This Sunday at Virginia-Highland Church we will start a new summer sermon series called “Faith & Film.” The congregation suggested the movies that will serve as modern lessons alongside the assigned scripture lessons. I swear some of the suggestions were offered simply to stump the preacher.
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, and the film for the day is “The Avengers.” This is appropriate because the sequel hit theaters around the country earlier this month. I actually know nothing about “The Avengers” … at least, I didn’t until I started preparing for Sunday’s sermon. Truth be told, that isn’t so different from any other Sunday.
I often look at the assigned reading and wonder what on earth the writers of the Bible were thinking, or what on earth the editors of the lectionary were thinking in assigning the passage to preachers around the world. It often is tempting to skip an assigned lesson, but I never seem to be able to. I know that no one but my partner Bill would notice if I skipped a confusing or challenging passage and just picked my own, yet I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve done that in 40 years of ministry.
Sometimes I think I’m just obsessed or that I’ve become a fundamentalist about preaching the lectionary. I even told my staff last year that I thought we would skip it this year, but, almost halfway through the year, there has been only one Sunday when I didn’t preach from the assigned texts. Anyone who knows me knows that my following the lectionary isn’t because I like being told what to do!
So, this Sunday I will use a movie assigned to me: “The Avengers”; I will preach on a “holy day” assigned to me: Trinity Sunday; and I will preach from two of the scriptures assigned to me. After all these years, I’ve decided that the reason I do this is that I like a challenge, and the truth is, if I picked them myself, I would be telling the Spirit what should be said. This way the Spirit can take what is assigned and do whatever She wants. I think that is why, every now and then at least, it works out pretty well. We will see if this Sunday is one of those times.
I wonder if life might not work out better if we left it to the Spirit …
Rev. Michael Piazza