‘Which Lectionary?’

The Christian Century has a provocative cover article this month on alternatives to the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). An excerpt, for which it is useful to note that whenever Easter is early, it is the season after Epiphany that is shortened to as few as four Sundays, as it was in 2013:

Eric Lemonholm’s 2011 D.Min. thesis at Luther, which he turned into The Open-Source Lectionary, calls for a more fluid approach to lectionary use. Lemonholm embraces the RCL for its broad ecumenical reach and the “feeling of solidarity” its use instills. His criticism echoes others: “missing and disconnected texts.”

Lemonholm’s most striking example is “love your enemies.” The RCL actually assigns both Matthew’s version of that text and Luke’s. But in both cases it’s slated for the seventh Sunday after Epiphany, one of the Ordinary cycle’s odd benchwarming weeks—used only when the liturgical calendar’s stars align. Week seven didn’t make it into the Year A or C calendar between 2001 and 2011. “A ten-year absence of Jesus’ command to love our enemies occurred,” says Lemonholm, “during the first ten years of the war on terror.”

(2014 will be Year A according to the RCL, and there will be seven “Sundays after Epiphany.”)

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