Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine and he had prepared his sermon for today based on the readings in his Parson’s Pocket Book 2011 diary.

Late in his preparation he realised that the John 2:1-11 reading given there was not one of the options given in our usually-generous-with-options NZ lectionary. What was going on? he asked me.

The Parson’s Pocket Book follows the CofE Common Worship Lectionary. Why is it different to RCL?

I put the question on facebook and twitter. I checked the Common Worship (CofE) website. And then consulted A Companion to Common Worshipby Paul Bradshaw.

I had not realised how eccentric the CofE variant of RCL was at this time of year. Each year, in fact, the CofE reads John 2:1-11 at this time of year (in year B it replaces the start of Mark). In Year B, the CofE replaces the RCL reading of 1 Corinthians 6-8 with readings from Revelation. In Year C, on this Sunday, it interrupts the RCL sequence leaping from Luke 4:14-21 that we all read on “Epiphany 3” back to reading Luke 2:22-40 rather than RCL’s Luke 4:21-30 and then forward to Luke 5:1-11 with the rest of us again.

I am not sure what it hoped to have gained by these alterations. Certainly responses from England included irritation that they were ecumenically out of step in England. It means many online and book resources are not available to them. The most interesting responses I received were from people in the Church of England who did not realise their own church was out of step with RCL. There are CofE communities who will (inadvertently) today be reading, reflecting on, and praying about the Beatitudes – rather than their assigned reading!

Just as there is at least one community in NZ doing the same about the wedding at Cana.

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