Thursday, February 24, 2011

The REC Lectionary during Pre-Lent

One of the strengths of the lectionary in the Reformed Episcopal Church’s BCP is how it handles the weekday readings for Pre-Lent, aka the “gesimas.”

The second lessons for the daily offices are particularly appropriate. For Morning Prayer, 2nd Corinthians is read straight through (unless there is a break for, today, St. Matthias Day, or for Purification Day, February 2nd), finishing the epistle on the first Saturday in Lent.

2nd Corinthians is probably the deepest, most personal look into the heart of St. Paul. It is an excellent plumb line to evaluate where our hearts are and should be as Christian ministers. (And virtually all Christians should be ministers of some sort.) I therefore find it excellent preparation for Lent as it helps me find attitudes to improve or to repent of as I seek to fulfill my ministry.

For Evening Prayer, the second lessons begin the long march through the Gospel of St. John. This continues through Lent and climaxes during Holy Week, when the second lessons for both daily offices leading into the Triduum are from John chapters 14-17, which reveal so much of the heart of Jesus towards us just before his arrest and crucifixion.

I think these parts of the lectionary an improvement on the 1928 BCP (US). The MP second lessons for Pre-Lent are from Mark 6:7-10:16. For Evening Prayer, the second lessons are from Galatians. Maybe I’m missing something, but I find the REC selections for Pre-Lent more appropriate. Although all scripture is profitable for penitence, of course, I find it difficult to see how Galatians and that section of Mark fit well into preparation for Lent. But I am engaging in liturgical nitpicking as usual. (Writes down an additional item of which to repent.)

For those interested in such things, the REC lectionary “is generally drawn from the altar edition of An Australian Prayer Book 1978,” augmented for Sundays by the 1945 edition of the 1928 BCP (US).

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