In this week’s installment of Adventures in Preaching, we who follow the Revised Common Lectionary have options of a hopeful prophesy in Isaiah (that is fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew), the calling of some of Jesus’ disciples, a Psalm expressing deep faith, and Paul preaching to the church in Corinth about unity.

Those of us in the USA might find Paul’s words to be particularly meaningful this first Sunday after the inauguration of an extraordinarily divisive man as President. How can Christians today “be united in the same mind and the same purpose”? What would that look like? And what work do we have ahead of us?

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Psalm 27 is one of my personal favorites to use, in its entirety, at hospital bedsides or in other situations when people are struggling. The psalmist reminds us that life isn’t always easy, but God remains with us and supports us through it all.

Matthew’s account of Jesus calling Simon and Andrew, James and John, is well-known and inspiring. What do we leave behind if we choose to be disciples of Jesus? What did Jesus mean about having them fish for people – and what does that look like for us? Somehow increasing the numbers of people on church membership lists doesn’t seem like a good enough motivation for the disciples to leave their whole livelihoods behind – Jesus must have meant something deeper than this.

In Isaiah, the prophet proclaims words of hope to a people who have experienced military defeat and oppression by the Assyrians. In Matthew, the evangelist claims that the prophesy is fulfilled in the person of Jesus. It’s worth sometimes preaching on a prophesy from the Hebrew Bible by just looking at it in its original context and considering how the people of Israel would have understood the words. With today’s combination of readings, worshippers will easily make the connection to Jesus even if the preacher stays focused on the original intent of Isaiah.

What is speaking to you this week? What do your people need to hear? Please share your ideas and stories and questions below. Blessings in your writing and your worship preparation this week.


Katya Ouchakof is co-pastor of Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She blogs less often than she would like at Provocative Proclamations. She looks forward to warmer weather so that she can get back out on the water in her canoe.


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13 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Called and United

  1. i like this quote from UCC SAMUEL
    Tyler Edwards, Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back Into the Body of Christ
    “The problem that we are facing in the church today is that we have so many Christians who have made a decision to believe in Jesus but not a commitment to follow Him. We have people who are planning to, meaning to, trying to, wanting to, going to, we just don’t have people who are doing it.”

    I am thinking about what it means to follow, not like Jesus, or believe in Jesus, or talk about Jesus, but follow Jesus. and the Question : What do we leave behind if we choose to be disciples of Jesus? will add another dimension.

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    1. Follow v. believe – excellent comparison. Choosing to be a disciple requires leaving something behind. Hoping that all comes together well!

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  2. I see a common theme of light in these passages.
    The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. (Isaiah and Matthew)
    The Lord is my light and my salvation. (Psalm)
    And the 1 Corinthians passage has to do with divisions and quarrels.

    Any connections here to the weekend of inauguration and protests? Do we need the light of God?

    I preach in a small church this week. I just ordered tealights from Amazon. About a dollar apiece — some were cheaper. Going to give everyone a light at the end of the service. We could all use a little light in the darkness right now.

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  3. I belong to Bernie…or Hillary…or Donald…or the Dodgers…or the Sierra Club…or… I’m picking up on the question of identity: where we look for it, how it shapes us, and how reluctant we seem to be to let our identity be changed and shaped first of all by Christ, as beloved children of God. It’s no news flash to say that we are SO partisan, dividing ourselves this way and that by our loyalties and often excluding others (whose insights and gifts we need, even if we don’t realize that) on that basis. What if we could really understand that our identity changes when we follow Jesus, because his way turns everything on its head? Anyway, those are some first rambling thoughts!

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