Using the lectionary

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Mike Tourangeau | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Nov 14 2019 9:07 PM

I come from a tradition that did not use a lectionary. However I have been perusing them and I find them rich in their connections between the testaments. I am considering following the plan for advent.....

My question is, how is the best way to use them in Logos? I am totally new to the whole genre of a lectionary.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 14 2019 9:47 PM

Mike Tourangeau:
I am totally new to the whole genre of a lectionary.

I'll assume that you start with the plain Jane Sunday RCL ... there is one season where the Lutherans diverge in a way that what I say would not be correct.

  1. First look at the Gospel - in Ordinary Time you should find that it is working through the Gospel of the Year in a sequential manner.
  2. Next look at the First reading - as a rule of thumb it is chosen for some relationship to the Gospel - thematic, one referencing the other, ... try to find that relationship.
  3. Next look at the Responsorial psalm - it is call "responsorial" because it is used as the assembly's response to the First Reading (or sometimes the Gospel) ... occasionally, it is simply a psalm not otherwise used as there is no clearly response psalm ... try to find the manner in which it is a response
  4. Finally read the Second Reading. In ordinary time it is simply reading through an epistle with no attempt to connect it to the other readings.
  5. Now ask yourself what aspects of each scripture passage are emphasized by the juxtaposition of the passages?
  6. In Lent expect the 2nd reading to be related in some sense and expect the first reading to trace salvation history.

Once you get comfortable that you understand the basic relationships (assume 1 to 3 years) then you should read a book on the structure of the lectionary to get the seasonal information and the nuances I've left out. Then you have another question to ask yourself - which, if any, of the readings is traditional for this celebration/season esp. traditional for centuries across multiple churches. If there is one, what in the passage makes it appropriate for this use. What does that tell me about how the passage has been understood through time?

From an early post that asked a slightly different question:

MJ. Smith:

The RCL structure:

  1. Advent season - the readings are all "handpicked" for the Sunday i.e. a topical relations going backwards through time from the second coming back to the first.
  2. Season of Lent - the first reading traces salvation history from Adam to Christ; the three weeks before Palm Sunday have Gospel readings chosen for training of adults entering the Church on Easter (readings date back to the very eary church)
  3. Easter season - first readings from Acts, tracing the history of the Church
  4. Usual pattern: Gospel is a semi-continuous reading of the year's Gospel (this is the year of Luke); semi-continuous reading of an epistle; first reading (Old Testament) has topical connection to Gospel; psalm is usually a response to some element of the first reading or the Gospel.
  5. Alternate pattern: For the time between Easter and Advent, there is an alternative Old Testament reading drawing from the Lutheran tradition that supplies more of the longer narrative readings (Catholic tradition is heavy on Wisdom literature).

The lectionary and prayer book need to be considered together to determine how much of the Scripture is covered. For traditions using an Office of Readings the percentage is quite high. For lectionary only, consider the 3 year cycle to cover 20-30% with the Gospels being nearly complete, the epistles high and the Old Testament pulling it down. I've seen actual figures but am too lazy to find them right now.

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 Tourangeau | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 15 2019 8:44 PM

Thank you MJ, very helpful as always. 

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Steve Maling | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 16 2019 8:18 AM

Very helpful, MJ. Thank you very much! I plan to include in my handout in tomorrow's Sunday School class, with attribution, of courseSmile 

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