As a Christian writer, you have no shortage of inspiration available to you. Through prayer, Bible reading, worship, and enjoying God’s presence in nature or in Christian fellowship, not to mention looking at all the names of God, all the testimonies of what He has done, and all the needs lifted up to Him, you have an endless supply of topics to write about.
Sometimes the inspiration is so vast and deep, you may need help to find a simple starting point. Your first starting point should always be prayer and allowing God to lead you. Sometimes it also helps to pray over specific writing prompts.
Here is a good resource that can help you in this process: Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary (published in three volumes, A, B, and C), Paul Scott Wilson, editor.
While the book’s title may not sound very inspiring, the book gives simple yet vivid themes, imagery, and hands-on application and description for weekly groupings of Bible verses. I’ve found this book to be helpful in coming up with ideas for Christian writing.
What is the Revised Common Lectionary?
The book is a companion to the Revised Common Lectionary, which is a weekly grouping of Bible verses that follows the Christian calendar and is used as a reference by many churches. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, the lectionary goes all the way through the Christian year. Many churches use the lectionary for their Bible readings, and many pastors write their sermons based on the lectionary scriptures.
The Revised Common Lectionary rotates every year:
Year A = 2019-2020
Year B = 2020-2021
Year C = 2021-2022
Then back to A again, and the cycle repeats.
The Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary has three volumes: Preaching Year A, B, and C. These volumes correspond to the rotation described above.
How the Lectionary Companion Can Inspire Christian Writers
These guides are not just for preachers. They provide wonderful inspiration for Christian writers too, based on a year’s worth of Bible reading and weekly themes.
As a writer, you can use the Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary to write about any of the lectionary verses. You don’t need to write seasonally or for that particular preaching year. Writers on a budget may not want to purchase all three volumes, and that’s okay. Just choose one and it will give you plenty of inspiration for your writing.
If you do decide to use the lectionary companion as a seasonal guide for a particular year (A, B, or C), it may give you an opportunity to write devotionals for your church. If your church follows the Revised Common Lectionary, as many denominations do, your devotionals would add to the biblical experience. Even if your church doesn’t follow the lectionary, you would still be inviting readers to experience the Christian calendar through scripture.
Each week, the lectionary brings together four scripture passages spanning Old and New Testament. As a writer, you can choose one passage to focus on, or prayerfully see how the passages come together and write from that convergence.
The lectionary companion can inspire your writing in many ways. You might be inspired to write on the main theme highlighted in the companion guide. Or you might pick up on one of the theological questions that arise from the readings that week, discussed in the companion guide.
The lectionary companion also gives tangible descriptions and images for pastoral and ethical issues. These can often inspire writing that applies scripture in daily life. The companion also connects the Gospel reading to the bigger biblical narrative, and that connection can also inspire your writing.
You might decide to write one piece based on the lectionary readings for one week. Or you might choose a particular week and write several pieces, perhaps a week-long devotional collection that covers 6 or 7 days and explores the week’s theme more in-depth or from many angles.
Example of Topics for Christian Writers: Second Sunday of Advent
Let’s look at an example to see how the lectionary companion might inspire Christian writing. This example will be from Preaching Year A, second Sunday of Advent (Dec 8, 2019). The readings are Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19, Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12.
For that week, the Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary, Preaching Year A, discusses themes of justice, hope, and peace.
Here are some topics you might write about for that theme, inspired by the lectionary companion:
- How Jesus helps those who are oppressed.
- How does the Holy Spirit bring justice, or peace, or hope?
- What are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit? How do you know you’re seeing Him in action?
- Testimony of when the Holy Spirit brought you into peace or gave you hope.
- Letter of encouragement to someone who needs the Holy Spirit to meet them in their deepest needs.
- How does hope give us glimpses of God’s kingdom in the midst of a suffering world?
- How is biblical hope different from worldly hope or from specific concrete outcomes?
- Who is Jesus as the Prince of Peace?
- What kind of Peace does Jesus bring? How does it differ from the world’s peace? What are some examples of this contrast?
- How does Jesus lead us to befriend one another? What are some specific illustrations?
- What limits do we put on our hope? What does it mean to expect hope beyond those human limits? Testimony of a time when your idea of hope was expanded. When you were willing to stretch your hope, how did God change your heart?
- How do we recognize the peace of Christ?
- How does the peace of Christ differ from earthly peace? What are some examples of this contrast?
- How do we move deeper into the peace Jesus offers? Helpful tips. Or what kind of story might illustrate this process?
- Where does the world tempt us with its definition of peace, leading us away from the peace of Christ?
- What wounding in us causes us to be tempted toward the world’s peace and away from the peace of Christ?
- How do Isaiah and Paul (in the scripture verses above) suggest we (as individuals or as a church) move deeper into justice, hope, and peace?
- How does our church relate to people who feel like outcasts or misfits? What would Isaiah or Paul say about it?
- What do we need to repent of to see greater justice, hope, and peace in our midst?
- How do we renew our hope?
- What is the hope Jesus calls us to?
Those are just a few of the topics you might be inspired to write about after reading the lectionary companion for the second Sunday of Advent. If you dig deeper in prayer, you’ll have even more ideas and/or you can drill down further into one of these topics. Each week has new scriptures, new themes, and lots of inspiration for Christian writers.
Always Begin with Prayer
As always, read the scriptures and the lectionary companion prayerfully. See what God highlights for you, what stands out to you or speaks to your heart the most. Pray about which topic to work on next. Then present that topic to the Lord and let Him inspire you for how to approach it. There are so many different ways to write about each topic. Different angles, different readers, different testimonies, different types of writing. Your way will be as unique as you are in this moment.
As you grow in your Christian writing life, you will find many sources of inspiration. The Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary is just one helpful source that I have enjoyed using. It can help you find themes, images, and tangible questions and applications from the lectionary readings. Of course, remember your Bible readings should always begin and end with prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit.