This summer I will experiment for eight weeks beginning June 7 with a method or style of preaching that historically has been a venerable and even preferred way of proclaiming the word of God among Presbyterian and Reformed congregations.
While some of the early church fathers like Augustine and Jon Chrysostom preached in this manner, it was later adopted by John Calvin in Geneva and Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich and thus became associated with Reformed worship.
It is called the lectio continua method of homiletics (i.e., preaching) and it refers to a continuous exposition of a book of the bible or a portion thereof.
Challenge and reward
In a day and age of a rapid growth of biblical literacy I believe it affords the minister a challenging and rewarding way of teaching the scriptures and equipping the saints. It tends to be more didactic than devotional, more instructive than inspirational for many, but I believe it warrants a new or revived consideration in today’s church, if not on a permanent basis at least as an option from time to time.
It is demanding of both the preacher in the pulpit and the person in the pew, but it offers rich rewards to those who bring personal discipline, added attention and determined participation to the task of engaging the text in light of its own context.
The gift of focus
As we continue for a season to worship in isolation, this approach to the scriptures may lend itself better to our worshiping and studying the word in front of our devices where we may concentrate better and not be distracted by the events around us during corporate worship in the sanctuary. We can have our own bibles open in front of us and can mark and make notes as needed.
While each message can stand on its own, worshipers will certainly benefit from having heard the earlier messages which will inform the latter ones. So let me encourage you to join us for this experiment each and every week by livestreaming with us for our Sunday worship at 10:30 am or by going online at your convenience during the week if you are away or otherwise obligated on Sunday.
Assessing our faith
For this experiment I have chosen to deal with chapters 1-3 in the confusing and often neglected book of Revelation. In this exciting section that opens the book the writer John shares his vision of the risen Christ who instructs him to communicate personal messages or letters to seven of the main churches in the Roman province of Asia (modern day Turkey).
I am entitling this study “What Christ Expects of His Church.”
The letters are blunt and specific given the unique settings and circumstances of each congregation. Some are encouraging generating the praise of Christ and others are critical warranting his judgment and correction.
But each will speak to us in this congregation as we assess our personal and corporate faith and service in light of what the risen Christ says to churches in their infancy. The lessons are as relevant today as they were in the first century, or at least I pray we will find them so.
So please join us this summer, starting on June 7, as we consider “What Christ Expects of His Church” as revealed in the letters to the seven churches of Asia found in the book of Revelation.