A while back, I started using the Revised Common Lectionary to help me choose a passage to preach on each week. I really like the structure that a lectionary gives to my preaching schedule, while still giving me the freedom to apply the passage as I understand it. In the end, the lectionary is basically a “Bible reading plan,” something which is more familiar to those of us who aren’t used to high church liturgy.
Recently I’ve switched over to the Narrative Lectionary. The Narrative Lectionary lays out the Old Testament background then moves into the New Testament in time for the Advent season. (If my reference to Advent seems strange, I’d suggest you read the post “The Christian calendar is growing on me“)
No lectionary is perfect; they all leave “holes” in the biblical text, passages that aren’t included at any point in the cycle. I don’t know of any system that doesn’t do that, though, short of starting in Genesis 1 and preaching every passage until you get to the end of Revelation.
The Narrative Lectionary is a bit more constricting than the Revised Common Lectionary, as it pretty much forces you into one certain passage each week. Still, we’ve found it helpful as we structure our worship times around the chosen texts.
In the bilingual group at the University Church of Christ in Abilene, we’ve started using the Narrative Lectionary to guide our preaching. This lectionary provides a text for each week, which helps those preaching guide their thoughts. This week’s text was 1 Samuel 3, when God calls to young Samuel during the night. I was preaching this Sunday, and some unusual thoughts jumped out at me as I worked with the text.
- Eli’s physical blindness mirrored his spiritual blindness. As high priest, he led a religious system that allowed corruption and abuse to have a full-time seat at the table. Because of this, he had lost the ability to receive messages from God.
- Eli had failed largely because he loved his sons more than he loved God. He failed to correct them. He failed to protect the people that they abused.
- As often happens, a younger person could hear what the older person had lost the ability to hear.
- As often happens, the younger person needed the guidance of someone with more experience in the faith in order to be able to make sense of God’s words.
- And as often happens, the message the younger person received wasn’t a new message; the same prophecy had been proclaimed in chapter 2 in even more detail. What was significant was that God was showing how the prophetic voice was passing from one generation to another.
Those were some thoughts that struck me, though I confess that some could be because of where I find myself in my life’s journey. What thoughts strike you when reading 1 Samuel 3?