Most weeks, the lesson of choice for preaching is fairly obvious. It is my preference to preach from the Gospel on most occasions, but by the time we reach the 7th Sunday of Easter, it can become challenging to tie the lesson in with the season. We’ve long since run out of resurrection encounters, especially when they hold fast to this “1 Synoptic + John” mindset in the three-year lectionary cycle. We’ve been back in Holy Week, at the Last Supper, no less, for three weeks now. It is post-Ascension in the calendar, so we could tell one of those stories, but I guess that’s not as interesting to the RCL Cartel as a run-on sentence from John 17.
As I look at the other options for this Sunday, there’s the really interesting story from Acts (a staple in Eastertide) of Paul’s temper-tantrum putting him in jail and God providing a way out. From Revelation, we have a smattering on selected verses from the book’s final chapter. If one had been doing a series on John’s great vision, I suppose that could be a helpful bookend. On a short preaching week, with an Ascension Day Eucharist and wedding sermon staring at me as well, I find myself really struggling with which lesson to dive into for preaching this week.
In one of my preaching courses, Dr. Brosend taught us to ask the homiletical question, “What does the Holy Spirit want the people of God to hear from these texts on this occasion?” When the preaching process is easy. When the Gospel lesson is narrative. When the application is obvious. This question is fairly easy to answer, but on weeks like Easter 7C, when the lectionary seems to be conspiring against the preacher, the process takes a lot more time. I can’t just pull resources from my trusted sites on textweek.com and begin the percolating process. Instead, this week, amidst of the busyness of the many other demands that come with a stipend and full-time employment in the priestly vocation, I’ll be listening more carefully for what the Spirit wants the people of God to hear.
Dear reader, how do you choose? When the text isn’t obvious and the message isn’t clear, how do you discern what to preach? I’ll be praying for you as you do your homework. I invite you to pray for me as well.