WHAT IS THE LIVING LECTIONARY?
The Living Lectionary™ unleashes the full power and potential of the Scriptures, and faith communities themselves to address the central challenges of our day.
Over the course of three years, excluding summers and the holiday seasons of Advent and Lent, churches following the Living Lectionary engage deeply with twelve ecumenically-developed themes. By limiting the number of themes, but not the scriptures themselves, faith communities may draw upon wisdom from the entire body of Scripture, choosing the passages that speak most profoundly to their community or following scriptural routes through each theme that are suggested by others. Yet because the Living Lectionary is theme-based, churches benefit not only from exegetical resources but a multitude of intellectual and artistic resources that support a particular theme (e.g., faith and the environment).
By focusing on twelve themes for six-weeks each, churches following the Living Lectionary have multiple opportunities to engage parishioners not only in worship but in small group study. Each series becomes an invitation to go deeper in a group setting, and is capable of building a congregation’s small group ministry from one or two groups to dozens. In this way, the congregation becomes more intentional about its faith and fellowship, resulting in higher attendance and fuller engagement.
Finally, by being open sourced and online, the Living Lectionary will draw on a diverse and ever-evolving set of resources that will fit a church’s unique context, while also stretching churches with different perspectives.
WHAT ARE THE THEMES OF THE LIVING LECTIONARY?
The themes are based on the Phoenix Affirmations, an ecumenically-developed set of principles structured around the Three Great Loves identified by Jesus and affirmed within Judaism and Islam: Love of God, Love of Neighbor, and Love of Self (Matthew 22:34-40//Mark 12:28-31//Luke 10:25-28). The twelve Phoenix Affirmations are:
Christian love of God includes:
1. Walking fully in the path of Jesus, without denying the legitimacy of other paths that God may provide for humanity;
2. Listening for God’s Word which comes through daily prayer and meditation, studying the ancient testimonies which we call Scripture, and attending to God’s present activity in the world;
3. Celebrating the God whose Spirit pervades and whose glory is reflected in all of God’s Creation, including the earth and its ecosystems, the sacred and secular, the Christian and non-Christian, the human and non-human;
4. Expressing our love in worship that is as sincere, vibrant, and artful as it is scriptural.
Christian love of neighbor includes:
5. Engaging people authentically, as Jesus did, treating all as creations made in God’s very image, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental ability, nationality, or economic class;
6. Standing, as Jesus does, with the outcast and oppressed, the denigrated and afflicted, seeking peace and justice with or without the support of others;
7. Preserving religious freedom and the church’s ability to speak prophetically to government by resisting the commingling of church and state;
8. Walking humbly with God, acknowledging our own shortcomings while honestly seeking to understand and call forth the best in others, including those who consider us their enemies;
Christian love of self includes:
9. Basing our lives on the faith that in Christ all things are made new and that we, and all people, are loved beyond our wildest imagination – for eternity;
10. Claiming the sacredness of both our minds and our hearts, and recognizing that faith and science, doubt and belief serve the pursuit of truth;
11. Caring for our bodies and insisting on taking time to enjoy the benefits of prayer, reflection, worship, and recreation in addition to work;
12. Acting on the faith that we are born with a meaning and purpose; a vocation and ministry that serve to strengthen and extend God’s realm of love.
CAN YOU IMAGINE DEVELOPING EACH OF THESE INTO A SIX-WEEK WORSHIP SERIES?
We have! And so have others like you – and unlike you – who share a diverse set of exegetical, worship, and small group resources, suggest scriptural routes through each theme. We invite YOU to help develop the Living Lectionary website into the most comprehensive library of resources of our day, centered upon applying the scriptures of love to the central issues of our day.
We are excited to be in the process of development and will be reaching out in early 2017. Stay tuned!
ABOUT THE CONVERGENCE MOVEMENT
The Convergence Movement is bringing together forward-thinking Catholics, Evangelicals, and mainline Protestants, along with ethnic and peace churches and other willing colleagues, in a growing movement-building collaborative.
This movement connects people and organizations to solve great problems and participate in new opportunities, especially to heal the human spirit, to foster abundant life in community, to seek the common good, and to promote responsible living with the earth.
ABOUT REV. DR. ERIC ELNES
The Rev. Dr. Eric Elnes is a biblical scholar with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is also a leading articulator of Convergence Christianity and Senior Minister of Countryside Community Church (UCC) in Omaha, NE.
Eric has written several books on faith, theology and culture, including The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity (Jossey-Bass, 2006). In 2006, Eric helped lead a 2,500 mile walk from Phoenix to Washington, DC, to promote awareness of progressive/emerging Christian faith and practice and meet with Christians at a grassroots to hear their hopes and dreams for the future of faith in America.
He is also the creator of Darkwood Brew, an online resource for an engaging exploration of Convergence Christianity using a blend of ancient Christian mystical practice (lectio divina), modern interactive web technology, world-class jazz, arts and biblical scholarship featuring renowned and emerging Christian leaders. While the Phoenix Affirmations provide the framework for the Living Lectionary, Darkwood Brew is the inspiration for global expansion and participation as an online resource.
CONTRIBUTE TO THE LIVING LECTIONARY
Do you have resources that would benefit other communities of faith? Make them a part of the Living Lectionary by submitting them and a short bio using the links below.