When the new Nurturing Faith Commentary: Lectionary Resources for Preaching and Teaching became available on August 1, the first order came from Nathan Byrd III, pastor of Milledge Avenue Baptist Church in Athens, Georgia.

Covering the various biblical texts identified in the Revised Common Lectionary, the newly-released first of 12 volumes of the commentary covers Advent, Christmas and Epiphany for quickly approaching Year A.

This insightful commentary is written by Bible scholar Tony W. Cartledge, drawing upon decades of preaching, teaching and writing — including more than 11 years as the writer of the weekly Nurturing Faith Bible Studies with additional teaching resources.

Byrd’s eagerness to get his hands on the first volume — and to sign up to receive the remaining ones as they become available at a discounted price — was prompted by his familiarity with Cartledge’s scholarly yet applicable approach. As well, he was drawn to the uniqueness of this resource.

“I am on email lists for several lectionary sermon helps, with each one choosing one of the given passages to expound upon,” he said. “Cartledge’s work is so much better as he expounds on all four texts — the Old Testament text, the Psalm, the Gospel lesson and the text from a New Testament letter.”

A longtime campus minister serving in his first pastorate, Byrd said the Nurturing Faith resource is a great aid to preaching.

“Instead of flipping back and forth in my Bible or between all of the various emails, I can just pick up Nurturing Faith Commentary, turn to the table of contents and find the chapter with all of the lectionary texts for a given Sunday,” he noted. “It is so much more efficient.”

Byrd described his sermon preparation as “a weeklong process” that grows out of an ongoing time of deliberation and discernment.

“It has been helpful to be able to look a few months ahead to know where I’m going,” he said, “so I can assemble resources and begin thinking about the passages well before it’s time to put pen to paper.”

Even casually flipping through Nurturing Faith Commentary, he said, has prompted ideas for sermon planning for the future.

“I’ve already begun framing up our Advent series for this year using the Nurturing Faith Commentary to identify themes for each sermon,” Byrd said.

“The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is always so busy,” he continued. “It is nice to already have the basic structure of the services and sermons planned this far ahead.”

Such planning, he noted, is not only for his beneficial use of time. “It allows our various teams and committees to get an early start on all of the details that will make the season memorable.”

Like most pastors, Byrd draws from a variety of resources when doing sermon preparation and worship planning.

“I regularly go to various commentaries and other resources to pull together sufficient relevant material for my sermons,” he said. “It’s a long process of finding the core meaning of a passage that speaks to us today while noting the background material and finding a good example or two.”

Now that process, he noted, is getting a jump start.

“The new commentary provides a head start for me in the process,” he explained. “Tony has already done the initial work of narrating the history of the lectionary texts, locating several key points, and providing some illustrative material that can be expanded and modified by a local pastor or teacher.”

When the entire 12-volume set of Nurturing Faith Commentary is completed, a lesson on every possible lectionary text for any Sunday in any given year will be available.

Thanks to a generous gift from Bob and Pat Barker of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, this first expansive volume is currently available at the low cost of just $25 including shipping.

Those choosing the option to purchase the full set as additional volumes become available over the next couple of years can lock in that low pricing between now and the end of the year by completing a form on the Nurturing Faith Commentary page before midnight on Dec. 31, 2022.

To hear Cartledge discuss this new resource, his approach to Bible study and teaching, and more information on the Nurturing Faith Commentary, listen to the recently released Good Faith Reads podcast.

To order this first volume — with the opportunity to be alerted to the release of future volumes — visit the Nurturing Faith Books online bookstore.

Those who teach, preach and learn from the Bible will want this unique and helpful resource to remain close at hand.

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