So what are we are reading each week? Some background and a quiz!
(yes, there’s a prize)
September saw the start of the Narrative Lectionary at Manningham, a new order of Scripture readings for our Sunday services on a 4 year cycle. If this is all new to you, please refer to the read this post.
I found myself pondering the importance of names in this first group of readings:
the Garden of Eden and man naming all the animals after God created them
the story of Abraham and Sarah learning they will have a child – their names were changed by God with the name ‘Sarah’ meaning ‘the mother of nations’
Jacob wrestling with God and then being given a new name. ‘Jacob’ meant ‘surplanter’ or ‘he who follows on the heels of another’ because of the way he was born second to twin Esau whilst holding onto his heel – hardly complimentary. His new name ‘Israel’ meant ‘he who wrestled with God and prevailed’ thus showing he was always forgiven by God, but is now given a new role – God always looks for the best in each of us
God calling Moses by name at the burning bush and then revealing Godself as ‘I am who I am’ or more accurately translated from the Hebrew as ‘I will be who I will be’ as there is no present tense for the verb ‘to be’ in Hebrew. The 10 Commandments and the importance of not abusing the name of God – this is more than literal swearing, it goes to the heart of how we live and behave as ‘Christians’
These first four weeks of the new lectionary have set the foundations of our faith – remembering that these people are not just important figures in our Judeo-Christian story but also in Islam too. This is where we come from – through the beautiful myths and stories of our faith, we learn that we are connected to other faith communities and are reminded of the importance of names. These stories are not literally true but are stories that help us to understand who we are and why. And so onto the next group of readings……
Our next group of readings from 13 October through to 24 November focus on faithfulness – God’s faithfulness to us and our faithfulness, and lack thereof, to each other and to God. There’s real food for thought here in our current context in this country and in the world:
- the story of Ruth and how she showed more faithfulness to her mother in law Naomi and Naomi’s God than did the actual people of God. This is a very personal story of hope and grief but it impacted a whole nation
- the complex character of David seen through his anointing – the first king Saul was unfaithful, and we know David failed in spectacular fashion too
- the sad story of the division of the nation Israel into 2 kingdoms – unfaithfulness in the arrogant leaders saw division and a move away from God
- and then Elijah arrives in the Northern Kingdom which is now worshipping the pagan god Baal and he calls them back to faithfulness to God – a whole religious community turn away from God and then is called back by Elijah
- Hosea, known as a minor prophet, passes on words of comfort to the people from God so that they know they are always loved by God, that God will always remain faithful despite their unfaithfulness
- Isaiah’s vineyard song is God lamenting, once again, the unfaithfulness of Israel but includes the promise of a shoot from Jesse’s tree which is echoed in Advent
- finally, Josiah reforms the nation in order to renew the faith and bring people back to faithfulness to God. Josiah is the son and grandson of 2 dreadful kings but he himself is faithful and becomes known as one of the best kings in the nation’s history
So this is a story of God always being present in the church and repeatedly calling us back to faithfulness. We then enter Advent with the promise of New Life – the faithful branch promised by Isaiah, new life after exile, the rebuilding of the Temple, Zechariah’s song of promise. We’ll look at these in more detail in the next magazine.
So how are you feeling about the Narrative Lectionary? Can you hear the themes emerging? Where is the Spirit calling to you? It would be great to hear your thoughts so do send them to the magazine and to me as they might just inspire someone else’s thinking.
And now the quiz – any age can enter and you just submit your entries to me by Sunday 20 October either by email or handwritten. Every correct entry will go into a draw for the prize on Monday 21 October so no late entries!
- How many creation stories are there in Genesis?
- What do the names Abram and Abraham mean? Remember Abram became Abraham.
- Who was the son of Abraham and Sarah?
- Who was the father of Jacob and Esau?
- What awful thing did Jacob do to his twin Esau? Who helped him do it?
- What was Jacob’s new name?
- What was Moses nationality? Where did he grow up?
- What did Moses remove before the burning bush?
- According to the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy, what is the reason for keeping the Sabbath, what is it remembering?
- Where did God pass on the commandments to Moses?