Who picks the Biblical lessons on Sunday?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

The Biblical lessons we hear on Sunday come from a schedule of texts assigned for each Sunday on a three-year cycle called the Revised Common Lectionary.

Representatives of several Protestant denominations, including the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, chose the lessons many years ago. The lectionary was introduced for trial use in the 1980s and adopted in 1994.

Among the other churches using the lectionary include Presbyterians and Methodists. That means all of our churches hear the same lessons each Sunday, giving us a “common” connection through Scripture.

The lessons coincide with the church seasons and festivals, like Christmas and Easter. The three-year cycle emphasizes a particular gospel each year. We are currently in Year A, which draws heavily on the Gospel of Matthew. Year B emphasizes the Gospel of Mark and Year C emphasizes Luke. The Gospel of John is interspersed through all three years.

The Old Testament lessons tend to draw on the sagas, like the story of King David. We also hear an epistle (Greek for letter) each Sunday, and those tend to be from St. Paul with occasional forays into other letters and the Acts of the Apostles. Each Sunday also features one of the psalms, which usually follows the theme from one of the other lessons.

You can find the lessons for each Sunday with this link: http://www.lectionarypage.net

If you’d like to read a commentary on the lessons, a top-notch website called “The Edge of Enclosure” presents multiple perspectives, from contemporary to ancient. The website is prepared by the Rev. Suzanne Guthrie, who is a priest from our diocese who has lived in New York for many years and has recently retired to our area. You can read her website, and subscribe to weekly newsletters, here: http://edgeofenclosure.org.