It’s almost Year A. What does that mean? It means that beginning on December 1, 2019, the gospel we will hear from the most on Sundays will be the gospel according to Matthew. Year A will continue until November 28, 2020, just before Advent begins next year. Year B will follow with a focus on Luke and then Year C, which is devoted to Mark. We follow this cycle of Year A, B, and C: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, over and over again. And, what about John you ask? The Gospel of John gets inserted on Sundays in every year, and most often in the season of Easter.
So, this might be the year for you to spend more time with the gospel according to Matthew. If you’re looking for a gospel that is focused on the nuts and bolts of being a disciple of Jesus, of getting along with the other disciples you travel with, and wondering about Jesus’ relationship to his Jewishness, then this is the gospel for you. The gospel of Matthew is where you’ll find the Sermon on the Mount with the beatitudes, the story of the Magi, and heaps of quotes from and allusions to the Hebrew Bible. To help with your study and reflection, here are 5 guides to the Gospel of Matthew (and a film!) that could accompany you and/or a small group.
- Matthew for Everyone – Part 1 and Part 2 – N.T. Wright
- accessible and inexpensive study guides by an Anglican bishop and one of the foremost New Testament scholars.
- Journeying with Matthew – Year A – James Woodward, Paula Gooder, Mark Pryce
- designed for individuals or small groups to study all the Sunday gospel readings from Matthew. Good for those bible study groups that follow the lectionary.
- Conversations with Scripture: The Gospel of Matthew – John Yieh
- part of a bible study series developed by Anglicans for Anglicans. This comes with a free study guide by Sharon Ely Pearson, a well-known Christian educator in the Episcopal church. https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/conversations-with-scripture--the-gospel-of-matthew/cws-matthew.pdf
- Discovering Matthew – Ian Boxall
-this is much more scholarly, and allows in-depth and multiple approaches to interpretation. This might work well for sermon prep.
- Gospel of Matthew: God with Us – the Kerygma program
-Designed for small groups, this is a 14 week bible study that delves into Matthew’s gospel and it’s most significant themes. The course is interactive and highly participatory; it builds skills in biblical study. It comes with a leader resource book and dvd.
More Possibilities for Matthew
If you wish to bring your focus to one part of Matthew’s gospel, try the famous Beatitudes. They can reorient your life, and you can do them in a small group with the 6 week course Pilgrim: the Beatitudes. Each session includes opening prayer, reflection, discussion questions, scripture, and excerpts from church tradition. This year we will hear the Beatitudes from Matthew on Epiphany 4 (Feb. 2, 2020). What a great time to kick off a short course too – in the doldrums of winter!
Or, if reading is not your thing, get a group together and watch Pasolini’s The Gospel According to Matthew. It’s from 1964 in Italian with English subtitles, and considered one of the best films about the life of Christ ever made. It’s still stirring and fresh. You can find it on Youtube or Google Play for $3.99