Reading the Scriptures with other Churches
Each week in our Sunday gathering we have been reading the Scriptures together in worship following the Revised Common Lectionary. The idea of a lectionary dates back to the Synagogue and Temple worship of the Jewish people where they would read certain passages at certain times to remember God's saving acts. This is a practice the early Christians carried on with and has been a mainstay of many historic traditions the world over.
The Revised Common Lectionary seeks to recover the unifying effect of shared reading across theological and organizational differences. By reading from it we stand with a broader community of churches in America and around the world. This also helps orient our worshipping life around the seasons and festivals which have been a feature of church life in every generation.
The season leading up to Easter is called Lent and is modeled on Jesus' fast in the wilderness in preparation for the start of his kingdom ministry. Many people with a background in a historic Christian tradition like Roman Catholicism might talk about not eating meat on Fridays in Lent. This is one way to participate with this season of fasting but of course there is no strict rule to be found in Scripture. Many people find it useful to give up something they otherwise take for granted. Living each day in conscious denial of something albeit mundane–like a treat or a modern convenience–transforms daily living into a kind of prayer or worship.
Our readings have been recalling Jesus' temptation in the wilderness as well as the Old Testament promises of God's covenant relationship with humanity. One interpretation to be drawn is that Christ by his perfect obedience in suffering establishes a new people with a new relationship to God, overcoming sin and power of the devil.
Next Sunday is known as Palm Sunday. It remembers Christ's entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of the events which would lead to his death. There will be more posts in the coming days to offer some suggestions about how we can remember and experience this together and individually.