In all the excitement leading into Advent, it can be easy to forget that the first Sunday in Advent marks the beginning of the new liturgical year. You may have switched out your Paschal candle for a fresh, taller one, and, if you follow the Revised Common Lectionary, you have switched from Year C to Year A, restarting the three-year cycle of readings that many Protestants has been following since the 1990s. (The Revised Common Lectionary, as the name suggests, was a revision of the Common Lectionary from the 1980s, which in turn was based on the Ordo Lectionem Missae from 1969, a result of the Second Vatican Council, the modern overhaul of the Roman Catholic Church that occurred in the 1960s. For more information on the development fo the Revised Common Lectionary, read the introduction to The Revised Common Lectionary: 20th Anniversary Annotated Edition from Augsburg Fortress.)
As the new year starts, it’s time to think about small group studies in your congregation. Small groups can help foster a sense of community and enrich the faith lives of your congregants. Augsburg Fortress’ Book of Faith series of Bible studies provides an excellent way to help your congregation connect with the Revised Common Lectionary in Year A. The Book of Faith series explores individual books of the Bible and Revised Common Lectionary texts through historical, literary, Lutheran, and devotional lenses and promotes biblical fluency among congregants.
Book of Faith: Matthew
Matthew is the designated Gospel for Year A, making Year A the “Year of Matthew.” Book of Faith: Matthew is an eight-session Bible study that may be used any time during Year A. In eight sessions, congregants work through the Gospel story that Matthew tells, from Jesus’ birth to his death and resurrection. Matthew envisions a church made up of sinners and doubters who struggle with faith, temptation, and forgiveness, but ultimately reflect the ministry and presence of Jesus.
Heaven on Earth: Studies in Matthew
Heaven on Earth: Studies in Matthew is a six-session Bible study appropriate for Epiphany of Year A. It delves into what it means for heaven to come to earth by studying Jesus’ words, his way of life, and the way he loved. This Bible study calls us all to be the change agents Jesus is calling forth to make the kingdom of heaven a reality in the here and now.
God’s Own People: Studies in 1 Peter
God’s Own People: Studies in 1 Peter is a five-session Bible study appropriate for the season of Easter in Year A. 1 Peter reminds us that we are born anew into a wonderful inheritance as God’s own people: trusted, called, made holy, and proclaiming. This doesn’t guarantee that our faith won’t be tested or we won’t experience suffering, but nevertheless 1 Peter assures us that our relationship with God is guaranteed by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Signs of the Kingdom: Studies in Matthew
Signs of the Kingdom: Studies in Matthew is a seven-session Bible study suited to Sundays 23-29 in Year A. The readings in this Bible study show off Jesus’ formidable intelligence and political skill as he nimbly engages his adversaries. Jesus appears as a forward-thinking leader who takes care to equip people for the mission that will one day be theirs: making disciples throughout the world.
Bible studies are a great way to deepen congregants’ connection to God and God’s Word. When facilitated skillfully, Bible studies can also deepen ties within a congregation. We hope that these resources will help you lead meaningful, faithful Bible studies in your church!