Thus Saith the Lord – January 2021 Lectionary Preview
December 15, 2020 by Rev. Dr. Neal Presa
Competing claims about what is true inundated us in 2020. Both message and messenger were doubted. The sheer volume and velocity of information overwhelm. This new year will, doubtless, be the same. We pray things will be better, but we are realists, and knowing human hearts and human nature, words and motives are weaponized. Yet, again and again, God’s people seek a word from the Lord. Whenever and wherever God speaks, powerful things happen – sometimes seen, oftentimes, not; sometimes immediate, oftentimes, not. Nevertheless, when we dare utter, “The Lord says. . .” or in the old King James Version, “Thus saith the Lord. . .” we had better do so sparingly and humbly and we had better double-check and triple-check that, indeed, “Thus saith the Lord” and then pay careful attention to what exactly the Lord saith. And we would do well to urge and encourage all those who are with us to, likewise, pay attention to what the Lord saith. Many a person have claimed “Thus saith the Lord” and used that as a bludgeon to lord over others some nefarious intent or unwittingly (and wittingly) claimed “Thus saith the Lord” when the Lord neither saith nor was it thus so.
And that is why we dare to proclaim a word from God in the context of community, guided and tested by the Spirit, in conversation with the one holy catholic apostolic church, in dialogue with our confessions of faith, paying attention to what St. Augustine in his Regula Recepta referred to as the double love command: i.e., when an interpretation and proclamation of Scripture leads to loving God and loving neighbor, then we can assert as humbly and confidently as God’s grace allows, that “Thus saith the Lord.” The lectionary texts for January 2021 look to how and what the Lord says at various points in Scriptures and what the Lord might be saying to us as we begin a new year.
John 1:1-9. 10-18
1 Samuel 3:1-20
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Neal D. Presa is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation. He is an Associate Pastor and Coordinator for the Faith & Work Initiative at the Village Community Presbyterian Church (Rancho Santa Fe, CA), Visiting Professor of Practical Theology at the International Theological Seminary (West Covina, CA), Visiting Professor and Scholar at the Union Theological Seminary (Dasmariñas, Cavite, Philippines), Research Fellow of Practical and Missional Theology at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa), and a Fellow of the Center for Pastor Theologians (Oak Park, IL). He previously served as Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012-14) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Ecumenically, he is the Co-Vice Chair of the current Third Round of Bilateral Dialogues between the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and for nearly six years he led the Caribbean and North American Area Council of both the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, serving on the executive committees of both organizations. To connect with Neal via LinkedIn, go to: linkedin.com/in/NealPresa For his publications, go to: www.NealPresa.com