by Christine Sine
At the beginning of the calendar year we make resolutions and plans for the entire year. Why don’t we do the same before Advent, the beginning of the church year? After all, for people of faith, the liturgical year and rhythm that revolves around the life death and resurrection of Jesus, should be more important for us than the secular year.
Tom and I have just printed out the the daily lectionary readings from the Book of Common Prayer for the coming year. This is still my favourite scripture reading plan though I must confess that this year I have taken a break for a few months and just focused on one verse and some days just part of a verse for my daily devotions.
The daily lectionary readings cycle on a three year rotation. There is an Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament and Gospel reading for each day. Part of what I love is that the readings from each section of the bible follow the same theme and have helped me to understand a lot about where Jesus drew his theology from. The Jewish leaders would have been well educated in the Old Testament which is why they were so often annoyed by what he said.
What I don’t like about these readings is that they do not include all the books of the Bible so it is good to identify these and work out a way to incorporate them as well in your readings.
Planning for the Coming Year
I heartily recommend taking time in the next few weeks to plan your scripture readings, prayer rhythm and retreat times for the coming year. Get together with your spouse, your family, or a group of friends and do some brainstorming.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself first:
- Do you want to follow the church calendar with your daily readings?
- Do you want to read through the entire Bible in a year?
- Do you want a contemplative approach to bible study and focus on a single verse or phrase each day?
- Is there a specific Biblical theme you would like to consider?
- Is there a Bible App or devotional App that appeals to you?
- Are there blogs you visit regularly that augment your Bible reading? If so how can you more intentionally incorporate these into your scripture reading? Is there a focus these blogs offer that can run in synch with your readings?
- Are there Apps you use regularly that
Choose Your Scripture Plan
Here are some resources to help you identify which plan you might like to try. I have tried to put together a list from a wide variety of denominational perspectives:
The Daily Office from the Mission of St Clare and based on the Book of Common Prayer
Daily readings from the Presbyterian Mission Agency USA
BibleStudyTools.com provides several plans for reading through the whole or parts of the bible in a twelve month span.
Northumbria Community provides resources for praying the daily office through morning, midday, evening and compline services.
Bible App Anyone?
Sacred Space – Daily Prayer with the Irish Jesuits
Pray as You Go – also from the Jesuits. I love this daily prayer for your phone.
If reading the daily lectionary readings is a little much for you check out Lectionary Liturgies which posts liturgies for Sunday worship based on the RCL weekly readings.
biblegateway.com provides a variety of reading plans that can be downloaded as an app.
The Bible App – also provides lots of reading plans for different seasons of the liturgical year as well as those themed around a topic selected by the user.
Or if you really want to be challenged this Advent try this Social Justice Advent Guide for Families from the North Carolina Council of Churches. It uses the Lectionary Year A scriptures but it would be easy to adapt these for any year.
And Rachel Held Evans has a post on 28 Ideas for Advent that is definitely worth a look.
This is one of a series of posts on resources for Advent and Christmas. Check out the other posts here.