Liturgy and the Revised Common Lectionary

iii e church year 2b 600x400The Great Tradition communicated its allegiance to Christ and his Kingdom through a vitality displayed in the liturgy, the Eucharist, and the Catechumanate. Liturgy is simply defined as the "order of service" or confessional practice of a specific church or tradition.

Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions (corresponding to ritual) or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those who do not (hence leitourgia = work of the people).

The Revised Common Lectionary
Connecting Urban Christians with the Worldwide Christian Movement

We aim in every effort here at TUMI to connect urban Christians with the worldwide Christian movement. Thousands of congregations use the Revised Common Lectionary as a through-the-Bible guide, designed for the preaching and public reading of Scripture in Sunday worship, small group, or private readings. Find the current year’s reading list here.

Why We Ought to Read through the Word of God with Urban Christians

The lectionary is a Bible reading program drafted specifically in order to help congregations who participate read through the major sections and stories of the Scriptures over a three year period. The Years A, B, and C refer to the Gospel readings according to the evangelists, Year A referring to Matthew, Year B to Mark, and Year C to Luke’s Gospel. During these separate years the Gospel readings will coincide with these books.

The practice of reading the Scriptures in public worship services dates back from ancient practices in the early Church. This emphasis on the Word lay at the heart of Christian faith and worship, and the public reading of Scripture accommodated a large segment of the population which were illiterate. Today, in the ongoing busy-ness and cluttered nature of our schedules, it is wise and reasonable to emphasize this biblical practice. Those congregations which faithfully employ the lectionary will not only be exposed to the entire biblical story once every three years, they will also protect themselves from modern and postmodern tendencies to be attracted only to those portions and sections of Scripture in sync with our own idiosyncratic views. We can easily today ignore whole sections of Scripture because we feel they are “too hard,” “not relevant,” or “too controversial.” The lectionary covers the entire territory of Scripture, holding to the Pauline truth that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10.17).

Urban Christians can benefit from hearing the story told over and over again in the context of public worship. New believers are grounded in the essential biblical story of their new found faith, and older Christians are reminded of the bedrock solid foundation of the faith they have treasured for years. Hearing the great stories, Psalms, letters, and events of the Bible in the context of worship unites us around our common faith, and builds in us our sense of connection to the one grand tale of God’s faithful love to us all in Jesus Christ. This practice is caring for our souls, and along with that, sharing our Story. Organizing our sermons, studies, and disciplines around these texts can give the entire church body a shared study tablet, allowing us all to meditate and grow together as we focus on the same portions of the Word together. Above all, sharing in the lectionary is our tie to the global Christian community’s spiritual journey. By reading and preaching the same texts shared by thousands of other congregations we journey with the Body of Christ, affirming our connection to the Nicene defined “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” In every way, using the Revised Common Lectionary can strengthen the faith of urban churches, connecting them to their sister congregations worldwide, in dozens of specific traditions who also follow it.

The Structure of the Revised Common Lectionary Readings

The lectionary is designed to run in three-year cycles; the gospel of Matthew determines the Gospel readings in the first year (Year A), the Gospel of Mark in the second year (or Year B), and the Gospel of Luke in the third year (or Year C). The Gospel of John is read throughout the lectionary at certain times in each of the three years.

You can calculate how the three-year cycles run! For instance, Year A readings begins on the first Sunday of Advent (e.g., in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, etc.), and Year B start on the first Sunday of Advent correspondingly, (e.g., in 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014, etc.). Finally, Year C reading would begin on the following first Sundays of Advent (i.e., in 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015, etc.).

Either in its original or an adapted form, a number of church traditions employ The Revised Common Lectionary in their worship, study, and preaching. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church uses the Ordo Lectionum Missae, which is based on this standard lectionary. A host of Protestant traditions have both selected with some adaptation the RCL. These traditions include (but are not limited to) the Presbyterian Church USA, the Reformed Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, the Disciples of Christ, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church. In Britain, the RCL is used by the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian). Although most of these and other Protestant churches adapt the RCL, thousands of churches embrace this reading as a means of grounding the faithful in the true Word of God in public reading and preaching.

Church Year, Lectionary Resources Links

Sermon Writer
Brings together a number of resources to help the busy pastor
Lectionary readings and sermon ideas

AEF: Robert E. Webber Center for Ancient Evangelical Future

CRI Voice Institute
Church Year resources

Sermon Search
Find other pastor’s sermons online. Cost.
Free preaching resources

IMG_7143.jpg Kir-Shalom
Sermon and lectionary resources
Preaching and lectionary resources