We’re all familiar with Bible reading plans which go through the Bible in a year; but what may be less obvious is that a plan based on seven days a week for a year becomes – almost automatically – a plan based on one Sunday a week for seven years.
M’Cheyne’s plan, for example, goes through the OT once in seven years, and the NT twice. The plan uses four readings a day.
As a taste of what it would look like, for the first seven months of the lectionary – unadjusted for season, the readings would be:
- First reading: Genesis 1 to 32 (cont)
- Second reading: Matthew 1 to 28, then Mark 1 to 3 (cont)
- Third reading: Ezra 1 to 10, Nehemiah 1 to 13, Esther 1 to 8 (cont)
- Forth reading: Acts 1 to 28, Romans 1 to 3 (cont)
Whilst during daily Bible study it is reasonable to place the Psalms within the main body of the reading plan, I suggest that for Sunday use it is appropriate to remove them and use a separate (complete) Psalm cycle within Sunday services. This ensures that there is always a Psalm on a Sunday, and creates around thirty empty slots in the lectionary. The Church year demands around ten slots to provide seasonal readings at major points, leaving about twenty empty slots to allow the preacher to subdivide some readings across multiple weeks for better exegesis.
The four readings of the M’Cheyne plan are typically between twenty and thirty minutes length in total, leaving plenty of time for the rest of a Sunday service. Optionally, the readings might be split between morning and evening services, with the first two columns (originally for family use) used in the morning and the (originally secret use) columns used in the evening – but this would require the establishment of a culture in which most of the congregation habitually returns to the church for evening prayer on a Sunday (the first step in encouraging this is to ensure that evening prayer isn’t just a repeat of the readings and sermon from morning prayer… and sharing Holy Communion but once a day!)