Since 2011, representatives of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) have met approximately twice a year to discuss areas of shared concern.
Previously those discussions had resulted in two documents:
- a joint statement on marriage, “An Affirmation of Marriage,” in 2013; and
- a joint statement on Holy Scripture, “God’s Word Forever Shall Abide,” in 2015.
Now there is another outcome of the ongoing conversation of these three church bodies: “Reading the Word of God: A Daily Reading Guide for Three Years.”
According to the Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), the reading guide is a logical outgrowth of the 2015 statement on Holy Scripture, which states in its introduction:
“With the Church of every era, we regard these texts as the authoritative Word of God, because the Gospel of Christ is known through them and they alone rightly guide the life of faith. … The Scriptures’ prophetic and apostolic testimony to God’s work from creation until Christ’s future return and renewal of creation is the only trustworthy basis for knowing God rightly.”
Yet, as noted in the introduction to the new reading guide, “the membership in each of our church bodies suffers from a declining familiarity with the Bible.” The three-year daily guide was developed as a response to that decline, to encourage “a daily practice of reading and meditating on the Bible, God’s Word.”
Each day’s reading in the three-year guide includes Old and New Testament selections as well as a psalm or part of a psalm.
The reader who follows the guide will read through the entire Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over the three-year period, with the book of Psalms being read in full twice each year.
Certain times of the church year, such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, depart from the normal sequence to focus on the specific occasion.
In addition to the daily Bible readings, the guide offers selected weekly readings from the book Luther on the Scriptures by Johann Michael Reu (1869-1943), a Lutheran pastor born in Germany.
The developers of the reading guide note in the introduction that this “brief work … largely through Luther’s own writing … speaks to us of the clarity, simplicity, trustworthiness and infallibility of Scripture.”
They further note that while they believe the readings from Reu’s book to be helpful, they are not in any way intended to replace or be thought equal to the daily reading of God’s Word.
The Rev. Larry Vogel, associate director of the CTCR, says of the three-year reading guide: “Our goal is to encourage people to read the Bible. ‘Sola scriptura’ is not a slogan to be hauled out for Reformation events. It is vital truth for all times and people. The Bible is God’s Word — the source and standard of His saving truth for our lives.”
“Reading the Word of God: A Daily Reading Guide for Three Years” was developed and approved by the following individuals representing their respective church bodies:
- LCC — President Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee;
- NALC — Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen and David Wendel; and
- LCMS — In addition to Lehenbauer and Vogel, Rev. Dr. Albert Collver and Rev. John Pless.
The reading guide and three-year schedule are available for free download.Download guide, calendars
Posted Nov. 21, 2017