Liturgical Preaching


What essentially defines the liturgical church, aside from the regular receiving of Holy Communion, is the systematic reading of the entire Bible over three years by assigned readings in a Common Lectionary. Each 0f the three yearly assignment make up a Liturgical Year or Church Year.

This cycle introduces seasons such as Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost which roughly relate to the Jewish Calendar and the appointed feast days of God. (See Calendar.) As we advance through these seasons we trace the ministry of Jesus from his birth, baptism, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and the pouring out of the gift of the Holy Spirit which birthed the Church.

Why a fixed schedule of readings? This follows the ancient tradition of the synagogue that was in effect in the time of Christ. Jesus was asked to read the assigned text in His hometown. Do such readings limit the preacher’s range of options 0r, perhaps, hamper the Holy Spirit from acting freely in the sermon preparation? Not necessarily, although they could if not properly understood. Jesus preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We must do likewise.

The Lectionary essentially gives three readings: from a Book of the Old Testament, from a New Testament Epistle, and from the Gospel, together with a responsive reading from the Book of Psalms. These resources should offer a broad range of preaching material.  But what if they do not fit the sermon the preacher had in mind. The problem is with the word “sermon.” We are not preaching sermons. We are giving a prophetic word from the appointed scriptures. Appointed means we must preach from the whole of scripture. It is too easy to neglect parts of scripture in favor of parts that we find of personal interest.

Which one of the readings should we give emphasis on in our preaching? Usually, the answer is not anyone in particular but rather we should preach from the whole of the readings. They often fit together because it is quite evident that they were carefully selected. It is often better to interpret any one scripture in context with other scriptures. Of course, the appointed readings may suggest other readings from the Bible. Nothing should prevent us from bringing in additional readings.

The liturgy, when properly used should help open doors to God and not close them. Good liturgy is not designed to restrict the Holy Spirit. Rather, the Spirit has helped establish and refine much of our liturgy over many years. Our liturgy today is the liturgy of the Synagogue with the added feature of Holy Communion as ordained by Jesus.

The liturgy helps prepare people for the receiving of Holy Communion. It is a type of altar call. People need to hear the word, reflect on the word, pray for the Church, and have a private prayer that offers a time of confession and repentance. This prepares them to offer up praise to God as they anticipate receiving his presence through the body of blood of Jesus

We are to:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
   Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come into his presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.
   It is he that made us, and we are his;[
   we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
   and his courts with praise.
   Give thanks to him, bless his name.   (Psalm 100:1-4)

The communion offers a time of healing and deliverance. It is a type of altar call where everyone comes forward to the altar. (See Altar Call)

Does this type of service work? Why not give it a try?

2 responses to “Liturgical Preaching

  1. Ettie Janzen

    I went to my first liturgical service this past Sunday and found it the most uninspiring and ritualistic service I have ever attended. Everything was read, even the sermon. I understand this is the way it’s supposed to be in a liturgical service but I could honestly tell you I didn’t take anything with me when I left. I couldn’t tell you what it was all about. I still have the old fashion idea that you should be able to glean something from the service that will encourage and empower you for the following week; something to draw you closer to the Lord. That didn’t happen.

    • I hope your experience does not color your understanding of what a Spirit-filled liturgical service could be. I have attended many liturgical church services where the music was joyous and worshipful, the preaching was uplifting, and healings have taken place. The Holy Communion part of these services were Holy indeed. Good liturgy is a discipline which may be misapplied like any other forms of discipline. In fact, almost every church service has some sort of liturgy that they follow, whether they refer to it as a liturgy or not.

      It sounds like you are used to a lively service. Praise the Lord!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s