Narrative Lectionary

The narrative lectionary is a set of readings for Christian worship that moves through the overarching biblical story in a ninth-month period. This lectionary is not simply a series of stories; rather, it is a series of stories that facilitate an understanding of and appreciation for the broader biblical story.

It is different than the Revised Common Lectionary in several ways. First, the narrative lectionary seeks to tell the biblical story in canonical order, in a ninth-month cycle. It tries to move rapidly through the biblical narrative, in canonical order. The lectionary also features mainly narrative passages.

Second, the narrative lectionary has two readings each week:

  • A "preaching text" (from the Old Testament in the fall, a Gospel in the winter, and from Acts/Epistles in the spring)
  • An "accompanying text" (the accompanying text is from a Gospel when the preaching text is from the OT or Acts/Epistles, and from a psalm when the preaching text is from a Gospel)

Congregations are free, however, to continue to read other lessons in addition to the assigned reading -- especially to read a Gospel lesson and a psalm all year. We have discovered that each congregation is different and that what works best depends on the context. Some congregations have found it most helpful to read just the assigned narrative lectionary text on a given Sunday. Others have found it helpful to find complementary texts to use with the assigned reading.

Because the lectionary is shaped this way, the church calendar is accentuated -- the rhythm of the Narrative Lectionary emphasizes the three festivals of the year: the birth of Christ Jesus as the culmination of the OT story, the resurrection of Christ as the culmination of the Gospel stories, and the festival of Pentecost as the outflowing of God's mission to all the nations. The time of Advent is kept by focusing on the promise of the Messiah. Appropriate readings have been chosen for church commemorations, such as Reformation, All Saints, and Ash Wednesday.

For an introduction to the Narrative Lectionary, view the video and read this related introduction.

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