Revisiting the traditional one-year lectionary

Even before friend, blogger and minister Adam Tierney-Eliot wrote about using the Easum-Bandy Uncommon Lectionary for his church, I pondered the use of an older single-year lectionary. I had seen these worship reading lists for ages, but nearly all of them dried up in the post-Vatican II reforms, when the Roman Catholics moved to a three year cycle. This change prompted a coalition of American Protestant churches to move to a three year lectionary — today’s Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) (faq) — and has been widely adopted in the mainline churches and in Protestant churches worldwide. Unitarian Universalist Christians, through the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship’s membership in the Consultation on Common Texts, which developed the RCL: quite a point of pride.

Further, the RCL is seen as modern and progressive: a fact made all the more plain by conservative Christians — 1928 prayer book (the old one; if you consider 1979 new) users within the Episcopal Church and the Missouri Synod Lutherans — being the main body of single-year lectionary users today. But as someone who’s noted and lamented so-called modern and progressive changes in urban and transportation planning, just because something is new and popular doesn’t mean it’s good, sustainable or beneficial.

And before a generation ago, those one-year lectionaries were used (in lectionary using settings) by liberals, conservatives and moderates alike.

I’m giving the single-year lectionary another look.

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