Last month we had an unusual exercise in democracy at St Luke’s. Regular worshippers were encouraged to vote for which book of the Bible they would like to hear about during the sermons of February and March.
Normally St Luke’s has Bible readings chosen for us by the Lectionary, a Church of England resource (also used by other denominations) designed to ensure that each Sunday service includes a reading from the Old Testament and the New Testament, or at least from a letter and a gospel if both are from the New. This is a way of ensuring that we get a balanced diet of God’s word. Not just the vicar’s favourite passage every week!
Having said that, the Lectionary is rather a restricted diet. It goes around the same readings every three years. It misses large portions of God’s word. It jumps from one place to another, a little like an unpredictable helicopter pilot in a hurry.
I am thankful for the Lectionary at major festivals and key seasons, where we are glad to hear the familiar readings. But I am an advocate of working through other books of the Bible. Not just the same snippets, but a sustained consistent opportunity to hear the context and whole text of a book, giving a larger chance of understanding its full power and relevance in our lives. This is called expository preaching. And we are tasting it this month in the Book of Ruth.
This approach is also most satisfying for Bible study groups. Our house group will follow a series of studies from the same book and I plan to set up a further daytime Bible study group to follow the same course. Would you like to join us for 5 weeks?
The choice put before St Luke’s regulars was: the Book of Ruth or Mark chapter four? Ruth was a clear winner by 26-16 for those who were interested and able to vote. Because there was a significant vote for Mark, and because it is good to have a mixed diet of Old and New Testament, epistle and gospel, we shall have a Sunday preaching series from Mark 4 after Easter.
In this way, we encourage one another to be growing disciples of Jesus. In Matthew 28:19,20 the Lord tells us that making disciples includes teaching and learning and obeying the Word. At St Luke’s we will do well if we are good learners. Come to Christ; love to learn; learn to love.
Yours in Christ,