Many Mainline preachers follow the Revised Common Lectionary, a 3-year rotation through the Bible including 4 readings a Sunday (Hebrew Bible, Psalm, Epistle, Gospel usually). But when someone tells me I can preach on whatever I want to, I usually go to the Lectionary and preach the text for that week anyway. Basically, I don’t want to get in my own way.
Why is this on my mind today? Well, I’m preaching in front of my Committee on Preparation for Ministry on October 1st. This is the group of people tasked with ensuring that I am properly prepared to become a pastor. In the Presbyterian tradition preaching is an emphasized art, so I have to preach for this Final Assessment.
If they think I’m ready to start looking for pastoral jobs, I will go in front of the presbytery in November. I don’t have to preach there, thankfully; but I do have to present a personal statement of faith and answer any and all questions from the floor. For now, I’m not worrying about this.
So I have to choose a passage of scripture to preach on. I went round and round and round. I skimmed several books and went through my favorite stories. I was sitting on the steps of Miller Chapel when I read through the Pentecost story in Acts 2, one of my all-time favorites. I had some time before chapel, so I kept reading.
Acts is a pretty cool book. (In case you didn’t know.) I decided to stop worrying and just choose a passage. So, I chose one. I’m feeling pretty good about it, and I’ve done the exegesis and a little writing. We’ll see how it turns out.
But, anyway, here’s the passage I ended up choosing. I’ll post the sermon later (since it’s not done yet):
After [Peter and John] were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:
“Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples imagine vain things?
The kings of the earth took their stand,
and the rulers have gathered together
against the Lord and against his Messiah.”
For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. -Acts 4:23-31