Please read - especially if you don't use a lectionary or even understand why one would.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Feb 26 2014 2:55 PM

Why am I MJ one-note on lectionaries? Because most of us who use lectionaries are like fish in water ... it is so familiar we don't see it.

Why are liturgical dates important? Because they are our most natural topics. Consider the Orthodox list of Sundays: Presentation of Our Lord, Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, Sunday of the Prodigal Son .. In one way, the liturgical date is simply a name for a pericope or, more accurately, a set of pericopes.

In addition to naming the pericopes, it also situates the passage in Christian life. For example, the Sunday of the Man Born Blind appears near the end of Lent, the season in which candidates for baptism are given their final preparation. So when I see in passage in this context:

  • I know that many centuries of Christians have found this passage to contain teachings essential to entering the Church.
  • I know that the passages read with it have a shorter history of serving a scripture-interprets-scripture function.
  • I know that many generations of Christians have ruminated over these passages as they prepare to welcome new members into the Church, prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord, and remember their own baptism any number of years ago.
  • I know that Christians across centuries and continents have found this particular reading(s) useful for growing in faith - growing in a spiral of reviewing the same passages with some frequency and adding to my knowledge of the passage(s) with different commentary (homily) and different circumstances of life.
  • I engage in participatory exegesis - joining fellow Christians reading the same passages in similar circumstances learning from those who go before me, those living with me and leaving a deposit of faith for those yet to come. In the Orthodox tradition the learning of the Early Church Fathers is especially emphasized.
  • And, speaking from a Western perspective dating back to the Reformation, I hear the passages knowing that I can discuss the Scripture with people who attend other parishes (Catholic, Anglican or Lutheran historically) knowing that they heard the same passages in the same context. (Note: the number of churches using the same passages has increased but with varying degrees of similar context).

That is why liturgical date is important as a name for a topic, or more accurately, constellation of topics. It not only defines the topic; it also ties it to two millennia of Christian experience, practical knowledge and wisdom.

That is why I am "MJ one note" on the topic of having liturgical date recognized a primary topical key.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 26 2014 3:49 PM

Thanks, MJ. As a convinced non-conformist, I will never fully appreciate the importance of this to you and others. But I appreciate understanding more.

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Steve Maling | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 26 2014 5:15 PM

Thank you, MJ, for this clear and helpful exposition, which I hear from within the Reformed Family.

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 26 2014 5:20 PM

Thanks, MJ!                   *smile*                     Appreciated indeed!  

                                                                                       Peace and Every Blessing!

Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 26 2014 5:54 PM

I do not come from a tradition of using lectionaries but I am intrigued and would like to try to understand others who use and appreciate them. 

MJ, what would be your top recommendation of a lectionary for lent for someone who has never used one before? Also why would you make that choice?

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 26 2014 6:37 PM

Bruce Dunning:
what would be your top recommendation of a lectionary for lent for someone who has never used one before?

First, I would recommend The Sunday Lectionary: Ritual Word, Paschal Shape by Normand Bonneau as an introduction to the season of Lent so that you understand the basic structure of the readings for Lent ... you can borrow a copy and read the relevant sections. Other books provide similar information but this is succinct and readily available.

Bruce Dunning:
Also why would you make that choice?

I would recommend the RCL - Sunday and weekday - because the daily RCL weekdays have an explicit relationship to the Sunday readings. This makes it easier to "get the point" of the Sunday readings and see how multiple passages shed light on different facets of the point. I would also use Year A regardless of the actual year because it is the year used if the parish expects to welcome new members into the church at Easter. This means some of its readings have been used for at least 1500 years.

If you want only a Sunday lectionary, I would recommend the traditional one year lectionary - Logos has a Lutheran version. It is the most concentrated version of Lenten readings with a very long period of use across several denominations. Generally its readings appear in the RCL but spread out over 3 years.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 26 2014 6:56 PM

Mark Barnes:
Thanks, MJ. As a convinced non-conformist, I will never fully appreciate the importance of this to you and others. But I appreciate understanding more.

My thoughts exactly.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 26 2014 11:06 PM

Mark Barnes:
As a convinced non-conformist,

I have some of those in my pedigree (Anne Marbury Hutchinson, John Alden, Rebecca Nurse/Norse) but I thought they were as defunct as the Act of Uniformity. What are you not conforming to? Surprise

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 1:03 AM

MJ. Smith:
What are you not conforming to?

Had I been around in 1662, I would have been not conforming to state interference in the church. That still applies, to a certain extent, here in the UK, where state and church are not separate.

More broadly, it comes down to a question as to the relationship between the church and the Bible. In some Christian traditions, the Church essentially controls the interpretation of the Bible. I cannot see that as anything other than the church considering herself more authoritative than the Bible (or at least as authoritative), whereas I read the Scriptures and conclude that Scripture was given to the church, and the Church must submit itself to Scripture.

So as a nonconformist, I am not conforming to the Church's 'official' interpretation of Scripture, but I am submitting directly to Scripture itself, as I submit to God Himself. I would resist such mandates as "Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church"" (CCC 113) because of where it tends to lead.

That means I can't, in good conscience conform to such things as:

  1. "the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted" (CCC 82)
  2. “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. (CCC 85)
  3. The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him. (CCC 100)

I'm well aware that not all traditions who value liturgy have the view of Scripture that's described above. And there is always a danger, of course, that I throw out the baby with the bathwater. But because of the principles I have outlined, I could not conform to the Church determining what I should preach or how I should interpret the Bible, and I naturally resist anything that moves in that direction.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 1:25 AM

Thanks Mark, that's not at all how I understood the term which was in terms of a state church only. I can't resist the classic rejoinder, however, just because it is such a delightful story: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sabbath 31a. When I think depth of tradition I mean depth.Smile

Edit: I suspect liturgical churches share a more corporate sense of interpretation than the more individual sense of interpretation you hold as a non-conformist - I'm thinking of the Anglican 3 legged stool and the Methodist 4 element equivalent.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Willard Scott | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 2:24 AM

 

Mark Barnes:

So as a nonconformist, I am not conforming to the Church's 'official' interpretation of Scripture, but I am submitting directly to Scripture itself, as I submit to God Himself. I would resist such mandates as "Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church"" (CCC 113) because of where it tends to lead.

That means I can't, in good conscience conform to such things as:

  1. "the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted" (CCC 82)
  2. “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. (CCC 85)
  3. The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him. (CCC 100)

 2 Thessalonians 2:4 > 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 2:57 AM

Willard, I know I was skating a narrow line - one I felt comfortable skating solely because it was Jewish, narrative, humorous and traditional. I trusted that Mark would respond with a big laugh seeing it as friendly banter. I appreciated the depth of answer that Mark gave me to an honest question on my part. I wouldn't want him to feel attacked for an answer I requested.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 4:17 AM

MJ. Smith:
I would recommend The Sunday Lectionary: Ritual Word, Paschal Shape by Normand Bonneau

Thanks for the recommendation. I was hoping that your recommendation would be a book that Logos would carry. Perhaps they will consider this one in the future.

MJ. Smith:
I would recommend the RCL - Sunday and weekday

What does RCL stand for? I didn't make that connection?

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 4:19 AM

Bruce Dunning:
What does RCL stand for?

Revised Common Lectionary: https://www.logos.com/product/8748/revised-common-lectionary 

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 4:25 AM

Mark Barnes:

Bruce Dunning:
What does RCL stand for?

Revised Common Lectionary: https://www.logos.com/product/8748/revised-common-lectionary 

Thanks Mark. I'm not sure how I was supposed to know this from the above post. I always smile when I read acronyms that that I don't recognize.

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 6:10 AM

I grew up in a non-liturgical church and joined another non-liturgical church (the Christian Reformed Church) in college.  Years later (perhaps by the time that I was 37—remember that I am now 38 Wink) when I was in Massachusetts and not near a CRC church I joined the Episcopal Church since I was attending there and I wanted to baptize my daughter.  That was my first acquaintance with the liturgy and I adopted it somewhat reluctantly.  I have come to appreciate it over the years.  The care which was taken in the choice of various passages from different parts of the scriptures has impressed me.  If you examine them, you will find that they aren't chosen randomly with little or no thought to how they fit together.  The OT, Psalm, Gospel and Epistle all tend toward the same message.  It has been a surprising learning experience. 

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 8:22 AM

I'm similar to George, except I never made it past Go (but did make it past 38). I've been watching this thread, in hopes something will enlighten me (not difficult).

The Marks' comments are sort of a gimme (meaning by definition). But I suspect as Bob laughingly pointed out a few years back, one group is authority based, and the other independence based (not his exact words).

Some Sundays, our pastor says the Holy Spirit tapped him on the shoulder, and changed his plans for the sermon. Well, ok ... our collective shoulders don't feel tapped on, but who is to deny which shoulders are tap-ees for the Day.

But mentally, I really don't see much difference between 2,000 years of thinking, and 2 days.  Just how high the human cards are stacked.  I don't think I'm offending MJ, since she's familiar with the small towns surrounding Abilene where my Dad preached, madly driving his beloved Ford beyond its intended capacity.

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 11:56 AM

Bruce Dunning:
I always smile when I read acronyms that that I don't recognize.

Oops Embarrassed and I'd just had a modeling text do it to me last night with wrt. (with respect to).

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 12:02 PM

Denise:
But mentally, I really don't see much difference between 2,000 years of thinking, and 2 days.  

It's just that I prefer to play with algebraic tricks to reinventing integers. Which came first in Greece - counting or measuring (integers or natural numbers)?

Denise:
one group is authority based, and the other independence based (not his exact words).

I believe if you track the history of ideas the difference is more related to collective vs. individual. It least that corresponds to other changes in society at the time of the Reformation.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 27 2014 10:21 PM

 I appreciate the lectionary, and in my denomination most seminary educated clergy use the lectionary.  I would think 80% of them do.

I choose not to.  When I was a young preacher, I made a list of the five most effective preachers in my denomination, in my opinion.  (Purely, a subjective list.)  One thing that they all had in common was that none of them used the lectionary.  Most preachers in my denomination do, but none of them did,  

I found that interesting, and had opportunity to questioned one of them (a former seminary dean and pastor of one of the largest churches in our denomination) about that.  He said, "If I do not know what my congregation needs to hear better than a committee that does not even know them, I would not be doing a very good job." 

I do somewhat follow the church year in my preaching, emphasizing Advent, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.  To avoid repetition of favorite passages and themes, I keep a notebook of my sermons. I have not repeated a text in nine years at my present church, except when a series of sermons came from the same text. of course.

One of my real problems with the Lectionary is that it tends to make for shallow preaching.  You can't teach deeply on a passage, because you only have it one week, and must move on to next Sunday's lectionary passage.  For, example, the Beatitudes cannot be dealt with in any depth in one sermon.  I find that my congregations respond more to a series of sermons that go into greater depth than permitted by the Lectionary..

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

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