Lectionary Series (Scripture Readings)

A lectionary is a collection of readings from Sacred Scripture. These readings are arranged according to the Church’s calendar and are intended to be read at the regular, weekly gathering of God’s people.

Already in the fourth century, readings were gathered together for this purpose. Initially, the readings were arranged in a continuous fashion, with each Sunday's texts picking up where the reading had concluded the previous week. For the festival half of the church year (Advent through Pentecost), readings were eventually assigned that reflected the theme of the day.

The Lutheran Service Book Lectionaries provide Sunday readings that begin with the season of Advent. For each Sunday and festival, three Scripture readings are listed from the Old Testament, the New Testament (an Epistle reading) and a Gospel reading. Psalms for the Introit are also appointed. These scripture readings are often the basis of the sermon for that Sunday.

Two Lectionary Series are available:

  • The most commonly used Lectionary is the Three-Year Series (A, B, C). Year A focuses on the Gospel of Matthew, Year B focuses on the Gospel of Mark and selections from the Gospel of John, and Year C focuses on the Gospel of Luke.
  • The other Lectionary Series is the historic One-Year Lectionary. It provides a yearly repetition of key biblical texts.

 

  • Three-Year Lectionary
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    About the Three-Year Lectionary

    The Three-Year Lectionary was developed as a result of the Second Vatican Council, initially appearing in 1969. Within a few years, a number of Protestant denominations in North America adopted this lectionary with a variety of revisions.

    The Three-Year Lectionary was introduced to Lutherans in North America in 1973 with the publication of Contemporary Worship 6. This lectionary was later included in Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and, with minor revisions, Lutheran Worship (1982).

    In 1983, the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), a North American ecumenical consultation on liturgical texts, published the Common Lectionary. This lectionary attempted to harmonize the varying editions of the Three-Year Lectionary that had sprung up.

    In 1992 the CCT published the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Currently, a number of Protestant churches in North America use the RCL, though the Episcopal, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches do not.

    While the Lectionary Committee was mindful of the value of having a lectionary in common with other Christians, it has decided to produce a revision of the LW lectionary rather than to accept the RCL outright.

    In the course of its study, the committee identified a number of important biblical texts that have been omitted from the RCL, such as:

        • Eph. 5:22–33
        • Rom. 13:1–7
        • 1 Cor. 10:16–17; 11:27–32;
        • Gal. 2:11–14; 6:1–6
        • Phil. 4:10–20
        • Heb. 12:4–13
        • 1 John 4:1–6
        • Luke 13:22–30

    While a lectionary cannot include the entire Bible, it was the committee’s opinion that a Lutheran lectionary needed to include such theologically important texts, even if some of the RCL selections were not incorporated.

    Though the RCL was not been adopted in its entirety, the Three-Year Lectionary for Lutheran Service Book is in agreement with the RCL the vast majority of the time. This includes the method by which the Sundays after Pentecost are determined.

    Unlike our current system, where the extra Sundays after Pentecost (as determined by the date of Easter) are skipped prior to the last three Sundays of the church year, the revised lectionary locates the skip at the beginning of the season. In other words, after Trinity Sunday one skips the appropriate number of weeks and then follows the lectionary without interruption until the last Sunday of the church year.

    In its revisions, the committee gave special attention to the Old Testament readings. The goal was 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.

    In LW, only one set of propers was provided for each Sunday and festival. The likelihood of these propers fitting well with three different sets of readings was obviously quite low. (The original intention of the editors of LW was to include separate propers for each series, but space limitations forced them to abandon that goal.)

    The Lectionary Committee prepared propers that will provide much tighter relationships between the readings and the propers. During the festival half of the year, the propers are shared when there are parallel readings across the three series. During the non-festival half, there are different propers for all three years, including different Collects of the Day.

    Other features of Lutheran Service Book lectionary include the following:

        • New readings and propers for a specific New Year’s Eve observance are available. This is in addition to the observance of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus.
        • The series of five readings in Series B from John 6 was reduced from five Sundays to three, with other, unique readings from Mark taking their place. (Five Sundays of consecutive readings from John 6 were a frequent complaint in the LW lectionary.)
        • In order to highlight the missional nature of the church, nearly all of Acts 1–2 is read each year according to the following schema:

    Ascension Day — Acts 1:1–11

    Easter 7 — Acts 1:12–26

    Pentecost — Acts 2:1–21

    Holy Trinity — Acts 2:14a, 22–36

      • Flexibility has been provided on Maundy Thursday, allowing one to focus either on the institution of the Lord’s Supper (reading from one of the Synoptic Gospels) or on the traditional foot washing narrative (from John 13).

 

 

  • Daily Lectionary
  • In addition to a revised One- and Three-Year Sunday Lectionary, Lutheran Service Book also includes a Daily Lectionary (proposed readings) for prayer and study.

    The goal of the Daily Lectionary is not to read through the entire Bible each year. Rather, two readings of 15-35 verses each are provided for each day, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament. Under this arrangement, nearly all of the New Testament and approximately one-third of the Old Testament are read each year.

    The Daily Lectionary is found on page 299 in the pew edition of Lutheran Service Book.

 

  • Collect of the Day
  • The Collect of the Day can be found in the following resources:

    The Lectionary Committee of Lutheran Service Book strongly desired to preserve the historic collects of the church. These prayers have been used for centuries and continue to give voice to the heartfelt pleas of God’s people.

    The committee’s work on the collects was two-fold. The first concerns the assignment of collects. The committee determined that for the festival half of the church year the same collects are used for the majority of Sundays in both the One- and Three-Year Lectionaries. In many cases, the Holy Gospel is the same in either lectionary (e.g., Christmas, Epiphany, Transfiguration, Ash Wednesday).

    In several collects the committee made minor revisions to the content in order to highlight the Holy Gospel for the day. An example is the collect for the Second Sunday of Easter, where the Gospel recounts the story of Thomas seeing the risen Christ:

    “Almighty God, grant that we, who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection, may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns ...”

    For the second half of the church year, however, each lectionary is handled differently. For the One-Year Lectionary, the historic collects continue to be used.

    For the Three-Year Lectionary, different collects are provided for all three series. In some cases, the committee assigned historic collects to Sundays where they best relate to the Gospel reading.

    In other cases, the committee chose historic collects as a starting point but revised the collect to reflect better the theme of the day.

    In a few cases, completely new collects were chosen, often drawing on other sources.

    The second aspect of the committee’s work concerned the language of the collects. The historic collects were originally written in Latin. The translations of many of these collects were prepared in the sixteenth century by Thomas Cranmer.

    In many cases, these translations demonstrate the beauty of the English language; nevertheless, these very literal translations of the terse Latin originals often result in collects that make for challenging listening.

    The committee approached the task of revision fairly conservatively, frequently limiting the changes to a simplification of awkward constructions. An example is the collect for Passion Sunday:

    “Almighty and everlasting God, You sent Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross. Mercifully grant that we may follow the example of His great humility and patience and be made partakers of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns ...”

    In general, the purpose of these revisions was to retain the elegance of the collects while at the same time simplifying them so that they can be better understood.

 

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