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A Rant About The Lectionary and Church

I don’t think we teach enough Scripture in our church, which makes me sad.

The church I attend, a Baptist church, teaches from the Revised Common Lectionary. This is also what most high order churches teach from. The Lectionary is a list of scripture readings that break the year down into its seasons and have a selection of scripture readings for each Sunday. Each Sunday has a reading from the Old Testament, the Epistles, and the Gospels, along with a responsorial Psalm.

Part of me likes that we use the Lectionary as it means a person could go to any number of churches and receive teaching on the same set of verses. But lately I’ve been having issues with this style of teaching. Mostly because all it is are a bunch of verses that you don’t read in the context of the bigger picture in which they are written. For example, this past weekend we were talking about Exodus 24:29-35 which is about Moses and how he had to wear a veil over his face when talking to the people of Israel because his face shone with the reflection of God from his speaking with God on the mountain, and this reflection scared the people. This post went along with 2 Cor. 3:12-4:2 in which Paul talks about how Jesus removes that veil that impedes our relationship with God. These are great verses which tie in well to one another and make for a good lesson, but we don’t learn about the stories, and I think that is what is important. It’s all well and good to know that Jesus has removed this barrier between God and us, but why were the people of Israel afraid in the first place? Why was Moses talking to God? Or why is Paul telling this story? Who is he talking to? We spend far too much time breaking up the story and removing it from the context of the story.

Knowing scripture in bits of pieces is only so helpful, but it is the stories that carry weight. Now part of me would be quite happy to teach the stories without always having a life application because I believe in the importance of the story. I believe knowing your history is important. Becoming Christian is a choice that people make, and I think they are doing themselves a great disservice by not knowing the stories of that faith. It isn’t even they who are doing this disservice, but the pastors and ministers that don’t teach people the stories.

The coming of Easter has prompted me to think more about this as of late. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent (the 40 days before Easter). Most people think of this period as the Easter Season as it is on our minds and everything is leading up to it, and not just in Church, but in the secular world as well. We go to the stores and are bombarded with Easter displays and candy and whatnot, but the day after Easter it is all gone. The same thing happens in the church, where the Sunday after Easter we move on with our lives and Easter is in the past.

It’s all so backwards! The Season of Easter does not start with Lent, it starts with Easter Weekend; the death, resurrection of Christ. That marks the beginning of 50 days of the Easter season ending in Pentecost. This is the church’s Sunday. This is the high point of the church calendar, and it saddens me that many Christians don’t even know what Pentecost is, I didn’t until just a few years ago. Pentecost wasn’t really taught in church as anything special, where as it should be HUGE. This is the day when we received the Holy Spirit! We focus so much on the death and resurrection, but rarely is the talk about the ascension or Pentecost. We should spend the Easter season learning about what was going on following the death of Christ in the lives of the believers. We should be learning these stories, as they are the very foundation of our faith.

The problem I have seen with pastors that only preach from various series they come up with is that they ignore the seasons of the Church calendar.

Liturgical elements to church services are great reminders to which season the church is currently in. So it would be great if we could combine the following of the church calendar with liturgical elements, and the teach of scripture in series’ created by the pastor that fit the season. The Lectionary just doesn’t cut it, unless the passages taught were vastly expanded on.

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