Acts is compulsory

There is an unusual line in our NZ Lectionary booklet (image above) through the Sundays of the Easter Season: “The reading from Acts must be used each Sunday in Eastertide”.

It is unusual and surprising to find the word “must” in NZ liturgical resources.

Does anyone know: what is the source of this particular “must”ness? I don’t think it is a line in the original Revised Common Lectionary which is a formulary (agreed practice) of our church, and the source of these readings.

Sure, it makes sense that some people need help, when they are used to the first reading being from the Old Testament, that there is a note “During Eastertide a reading from Acts is often substituted for the lesson from the Hebrew Bible.”

There was no such “must” instruction in the 2011 lectionary booklet or earlier. In 2012 it read, “The reading from Acts must be used as either the 1st or 2nd reading”. I can imagine this 2012 instruction confusing Kiwi Anglicans – especially those who have only one or two readings at a service! [It is not unknown to be at a service in NZ Anglicanism to hear, “A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Galatians…”! So I imagine in 2012 there could very well have been readings from “the Holy Gospel according to Acts”…]

Last year and this year have had the same instruction, “The reading from Acts must be used each Sunday in Eastertide”. [Wow – Anglicans in NZ doing something two years in a row – monotony must be setting in; time for a change, surely!]

So, has anyone got any ideas what this is all about…?

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Postscript I don’t think any regulars here are surprised that my presumption is that in ordinary parish worship, Sunday Eucharist should* have: first reading, psalm, second reading, Gospel. I can, of course, visualise, beyond ordinary parish worship, contexts where this fare might be reduced by,say, one reading. I know some just have a single reading – and I wonder how they respond to this “must” in the lectionary booklet – do they read solely from Acts? What would be the understanding of the lectionary booklet in an only-one-reading context [remembering the lectionary booklet is not binding or agreed to]?

* Does the NZ lectionary booklet now give precedence for using the word “must” in relation to liturgy in our province?! I remember all too well that I was told I should (actually, must) remove all the “should”s from my book Celebrating Eucharist before the church would support its publication here. I have seen “should” creeping back in. And now there is “must”!

Today is the Sixteenth Day of Easter.

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