September 6, 2022
Our worship on September 11 will be a celebratory and eventful one—we’ll be joined by our new Director of Music Ministries, Dawn Sonntag; we’ll bless the backpacks of our youngest community members; and, afterward, we’ll head out to our parking lot for a festive kick-off event called “Rally Day.” There’s one more distinction to throw on the list: We’ll begin a nine-month walk with the Narrative Lectionary.
We’ve just finished a worship series—on the sacred impulse of creativity—for which I selected each week’s scripture according to the theme. Typically, though, we have used the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). (“Lectionary” is just a fancy word for “schedule of readings.”) The RCL is a three-year cycle of weekly readings, built around the seasons of the church year, used by many of the mainline Protestant churches in Canada and the US. With a few exceptions, the readings for each week include a reading from the Hebrew Bible, Psalms, the Epistles, and the Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Why a three-year cycle? Each of the three years (called “A,” “B,” or “C”) corresponds to one featured synoptic gospel: Matthew, Mark, or Luke. John, whose account of Jesus’ life and ministry has always stood a little apart from the other three, gets woven in a little at a time during each of those three years. That’s what we’ve been doing.
The Narrative Lectionary, in contrast, is a four-year cycle of readings. Each gospel gets its “own” year of focus. It also only runs September through May, so summers are left open and flexible for series or other special worship experiences.
Why change? The short answer is the narrative lectionary tells a more comprehensive story over the course of the year. It was designed to help people become fluent in the first language of faith. From September to mid-December, we’ll walk through the early chapters of Genesis and move through Israel’s early history, the exodus, the kings, prophets, exile, and return. From Christmas to Easter, we will dwell with Matthew, this year’s gospel. From Easter to Pentecost, the texts are chosen from Acts (stories of the early church) and Paul’s letters. The narrative lectionary is a project we undertake together to encounter God’s story more deeply—and increasingly understand our own stories as one and the same.
As always, let me know if you have any questions! I’d be delighted to talk more about the lectionary—or anything else—over a cup of coffee in fellowship hour. Glad you’re here.