Random Thoughts on Preaching using the Revised Common Lectionary by a Catholic Lay Woman
As a Catholic Lay woman who has never been formally trained in preaching, who am I to preach? I am not allowed to preach in the Catholic Church, that being reserved to ordained priests and deacons, and yet that is what I’ve been doing in other settings. For the past twelve years I’ve been preaching each Sunday at services at the retirement community where I held the position of chaplain, using the Revised Common Lectionary as the basis for my preaching.
I liked using the Revised Common Lectionary. I liked knowing that millions of people throughout the world are hearing the same readings and hearing sermons preached on those readings, yet no two will be alike. To me, that is incredible.
I loved the challenge of trying to find a common theme for all three of the readings. It was like solving a puzzle each week. I know that preaching instructors would say this is not a good idea, that this is a beginner’s mistake – the readings weren’t set up with a common theme. Usually the Gospel and Old Testament readings were connected but then you had these letters thrown in to provide a different direction for preaching if desired, not to make the preacher do mental gymnastics in order to find a connection. But that is what I liked to do.
Good preachers I’ve heard stick to one reading, one theme that they develop in depth. Some even preach a whole sermon on one verse of Scripture. But then I don’t claim to be good. I guess I’m just a beginner, especially in comparison to others who have had extensive training and more years of experience than I have had.
I loved being forced to reflect on God’s word by my weekly deadline. I would reflect on the readings, pray about them, carry them with me in my head all week, asking first what God was saying to me through these readings, then what God might be saying to my people. It is work, hard work, it took up a good portion of my week, yet it was good work, God’s work.
I will miss it now that I no longer hold this position. It seems I’m a fraud who has finally been found out. But then who among us is truly worthy to speak God’s words?
copyright Robertson, August 2012