Category Archives: Lectionary

Lectionary Thoughts: Matthew 10:40-42

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’m not generally a big fan of the lectionary, and I don’t tend to preach from it on a regular basis myself for a variety of reasons.

However, on the request of a friend, I thought I’d take a look at this week’s Gospel reading. These are merely my musings. They are not meant to be anything definitive. There are too many good commentaries available for that. Still, if it turns out well, this may be a thing I continue. So, here goes:

Sunday, June 29 – Matthew 10:40-42

40 Ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς ἐμὲ δέχεται, καὶ ὁ ἐμὲ δεχόμενος δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με. 41 ὁ δεχόμενος προφήτην εἰς ὄνομα προφήτου μισθὸν προφήτου λήμψεται, καὶ ὁ δεχόμενος δίκαιον εἰς ὄνομα δικαίου μισθὸν δικαίου λήμψεται. 42 καὶ ὃς ἂν ποτίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ποτήριον ψυχροῦ μόνον εἰς ὄνομα μαθητοῦ, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ ἀπολέσῃ τὸν μισθὸν αὐτοῦ.

40 The one who receives you receives me, and the one who receives me receives the One who sent me.  41 The one who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.   42 And whoever gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones merely in the name of a disciple, truly I say unto you, that person will never lose his reward.

There are a couple of things that stand out as I read this passage.

First, on the heels of talking about the sacrifices entailed in being a disciple, of giving up father and mother, son and daughter (10:34-39), Jesus now lists some of the benefits of following Him.

As disciples of Jesus, we have a new family, a new community. And if we are truly followers of Jesus, we should warmly welcome all other disciples of our Lord.

This language of hospitality stands out. That repeated word δέχεται (receive) echoes throughout this passage. And it clearly conveys the notion of welcoming and inviting into one’s home, of offering a friend a seat at the dining room table and providing food and drink, of preparing a room to stay the night in as well.

All of this is understood in that word “receive.” Classical Greek and Roman literature is full of stories talking about welcoming and receiving guests and strangers using just this language of δέχεται. So, Jesus tells us that we ought to be hospitable and welcoming to one another as Christians.

Second, we note the reason why we should welcome them. We welcome them not because we know them, but because they know Jesus. To welcome them is to welcome Jesus in them. Likewise, to welcome the Son is to welcome the Father. So, when we receive fellow Christians as guests, we are also welcoming the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into our homes. This is an act of communion.

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What’s in a Lectionary?

Since I wrote a post against the use of the lectionary a short while back, I thought I’d point to someone who’s writing some really interesting things from the positive side.

On his blog Stellar Cross, Father Robert Lyons has a series going on the nature of the lectionary, its weekly use, and ways the lectionary could be definitively improved. In his first post in the series, Father Rob ends with these three questions:

1. What is the value of reading four passages of Scripture, two or three of which are ignored, marginalized, or even misappropriated to a specific theme?

2. What good is including such a significant amount of Scripture in the Liturgy of the Church when/if people largely tune it out?

3. If the Lectionary is a tool to serve the needs of the People of God, what form should the Lectionary take to ensure that said needs are met?

I find Father Rob’s take very interesting and thought-provoking. So what do you think? If it were up to us to improve the lectionary and make it more useful for our day? What would you do? What changes would you make?

Is the Lectionary Still Relevant?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in the United Methodist Church the lectionary is BIG these days. It seems nearly every pastor is using it, and at least where I live, there is tremendous peer pressure to be a lectionary preacher. Perhaps it’s always been that way, but the question I have is, should it? Should we be pushing the lectionary as hard as we are? More important, does the lectionary still meet the needs of our churches like it once did in the past?

The argument for the lectionary that I typically hear runs something like this: If we follow the lectionary, it will force us to preach our way through the whole Bible, not just our few favorite little passages to which we keep returning over and over again. Using the lectionary will keep us in the context of the liturgical year, and over time it will expose us to more of Scripture than we would have had on our own anyway. So runs the basic argument. I may be leaving parts out, but you get the picture.

My problem is, in my experience it just doesn’t seem to work that way. First, the lectionary doesn’t really cover the whole Bible. It covers a part of it. Mind you, there’s only so much you can include in a 3-year cycle of Scripture readings, but that’s my point. The lectionary by its very design is selective.

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