“God’s Top forty”
The Bible is a big book. On Sunday, we read two or sometimes three portions aloud; but even so, there are lots of stories, poetry, and teaching that we never get to.
What to do, what to do?
One solution is called the Revised Common Lectionary. It’s a chart of Bible lessons, four each Sunday (Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle, Gospel – so two from the Old Testament, two from the New). And then it lays out each Sunday for three years before it begins repeating. I’m a fan of the lectionary and usually preach from one of the four lessons. Over the course of three years, it has us read something from every book in the Bible (if we read all four lessons).
I am going for another solution this September. Rather than cover the entire Bible over the course of three years, I’ll do it in one. Obviously that means I’ll leave a bunch of stuff out. But what I will do is read in worship, and preach from, a selection of texts I’m calling “God’s Top Forty.” The forty stories that most impact people.
The advantages, I think, are these: for newer Christians, it will afford a basic overview of the sweep of the Bible. For those more familiar with the Bible, this fast scan should allow important themes to emerge. For instance, God’s using the flood in Noah’s time to try to wipe away sin, making many other efforts, and then settling on another solution — the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. One advantage peculiar, perhaps, to me: because we’ll have only one reading each Sunday, it forces me to preach on the Old Testament! And finally, these are incredibly impactful stories, even life-changing for some.
So here’s an example of what’s coming up in September.
9/6/15 An Introduction to the Bible: why take an old book like this seriously?
Text: 2 Kings 22:1-10; 23:1-3 (Josiah’s recovery of Scripture, reform and renewal)
(This one’s out of order)
9/13/15 Creation: Our science is so much more advanced than this; what can we learn?
The Story: Genesis 1:1–2:4a (Two creation stories)
9/20/15 Temptation: If it’s delightful and desirable, why not?
The Story: Genesis 2:15–17; 3:1–7 (Adam, Eve, the Serpent, and God)
9/27/15 The Flood: God reboots a broken world.
The Story: selections from Genesis chapters 7-9
(Genesis 7:1–5, 11–18; 8:6–18; 9:8–13)
I’m looking forward to this! And I think it will be useful. This year, spend Sunday morning with the people of God, and enjoy magnificent stories!