The Narrative Lectionary

The Narrative Lectionary

The Working Preacher is a site containing reflections and resources for using a variety of types of lectionaries and worship resources. The following description comes from the Working Preacher website.

What is the Narrative Lectionary?
Rolf Jacobsen and Craig Koester, professors at Luther Seminary started a four-year alternative lectionary in 2012, calling it the Narrative Lectionary, that lead to a proclamation of what God is doing. This lectionary also seems to help recount the grand scope of salvation history. The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. On the Sundays from September through May each year the texts follow the sweep of the biblical story, from Creation through the early Christian church:

  • From September to mid-December the preaching texts begin with the early chapters of Genesis, move through the stories of Israel’s early history, the exodus, the kings, prophets, exile, and return.
  • From Christmas to Easter there is sustained reading of one of the four gospels
  • From Easter to Pentecost the texts are chosen from Acts and Paul’s letters.

The texts include the major episodes in Scripture. They are arranged in a narrative sequence to help people see Scripture as a story that has coherence and a dynamic movement.

The texts also show the breadth and variety of voices within Scripture. They invite people to hear the stories of Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the prophets, Jesus, and Paul. Listening to the many different voices within Scripture enriches preaching and the life of faith.

Texts were selected that lead well to the proclamation of what God is doing. The stories tell of hope and disappointment, suffering and redemption. In all these varied contexts, we find God dealing with the complexities of human life. Stories from the gospels differ each year, avoiding repetition and highlighting what is distinctive about each gospel’s telling of the story of Jesus.

The Church Year helped to shape the flow of the narrative lectionary. Old Testament readings move through the story of God’s dealings with Israel and culminate in Advent with the prophets who speak of longing and hope. Readings from the gospels fit the movement from Christmas and Epiphany to the Transfiguration, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week and Easter. Selections from the book of Acts and Paul’s letters trace the outward movement of the resurrection message, culminating on Pentecost with readings focusing on the Spirit.

To use this lectionary in worship, it is designed to read only one lesson each Sunday — Old Testament texts in the fall and New Testament texts from Christmas through Pentecost. Others want a reading from the gospels during the fall, even though the Old Testament is the main preaching text. To make that possible, brief passages from the gospels are chosen to accompany (but not to replace) the Old Testament readings in the fall for congregations that find that helpful. In the winter and spring, accompanying texts are taken from the Psalms.


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