What’s a lectionary?

January 16, 2015

I choose my stories based on the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Wondering what the Revised Common Lectionary is? Here’s the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s explanation of the RCL:

The Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of weekly lections used to varying degrees by the vast majority of mainline Protestant churches in Canada and the United States. The RCL is built around the seasons of the Church Year, and includes four lections for each Sunday, as well as additional readings for major feast days. During most of the year, the lections are: a reading from the Hebrew Bible, a Psalm, a reading from the Epistles, and a Gospel reading. During the season of Easter, the Hebrew Bible lection is usually replaced with one from the Acts of the Apostles. The lections from the Hebrew Bible are sometimes chosen from the Apocrypha.

The seasons of the Church Year reflect the life of Christ. Consequently, the gospel lections for each Sunday provide the focus for that day. The other lections for a given day generally have a thematic relationship to the gospel reading for that day, although this is not always the case. In Ordinary Time, the Revised Common Lectionary offers two sets of readings for the lessons from the Hebrew Bible. One set proceeds semicontinuouly, giving the story of the Patriarchs and the Exodus in Year A, the monarchial narratives in Year B, and readings from the Prophets in Year C. In the other set of readings for Ordinary Time (shown in italics on this site) the readings from the Hebrew Bible are thematically related to the gospel lections. Denominations or local churches generally use either the semicontinuous readings or the thematic readings during Ordinary Time. They do not typically move back and forth between the two over the course of a single season.

The gospel readings for each year come from one of the synoptic gospels according to the following pattern:

  • Year A – Matthew
  • Year B – Mark
  • Year C – Luke

Readings from the Gospel of John can be found throughout the RCL.

We are currently in YEAR B.

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One comment on “What’s a lectionary?

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