A question regarding use of the lectionary

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Mike Tourangeau | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Feb 3 2011 5:26 PM

Hello,

I come from a tradition that does not use a lectionary, but I am curious about it... is it for the minister to preach out of and the people read?.... or just for reading?

I am looking to bring some congregational reading (beside the sermon) and I am thinking that is what the lectionary is used for.....

Any explanation would be appreciated. Thanks

 

 

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tom | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 5:41 PM

Mike Tourangeau:

Hello,

I come from a tradition that does not use a lectionary, but I am curious about it... is it for the minister to preach out of and the people read?.... or just for reading?

I am looking to bring some congregational reading (beside the sermon) and I am thinking that is what the lectionary is used for.....

Any explanation would be appreciated. Thanks

Hello Mike,

The short answer to your question is, "It all depends."  Not only do different denominations use the lectionary different, different congregation uses the lectionary different.  I will share with you how we use the lectionary in the congregation where I am at.

A lay person will read the first reading, lead the congregation in a psalm, and then will read the second reading for the day.  As a general rule of thumb, the first reading comes from the OT, the psalm tends to come from Psalms, and the second reading tends to come from an epistle.  

I will read the Gospel lesson for the day, and I will then preach.  I normally preach using the Gospel lesson, but not always.  When I do not use the Gospel lesson, I will use the text from one of the three other readings.

We also use the lectionary for a Bible study.

I hope this helps

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 6:48 PM

Mike Tourangeau:
I am looking to bring some congregational reading (beside the sermon) and I am thinking that is what the lectionary is used for.....

Lectionaries go back to 500 BC. The Jewish reading cycle appears to have begun as a three year cycle that quickly moved to a 1 year cycle. It includes reading the 5 books of Moses sequentially over the space of a year. There are special readings for Holy days. Set readings from the Prophets (as defined in the Tanakh) accompany the Torah reading.

Christianity took the practice of the lectionary from Judaism and modified it to include Christian writings - leading to lectionaries with as few as 2 or as many as 7 Scriptural readings for the primary service. How many depended primarily on where you lived i.e. the tradition in your area. Psalms were also incorporated into the services. In the Revised Common Lectionary the psalms are considered to e part of the lectionary.

Parallel to the development was the development of the liturgy of the hours - growing out of Jewish prayer practices in the home. Slowly these prayers moved from home to cathedral, convent and monastery. These prayer books include Scripture readings but focus primarily on psalms and canticles. The exception is the Office of Readings which includes major readings from Scripture and from patristic  writings.

In the liturgical churches is practice is that all the lectionary readings are read in the service with the sermon or homily being based on one or more of the readings. There are specific rules that govern the interrelationships between the readings both within a single day and in the sequence of the days. Think of Catholic,Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican traditions here.

A number of Protestant churches retained lectionaries in some form - sometimes just for secondary services. I have a nice but incomplete collection of such lectionaries for Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, Moravian,  Methodist and Mennonite sources. The service outlines leave spaces for all the readings but also leave plenty of wiggle room for the pastor to apply his own judgment..

My reading on the adoption of the Revised Common Lectionary by churches without a strong lectionary tradition indicate several variations:

  • my gut feeling is that churches used to a single text have perhaps expanded to two readings but generally select a reading from the lectionary offerings for their service
  • several churches using only one or two of the readings in their main service use other lectionary passages for adult education and/or prayer services
  • a few pastors are taking advantage of the daily RCL as daily devotional reading correlating to the passage(s) they preach on.

Does this help at all?

 

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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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 3 2011 10:10 PM

MJ. Smith:

Lectionaries go back to 500 BC. The Jewish reading cycle appears to have begun as a three year cycle that quickly moved to a 1 year cycle. It includes reading the 5 books of Moses sequentially over the space of a year. There are special readings for Holy days. Set readings from the Prophets (as defined in the Tanakh) accompany the Torah reading.

The ancient Jewish readings to which MJ referred are known as Pesharim.  If you read Hebrew, you will note that at the end of certain verses פ appears.  This is the symbol signifying the end of a reading called a Peshar.  There are also readings of the prophets known as Haftorah.  Note that in Lk 4 Jesus is given a scroll (which would contain one of the larger books or several of the smaller) and found the place where he began reading

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

 Most likely this was not simply what he chose to read but was the haftorah reading for the day.  What was unique was his comment thereon. 

One of the advantages to following the lectionary is that over a period of 3 yrs almost all of the scriptures are read.  This avoids the fairly common problem which seems to arise in non-liturgical churches where the minister has his pet passages which get emphasized to the neglect of some others.  I say "almost all" since there are certain portions which are not normally included in the liturgical readings -- things such as the "begats."  Give it a try; I think it will grow on you.

george
gfsomsel

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

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Michael March | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 4 2011 6:10 AM

I have found preaching from the lectionary to be challenging (and I've been doing it for 20 years, 7 times through!), because you must deal with texts you would never have chosen if left to yourself.  It's also a challenge because you've preached on the same texts for so long that you are forced to dig deeper.  I too believe Jesus was reading from a haftorah when he read from Isaiah and it's no coincidence that it was about Him.  I have marveled many times at the wondrous Providence of God who caused that exact reading to come up at that exact time and in that exact place.  Believing that as I do, it makes me feel like I'm submitting to Him in my preaching by not 'choosing' the texts myself and it forces me to consider why God has selected this exact text for my flock at this time and what He wants me to say to them about it.  As you can tell, I'm a fan!

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Mike Tourangeau | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 4 2011 7:45 AM

Thank you for all your explanations.... I am thinking of incorporating it into our services in some fashion. I like the "form." Thanks again

God bless 

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 4 2011 8:06 AM

Michael March:
As you can tell, I'm a fan!

Yes, and I'm a fan of your fish.  Where are you?  Wisconsin, Minnesota?  I'm violating one of the Ten Commandments -- "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's fish."  Wink

george
gfsomsel

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

Posts 236
Michael March | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 4 2011 9:45 AM

George Somsel:
Yes, and I'm a fan of your fish.  Where are you?  Wisconsin, Minnesota?  I'm violating one of the Ten Commandments -- "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's fish." 

 

I'm in da u.p., also known as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in a town called Iron Mountain.  I am 40 miles from Lake Michigan and 60 from Lake Superior.  I have caught walleye in the former and lake trout in the latter.  The fish in question is a salmon, caught in Lake Huron from the East end of the UP the one and only time I've ever fished in that body of water.  Interesting thing about that salmon, I was in Cedar Campus for a Church retreat and had nothing to fish with but we could watch them fishing from the room we were in.  I was salivating and cruised down to the dock on a break to chat some fishermen up.  Some fine Christians from Moody in Chicago lived there and they were done for the day.  So they provided me with rod, tackle, boat, life jacket, instructions, and then left.  I got the fish on the next half hour break.  That evening they came back, saw my success, took that picture, gave me a cooler to put the fish in (there were two that size) so I could get them home, cleaned them (I had no knife and they wouldn't let me do it) and emailed me the picture later.  How's that for Christian hospitality?

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 4 2011 11:06 AM

Michael March:

George Somsel:
Yes, and I'm a fan of your fish.  Where are you?  Wisconsin, Minnesota?  I'm violating one of the Ten Commandments -- "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's fish." 

 

I'm in da u.p., also known as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in a town called Iron Mountain.  I am 40 miles from Lake Michigan and 60 from Lake Superior.  I have caught walleye in the former and lake trout in the latter.  The fish in question is a salmon, caught in Lake Huron from the East end of the UP the one and only time I've ever fished in that body of water.  Interesting thing about that salmon, I was in Cedar Campus for a Church retreat and had nothing to fish with but we could watch them fishing from the room we were in.  I was salivating and cruised down to the dock on a break to chat some fishermen up.  Some fine Christians from Moody in Chicago lived there and they were done for the day.  So they provided me with rod, tackle, boat, life jacket, instructions, and then left.  I got the fish on the next half hour break.  That evening they came back, saw my success, took that picture, gave me a cooler to put the fish in (there were two that size) so I could get them home, cleaned them (I had no knife and they wouldn't let me do it) and emailed me the picture later.  How's that for Christian hospitality?

I had considered MI, but although I've fished there with my father as a youth and have memories of some nice bass, that was obviously no bass.  I'm surprised.

george
gfsomsel

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

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