Friday, June 3, 2011

The Lectionary! Another Reason to Be Rather Fond of the Episcopal Church (Jan 2011)

It’s a New Year, time for new resolutions, goals, and plans for 2011!  And if you’re like many Christians, you may be embarking on a systematic plan to read through our most important book: the Bible.  But it’s such a long, complex collection of writings, how do we do it justice?  How do we break it down into digestable pieces, and read it alongside other relevant texts so that we might better understand it - and find the inspiration, comfort and truth the Bible so often gives?

Episcopalians, like many Christians, walk through the Bible using Lectionaries.  The Sunday Lectionary is a Bible reading schedule that appoints certain texts for public reading on Sunday mornings – a selection from the Old Testament, Book of Psalms, New Testament, and the Gospels.  It’s arranged in a 3-year cycle, so that people who go to church every Sunday, will have heard the vast majority of every verse in the Bible in those 3 years.  The Episcopal Church uses the Revised Common Lectionary – and so do the majority of Christians in North America, including Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and many Methodists and Seventh Day Adventists.

Our common reading, then, binds us together with other Christians.  Why not ask another Christian neighbor, or co-worker about what they heard on Sunday – and what their preacher said about it - the Lectionary gives us a reason to share our faith outside of Church.

It also gives a way to wrestle with texts we’d rather avoid.  Many of us have favorite Bible passages – and without a Lectionary it’s easy to keep returning to them – which means we can avoid difficult and more obscure texts – and rob ourselves of the context that’s so important in interpreting God’s Holy Word.

In addition to the Sunday Lectionary, Episcopalians also have a Daily Lectionary – it arranges the Bible into a 2-year, daily reading schedule.  So if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to read more of the Bible – check out page 934 of the Book of Common Prayer.  And if the Lectionary has played an important role in your walk with Christ, why not share your thoughts on the Home Page?

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