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This is the major temptation for churches which dont follow a prescribed lectionary. Not necessarily "Gospel avoidance" because of those tough questions, but often a sense of its the bit we know best, focus on the other stuff, or that the questions raised compliment and expound those raised by the Gospels - the other texts viewed as an understanding of living out the Gospel, rather than being emersed in it.

However, the churches which do follow a prescribed lectionary have the same problem - preaching tends to focus on the Gospel reading set that week, and unless the readings are "thematic" rather than continuous, the other texts rarely get a look in. Some It is as easy to make the same mistake and "avoid" the big questions raised by Paul or Luke, or by the OT texts in such a context.

As a personal preference I tend to use the thematic lectionary readings from the Revised Common Lectionary, focusing on what speaks to me and the context of my congregation. That said, sometimes the grouping of themes seems a little odd, or makes no sense whatsoever.

When I was an undergrad,my Practical Theology lecturer said preach to yourself - chances are others need to hear what you need to hear. Preach to your context - get to know the congregation/community/situation in which you will preach. In both of these find balance, and preach with integrity.

My Supervising Rector when I was a curate put it another way - in all that you preach, whatever the text, find the good news of Christ and share that, whether it comes as praise, admonition or challenge. Christ is in all 3, and all 3 need to be heard.

Beat Attitude

Nick, you're probably right. Jesus distilled so much biblical truth in his example and teaching, and sometimes we don't like the prospect of drinking it "neat". The problem is that study of other biblical text can require a little digging to get at the meaning, thus lulling you into a soporific sense of satisfaction on arriving at its meaning. With the gospels, much of it is plain to understand, but then requires action on our part, which is harder to stomach.

Graham C

I'm not sure if we avoid them deliberatly but would agree that we don't study them enough. Jesus in the gospels isnt much like the Jesus normally think about or often tell the world about through words and actions. Is it because some Christians don't really like how he acts?

Beat Attitude

I think we all struggle with some part of how he acts, especially since we've been called to do the same.

Jesus responded differently to different people and situations: he got angry at hypocrisy, he got sarcastic at pride, he was compassionate for the lost and the simple seekers, crossed social boundaries, honoured the outcasts with his friendship, silent before his accusers, a lamb before his persecutors, forgiving those who disowned him, he avoided persecution that would hinder his ministry and embraced it when it was a part of his ministry. A servant to his disciples as well as a teacher and rebuker. He wept for the stubborn. He spoke simply of the power of faith and used the power apportioned to him wherever it was to be used. He trusted his father completely for everything. He went hungry and tired when people needed fed, and enjoyed food with people who needed company. He spoke of a kingdom where God's will was done and lived with the certainty that it was not only approaching, but that he was its living example. He lived for God's glory, and loved people as the best way of communicating that.

I heard an interesting quote the other day that "true love has teeth" and I think that's perfectly exemplified in Christ's example. Even when he called the teachers "whitewashed tombs" it was not to make himself feel better, it was because love warns and challenges, just as it gives and sacrifices.

Maybe some more study of the gospel would remind us of what circumstances call for what approach...

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