Several years ago, I began preaching small segments from the Revised Common Lectionary. I preached the four assigned texts from Job one fall, from Revelation the next Easter season, and from Colossians that summer.
Until this point, I had reserved lectionary preaching for Advent and Lent, the two seasons where all four lectionary texts are aligned. I began to learn two things as I preached these texts during other seasons:
1 – Coherence. If you’re going to preach from Job, how will you do it? Which texts? For how long? How will you make those same decisions when you preach from Revelation?
As I researched and preached the lectionary passages from these books, I became more grateful for those who chose these texts. The passages represented the key points in the books. They took us through them in a thoughtful and logical manner. This even proved to be the case later when I went through Jeremiah and was surprised to see that the passages didn’t go in order (chapter 18 one week, chapter 4 the next …).
Often “series” preaching is contrasted with lectionary preaching, but I found that the lectionary progressions weave nicely, even intentionally it seems, into series. And those series grow out of the coherence of the biblical narrative rather than my own impulses and interests.
2 – Creating Problems for myself. I also recognized that my haphazard use of the lectionary texts was causing me problems later. When I wanted to preach through the full set of OT selections one summer and fall, I had to switch when we got to Job, since I had preached those texts three years earlier.
I decided that I needed a bigger plan, one that allowed our community to benefit from the coherence of the wider biblical narrative and to hear the whole of Scripture preached.[note]I know the Revised Common Lectionary doesn’t go through every verse––or even every book––of Scripture. But I’ve become impressed with the big-picture biblical narrative it provides. Bigger than what I would probably provide on my own. See some of my notes on the plan for more.[/note]
About the Plan
My 12-year preaching calendar is available as a PDF through the link below. It allows you to preach the semicontinuous portions from the Revised Common Lectionary uninterrupted.
This plan has us preaching from the lectionary 62% of the time and free to choose other topical/thematic series the other 38% of the time. I don’t prescribe those series, but I do provide some that are important to me to hit in a 12-year span.
I’m finishing Year 12 right now and about to begin Year 1, a “Year with Jesus.” The whole pastoral team at First UMC Lexington is actually following this calendar now.
Provide your email at the link below, and I’ll email you a PDF download for the full 12-year plan. I’d be happy to talk more if you have questions.