From Ascension to Trinity Sunday, the three-year lectionary treats us to four straight readings from the first two chapters of Acts. Before Jesus ascends into the heavens, He directs His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they “are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49b). As they are waiting, in Acts 1:14, Luke notes that the gathering of people in the upper room (about 120 people including the Apostles, Jesus’ family, and the women who followed Jesus from Galilee) “were devoting themselves to prayer.”
The Epistle readings through much of the Easter season in the Three-Year Lectionary for Year B are from 1 John, a timeless letter of great encouragement for God’s children to love each other. Although 2 John and 3 John are not used by the Three-Year Lectionary, I find myself resonating with these brief letters at the moment.
Psalm 22 has one of the most memorable opening lines, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” These words are instilled into our memories as the words Jesus spoke from the cross. Psalm 22 is appropriately one of the two psalms appointed for Good Friday in both the three-year and one-year lectionaries (along with Psalm 31).
As Lent is underway, many Christians throughout the world are participating in various spiritual disciplines. Some are fasting from a particular food, drink, or activity. Some are spending more time in prayer or the study of God’s Word.
These common Lenten disciplines draw on the many themes of Lent, encouraging us ever toward reliance on God rather than reliance on anything else. Another rhythm to Christian life that encourages such reliance and dependence is the Sabbath, the holy day of rest.
If you are a pastor, when was the last time you preached on one of the Psalms? If you are not a pastor, when was the last time you heard a sermon on one of the Psalms? Is it just me, or are the Psalms often overlooked and underused in preaching? I began to notice this several years ago and found I was not alone. Others had noticed a lack of Psalms sermons too.
The season of Epiphany is one that often gets overlooked in the Church Year calendar. We’re on board for Advent and Lent, with many congregations meeting midweek to mark these penitential seasons.
Much like the seasons of Christmas and Easter, the season of Epiphany is sparked by a specific feast day that colors the rest of the season. On the Feast of Epiphany (January 6), we observe the Magi visiting Jesus and bringing Him the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The hymnody of Advent is exceedingly rich. Among this richness is the classic “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” As you open your Lutheran Service Book to this hymn (357), you will also find the Great “O” Antiphons. These ancient prayers have long been used to count down the days until Christmas. As you can see, each begins by addressing the Lord with a different phrase: “O Wisdom,” “O Key of David,” “O Emmanuel,” and so on.
Originally written in Latin, the Great “O” Antiphons create a reverse acrostic with these names of God that begin each prayer. They spell out ero cras; that is, “Tomorrow I will be” (cras means “tomorrow,” while ero is a first-person singular future form of the verb “to be”) or perhaps, “I will be there tomorrow” or “I come tomorrow.”
On November 8, 15, and 22, the three Sundays between All Saints’ Day and the First Sunday in Advent, the Gospel readings from the three-year lectionary cover the entirety of Matthew 25. This chapter is about the return of Jesus and the end of the world. In a way, these three Sundays serve as a sort of pre-Advent season that focuses (much like Advent) on the hope and expectation of Jesus’ return.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a pastor in the United States in the twenty-first century is the deep division of the nation along political lines. Based on research from a 2014 Pew Research poll, it is likely that every pastor and church leader throughout the Synod serves people who identify as Republicans, others who identify as Democrats, and still others who identify with neither party.
In my congregational experience, stewardship is either preached on too particularly or not nearly enough. Some congregations have several weeks of sermons and Bible studies dedicated to the topic. Other congregations never so much as mention the concept.
Some congregations attempt to move past stewardship as merely a fiscal term by brandishing the alliterative tagline “Time, Talent, and Treasures.” The idea behind this is that being a steward is about more than giving money, which is true and admirable. I wonder, however, if this threefold definition of stewardship is still far too restrictive.
What I hope I can provide in this brief piece is twofold: first, a more complete understanding of stewardship; second, a way for pastors to use upcoming lectionary readings to highlight holistic stewardship.