Question for Rosie or others familiar with Mennonite practices

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, May 15 2011 4:35 PM

See http://www.faithandliferesources.org/Bulletins/Themes/

The Mennonites seem to attach a theme to the RCL readings. Do you know:

1) if the themes repeat  with the lectionary or do the themes change when the readings come around again?

2) is it possible to get previous cycles' themes?

Thanks.

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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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 15 2011 7:39 PM

I don't know. Mennonites have only come fairly recently to the Lectionary. I had never heard of these "themes" before. They appear to be just something that Mennonite Publishing Network uses for the worship bulletins they prepare for churches to use. We make up our own bulletins; we don't use theirs. In my (limited) experience, Mennonites tend to be very congregational in their polity and are not used to having a central denominational organization or publishing house telling them how to plan their services, though some perhaps appreciate the help. They are just a suggested aid; nobody has to use them. Most of the dozen or so people in my church who are on the worship leading rotation never do. I only know of one who does. But as I said, my experience with Mennonites is very limited to just this one small church (about 40 people) and I've only been part of it for the past 14 years. I do not have a Mennonite background myself.

To answer your questions:

1) This would be MPN's decision. It is their thing, not a Mennonite-wide phenomenon. You'd have to ask them. I'm not even sure they've been doing the bulletins with themes long enough to have repeated the three year cycle yet. I'd never heard of the themes before.

2) Ditto. Try emailing info@mpn.net.

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Rick | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 16 2011 6:23 AM

To be honest, I was quite surprised several months ago when you first mentioned lectionaries for Mennonites. I attended a "Pilgrim Conference" church for several years (and still have a close relationship with it) and now attend a conservative church that does not belong to a conference (more along the Beachy line). I have never heard of them using a lectionary.

As you know, there are many different flavors of Anabaptist and I'll try to find something out for you.

Edit: I just noticed your link was from MCUSA. I have a few connections with them and will ask them as well.

Some publishing houses that we use would be http://www.scrollpublishing.com  and a man named Mark has a book store online that carries books from really conservative groups who do not use the internet and would usually have to purchase by mail. http://www.anabaptistbooks.com/

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Rick | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 7:12 AM

MJ. Smith,

I have put out this request amongst a pretty wide spectrum of Anabaptists including Mennonites of all flavors, German Baptists and a few more. So far, all of the replies have been that they do not use a Lectionary.

As for the link that you posted one of the replies was this:

Friend:
I noticed, Rick, that the lectionary mentioned in the article sited is from an evangelical publishing house, which doesn't surprise me. Abingdon Press is the publishing arm of the United Methodist denomination. They follow the "times & seasons" of "holy days" pretty strictly in observance, even determining the topics of sermons from one season to the next by use of the lectionary. This is similar to the reformed churches.

And for this second quote I am hoping to get a response from a guy who has very close ties to the Amish. If he replies with an answer, it may take a while but I'll post it.

Friend:
I know some Amish follow a pattern of scripture readings throughout the year that also dictates their sermons, but as to whether or not they use something as concrete as a lectionary I don't know. Did you send a link to this thread to ************? He might would know more than I on this one I think..

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Romans 14:19 (NRSV)
19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

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fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 10:31 AM

MJ. Smith:

See http://www.faithandliferesources.org/Bulletins/Themes/

The Mennonites seem to attach a theme to the RCL readings.

Looks a bit like our Lectionary. Are you saying themes are unusual? I'm so used to them I took for granted [most of] ours were traditional, but now that I check I could only find one Sunday with a theme in your lectionary: Baptism of the Lord for the Sunday after Epiphany.

Actually, this time of the year we tend to have two "themes", the extra one being the old Latin name from the Introit, which is definitely traditional.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 12:29 PM

fgh:
Are you saying themes are unusual?

Yes, they are uncommon although the missals prepared for the congregation often have a one or two line summary for the day. The summary often has nothing to do with how the services is planned by the liturgist, musician and homilist.

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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Rick | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 1:12 PM

MJ,

If I am giving information that you don't need (I'm not 100% sure what you are asking  Embarrassed ) please just let me know. I have received a few more replies though and thought I would let you know the information I am getting. As I said, I don't want to waste anyone's time and if this is not what you are asking, please let me know.

The fellow who has a history with the Amish did not know what a lectionary is. He looked it up and asked me if he was correct with the definition.

Another contact is pasted below. I have asked him if he could provide any further information as to which groups borrowed from which etc.

Friend:
Some mennonites adopted lectionaries and similar "liturgical" and devotional literature and practices as far back as the 1700's, borrowing them from their Pietist neighbors.

Peace  Smile

Romans 14:19 (NRSV)
19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 2:06 PM

That's fantastic. I would love to be able to put the historic lectionaries into Logos. I'm feeding the information to Lou St. Hilaire at Logos. Knowing that some Mennonites used lectionaries as far back as the 1700's, makes several bits of information I had fit into place. Any information that your contacts can provide will be greatly appreciated - its a big help just knowing they exist to be found.

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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Rick | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 4:53 PM

Hi Mj.

Wayne just contacted me again. I asked him if the lectionaries that early Mennonites would have used were probably Lutheran. I hope this helps, he gives a reference as well.

Friend:
It would of course be Lutheran. Robert Friedman'ns "Mennonite Piety Throughout the Centuries" is my source. I don't jave my copy at hand, but I expect Friedmann was pretty thorough, as the method in that thesis (showing the influence of Pietism on Mennonites) invlved looking at the books and other written materials used by Mennonites from Pietist sources over the centuries/

Peace  Smile

Romans 14:19 (NRSV)
19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

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fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 5:41 PM

MJ. Smith:
Yes, they are uncommon although the missals prepared for the congregation often have a one or two line summary for the day.

Ours aren't "one or two line summaries", nor are they quotes like in that link, they're just short headings like your "Baptism of the Lord" (ours says "of Jesus", actually). You could probably guess the right Sunday for most of them, provided you don't let your modern corruptions of the lectionary mislead you: "The Bread of Life", "The Angels", "The Martyrs", "Jesus Glorified", "The Lord our Shepherd", "The Way of Love", "The Way to the Cross"...

(I like the "new" Mass, but I pretty much hate what you've done to the lectionary: abolishing Pre-Lent, moving traditional Sundays, having texts show up before Lent one year and after Pentecost another...)

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 6:06 PM

Ah, your practice is similar to that of the Orthodox who often name their Sundays after the Gospel pericope for that Sunday e.g.

  • Second Sunday of Pascha:  Thomas Sunday
  • Third Sunday of Pascha:  Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women and Sunday of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus
  • Fourth Sunday of Pascha:  Sunday of the Paralytic
  • Fifth Sunday of Pascha:  Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
  • Sixth Sunday of Pascha:  Sunday of the Blind Man

Right?

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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Doug Horst | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 6:32 PM

I am an active member of a Mennonite church in the US.  In the main denomination this is a fairly recent phenomena.  There are a number of different church polities and governance models in the different conferences that make up the main denominations.  Generally those to the West tend to be more congregationally based and individual congregations may have used various lectionaries.  As conferences merged and people moved and membership expanded beyond the Swiss/German/Dutch and Russian roots the use became more widespread.  Enough so that the denominational publishing organization for in-church use started supporting it. There is no denomination wide mandate.  Our congregation has been using the lectionary,  at first the the BCP and later the RCL, since the mod-80's.  We are a small largely lay-led urban congregation that has an extremely high percentage of seminary grads, none of whom are practicing ministers.

The Mennonite Publishing Network has only started recognizing formal liturgical practices.  In 2007 the first volume of a Mennonite prayer book was published: Take Our Moments and Our Days.  In former years, in many congregations, this would almost have been scandalous because along with using musical instruments in church this would smacked too much of prideful performance that mimics the larger world rather than plain worship.  The second volume was published last year. What I found interesting was that, in a typically Mennonite way, the first volume was for ordinary time.  The second volume was for Advent through Pentecost.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 17 2011 7:20 PM

Douglas Horst:
In 2007 the first volume of a Mennonite prayer book was published: Take Our Moments and Our Days.

This is one of two books I'd like to see Logos accommodate in the Prayer List. The other is the Anabaptist Missio Deo. I've just started researching the Third Way Cafe's A Sip of Scripture as possibility. I'm always on the lookout for material I see as easing the non-liturgical church attendee into the mindset of a liturgical church attendee. To me that means seeing Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Spurgeon, Take Our Moments and Our Days, and The Divine Office as a continuum that should be supported within Prayer Lists.

I've gotten them to work reasonably well within Prayer Lists except:

  • performance issues are as bad as notes - perhaps worse
  • Scripture references are not supported
  • adding notes in the "answered" section terminates the prayer
  • ideally, I could tag the prayer for time as well as date.
  • Ideally, we could share prayer lists

But I do have a year's worth of Orthodox quotations cycling through every year - that I'd love to be able to share. And I do have the 3 year cycle of weekly meditations for St. Vincent de Paul working nicely.

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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fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 18 2011 5:15 PM

MJ. Smith:

Ah, your practice is similar to that of the Orthodox who often name their Sundays after the Gospel pericope for that Sunday (...)

Right?

Sort of, I guess, except a) we don't use any "Sunday of"; b) a Sunday has 3 Gospel readings, but only one heading, so the link will be clearer in one year than it will in the other two; c) it's almost never that obvious. The remains of Peter and Paul, for example -- Apostles' Day/5th after Trinity -- is just called "Discipleship". Perfectly sensible when you know it, but it could have been the heading of almost any Sunday; and d) sometimes the link to the Epistles is clearer than the link to the Gospels -- especially for a few of the later Sundays after Trinity, where they've removed texts they didn't like, added a theme they found missing, and then set out to find texts to suit the theme. I imagine "Our Homes" came about that way, and "Social Responsibility".

I dug out my oldest inherited Hymnals late last night  -- "Psalmboken", kind of our equivalent to the BCP, containing a bit of everything -- and it seems this practice has changed quite a bit. The 1937 version not only had these headings for the Sunday; it also had separate, slightly longer, subheadings under every single text. The 1819 one, on the other hand, didn't have any headings at all. That means, either that this idea with themes/headings was invented after that, or that an older tradition was temporarily abandoned. The latter is by no means impossible. That century was the absolute low-water mark in Swedish liturgical history. The sign of the cross, liturgical vestments, and all sorts of other things were dropped around that time. And the Latin "titles" like Esto Mihi and Laetare cannot possibly have been introduced later. They must have been dropped and then returned. 

"The Christian way of life isn't so much an assignment to be performed, as a gift to be received."  Wilfrid Stinissen

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