Spring is here and that means it’s the time of year when we regularly cut the grass. I watched my parents cut the grass my whole life. Eventually I even got to help cut the grass for my family. I know I did not have a second thought about how I cut it; I had one goal—to finish. I felt the same way as I cut the lawn at my dad’s office and the neighboring office. I just wanted to finish. I wasn’t trying to make it look nice. As I was in college and seminary, I watched Rod get a passion for the grass. If one of our tires left the driveway and hit the grass, we knew it was bad news. Yet I admit, I still didn’t care about it. It was not something I had to worry about.
When I moved into my house in Rock Hill, I heard there was a guy who cuts grass for most of the neighborhood. His rate is pretty reasonable, if not on the cheap side, but I did not for a second think of using him. It had nothing to do with money, but now I had a passion for my lawn. When we moved in the yard needed work. The front lawn had crazy weeds in the grass. The mulch needed help and the bushes needed reshaping. The back yard was even worse, with an over grown fenced in area and a fence line that was ridiculous. Yet, I knew that with a little work and some fertilizer this would be manageable in no time. Recently, when my mom came to visit after Audrey was born, she mentioned right away that my lawn looks good. At this moment I remembered all the work I did to make it happen. (Even though I hadn’t touched my lawn since early fall, since I knew a small amount of leaves were good for my lawn.) Going back to my early years of life when I was mowing other lawns, I never cared to learn about the best ways to mow or the steps one takes to make a yard look nice. I had no desire. I didn’t understand. But now with a house of my own, and a desire to set a good example as a neighbor, I do.
There are plenty of areas of life where we let the experts take care of things. For me these are haircuts, hymn selection, and yes—taxes. Those areas just seem to take more work for me to figure out. I’d rather trust somebody else who can do it a lot better than me. But then there are the areas of life where we just never bothered to ask or care about. It is not like it is some complex challenging thing, but merely our lack of seeking or caring. These are the areas we “let go,” still functioning in/with them, but by not asking, we are not doing nearly as well as we could. Sometimes, these turn out to be pretty important areas that should be given attention.
Almost every couple I counsel in marriage thinks they’ve got it figured out. I usually wonder to myself why they think that. Are there some required relationship classes in high school or college that weren’t required back when I went to school? The answer is no, of course, but somewhere along the way they feel like they got this. The same thing happens as parents. Maybe we are too prideful, or maybe, like me back when I cut grass, we think that if we can get the job done it is good enough. Yet by asking questions, seeking out knowledge and new ways of doing things, it can enhance our work and change our attitude in those areas of our life.
Why do I bring all this up? Well, I am working on explaining certain practices in the church rather than assuming everybody understands why we do what we do. I feel that the more we know why we have these practices, the more it can enhance our worship. Having the lectionary is one of them. (Some of you may not even know what I just said. Lectionary? What is that? I’m glad you asked!) The lectionary is the set of Bible readings (Old Testament, Epistle & Gospel) assigned to each Sunday for a 3-year period by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). You hear them in church each week. Sometimes we treat these readings like I did when I first started cutting the grass—they are there because they get the job done. Other times, the readings might create questions of how this was chosen and why. The simplistic answer is our church body (the LCMS) in our history has set aside readings for each week, some which fit areas we anticipate (i.e. Holy Week), and the rest fall into other themes. While different church bodies chose their own themes based up current culture, or what they think their church needs to hear, we stick to a lectionary. This means that when you go on vacation and step into a Lutheran church in that area, you will see the same readings. Now, some churches may chose their own themes and go off the lectionary, but for the most part, it works. We go off of the lectionary sometimes too, like when I do a special sermon series in the fall. When I do that, I will include my sermon text as a reading, but I try to keep the other two the same. Having a lectionary keeps a pastor grounded. He can’t just pick whatever he wants. At the same time, going off the lectionary and preaching on a series can be helpful so we don’t ignore current culture. This is why I try to have a balance between the lectionary and my sermon series’.
Why is this helpful? This week when you listen to the Bible readings you may wonder why we jumped from John 20 & 21 (which we have been reading the last few weeks) to a reading all the way back to John 10. You will be armed with the knowledge that this year in the lectionary most of our Gospel readings are from John, and John 10 fits in with the theme of the Good Shepherd caring for His people. After Easter, we began to talk about how Jesus provides, which is fitting for our Easter Season. While my sermon topic is still chosen in a way to fit Mt. Calvary, I am naturally guided by the lectionary themes. Last week’s theme was how the Good Shepherd feeds His lambs, and if you think about how Jesus brought the disciples back to normalcy (He showed up after their night of fishing and provided breakfast), it makes sense that He feeds His lambs by knowing the normalcy they needed in their lives, especially that of being with Him.
As you come to worship, these readings shape a theme to help you grow in God’s Word. The lectionary provides a healthy balance in our spiritual growth and brings us back to the central purpose of Scripture—to point us to Christ. Once I knew ways to help grass grow I was a lot more intentional about it.