So, the new Revised Common Lectionary (I say "new" because the Episcopal church has been on it less than 30 years) has this gimmick for the Trinity Season (I refuse to use the term "Season after Pentecost") of having two tracts for the Old Testament readings in the summer and early fall. One is the traditional Old Testament readings that tries to capture the theme of the New Testament/Gospel readings, regardless of whether that makes the Old Testament reading change from book to book every Sunday.
The other alternative track for the summer is one that reads an Old Testament book largely in sequence, at least in theory. Last year, it was largely the Book of Genesis. I really enjoy preaching from a Biblical text in a sequence; you can get more in depth in your sermon if you can build on things and not have the Old Testament text and theme change every Sunday.
I seldom preach on the Epistles for this reason because the Lectionary butchers them so badly. You have to read the Epistles in sequence or else you spend half your sermon giving the exegetical background of the Church that Paul is writing to and putting into some context. By the time you have done that, your time is about up. And then the next week, you are on to a completely different epistle and theme. I drives me batty sometimes.
I do appreciate the Lectionary in the sense that it does force us (in a Bataan Death March sort of way) to grapple with a vast majority of the Bible in the 3 year cycle of the Lectionary. Oftentimes, that involves texts that we would just as soon not touch on this week (or ever). So, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Lectionary overall. It does the Gospels and Psalms well. Occasionally, it does the Old Testament and Epistles well in the times when they are read basically in sequence.
What gripes me, though, is when the Lectionary teases me with this "we're going to read this book in sequence," but we will do that by glossing over whole chapter sections of the story. This happened last year with the Joseph story. The Lectionary did a good job of telling most of the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stories, and then it came to Joseph. The Joseph saga is a good quarter of the whole of the Book of Genesis. And we got 2, count 'em 2, stories about Joseph before it was off to butcher the Moses story in Exodus: the coat of many colors story and then the very end of the narrative when Joseph is reunited with his brothers in Egypt. The Lectionary did not have the gumption to include even the Potiphar's Wife story.
This year, it appears we get largely the David saga. It appears that the Lectionary follows David for most of the summer, so I cannot complain too much on that count. But it gives us scant little about the actual saga of Saul. This coming Sunday, we get the story of Israel wanting a King and demanding Samuel anoint them a King. And then next week, we skip all the way to the point where God has rejected Saul and God sends Samuel to anoint David. We completely lose the tragedy of Saul.
That's one of the most powerful stories in the whole bible. What's the deal, Mr. Lectionary?