Hope Lutheran Church
Newness in the New Year
Our God promises new things. In fact while seated on the throne God declares, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) We have been witnessing this since the beginning of time when God created new stuff, beginning with light. We recently celebrated the new thing God was up to in the baby named Jesus, born on Christmas. Each Sunday we recall the new life that sprung forth from a once-occupied grave, and the new life we have by God’s grace through the gift of faith.
We also do new things. Newness is an inevitability for us all as the world around us constantly changes. As our life together as Hope Lutheran Church shifts in good and glorious ways, we too will have the opportunity to try some new things. You will notice some changes in worship beginning in January, especially at 10:30. We are trying these new things, and welcome your feedback along the way.
If you are a 10:30 worshiper you will notice a couple things right off the bat in January. First, our liturgy will be significantly shorter, a bit more casual, and some parts will be moved around (ie. The Peace will be shared at the end of worship). Second, the music at 10:30 will not always be the same as it is at 8:30. We will be singing less out of the hymnal, and more out of other music/song resources. This does not mean we are throwing everything out, but in response to feedback from the congregation we sensed it was a good time to try something new. Keep in mind that we may try some new things that we decide later to discontinue. Also, we might discover some fantastic things amongst the newness. Some big Feast Day Sundays we will use a fuller liturgy (think Easter). Worship will still have good order and be liturgical. Worship will continue to be distinctly Lutheran, even if it doesn’t feel like it at first.
The Narrative Lectionary
In the life of the church, the word “lectionary” simply refers to a list of appointed Biblical texts to be read for each Sunday or Feast day. Hope has long used the Revised Common Lectionary, which follows a three year cycle that appoints texts appropriate for used within the liturgical calendar (ie: In the season of Easter, we will hear resurrection and post resurrection readings). Using this assures congregants that they are hearing the fullness of the Biblical witness. The downside of the lectionary used in the past is that it often jumps around without contextual consistency from week to week, pairs readings thematically though they have little to do with each other (ie: a dove shows up in both texts).
Starting on January 7, we will be switching to the Narrative lectionary that follows a four year cycle, that appoints Biblical texts in a chronological way. September through December readings beginning in Genesis and working into the Prophets are appointed. From Christmas to Easter all the readings come from the one Gospel appointed for the year (2018 will be the Gospel of John). After Easter scripture from Acts and Early Church Epistles are appointed, and in the summer, series are encouraged to deepen our understanding of a particular book or narrative in the Bible. We are doing this in hopes that we might all hear and discover more deeply, the promises of God throughout the entire Biblical witness for God’s people. Other congregations who have introduced the Narrative lectionary have reported their congregations have learned and come to appreciate a wider range of Biblical stories.
I am excited to journey into this newness with all of you, brothers and sisters. Remember that there will be some newness that is not helpful, that we quickly realize doesn’t work. Remember that both positive feedback and critique is vital when we try new things. Remember that trying new things can be a risky and uncomfortable thing for everyone involved. Kindness and commitment to see it through will help us all create something new, in which our encounter with the living God might renew us in new life-giving ways.