How It's Been: Narrative Lectionary
As part of a new focus on study of scripture as a church, I decided to implement the Narrative Lectionary beginning last fall.
The Narrative Lectionary is a schedule of readings across a year that traverse the Bible more or less narratively. We began in Genesis, continued through major books of the Hebrew Bible, and have spent most of our December and Lent in the Gospel of John. It’s been really cool for our Thursday evening bible study group, because it does allow us to piece together different narratives and themes of scripture that reveal how deeply interlocked and connected these stories are.
For example, we preach on Jacob’s incredible spiritual vision of a ladder with angels going to and fro, and then later we read about Jesus in the Gospel of John speaking about angels descending and ascending in his presence.
When scripture is read in silos, we can miss how deeply Jewish scripture is and what we miss when we disconnect Jesus from his own community. (Of course, this should challenge us to confront our deep rooted anti-semitism in many theological interpretations and church practices.)
I recommend it if you want to shift in a different direction than the regular lectionary, but know there are other options out there like the Women’s Lectionary which look awesome too.
As part of my study and discipline to prep for sermons and discussions, I find the resources at NarrativeLectionary.org really helpful. There is a weekly blog post with commentary from diverse perspectives about the passage. You can also access archives of previous entries. There is a weekly podcast as well with theologians from Luther Seminary. It’s not a long podcast – usually 20 minutes, so it gives a quick entry point and some places to start.
Beyond that as far as resources, I enjoy the New Interpreter’s Commentary – my church has a copy which is a luxury, I know. Additional commentaries like the Global Bible Commentary, the Bible and Disability, Womanist Midrash, Women’s Bible Commentary, Voices from the Margins, and the People’s New Testament commentary also add to the conversation.
But the primary place that I often begin are still the pages of the Washington Post (or local news or whatever) and the voices and experiences of my congregation. They often add perspectives that I would never think of from their own stories and witness and questions. That’s the gift of a series like this.