What exactly is the point of the lectionary?
Just about every time I have been in a conversation concerning the virtues of the lectionary, someone will say something like this: ‘a great merit of following the lectionary is that, by following it everyday, it takes you through the whole of the Bible in x number of years.’
OK, let’s test that proposition out.
Monday 15 October Romans 1:1-7
Tuesday 16 October Romans 1:16-25
Wednesday 17 October Romans 2:1-11
Something is missing in this sequence: Romans 1: 26-32.
This is an interesting passage whose interpretation is strongly contested. It is also a passage which is uncomfortable for those living lifestyles which are warned against (e.g. gossips, disobedient children). Further the passage speaks of the wrath of God. Why is it omitted? Is the lectionary a tool of a particular theology (or ideology?) which seeks to advance its cause by omitting uncongenial passages? Or does the lectionary simply reflect the thinking of some very nice people who prefer to upset as few people as possible?
Personally I cannot help feeling it reflects a certain theology because a little further on there is another interesting omission:
Tuesday 6 November Romans 12:5-16
Wednesday 7 November Romans 13:8-10
Between Romans 12:17- 13:7 we have some (currently) difficult concepts:
- ‘ “Vengeance is mine: I will repay,” says the Lord’ (12:19)
- ‘Let every person be subject to the governing authorities’ (13:1)
- ‘for [the ruler] is your servant God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer (13:4)
And there is the small matter of the insistence that Christians pay taxes (13:6-7).
When we talk about the lectionary we should be accurate. To say the lectionary is ‘selected readings from Scripture’ is better than ‘all of Scripture apportioned into daily readings’.