When I traveled to the US to speak for a few weeks in 2013, I had to carve out a few rules for myself. Some were rules about the obvious temptations that anyone faces while traveling but there were a couple more subtle rules that I gave myself about the kind of minister that I would be.
Young people in my previous ministry incarnations used to joke about the amount of times they had heard me talk about Hosea. It’s true that I continued to tell Hosea’s story because I love it but it’s also true that I didn’t have a lot more to say ... and that talk seemed to ‘work’. The more I have analysed this, the more I have become dissatisfied with that lifestyle.
One of my new rules was that I would try not to do the same talk twice. I broke that rule … but 30 talks in 9 weeks is a lot. There’s no sense turning a principle into a new kind of legalism!
Those of you following my journey will know that I spent most of the last three months in Canada. I found myself preaching in a different Anglican parish every week and I was faced with a choice. I could do ‘stock talks’, well-crafted messages with the same stories, the same pauses and the same jokes … or I could experience life as the clergy live it. I could preach on a different passage every week based on the Revised Common Lectionary.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing the same talks more than once. They develop and grow over time and, for me, they often become book chapters or blogs. It makes sense to have talks that achieve a particular goal or cover a particular topic and I’ll continue to give some of those talks.
Saying that, I don’t want to become the kind of minister who only has 9-10 things to say or who only every looks at certain parts of the Bible. In Montreal, I rose to the challenge (or at least I tried to!) and discovered something surprising. Instead of feeling bound by the lectionary, I felt liberated by it. I’ve fallen in love with it.
Since I’m back in Ireland and won’t be doing much speaking over the summer, I’ve decided to try and keep that going through a different medium.
Every Tuesday, I’ll be posting a reflection on at least one of the lectionary readings for the following Sunday. I’ve called the series ‘RevoLectionary’, a fusing of ‘lectionary’ and ‘revolution’. It’s a fairly cheesy title but I love it.
Here are my hopes for it:
- That it will be a devotional for people looking for insight or inspiration online.
- That it will cultivate a love of the lectionary for those in churches that don’t use it.
- That those who are on track for ordination or are newly ordained will find it a useful resource if their well is running dry (or if they need something to spark off for sermons they are preparing.)
- That it will remind me that Hosea wasn’t the only only prophet, that Jesus touched more lives than the woman at the well and that Paul is worth studying in depth despite how confusing I find him.
First post will be up tomorrow. I hope that you’ll find it as useful as I do!