Resources for Worship and Preaching

Last October I was excited to share the cover of my latest book, On the Way with Jesus, along with the back cover copy and table of contents. I was so excited that I shared it even before my publisher, CSS Publishing, had added the book to their website! In November I shared a preview of the On the Way with Jesus personal and group study guide that’s in the works and how you can download an excerpt of my book. Now I’m happy to let you know that On the Way with Jesus has been included in a Resources Package of worship and preaching books from my publisher.

If you follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), you already know that we’re now in Year A or Cycle A of the three-year cycle of readings, and you’ll appreciate the way the books in this Resources Package follow the lectionary Scripture texts from Sunday to Sunday.

If you don’t follow the RCL, you can use these resources too, but instead of looking for a particular Sunday, look for the Scripture text. So for example if you’re preaching on Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-9, you can find my reflection on that text in On the Way with Jesus, and use it as a resource at any time of year even though it’s designated by the RCL for Lent 2. For more information on the lectionary, see also What is the Revised Common Lectionary? (for R who asked).

Of the nine books in this Resources Package, six are sermon collections. My book includes sixteen sermons for Lent and Easter based on selected gospel texts. Five other books in this collection cover sermons for the rest of the church year, and three other books are included:

Lectionary Reflections Cycle A: Lectionary Bible Commentary for Preachers and Teachers by Jill Duffield

Each Sunday of the church year and the special days of Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday receive a few pages of commentary in this book. For any given day and as much as possible, author Jill Duffield ties together the designated lectionary texts (with the exception of the Psalm). So for January 12, she writes:

On this Baptism of the Lord Sunday, all three appointed texts present us with accounts of God’s identity, character and purpose, and, therefore, direct us toward our own God-willed identity, character and purpose. (page 43)

Her commentary expands on this, and then—as with each commentary in this book—ends with some thoughtful questions and practical responses to consider. Again, for January 12, these include:

How do we talk about notions of repentance and sin, and a cultural context that doesn’t use or value these concepts? Do even we, as Christians, think of ourselves as sinners? If so, what does that mean? If not, why not?

As you encounter water this week, remember your own baptism and think about what difference it makes in your life. (page 46)

Lectionary Stories for Preaching and Teaching: Series III, Cycle A by Keith Hewitt

In a brief introduction to his book, author Keith Hewitt notes that “sometimes the best way to communicate an idea is to set it in the framework of a story” (page 3). So for the baptism of the Lord, he offers the story of a proud parent cheering on her son at a basketball game. For Easter Sunday, the story centres on one of the officers who had been guarding the tomb of Jesus. These and many other stories work well as sermon starters, preaching illustrations, or could be adapted as monologues.

Praying the Lectionary, Cycle A: Prayers of the Church by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson

Whether your worship includes “Prayers of the People,” a prayer of intercession, a pastoral prayer, or some other form of corporate prayer, this resource is a helpful guide to prayer in worship. For those who follow the RCL, the prayers reflect the designated lectionary texts for the day, and for those who do not follow the RCL, they are prayers grounded in Scripture that may easily be adapted for your particular theme. Each prayer is divided into several parts with a brief congregational refrain. Here is one portion of the prayer for January 12 which reflects the baptism of Jesus:

P: Heavenly Father: On this day we remember that Jesus was baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness; and your Spirit in the form of a dove descended and alighted on him as your heavenly voice spoke and said: “This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Today help us to remember our baptismal covenant and that you too have claimed us as your daughters and sons and are well pleased with us as we faithfully follow the way of Jesus by loving you and our neighbor. In your mercy:

C: Hear our prayer. (page 36)

For pricing and to download free sample excerpts from each of the nine books included, please see the CSS Publishing Resources Package.

Disclosure: Thank you to CSS Publishing for providing me with complimentary copies of Lectionary Reflections, Lectionary Stories for Preaching and Teaching, and Praying the Lectionary. The choice to review and any opinions expressed are my own and freely given.

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Author: April Yamasaki

Embracing the writing life in all its delight and challenge: I currently serve as resident author with a liturgical worship community, write online and in print publications, and often speak in churches and other settings. Publications: On the Way with Jesus, Four Gifts, Sacred Pauses, and other books on Christian living. Websites: AprilYamasaki.com and WhenYouWorkfortheChurch.com.

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