Growing up in church, it would be fair for me to say that most sermons I heard were either concerned with A) theology or B) decrying certain practices in our contemporary Western culture. Neither of these is wrong or unimportant, as theology is the bedrock of faith, and there is much to decry in the world. The one thing I rarely heard preached on, however, was issues of social justice. And when preached on, it was through standard channels—witnessing/evangelism, donating food and clothing to our church’s pantry, and giving offerings. These are all well and good, but can we do more than these traditional categories?
Many seminaries do not equip ministers well to engage in social action, which could account for the lack of such sermons. We are taught how to carefully and thoughtfully read biblical and theological texts. We are taught how to discipline our lives through worship, prayer, and meditation. We are even taught how to engage in outreach practices and community development. But much contemporary discourse on social change is often missing inside the church—it is left to the realm of political activism and schools of social work. So, how do we as Christians approach these sensitive, serious, and often volatile issues that confront our society?
The Acts of Faith lectionary bridges this gap. It is a free resource available on the Internet from the North Carolina Council of Churches (www.actsoffaith.org). Each of the three years covers 16 topics, complete with sermon, text, commentary, reflection, and key facts on the particular subject of the week. With only 16 sermons a year, it provides adequate exposure to social issues, while at the same time not limiting sermons to talking only about social issues. It fills a needed gap in many pulpits today while relieving the burden from pastors of gathering such information on their own.
–Lee Foster, Intern