Readings – A Covenantal Lectionary

About This Lectionary

Christians should be reading Scripture on a daily basis because it is through Scripture that God revealed who He is and how we are to relate to Him.  Many people struggle to develop good habits of regular Scripture-reading.  Some read devotionals that highlight a verse or a short passage, disconnected from context, and thus lose sight of the overarching narrative of Scripture in favor of the devotion writer’s personal meditations.  Other try to avoid this probably by using one of the plethora of Bible reading plans that are available.  Most of these plans aim to go through the entire Bible in year, following the lead of 19th century Scottish pastor, Robert Murray M’Cheyne.  The advantage of such plans is that they are systematic and by reading through the entire Bible in a short span of time, one can both capture the overarching narrative of Scripture and grow in familiarity with the Bible in general.  Doing this on a yearly basis will no doubt make the Bible become ingrained in habit and discipline of the Christian life.

Bible-in-a-Year reading plans, however, have their drawbacks.  They require reading at least four to five chapters a day, and for many people that is a more involved time commitment.  At such a pace, if one misses a couple of days, then catching up can be daunting and, as a result, a person’s good intent to read through the Bible is likely to get derailed.  Some find that the pace of such a plan puts pressure on them to “keep up with the schedule,” thereby causing them to read superficially rather than reflectively.  Scripture reading thus becomes a chore rather than a delight.  Also, many Bible-in-a-Year reading plans follow a strictly canonical order to reading through the Bible, but this order does not help the reader to draw out connections between the books.  Finally, there is utility in reading Scripture in a seasonal approach, as the seasons and the readings mutually reinforce our attentiveness to the truth of God’s Word.  M’Cheyne’s plan and others like that, however, are disconnected from any seasonal aspect.

If a Bible-in-a-Year plan works for you, then thanks be to God and I encourage you to use it.  For me, however—and I believe for many people as well—such plans have not worked out all that well.  So, in response, I developed this lectionary, A Reformed Lectionary. In church history, a regular program of Scripture reading was called a lectionary. A lectionary is simply a list of Scripture readings, often used in a liturgical setting. There are two kinds of lectionaries, the lectio continua and the lectio selecta. The lectio continua is designed to read through all of Scripture; the lectio selecta is simply a compilation of selected passages.  The lectionary on this site uses both approaches.  Some other distinctives of this lectionary include the following:

  • A three-year cycle of readings rather than a yearly one.  This slows the pace to allow better comprehension and a better ability to maintain a steady habit of Bible reading.  In a given year, A Reformed Lectionary will go through a third of the Old Testament (the Old Covenant), the entire New Testament (the New Covenant) once, and the Psalms twice.

  • Weekly instead of daily readings.  In ordaining a weekly Sabbath, God set a weekly pattern for our lives and this lectionary works with that pattern.  By listing the readings on a weekly basis, individuals have flexibility to determine how to get through the readings in a given week while still having a discipline of reading through Scripture at a deliberate pace.

  • Arranged to Draw Out the Covenantal Narrative of Scripture.  In Reformed theology, God’s covenantal plans unfolded in history.  Thus, historical sections like Kings or Acts are interwoven with prophetic writings (in the Old Testament) or epistles (in the New Testament) to illuminate how these prophecies or epistles speak to the times in which they were written.

  • Arranged to Highlight the Centrality of Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost in the Church Year.  The church calendar has accumulated a lot of accretions over the centuries, but Easter and Pentecost have Scriptural warrant, theological primacy, and historical precedent going back to Apostolic times.  Special readings are include for those days, Advent, and Christmas.

  • Incorporates a Harmony of Readings from the Westminster Standards.  Along with the weekly Scripture readings, there are readings from the Westminster Confession and Larger and Shorter Catechisms to help one work through those excellent summaries of Scriptural teaching on a doctrinal basis.  Such a listing could also be a help to pastors and worship leaders.

No lectionary or Bible reading plan is perfect, including this one, but if it helps you make a regular habit of Scripture reading then it will have achieved its purpose.  If you decide to use this, I welcome any feedback on whether you found it useful and any improvements you might suggest.

Soli Deo Gloria

SJ Hatch