What is a Lectionary?
A lectionary is a collection of readings or selections from the Scriptures, arranged and intended for proclamation during the worship of the people of God. Lectionaries were known and used in the fourth century, where major churches arranged the Scripture readings according to a schedule which follows the calendar of the church’s year. This practice of assigning particular readings to each Sunday and festival has continued through the history of the Christian Church.
Why use a lectionary?
- A lectionary provides whole churches or denominations with a uniform and common pattern of biblical proclamation.
- A lectionary serves as a guide for clergy, preachers, church members, musicians, and Sunday school teachers that shows them which texts are to be read on a given Sunday.
- A lectionary provides a guide and resource for clergy from different local churches who wish to work and pray together as they share their resources and insights while preparing for their preaching.
- A lectionary serves as a resource for those who produce ecumenical preaching and worship resources, commentaries, Sunday school curricula, and other devotional materials.
- A lectionary provides a guide to individuals and groups who wish to read, study, and pray the Bible in tune with the church’s prayer and preaching. Some local churches print the references to the following Sunday’s readings in their bulletins and encourage people to come prepared for the next week’s celebration.
- A lectionary also shows us the relationship of the readings of one Sunday with those that come before it and after it. Within each of the major seasons of Lent, Easter, Advent, and Christmas-Epiphany, the flow and missional purpose of the season is reflected in the Scripture texts selected for each Sunday.
What is the Revised Common Lectionary?
This lectionary system is the work of two ecumenical bodies who provide resources for the churches that send representatives to them, namely, the North American Consultation on Common Texts (CCT) and, later, the International English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC). Responding to widespread interest in the Roman Lectionary for Mass of 1969, many North American churches undertook adaptations and revisions of it for their own use during the 1970s. CCT produced a harmonization and reworking of these in 1983 on a trial basis and then revised that for publication in 1992 as the Revised Common Lectionary.
Find out more about using the the Revised Common Lectionary