Sunday, December 1, 2013

Lectionary and Liturgy

This church year (Advent 2013-right before Advent 2014), I will be doing daily readings from the Lectionary Year A and the (liturgical) Book of Common Prayer as my devotionals. You may be asking what is the lectionary and what is a liturgical book?

Liturgy: "a form of public worship; ritual"

Not to be confused with Litany: "a liturgical form of prayer consisting of a series of invocations/supplications with responses that are the same for a number in succession."

Lectionary: "a book containing reading appointed to be read at divine services."
Example: Here and there

Definitions taken from Copyright © 2013, LLC. All rights reserved.

I have already waxed poetically (in my opinion) on the liturgical year in the sub-section "Following the Church Year" if you want more information on it.

The Lectionary is a 3 year cycle through the Bible. Each week's lectionary has selections from the Old Testament, Psalms, Epistles, and Gospel. Acts replaces the Old Testament reading during the Easter season.  Like the liturgical year, the lectionary begins with the start of Advent (so the current year is 2013-2014). This is currently Year A.

Year A, B, or C
Gospel Focus
O.T. semi-continuous
Year A
Patriarchs & Exodus
Psalm & Epistles
Year B
Psalm & Epistles
Year C
Psalm & Epistles

But what about John? John is read throughout the year, particularly during high church seasons such as Christmas, Lent, and Easter. The Old Testament readings are either thematically related to the Gospel or taking the church through a semi-continuous reading of the O.T. focusing on one of the three categories above. Both thematic or semi-continuous readings are offered, but each pastor/church should choose which will be focused on for that year. During the season of Easter, the book of Acts is read instead of the O.T. reading.

Probably not very surprising, but I like the order and connectedness brought by the lectionary.

I'm intrigued by the idea of following the Lectionary. When a message is given at church, the pastor will know what verses to look for a message from. It would prevent a church from ignoring verses they don't like, when all are covered over 3 years. It would bring a certain amount of unity to the church. The whole congregation could be reading the Lectionary during the week and focusing together on the same verses.

At the Messianic-Jewish Shabbot services that I sometimes attend, I really enjoy how they read something from the Torah (first 5 books of the O.T.), writings/prophets, Psalms, and New Testament each week. During the service, only a portion of the assigned reading is read, but then their rabstor (rabbi-pastor) will connect all the readings together to point to one message. It's really cool to see that happen.

I'm also a little wary of following the Lectionary. What about being led by the Spirit? What if the Spirit brings a message that doesn't fit in that week's scripture reading? I think sometimes going "off-road" with the readings would be acceptable.

Have you had any experience with a lectionary? What type of experience have you had? 

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