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CofE = Church of Eccentricity?

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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7 thoughts on “CofE = Church of Eccentricity?”

  1. As a C of E priest, it beats me why we felt we HAD to tinker with what was already acceptable ecumenically & worldwide. Thanks for making our eccentricities obvious, Bosco. (And I’ll be preaching on the Presentation in the Temple tomorrow!)

    1. Andrew, thanks particularly for your thoughts for Monday – that comment might have some reaching for their CofE calendar 🙂 [Actually TEC’s calendar now includes that feast also]

      ps. I’ve been privately informed that there were teething problems with the CofE revisions of RCL “even according to their own intentions they got it slightly wrong in the first published versions and corrections had to be issued a few years in.

      And that’s not all, the Parson’s Pocket Book in 2012 gets the date for transferring the Annunciation completely wrong, so maybe they have made other mistakes too.”

  2. “Assigned reading” ? That all sounds a little bit , err, anal. I mean who cares THAT much? The AoC doesn’t send round the religious police if you don’t follow the CofE version of the lectionary slavishly. Mine is an ecumenical congegation led by Anglican priests so I don’t suppose anyone will really mind if we follow, even inadvertently, the Methodist version of RCL! Pax bro, and blessings for the feast on Monday – if you follow the same calendar!

  3. In one way it matters not a whit which readings are followed on any given ordinary Sunday, so long as they are readings of Scripture. But what does matter is people around the globe, sourcing diaries and pocket books published by English publishers (something which the English are good at!!) having the confidence of knowing they have a resource universally applicable re lectionary readings supplied in these books. There is not a great deal of advantage in having an English-based diary+lectionary if one then needs to double check each week with one’s local lectionary.

    That is to say nothing much about thinking, when one is using the RCL, that one is reading Scripture with Christians around the globe, when actually nothing of the sort is happening. In short, if the C of E revisers are continuing to revise, perhaps they could revise further in the direction of global uniformity!

    1. I totally agree with you, Peter. I do not have time at the moment to look at the readings that the CofE has replaced and why, that I provide in a previous comment, but I think whatever they thought they were gaining is more than lost in the huge loss of common prayer internationally, locally, and ecumenically; there is a significant loss in the sharing of ideas and resources in book and internet form (I see no reference to their eccentric choice of readings on the primary sites I refer to); and, as you mention, it makes their own resources far less useful beyond the CofE. The RCL is not perfect – no one pretends it is – but it is, alongside its predecessor the RC three year lectionary, one of the great movements of the 20th century – one we are only beginning to grow into. One can think of several adjectives about the CofE’s departure from this – and they are not generally positive ones.

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