Like other Christians around the world, we regularly follow the Revised Common Lectionary, a set of scriptural readings throughout the liturgical year. This provides many benefits, but a disadvantage is that it tends to jump around the biblical story. It makes it difficult to get a sense of how parts fit together into a whole.
Enter the Narrative Lectionary.
Begun in 2010 as a project of two professors at Luther Seminary, the Narrative Lectionary follows the story of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. It’s hard to cover the whole Bible in a year of Sundays, so there are four different annual cycles, each covering the full story, doing so with different selected scriptures each year. The cycles run like the school year, beginning in September after Labor Day until around Memorial Day, leaving the summer open for other themes.
Worship Commission has decided to give this a whirl. Starting September 10, we’ll get on board with the current Year B cycle of the Narrative Lectionary. It will initially mean more readings from the Hebrew Bible, transitioning to the New Testament, appropriately, at Christmas time. We’ll continue to have special-themed Sundays such as World Communion, All Saints/All Souls, Thanksgiving, Coming of Age, etc, but try to keep the thread of the story going through these. We’ll give it a go and reevaluate after one cycle. Thoughts and feedback, as always, are appreciated.
As a prelude to this narrative approach, this Sunday’s sermon will attempt (ha!) to tell the whole Bible story in very condensed form, hopefully drawing out some key themes woven throughout.
Scholars have demonstrated convincingly that the Bible is a very human document containing various perspectives, better approached as a library than a single book. But when you bring all the parts together there is, perhaps surprisingly, a cohesive narrative from beginning to end. We’ll explore that this Sunday and in the months ahead.