My first up close encounter with the lectionary was a month ago when it was my turn to lead a reflection on the weekly Gospel passage at The Crossing, a wonderful progressive worship community that is reinterpreting Anglican tradition. I’ve preached messages before, but this was the first time I was given a passage of Scripture to preach from as opposed to choosing a passage myself. This did not sit well with me. It’s hard to tell a Pentecostal what to preach about; we’re not used to that. A part of me wanted to say, “Listen, don’t tell me what Scripture to preach from. God will tell me what to talk about and when I come to church I’ll tell you what God told me to say and if it doesn’t fit in with your lectionary you take it up with Jesus 'cause I’m just doing what He told me to do.”
In fact, that’s pretty much what I did when I led a prayer service during the summer. The Gospel passage from the lectionary didn’t fit what I felt led to talk about so I set it aside and gave a reflection from a different passage. I got away with it then because the prayer service was small and was much more flexible in terms of structure. Also the priest wasn’t there that week and I figured that it would be better to ask for forgiveness than permission:) This time I was stuck. I had to preach from the lectionary. The passage was Luke 21:5-19. I read it and thought, “See this is why evangelicals don’t follow the lectionary. What am I supposed to say about this? This is not a passage I would have chosen. How did I get mixed up with these Episcopalians anyway?” But when I approached the text with the understanding that God has something to say to me and my faith community in this passage indeed a message came to me. I encountered God in the lectionary and I really didn’t expect to. Quite a new experience for this charismatic evangelical!
I shared my reflection and I believe that it spoke to the people present. And I have to say it really is a gift to me to see how God moves in different Christian traditions other than my own. I feel like this exposure to the liturgical tradition in some way adds to and enhances my own evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic perspective of faith and for that I am grateful.