In the World

This Lent, preach sin—and the Old Testament

I've been enjoying CCblogger Rachel Hackenberg's Lenten sermon series posts. She offers several, separate ideas: on the question "Who do you say that I am?" (following the Narrative Lectionary's readings from John), on prayer practices, on "Lift High the Cross," on the paintings of Anneke Kaai.

But my favorite is Hackenberg's series on the Revised Common Lectionary's Old Testament readings. The subject is "reclaiming sin." Here are the weekly themes:

Lent 1 (Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7). We confess that we crave what we don’t need.

Lent 2 (Genesis 12:1-4a). We confess that we are comfortable.

Lent 3 (Exodus 17:1-7). We confess that our memory is short.

Lent 4 (1 Samuel 16:1-13). We confess to profiling one another.

Lent 5 (Ezekiel 37:1-14). We confess that we live as though without hope.

Lent 6/Passion Sunday (Isaiah 50:4-9a). We confess that we believe shaming lies.

Easter Sunday (Jeremiah 31:1-6). We confess that we long to dance.


Click through to see her paragraph on each. It's great stuff.

There are no doubt some who would be resistant to preaching about sin for six whole weeks (seven, since she includes Easter!), reclaimed or otherwise—though I suspect that these days, this mainline stereotype is not so terribly widespread. In any case, I'm at least as interested in the prospect of an RCL preacher sticking with the OT for that long. Some of course do this routinely; many do not. One of the arguments for the Narrative Lectionary, which assigns a single preaching text each week, is that the best way to get preachers into the OT is to simply eliminate other options. In any event, I'm always excited to hear a sermon on the OT, so I hope others try Hackenberg's series or something similar.

If you have series ideas for Lent this year, I'd be glad to hear them—especially if you're basing the series on lectionary texts, RCL or otherwise.

Steve Thorngate

The Century managing editor is also a church musician and songwriter.

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