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Tag Archives: RCL

No One Reads The Psalms

Christ in Gethsemane

I was recently in an (Christian group) online discussion where one person said (wrote) “no one reads Psalms”. I was caught up short. That is the very opposite of my own personal experience.

OK, occasionally I am caught out, and I don’t feel guilty about that, but normally my day begins with Morning Prayer with 2-3 psalms in it. And the last thing I do, the last prayer I pray, and I have every single day, decade upon decade, is Psalm 134. Also, it would be a particularly exceptional Sunday service that I oversaw that didn’t have a psalm in it (a Christmas Carol service may lack a psalm).

But the “no one reads Psalms” comment raised no significant surprise. That fits with other such comments I’ve encountered. It fascinates me that, when I talk to some people about the Revised Common Lectionary, and some communities regularly cut down the number of readings, they simply regard the Psalm as “just another reading” (ie they see RCL as offering four readings), and the Psalm, for them, is the first reading to be cut back. Whereas, I am used to the tradition evident in weekday Eucharists – there is one reading and the Gospel, with the Psalm prayed between those. If I cut back a reading in RCL, the Psalm is not where I would start. I haven’t even mentioned hymns that are essentially reworked Psalms.

I have lived in the land of the Psalms certainly since I was a teenager. The Psalms provide me with the landscape, the map, the grammar of the spiritual life. The Psalms go through every human emotion from despair to hope, from rage to reconciliation. By praying Psalms that are describing feelings and experiences that may not currently be a reality for me, I am exercising spiritual muscles that I may need to have functioning healthily at a moment’s notice.

Jesus clearly lived in this land of the Psalms. And the New Testament is obviously set in the land of the Psalms.

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Common Worship?

Common Worship

Peter Carrell from his sabbatical brought back some lectionary booklets and lent me the ones from the Church of England and the Anglican Church Province of South East Asia. [Thanks!]

I scanned quickly in the CofE one looking for this time next year (above). Of course I anticipated there would be fewer options than we have but, even expecting that, I still misjudged as I flicked the booklet from the back. There was so little there I presumed I was looking at an abbreviated summary anticipating the following year (2017). I wasn’t. That’s all there is.

Compare it to NZ’s (please don’t compare the quality of the photos – that’s not my area of competency):

NZ Lectionary

Because the scale on your screen is unclear: the CofE entry for Christ the King is 17mm (0.7 inch). The NZ entry for the same day is 8cm (3.3 inches) nearly 5 times as big.

NZ allows not only for a variety of titles, but a variety of celebrations: Christ the King, or Aotearoa Sunday, or the Feast of Christ in All Creation. As if that isn’t enough, at least one NZ cathedral celebrated the feast of St Cecilia on Sunday. The RCL is in the lectionary booklet, but our church also allows the 3 Year Cycle, and another 2 Year Cycle (not forgetting the BCP).

“New” and “creative” trump “common worship” in NZ. I am not aware of any reputable research that demonstrates that constant novelty helps to grow congregations – either numerically or in prayerfulness.

Yes, the CofE does have some flexibility, but there is no comparison with NZ (where the Anglican Church would merely have the numbers of a good CofE diocese). NZ Anglicanism values what CofE offers but, and this is important, it is not the (CofE) spirit and value of common worship that is valued, it is the resources that CofE has prepared that NZ Anglicans can add as yet further new and creative options to enlarge options in the Anglican Church of Or.

To extend the point: the CofE has about ten eucharistic prayers to choose from. NZ Anglicans, by contrast, have no limit – here we may use any eucharistic prayer authorised anywhere in the Anglican Communion; and if we don’t like any of those we can write our own using the Form for Ordering the Eucharist framework (NZPB pp512-514). In NZ we are not required to use any fixed greetings or responses (use any you find, or make them up yourself), we can use a confession or not, and if we use one we can source it from anywhere or write our own. And so on. And so forth.

Ps. The content of the lectionary booklet for the Anglican Church Province of South East Asia is almost identical to the CofE.

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The Widow’s Mite

The Widow's Mite

Preaching the opposite of what the Bible teaches On Sunday most preaching on the Widow’s Mite will preach the opposite of what Jesus in the Bible is actually teaching. On Sunday many men (and women) in long robes (and even those who deprecate robes and instead wear expensive suits or hip-pastor jeans with designs and… Continue Reading

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Creation Season Sunday September 27

Jesus Mafa - Jesus welcomes the children

This coming Sunday (September 27) many are celebrating Creation Season. This site is committed to the three year lectionary (RC) and its derivative, the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Creation and redemption form the warp and weft of the Bible. Abandoning the agreed lectionary in order to focus on creation is an admission that you do… Continue Reading

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Creation Season Sunday September 20

Potato Planters

Many are celebrating Creation Season. This site is committed to the three year lectionary (RC) and its derivative, the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Creation and redemption form the warp and weft of the Bible. Abandoning the agreed lectionary in order to focus on creation is an admission that you do not find enough about creation… Continue Reading

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Creation Season Sunday September 13

creation in hands

Many people, this month, are celebrating Creation Season. This site is committed to the three year lectionary (RC) and its derivative, the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Rather than departing from that lectionary, in previous years resources have been provided on this site for a “creation reading” of our shared biblical texts. This means that this… Continue Reading

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Criticise Revised Common Lectionary?

Lectionary readings

To critics of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) and its twin, the RC 3-year Sunday cycle of Mass readings (RC3Yr), I regularly quote Churchill: “The RCL is the worst form of systematically reading the Bible as church, except for all the others.” I challenge people to show me a better form. Now someone has taken… Continue Reading

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