldiers just after he paid them to go out into war. The dismissal came right before the first battle began. A prophet had come to Amaziah and told him to trust in the Lord. God will return to the king and his nation much more than the cost of the soldiers he did not use in battle (2 Chronicles 25:5-9).

Senior airman is hugged by his mother upon his return home during 2007 after six months service in Iraq (U.S. Air Force photo / Maj. Robert Couse-Baker).

Trusting in God is a common theme in Scripture, and this is not the first time it was encouraged at the time of a battle. God instructed Gideon, years before Amaziah, to also reduce the number of his troops before fighting an enemy. Gideon’s army became so small that no one could believe that it could be ascribed to a human victory (Judges 7:2-8). Only God could win such a battle with only a few hundred soldiers. Large numbers is not always essential.

Recently, President Obama announced the end of combat operations in Iraq. It is not my place to say whether this is the will of God. However, I do believe the removal of combat troops will help in bringing about an end to the warring we have had for this past decade and longer.

To win this battle we need not oppose construction of mosques or Islamic community centers. To win this battle we need not burn Qur’ans. Instead, we need to help rebuild the infrastructure of towns and neighborhoods devastated by our fight against Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Large numbers of soldiers are not necessary. Rather a few skilled in the work of nation building are what is needed.

We still need to pay the soldiers who enlisted and have fought to date. They too are in need of assistance as they return home often broken from traumatic brain injuries or post traumatic stress disorder. The value of spending money to heal our soldiers will repay itself in the usefulness these veterans will return to their families and communities. We must not forget their contribution even as we cut back the numbers on active duty overseas.

Public Relations and the Church

While the PR world is trying to figure out how to deal with the new public relations landscape, what I want to explore is how do we share the good news of the church without compromising the message? That is, how do we continue with our mission all the while spreading the message to a wider audience. Name-dropping may help get more people to listen to you, but does it then lead to more of a focus on the names instead of the message?

Where can we find a conversation on this subject? I don’t really see it among institutional church communicators since the institutions then become the names that are dropped. We need to move beyond names of both institutions and individuals, save the name of Jesus Christ.

Did not Paul warn of this (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)? Paul even says we do not need “eloquent wisdom.” The power of the message is with God. Therefore, if we do God’s work in our spreading of the message, it shall be heard.

I am certainly guilty of name dropping, both of institutions and individuals. However those names do not help me build up disciples for Jesus Christ. In some cases name dropping even hurts me. Some people are turned off by the names including, perhaps, the name of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless these same people may be moved by seeing and hearing how God’s love is lived out in our lives.

Therefore I hope to share my life more and to live my life more according to the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is in the Spirit that I will find the message flowing on the wind to all who will hear.

Have a Drink, Let’s Talk Religion

Spiritual conversations over a drink are actually becoming more common these days. They just might help a younger audience think religion is cool.

I drank my first beer while discussing the religious life of Kenya. (Ah, I miss a Tusker baridi.) However, as a United Methodist with family connections to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, I cannot help but think about the limits we need to place on alcohol use.

Scripture is full of statements saying how drunkenness leads to many problems (Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:11-15; 28:7). However, it also shows the value of wine during weddings and religious ceremonies (John 2; Luke 22:15-18). But even if I don’t drink to excess, I agree with Paul that if my partaking of something leads another into sin, I would rather abstain (1 Corinthians 8). Thus, I don’t drink much in public and support the policies of many United Methodist churches and agencies to prohibit alcohol use in their events.

Even so, I want to reach out to those who may think such blanket prohibitions are reasons to stay away. If having a conversation about faith at the bar can bring someone into a life with Christ, I want to be there. After all, this may be a way to help someone move away from being drunk on a drink and instead be intoxicated by the Spirit (Isaiah 29:9). Praise God!