Why This Lectionary?
The name of this site brings together a few things I have been pursuing for several years.
When we think of “tides” we think of ocean tides that come in and go out, but the word “tide” is also an archaic term for “season,” such as when we talk about Adventide or Christmastide to describe the Advent or Christmas seasons. There is an ebb and flow of the Christian life through different seasons of the year that historically has revolved around the church calendar. Ironically, my interest in the church calendar began years ago, when I attended an Old School Presbyterian Church that did not observe any holy days other than the Lord’s Day (Sunday). This seemed to me to be a truly radical notion. That church, however, was a blessing to me in so many ways that I was willing to give their reasoning careful consideration, and that started me on the path of investigating the church calendar. While I do not subscribe to the old Puritan rejection of the calendar entirely, I have come to see the need for rethinking the calendar substantially. We need to have a Christian sense of time.
The term, “covenant,” as it is used in the Bible, is a binding relationship that describes God’s relationship with His people and the revelation He has given of Himself to them. In this regard, the Old and New Testaments may be thought of as the Old and New Covenants. When I first began attending seminary, I took a class in biblical theology and was captivated by how the notion of the covenants bound together all of Scripture. Before then, I did not really know what to do with the Old Testament as a Christian, but because of my study in biblical theology, I came to see that there was a unity between the Old and New Testaments in the gradual unfolding of God’s work in the history of redemption. As one who loves history, this made the Bible all the more real to me. Since then, I have had an abiding interest in tracing the development of God’s covenant through all of Scripture in order to see the overarching narrative–the “big picture”–of Scripture.
These two interests came together in the late 2000s, when I became dissatisfied with the Bible reading plan I was using. From the time I first became a Christian I learned the need to be in the Scriptures daily, but over the years I became discouraged with the various Bible reading plans I tried. Most plans will take you through the Bible in a year, but require reading five chapters or more on a daily basis. If you miss few days, then you have to read an entire book just to catch up. The pace was such that I was reading just to fulfill the plan, without absorbing or mediating on Scripture. In contrast, I found over the years that it helped me retain things better to read certain parts of Scripture consistently year to year. Also, some parts of Scripture–the Psalms, for example–should be read continuously throughout the year, rather than once through and done. In addition, having a steady of diet of Old and New Testament readings allows one to see the covenantal connections of Scripture. And, lastly, none of the plans were synchronized with reading through the confessional standards. I found that studying the doctrines of the faith sharpens our understanding of the biblical narrative, and conversely, understanding the biblical narrative sharpens our understanding of the doctrines of the faith.
Not finding what I was looking for, I decided to develop my own lectionary. In this, I have arranged Scripture readings in such a way as to enable the reader to see the overarching biblical narrative, but in a manner that is aligned with the major seasons of the church calendar and at a moderate pace. This lectionary has been a labor of the heart for several years, as I have tried to develop an approach to reading through Scripture that works for me in addressing these convictions and yet is still practical. It is my intention to supply notes and commentary to help the reader see the covenantal connections more clearly, but if this does nothing more than to get you into the Word more consistently and more effectively, then to God be the glory!
S. J. Hatch