Following on from today’s other blog entry, I was thinking about the lectionary. Today’s readings from Amos, 1Timothy and Luke were kind to me. There was a connection that could be made between them and, more importantly, one that could be used at today’s Harvest Thanksgiving service.
The thing I struggle with about the lectionary series is that you can hit those times when there is simply no obvious connection to be made and even a contrived one is a struggle. From speaking to a friend, I know that their view is that there doesn’t need to be a connection and it’s perfectly legitimate to have a reading with no further reference to it. The purpose of the lectionary is to expose the hearer/reader to parts of scripture that may otherwise be ignored. I don’t have an issue with that and can see the validity of the argument.
However, there are times when a reading just sits there, on its own, in splendid isolation. Should it have its own exegesis and application ‘slot’? Or should it be left to stand alone. I think the danger of the latter approach is that if it’s a difficult reading then there’s a risk of people ‘turning off’ and, rather than it being given the exposure it merits, it contributes to an overall sense of ‘I’ll stick to the bits I understand’. The risk of the former is that the service appears ‘bitty’ and disjointed or, if a contrived connection is made, there is the possibility of being open to the, perfectly valid, accusation of distorting scripture to make it mean whatever we want.
There is, of course, one over-riding influence which can come to bear and perhaps needs to be borne in mind more. When scripture is read in an open and honest way, its meaning comes not just from our own comprehension but through the intercession of the Holy Spirit as well. So, when that piece of scripture is sitting in splendid isolation, the reality is, it’s not sitting on its own and its capacity to ‘speak’ to someone is, in no way diminished.
It’s just frustrating when your eyes are opened by something you’ve heard or read and the preacher goes off down an entirely different avenue, ignoring your exciting revelation. Still, take a moment to enjoy the presence of the Spirit, leading, guiding, teaching.