01 January 2009

Three-and-One Lectionary

Pastor Cwirla's recent post on the Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds blog prompted a discussion, in which the possibility was suggested of using the Historic (one-year) Lectionary for the festival half of the Church Year (Advent through Holy Trinity) and the Three-Year Lectionary for the Sundays after Pentecost. Partly out of curiosity, and partly because I think the idea has some merit, I've been exploring that possibility. I was pleasantly suprised, and basically encouraged, to discover that the overlap of Readings between the two halves of the year is pretty minimal. For those who are interested in pursuing such an approach, it would not require a lot of effort or modification to make it work rather well.

There are some adjustments that would need to be made, presumably, in order to avoid the repetition of the same Reading, or a closely parallel Gospel, from the first half to the second half of the same Church Year. And in cases where the Holy Gospel needs to be adjusted or replaced, in order to avoid such repetition, it is sometimes also necessary to substitute a different Old Testament Reading (which is chosen in connection with the Holy Gospel). It is also possible that, where an Old Testament Reading is changed, the appointed Psalm should also be changed (since the Psalm is chosen as a response to the Old Testament); and where the Holy Gospel is changed, the Introit and/or the Collect may need to be altered accordingly. I've not made any attempt, however, to address the Psalmody or Collects in my considerations thus far.

By my reckoning, one could follow the Historic Lectionary from the last two or three Sundays before Advent through the Feast of the Holy Trinity, with only one caveat; and then follow the LSB Three-Year Lectionary after Holy Trinity until the Sunday following All Saints' Day, with modifications or alternatives only about 10% of the time. That probably results in an "A" by almost any grading scale.

Here's what I reckon would be need to be done:

Lent 4 (Historic)

omit the option of Exodus 16:2-21; use Isaiah 49:8-13

omit the option of Acts 2:41-47; use Galatians 4:21-31

Proper 3

Series A

use Acts 2:14a, 36-47 (in place of Isaiah 49:8-16a)

Proper 5

Series B

use St. Mark 3:7-15 (in place of St. Mark 3:20-35)

Proper 7

Series A

add the option of Romans 6:1-11
(as an alternative to Romans 6:12-23)

Series B

add the option of Isaiah 38:9-20
(as an alternative to Job 38:1-11)

use 2 Corinthians 6:11—7:4 (in place of 2 Cor. 6:1-13)

use St. Mark 5:1-20 (in place of St. Mark 4:35-41)

Proper 9

Series A

use Isaiah 64:4—65:1 (in place of Zechariah 9:9-12)

Series B

use 2 Corinthians 9:6-15,
or 2 Corinthians 10:1-11 (in place of 2 Cor. 12:1-10)

Proper 10

Series A

use Isaiah 6:8-13 (in place of Isaiah 55:10-13)

use St. Matthew 13:10-17 (in place of St. Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23)

Proper 11

Series A

add the option of St. Matthew 13:31-35
(as an alternative to St. Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

Proper 12

Series C

add the option of 1 Kings 17:1-16
(as an alternative to Genesis 18:(17-19) 20-33)

Proper 15

Series A

use Exodus 20:1-17 (in place of Isaiah 56:1, 6-8)

use St. Matthew 15:1-9 (10-20) (in place of St. Matt. 15:21-28)

Proper 16

Series A

use Romans 12:1-8,
or Romans 11:17-27 (in place of Romans 11:33—12:8)

Series B

use Ephesians 6:1-9 (in place of Ephesians 5:22-33)

Proper 18

Series B

use St. Mark 7:31-37 (omit the option of vv. 24-30)

Proper 20

Series A

use St. Matthew 19:16-26 (in place of St. Matt. 20:1-16)

Proper 23

Series A

add the option of Isaiah 61:10—62:5
(as an alternative to Isaiah 25:6-9)

Proper 24

Series C

use 2 Samuel 14:4-17 (in place of Genesis 32:22-30)

Proper 25

Series B

use Jeremiah 16:5-17 (in place of Jeremiah 31:7-9)

use St. Mark 10:(32-34) 35-45 (in place of St. Mark 10:46-52)

Proper 26

Series A

add the option of 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
(as an alternative to 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12)

Series B

use Hebrews 9:11-22 (include the option of vv. 15-22)

Proper 27

Series A

use lections and propers for Historic Trinity 25

Series C

add the option of Deuteronomy 25:5-10
(as an alternative to Exodus 3:1-15)

Proper 28 (ABC)

use lections and propers for Historic Trinity 26

Proper 29 (ABC)

use lections and propers for Historic Last Sunday


Reformationalist said...

Now, my brother, why would we want to do something like that? Of course, I ask as a one-year consumer, and I see absolutely no reason to adopt this 3-and-1 plan.

I've read brother Bill's post, and I think that the jury is still out as to whether he is being serious or just being the Cwirla that the rest of us know, expect, and appreciate for his cleverness no matter what! The essence of the one-year series is precisely the ONE part. Without the recognition and purposeful use of the ONE, annually, we would never have put up the fight (and put up with the abuse) to keep it in the LSB.

So, I think that the question is (and this question is addressed only to committed one-year user, because it would be difficulty to "read the lips" of the rest whose lips are covered with a witty smirk): Why would you want to both embrace the concept and use of the one year series and yet depart from it when the temperature get hotter?



Rev. Fr. Robert W. Schaibley, SSP
Falcon, Colorado

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Well, yes, it is often hard to tell with Pastor Cwirla. Be that as it may, I think the idea has some merit. Anyway, Pastor Cwirla is a three-year guy, as are most of the rest of us, and it is for the consideration of those presently using the three-year lectionary that I have continued mulling over the possibilities. I haven't figured the historic guys would care or have any use for it.

For my part, though, it makes good sense to have a single set of Readings that define the festival half of the Church Year (which is really more like two-thirds of the year). It also seems beneficial to me that the holy evangelists would be heard over a stretch of time, following Pentecost, in a three-year cycle of Readings. I know that others disagree, but I think that is a strength and benefit of the three-year lectionary.

Historically, the festival half of the year developed earlier and followed a more deliberate pattern after the life of our Lord. The Sundays after Pentecost developed later, and more gradually, largely out of a lectio continua approach (which is still somewhat apparent in the west, and far more obvious in the east).

So, for those who have been using the three-year lectionary, I have offered some possibilities -- following up on Pastor Cwirla's comments and the ensuing discussion -- which might offer an entry into the special strength and benefits of the historic one-year lectionary.

The harder sell, from my perspective, should not be convincing the historic guys that it might be worthwhile to read Matthew, Mark and Luke in sequence, in subsequent years, but would be convincing the three-year guys that returning to the same set of Readings every year, from Advent through Holy Trinity, has some real catechetical advantages.

Rev. Steven T. Cholak said...

Whereas I think it a noble effort to encourage the three-year guys to move toward the catechetical advantages of the historic "standard" series, I don't see any advantage to moving congregations to a practice that is different from the rest of Christendom.

It is a great disadvantage, from my standpoint, that our churches (LCMS) are not all on the same series, but then to even move them away from what there is now, sounds ludicrous.

I am a man with my feet in two kingdoms. I preach at a "standard" series church twice a month and then a 3-year church the other two Sundays each month. I guess for me the difficulty is clergy moving back and forth between these churches. I sometimes can't even ask the pastor I'm filling in for if his church is a 1 or 3 year church. My current practice is to just ask for the propers.

It has now forced me to consider lectionaries again and I thank you for the post.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I think the point to the suggestions, which I tried to follow and run with, to see how it might work, is that it would be possible to use the historic lectionary for the first half of the year, and the three-year lectionary for the second half of the year; and thus, at any given time, one would either be doing what the western church has done for a very long time, or what most of the western is church is doing now.

I'm not necessarily advocating the idea, but I do think it has merit. For the most part, I've given up trying to "argue" the lectionary with anyone, because the discussion never seems to go anywhere. I think it's a shame.

As I've tried to point out, the way in which the historic lectionary developed suggests that dealing with the festival half of the year in one way, and the post-Pentecost Sundays in another way, is not so novel or far-fetched.

Anonymous Lutheran said...

So...... Should I be adding this to my lectionary web site? ;-)

Rev. Jacob Sutton said...

Little did I know that posting a response to Pr. Cwirla's post on the Blackbirds' blog would engender such a work on your part. The thought, without much "thinking" through of the implications, has crossed my mind before, and I innocently expressed that to Pr. Cwirla.

We use the One Year Lectionary. We see its tremendous catechetical benefit. But we also see the advantage to covering in Pentecost more of the green pastures of the Gospels. I also see that we would be for that part of the year joining together with our neighboring congregations, perhaps giving us some common ground for study and discussion among the brother pastors in our area. Perhaps...

No change should be entered into lightly or inadvisedly with no thinking through or preparation. Having said that, I am thankful for you taking time to think through and prepare a possible way to accomplish this. This makes me see that no "innocent" or "simple" idea is really all that innocent or simple to actually accomplish.

God grant us grace to be faithful to His Word in all things.


WM Cwirla said...

I was serious.

I thought the 3 in 1 proposal that went around the LSB committees was a profoundly good idea. I am shamelessly both/and whenever I can get away with it, and more so the older I get. No witty smirk on this face, Bob. Just approaching the age when I no longer care what anyone thinks and recognize a darned good idea when I see one.