For the last few years, we’ve been using the Revised Common Lectionary as the basis for our sermons at Berkey. For the next period of time, we plan to use something called the Narrative Lectionary for preaching.
What, you might be wondering, is a lectionary? A lectionary is simply a selection of scripture texts for use in Christian worship. Some lectionaries offer a selection of texts for a cycle of one or two years, while others provide a cycle of readings over three or four years. Jews and Christians have used various lectionaries over the past two thousand years. Today at least a dozen lectionaries are available. Like songbooks and prayer books, lectionaries are one of the many resources available for creating worship services.
The purpose of the Narrative Lectionary is to help us understand the overarching story of the Bible. It aims to tell the story of God and God’s people over time.
It uses a four-year cycle of readings. On the Sundays from September through May, the texts follow the sweep of the biblical story, from the creation to the early church.
- 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 (this year it’s Matthew).
- From Easter to Pentecost the texts are chosen from Acts and Paul’s letters.
We won’t use the Narrative Lectionary every Sunday, especially when we have guest speakers or touring music groups such as Parables from Goshen College. But when we do, we hope it will give us a better sense of the grand sweep of biblical literature.
~ Dan and Marilyn