July Epistle Column
Dear Friends in Christ,
There is a whole lot that I am not sure of about the rest of this summer, but one thing I do know is which books of the Bible we will be hearing from during Sunday morning worship. Trinity has, since before I arrived, followed the Revised Common Lectionary, a three-year cycle of biblical texts. Each of the first three Gospels has its own year and we hear from John’s Gospel during Lent, the Season of Easter and on many festivals. We began the year of Matthew (year A) during the Season of Advent, in December 2019. Following Holy Trinity Sunday (June 7 in 2020) in year A, we began a series of readings from Romans that will last fourteen weeks. This is by far the longest series in Romans that the lectionary ever gives us. I will not always bring the Romans text into my sermon, but it will always often be read. In her book A Three-Year Banquet, Gail Ramshaw says that it is the letters/epistles, like Romans, “that instruct us in what to make of the gospels.” For example, “It is the epistles that give us examples of how the ethical comments attributed to Jesus took root and grew in Christian communities.” Congregations have a choice during the time after Trinity Sunday about which Old Testament texts to hear. One option is the complimentary texts, which are supposed to compliment the assigned gospel reading. The second option, and the option we are using this summer/fall, is the semi-continuous texts (reading through part of the Old Testament semi-continuously). During year A, our semi-continuous selections from especially Genesis and Exodus are read. Ramshaw again, “The idea is that, since Matthew relies so consistently on the tradition of Moses, during the year of Matthew these books are proclaimed.” We started our journey through the semi-continuous readings of Genesis and Exodus on June 14 with God’s covenant with Abraham and Sarah. The Psalm we read is always meant to be a response to the Old Testament reading and is assigned accordingly. I am not writing a column about the Revised Common Lectionary to confuse you. My hope is that this explanation will enrich your hearing this summer. Maybe you will dig more deeply into one or more of these books: sit down on a rainy day and read Romans straight through, listen to the entire Book of Exodus during a car ride, read the assigned Psalm as part of your daily devotions for the entire week. I am going to be reading through the Spark Story Bible’s Genesis and Exodus passages for our families; find the videos on your YouTube channel. Remember, scripture for Lutherans is a Living Word. It is meant to be encountered and wrestled with anew by every generation and every disciple.