I realized this morning when talking to my mom that I've lost a good bit of familiarity with the Bible since becoming a Lutheran. She mentioned something about Nabal's death, and I could not for the life of me remember who Nabal was. Look it up for yourself if you don't know. In any case, the past six years of never hearing anything except the Gospels preached from the pulpit or taught in the Sunday School classroom certainly has taken its toll. Don't get me wrong: I love the Gospels. They're great, and practically inexhaustible.
A few weeks ago, I went with my Mom to her PCA church, and the sermon was like a breath of fresh air. Now to be fair, my field work church in seminary did 40 Days of Purpose, 50 Days Ablaze, and then Five Weeks of Stewardship, so by that point, just hearing someone read the lessons for the day and skipping the sermon would have been like a breath of fresh air. You haven't lived until you've heard a stewardship sermon based on the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida. And seminary sermons? Well, sometimes they're good, but a lot of them are advice on how to be a good pastor, reassurance that God will still be gracious to you despite the fact you'll be a horrible pastor, or yet another sermon going through the Holy Checklist of Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, showing how the pericope for the day reminds us about those three things. But anyway, this Presbyterian minister preached on Psalm 51. The sermon was laden with Gospel, atonement (he didn't even mention the infamous "L"), and Christ. And in typical Reformed style, he exposited each verse of the text. Of course, being Reformed, he didn't make a baptismal connection to verse 7 or a liturgical connection to verse 15. And being a conservative Presbyterian, the sermon did get a little academic at times. But overall, it was just nice to hear a textual, Gospel-focused sermon from the Old Testament (this is where a conscientious Lutheran should chime in to say it's impossible for a non-Lutheran to preach the Gospel, since every time he opens his mouth, all he can say is what his confessional documents say).
I know most Lutheran pastors have a million reasons why 99% of the Bible is not proper sermon material, why hearing more than 1% of the Bible preached is actually detrimental to the laity, or why preaching on the Old Testament on Sunday (i.e. a day for the Lord's Supper) kills souls. Some Lutheran pastors might agree that a sermon about Saul and the Amalekites wouldn't be completely fatal to faith, but wistfully say that the days for that were the 16th century, when everyone (supposedly) went to church every day. Since Mass was only on Sunday, that gave you six days in the week to preach from Genesis or something. But the 16th century is over, so that's it for the Old Testament. I don't know if you noticed, but good chunks of the Epistles are basically Old Testament sermons. I guess they don't count since they were written before the Gospels. If St Paul was alive today, I'm sure he would have never mentioned the Israelites passing through the cloud or Sarah and Hagar. The author of Hebrews would have kept his mouth shut about all that business about high priests and purification rites. That stuff isn't even in the lectionary, let alone proper epistle material!
So I'm reading the I Kings now, and it makes me sad. I know I'll never hear a sermon on the building of the Temple or the sad end of the life of Solomon. I know the division of the kingdom and the apostasy of the Northern Kingdom will never provide sermon texts. Don't even get me started on Leviticus--ever notice how the Levitical sacrifices didn't make it into the Sunday lectionary of even the 3-year series? The closest you even get is the consecration of the firstborn in Ex 13 (although the part about remembering Egypt is omitted) and the tithes in Dt 26. Apparently, we're a bunch of Marcionites who believe that the animal sacrifices of the Torah have pretty much nothing to do with Jesus. A lot of the OT texts even have important bits omitted, usually the scary parts where God judges people. That must be the part where the bad, ignorant god that opposed Sophia was speaking. Oh well, at least the Shema made it in.
I don't even know why I'm complaining. I have the Small Catechism, and that's all the Bible I'll ever need.