How often do you read the scriptures? When you read the scriptures, do you pick a verse here and there, out of context? Or as you read are you conscious of what you are reading fitting within a whole scroll (“book”)? When you listen to someone preaching (or preaching yourself) is the preacher ducking and diving from one verse ripped out of context to another verse out of its context, or is there a careful reflection of a passage conscious of its genre and context?
We are celebrating 350 years of the Book of Common Prayer 1662. Many of its principles and rationales are deeply sound. There is much we can learn from it, embodying its principles into our different time and context. Each of the above questions is dealt with at the start of the BCP.
The vision of the BCP is of a Christian community deeply formed by a biblical world-view; with clergy able to lead the community within that world-view. The vision (highlighted in this post) also includes the Christian community also repeatedly using a collect – Christians will journey with these collects “by heart”.
Hence, let us pause a moment and pick up The Order how the rest of holy Scripture is appointed to be read:
THE Old Testament is appointed for the First Lessons at Morning and Evening Prayer, so as the most part thereof will be read every year once, as in the Calendar is appointed.
The New Testament is appointed for the Second Lessons at Morning and Evening Prayer, and shall be read over orderly every year twice, once in the morning and once in the evening, besides the Epistles and Gospels, except the Apocalypse, out of which there are only certain Lessons appointed at the end of the year, and certain proper Lessons appointed upon divers feasts.
And to know what Lessons shall be read every day, look for the day of the month in the Calendar following, and there ye shall find the chapters and portions of chapters that shall be read for the Lessons, both at Morning and Evening Prayer, except only the moveable feats, which are not in the Calendar, and the immovable, where there is a blank left in the column of Lessons, the Proper Lessons for all which days are to be found in the Table of the Proper Lessons.
If Evening Prayer is said at two different times in the same place of worship on any Sunday (except a Sunday for which alternative Second Lessons are specially appointed in the table,) the Second Lesson at the second time may, at the discretion of the minister, be any chapter from the four Gospels, or any lesson appointed in the Table of Lessons from the four Gospels.
Upon occasions, to be approved by the Ordinary, other lessons may, with his consent, be substituted for those which are appointed in the Calendar.
And note that whensoever Proper Psalms or Lessons are appointed, then the Psalms and Lessons of ordinary course appointed in the Psalter and Calendar (if they be different) shall be omitted for that time.
Note also, That upon occasions to be appointed by the Ordinary, other Psalms may, with his consent, be substituted for those appointed in the Psalter.
If any of the Holy-days for which Proper Lessons are appointed in the table fall upon a Sunday which is the first Sunday in Advent, Easter Day, Whitsunday, or Trinity Sunday, the Lessons appointed for such Sunday shall be read, but if it fall upon any other Sunday, the Lessons appointed either for the Sunday or for the Holy-day may be read at the discretion of the minister.
Note also that the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel appointed for the Sunday shall serve all the week after, where it is not in this book otherwise ordered.