Looking ahead

I’ve been working this week on the preaching programme from Lent to September. I always find it one of the greatest challenges to sit down and try and discern what passages to choose for the life of the church. I have have explained in previous posts why I find great difficulties in using the lectionary, but I do make sure I start there just to see what possibilities they offer. It was lectionary that suggested using Matthew’s stories about the second coming of Jesus for November and Advent, for example.

I then have to go through my diary carefully, noting any special occasions, school holidays and particular festivals. For example, we have a tradition of celebrating Mothering Sunday which falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. How then, do we you provide any kind of fit between a Lent sermon series and the text for that day? At this stage my rough drafts are all on scrappy pieces of paper. It may just me, but I find the computer desk not the place for greatest contemplation and creativity; indeed several preaching progammes have previously found their form on long train journeys. This time I had to make do with a cleared chair on the other side of the study, and a determination not to keep logging onto the Internet.

The other thing I have to do is look through previous preaching programmes and make sure I am not covering old passages and familiar themes. I believe the minister’s work involves offering the whole counsel of God, and not just the parts of Scripture he finds easy or his pet subjects he can hold forth on.

So after much drafting, crossing out and, yes, prayer, we’ve ended up with:

Lent: The I am sayings of Jesus, from chapters 6 to 11, leading up to Palm Sunday and John’s account of the passion and crucifxion of Jesus. I hadn’t realised before taking this route how much the I am interconnect the whole gospel. So Jesus’ claim to be the gate and the shepherd (Ch 10) follow on from His claim to be the light of the world (Ch.9) and the healing of the blind man. John’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jeruslam (Ch.12) is bracketed by reference to Jesus’ raising of Lazarus (Ch.11) where He claimed to be the resurrection and the life. There is clearly much here for us to reflect on in the season of Lent.

Easter: The resurrection appearances from the end of John’s gospel – not least because people need to realise the very simple truth that Jesus is alive and He still meets with people today.

May to July: We are in the process of forming our Mission Action Plan. What better way of thinking through our identity as the people of God than going through 1 Peter? Written to scattered believers under threat of persecution, some believe it could be based on an actual baptism sermon. Whether that is true or not, the letter certainly challenges us to think through our calling both together and individually to make Christ known in the world.

Summer: I noticed going through past sermons we hadn’t ever looked at Luke 5 and 6, so building on our teaching from 1 Peter, we will be considering what it means to become Christlike, as we look at His authority and the radical challenge His teaching brings us.

I hope you are excited by the programme as I am. The Lord has been so gracious to our two churches in the past year, and I believe that under the authority of His word He has even greater things in store for us!

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