After ten years as a theology professor, then nine years as a campus pastor with InterVarsity at Stanford, I recently followed a dream to write full time. With a loving wife who holds a "real" job as an elementary school teacher, and the wise counsel of a board of directors, on June 23, 2004 I launched a weekly "webzine" for the global church called JourneywithJesus. With readers from 193 countries so far, I pray that we are on to something.
But what to write? And every week?! Every Monday morning we post new reviews of books, film, poetry, and music, but the centerpiece of JourneyWithJesus.net is an essay based upon the biblical lectionary (in our case the Revised Common Lectionary).
The lectionary (Latin, lectio, to read) is simply a schedule of Bible readings that includes a passage from the Old Testament, the Psalms, an epistle, and then, in pride of place, the Gospels. Believers who attend a daily mass or who live in monasteries follow a daily lectionary, but most churches follow a weekly lectionary.
I've come to love the lectionary for four reasons.
Liberation: Pastors who follow the lectionary are forever freed from the onerous burden of dreaming up a sermon topic for every Sunday. The weekly readings decide that for you. Your creative energies are thus directed toward interacting with Scripture rather than wondering how or where to start. With four readings every week, there is also flexibility that allows for one's personal inclinations.
Discipline: When you follow the lectionary you can't "cheat" or cut corners by gravitating toward favorite passages, avoiding unpleasant texts, or choosing Scriptures that you consider more relevant or clear. Instead, you're forced to deal with the "whole counsel of God" that, in my experience, we honor only with lip service---from John 3:16 to Hosea 13:16 and the butchering of babies and pregnant women.
Thoroughness: When you follow a three-year lectionary cycle you will read and grapple with almost the entire Bible. Imagine what a lifetime of lectionary devotion might do to our churches or to our very own souls as we work through all Scripture every three years.
Community: Most Christians in the world follow the lectionary; those who do not find themselves in the minority. I love identifying myself with the communion of saints around the world who are all studying the same Scriptures at the same time. Together we read, meditate, and pray through the rhythm of the Christian year---Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and all the so-called "ordinary time" in-between feast days.
I've experienced the lectionary as the safest, surest way to live in a genuinely and comprehensively "Biblical" manner. I'm lovin' the lectionary, and invite you to do the same.