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So, I’ve been working my way through the lectionary texts for 2012, outlining themes and choosing texts for the 2012 Nurturing Faith curriculum producted by Baptists Today. I’ve also been in happy conversation with several pastors who believe in advance planning, and who are thinking now about their preaching for the next year. 

There’s something both challenging and satisfying about beginning with an empty calendar and filling in the blanks, rolling themes and ideas around in your head, visualizing how it will all fit together, trying on titles for size. Gradually, the big themes coalesce, then the weekly texts fall into place. Voila! A road map of sermon or lesson ideas is on the calendar.

There’s a temptation to try filling in the blanks of life in a similar way. We know we’ll go through seasons of life that are almost as predictable as the church year, but we never know in advance what each season will bring, what storms will come, what unexpected blessings.

It’s still worth the effort of planning ahead, I think, though we understand that plans are always subject to change. Our inability to predict the future can be frustrating on the one hand, but it’s also a part of what makes life so intriguing. Reading is not nearly as fun if we know how the story will end, and I can’t imagine that a perfectly predictable life would be very rewarding.

Our most valuable plan might be the one that prepares us for change.

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