For the fourth year in a row, our year-long worship series, A Narrative Journey, is back! Last year, we spent 9 months on a narrative journey: through the Hebrew Scriptures, along with Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, and several weeks exploring Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Now, we’re hitting the road again with the guidance of the Narrative Lectionary! The Narrative Lectionary, like its more famous cousin the Revised Common Lectionary, is a multi-year listing of Scripture passages for worship use. It helps guide readings in a cyclical pattern, emphasizing seasons within the Church year. What makes the Narrative Lectionary different from the RCL is that it specifically chooses narratives—stories—that demonstrate God’s work and power throughout Biblical history.
So often, the parts of the Bible that we are most attracted to are the stories: Old Testament narratives of heroes and villains, Gospel stories of Jesus’ healing and teaching, historic narratives of kings and queens and prophets and servants of the Early Church. Many of us remember with joy our childhood Sunday school teachers recounting these wonderful stories. Unfortunately, some of us grow older and think that we have “grown out” of these stories and figures. But scholars of Scripture and scholars of the way the mind works understand that there is deep truth in these narratives. We read about Esther and Eve, about Moses and Mary, about Solomon and Simon Peter…and we see ourselves. We see their foibles and strengths and recognize our own. We see the grace offered by a loving God and know that that grace has been offered to us as well.
So, pack your bags and get ready for the trip! Like last year, this lectionary will take us through next May. And, like last year, we begin in the Old Testament in September, where we will continue until the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Then, the journey enters the Gospels (Mark’s Gospel this year) until the third week after Easter. That is where we begin to explore the story of the Early Church, through Paul’s letters to the churches at Thessalonica and Corinth, and various passages from the book of Acts.
Again, we will skip and jump through these stories (it is a four-year cycle, so if you don’t see your favorite story this year, it will likely return down the road!) And we will probably adjust the schedule as life happens and things change.