“As we deepen our sense of how God’s story and activity shape life.”
The above quote comes from our mission and vision statements and they describe one of the ways to see if we’re making good on our mission to “build the church and love the world.” But how do we actually go deep into God’s story? This is a question Pastor Peter and members of the Worship, Adult Education and Children’s Ministry Committees have been exploring as they have set about to make plans for our upcoming program year.
One place to start is to consider how we engage God’s story through scripture within our worship life. Most Sundays, the readings that we hear during worship, and the ones around which our pastors craft their preaching, comes from the “Revised Common Lectionary (RCL).” A lectionary is a predetermined set of scriptures chosen for each Sunday and festival of the church year. The RCL uses a 3-year rotation that focuses the assigned Gospel readings from either Matthew, Mark, or Luke and builds upon seasonal themes. Supporting readings from the Gospel of John, the old testament, the psalms, and the new testament are paired with the chosen text as well, bouncing around throughout the biblical narrative in support of the Gospel text.
For all of its gifts, the RCL also has some limitations and a little more than a decade ago, two scholars from Luther Seminary began experimenting with a new lectionary, one that crafted in such a way as to help tell God’s story through scripture with greater clarity. While the RCL bounces around between books and doesn’t maintain a consistent trajectory, the readings of “Narrative Lectionary (NL)” remain chronologically intact while still following the rhythms of the church calendar. The NL is also structured around the traditional program year of churches in North America, starting in September and finishing in early June. This is especially helpful for communities that want to draw out common themes between worship and other faith formation activities like Sunday School and Adult Education. While the lectionary is still snapshots of scripture, the chosen readings flow chronologically, beginning with creation, properly placing Jesus’ incarnation, teachings, death, resurrection, and ending with the foundations of early church.
At its June meeting, the Prince of Peace Congregation Council endorsed the recommendations of Pastor Peter as well as the Worship, Adult Education and Children’s Ministry Committees to begin following the Narrative Lectionary starting with the first Sunday in September. One of the developers and authors of the Narrative Lectionary, Professor Rolf Jacobson, will be with us on Rally Sunday, September 16 to help introduce us to the lectionary as a whole and help us imagine some of the ways this will help to shape our life together over the coming months. Each week of the coming year, we’ll focus on only one story from the biblical narrative and this will guide our efforts across each aspect of our ministry life. If you’d like to read ahead, here is the complete lectionary for the coming year. Feel free to contact Pastor Peter if you have more questions about this or how else you might be able to support this initiative.