What is the Lectionary?
A Lectionary is a book or listing that contains a collection of scripture readings appointed for Christian or Judaic worship on a given day or occasion. Within Christianity, the use of pre-assigned, scheduled readings from the scriptures can be traced back to the early church, and seems to have been inherited from Judaism. Not all of the Christian Church used the same lectionary, and throughout history, many varying lectionaries have been used in different parts of the Christian world.
The Roman Catholic Mass Lectionary formed the basis for modern lectionaries, most notably the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) and its derivatives. The RCL provides readings for worship services on Sundays in a three-year cycle, with four elements on each Sunday:
• a reading from the Old Testament or, in Eastertide from certain books of the New Testament;
• a Psalm (sometimes responsorial, often sung);
• a reading from one of the New Testament Letters; and
• a Gospel reading.
The Lectionary is organized into three-year cycles of readings, designated A, B, or C. Each yearly cycle begins on the first Sunday of Advent (the last Sunday of November or first Sunday of December). We are currently using Year C (2013).
• Year A: Gospel of Matthew (November 2010 through 2011)
• Year B: Gospel of Mark (December 2011 through 2012)
• Year C: Gospel of Luke (December 2012 through 2013)
The Gospel of John is read throughout Easter, and is used for other liturgical seasons including Advent, Christmas, and Lent where appropriate.
Why use the Lectionary?
The Monday Prayer uses the Lectionary primarily because it’s convenient. A majority of Western Churches in both Catholic and Protestant denominations use the RCL as a basis for worship and bible study, which are, in turn, inextricably linked to effective prayer. Sooner or later, you’ll hear these scriptures again in a worship service, or perhaps receive a sermon based on them.
We encourage our readers to exercise a regular discipline of prayer, worship and bible study in order to grow in faith and in closeness to the Living God. For centuries, the Lectionary has proven to be an effective tool for developing that discipline. Additionally, and significantly, there is great spiritual power that arises from the unity of reading the same scriptures and praying the same prayer together with millions of other Christians during a given week.
Why use Liturgical Prayer?
Liturgy is a prescribed–as in pre-written–form of worship and prayer. For example, Lectionary prayers are liturgical. The Monday Prayer is not necessarily bound to the Lectionary or its prayers; we will occasionally substitute other prayers (and scriptures), as we are led, and as we respond to circumstances and events.
We use Liturgical Prayers, like those in the Lectionary, for the following reasons (with thanks to author Richard Foster and his book Prayer):
1. Sometimes it’s hard for us to find the right words to convey what we feel. Liturgical Prayer can often help us articulate what our hearts seek to express.
2. As noted above, in Liturgical Prayer we unite in communion with millions of praying saints around the world, and across the generations. There’s great power in that.
3. Liturgy helps guard us from being too spectacular and entertaining, lest we become too proud of our praying performance. Clever words are not necessary. We focus more on God and less on the prayer leader.
4. Liturgical Prayer helps keep us from becoming petty and self-focused in our prayers. Through liturgy we are continually nudged back to sound doctrine and concern for the entire Christian community.
5. The formality of Liturgical Prayer helps us maintain our humility before the King of Kings.
Where do you get those beautiful photos?
Most of the stunning sunrise and beachscape scenes are photos by fellow Christian Alex North, a native of Gulfport, Mississippi. Our friend Alex has earned a wide and growing reputation for his keen eye for God’s beauty. The Monday Prayer uses Alex’s excellent work with his permission. If you are interested in further exploring Alex’s artful photography, you can visit his website, or you can find him on Facebook. It may surprise you that Alex is color blind.
In addition, The Monday Prayer uses photos that we have taken on our travels. We are fond of church photos, especially altars, stained glass, murals and mosaics. We have found Eastern Orthodox churches particularly full of art and beauty.
And every once in a while we stumble across a photo on the internet so magnificent that we have to share it on this blog as an act of worship. Some of the Northern Lights landscapes were copied from an internet site based in Norway.