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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why Use The Lectionary?

Though I come from a "non-liturgical" church, I now preach from the lectionary mostly on Sunday mornings.

In my opinion the best version of the Revised Common Lectionary is one that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has produced (check and you'll see most groups revise the revised common lectionary!) The primary difference in this version of the RCL is that while it keeps the RCL's focus on the Gospel reading for a particular year, e.g. primarily the Gospel of Luke for this year "C", the Old Testament readings are more likely to vary: "In its revisions, the committee has given special attention to the Old Testament readings. The goal has been to choose readings that best relate to the Holy Gospel for the day. In addition, careful attention has been paid to the types of Old Testament readings, with the goal being to include a larger number of the great stories of the faith."

Chuck Warnock has a great overview of "Why Preach From The Lectionary?"

I also like how Dr. Stan Hall (professor of Liturgics at Austin Presbyterian Seminary) describes the older Common Lectionary on which this LCMS (and ELCA) lectionary follows:

I find the RC Mass lectionary or the Common Lectionary (the 2 variants) to be the best lectionary system the church has ever devised. The system is based on extensive historical study of Christian practice, ancient-modern and East-West, as well as a systematic Christology and ecclesiology. It takes into account the best of biblical scholarship as to genre and types. It is meant to lead to the sacrament, to evoke the response of faith in hearers, to summon disciples and to structure a community of hearing, prayer and service that becomes in itself the primary seminary of Christians. It can be called sacramental, liturgical, evangelistic.

I agree. Using the lectionary regularly and working from it, the worship of the church is the tool of spiritual formation that other "discipleship" classes now serve after we have turned the worship service into everything but the center of the church's life.