On September 13th we will begin something new at Salem. A lectionary is a selection of Bible readings appointed for each Sunday. The Revised Common Lectionary, which we have been using for many years, is a three-year cycle of readings that provides four readings for each Sunday, an Old Testament, a Psalm, an Epistle, and a Gospel reading. Now there is a new lectionary to choose from called the Narrative Lectionary. The Narrative Lectionary was developed at Luther Seminary and has a four-year cycle of readings. Each Sunday, one reading is provided, selected from the great stories of the Bible, beginning with Genesis in the fall, and ending in the Epistles by the end of spring. The goal is to read through the biblical narrative each year, centering our lives in God’s story.
What are the readings?
The texts include the major episodes in Scripture. They are arranged in a narrative sequence to help people see Scripture as a story that has coherence and a dynamic movement:
- From September to mid-December the preaching texts begin with the early chapters of Genesis, move through the stories of Israel’s early history, the exodus, the kings, prophets, exile and return.
- From Christmas to Easter there is sustained reading of one of the four gospels
- From Easter to Pentecost the texts are chosen from Acts and Paul’s letters.
Why these readings?
Texts were selected that lead well to the proclamation of what God is doing. The stories tell of hope and disappointment, suffering and redemption. In all these varied contexts, we find God dealing with the complexities of human life. Stories from the gospels differ each year, avoiding repetition and highlighting what is distinctive about each gospel’s telling of the story of Jesus.
The Church Year helped to shape the flow of the Narrative Lectionary. Old Testament readings move through the story of God’s dealings with Israel and culminate in Advent with the prophets who speak of longing and hope. Readings from the gospels fit the movement from Christmas and Epiphany to the Transfiguration, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week and Easter. Selections from the book of Acts and Paul’s letters trace the outward movement of the resurrection message, culminating on Pentecost with readings focusing on the Spirit.
We plan to try the Narrative lectionary this year and see if it’s something we would like to continue for the entire four-year cycle. God be with us as we begin this new journey!