OK. For those of us in the USA, and for those abroad who have a vested interest in US politics, this is not exactly the easiest week to be prepping a sermon. If you’re not preaching in the US context, feel free to skip the next two paragraphs… but for those preachers in the USA, yeah. It’s gonna be tough. So I want to acknowledge your struggle for a moment.

The Statue of Liberty at sunset. Photo by the author.

After spurring followers on to violently attack the nation’s capital, the incumbent president gave a half-hearted attempt to reign in the domestic terrorists that he had initially encouraged. And after promising a peaceful transition of power, he seemed to encourage his followers to violence again when he announced that he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration (in other words, he told his followers that they could incite violence without fear of harming him). And now we’re at inauguration week. Between the time of this posting and the time of your preaching, there will have (hopefully!) been the inauguration of the oldest man ever to take the oath of office, as well as the only female and the only woman of color ever to hold one of the top two positions in the US government. Truly, this is an occasion to hold in historical and international esteem.

In this context, preachers are left with a sermon to prepare. What do we say that can be relevant to our people in these days? How do we walk the tightrope of preaching justice without getting fired for being “too political”? For those not situated in the USA, who do not have to walk the same tightrope this week, thank you for your prayers and solidarity with your American siblings who are, once again, at a loss. Separation of church and state was initiated so that the government could never impose a religion on the people, and yet the religion of “Christian nationalism” has infiltrated every denomination in the land. How is the preacher to respond?

Here’s where we can focus on the Scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary. In troubling times, that’s always the best place to turn. “I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short! … The present form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7:29a; 31b). In other words… Sunday is coming! So let’s work together to find the Gospel – the good news – for your people this week.

In Mark, we see Jesus calling the first disciples. Immediately, they left what they knew for a new calling! How is Jesus calling your community today? Is there a new mission that you’re being led to support? A new ministry that you can begin? A new way that you can represent Christ to the world?

The passage from Jonah reminds us that people can, in fact, turn from their unfaithful ways, and that the voice of a prophet can be extremely powerful! How is your community serving in a prophetic role? What message is God giving you to share with the people? This passage also reminds us of the grace of God and that even the Divine is willing to change plans when presented with new evidence. How has your understanding of God changed in the past year? Have you seen any evidence of God’s mind being changed?

Psalm 62 describes God as a rock and a refuge. How does God comfort your community? How can you reflect God’s love by being a safe space for others? We are still in the season after Epiphany – a time that celebrates God’s presence among us. Where do you see God in your daily life, and how can you share that experience with your community?  

Wherever you are in your worship prep, share your questions and ideas below! Blessings to you in your ministry this week.

Katya Ouchakof is a hospital chaplain and paddlesports professional in Madison, WI (USA). She is missing in-person gatherings with her nephew and niece right now! In the meantime, Katya and her husband are slowly playing their way through the new board games they received as Christmas gifts.

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6 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Following God’s Call

  1. This is my first Sunday preaching at this church as a settled pastor – my first call! and what a set of texts they are to choose from! Jonah and Mark caught my imagination – using Jonah to share my own story of reluctance to listen to God’s call for me to go into pastoral ministry, and God’s patience as we (all of us) struggle to let go of what is getting in our way of saying “yes” to Jesus’s invitation to “follow me.” The first 4 disciples in Mark’s gospel dropped their fishing nets and followed – what did they leave behind? Did dropping their nets free them to use the same skills to work towards God’s kingdom? What skills (computer, teaching, singing, recording, sewing, cooking, knitting,???) do we each have that might be used differently so that we can go out “fishing” – serving, loving, building relationships – all to help to build God’s kin-dom on earth. say a gentle prayer of clarity of words and message for this my first Sunday with this community. What a year to learn out to pastor a church! 🙂


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