reading together :: lectionary

Coming to know Dietrich Bonhoeffer better and better this year through my thesis, two of his personal habits have impressed me. The first is the correspondence which he maintained with friends and family. He must have written at least a letter a day, if not more. For all the ease of “getting in touch” through technology these days, I’m not actually sure that we do it more (or more substantially!) than when it was more difficult. 

The second, related habit is his daily reading of Scripture. Not the reading in itself, but the mode of his reading.  Bonhoeffer used, along with many of his friends, family, and colleagues, a daily lectionary. This meant that on any given day, he and many of the people he knew would be reflecting on the same passages. This is reflected in many of his letters from prison, as he speaks to Eberhard Bethge about something he noticed in the day’s passage. 

I’ve been using a daily lectionary now for almost a year, there is much to commend about the practice.

  • The readings “fit” into the ecclesial year, so that the reading is appropriate for the season.
  • I am not left to design my own reading agenda, so I read passages that I might not come to otherwise. 
  • I am not reading alone, but with any number of other church-folk who read the same passage.  

In ecumenical spirit, I have been using the daily lectionary available on the PCUSA’s page. But I did a bit of work to clean it up and put it into a Word document, so I thought I would make that available for anyone who wants to join me in the practice.  

Download the document Here.

7 Replies to “reading together :: lectionary”

  1. Thanks for the suggestion. Does this reading plan take you through the entire Bible? In looking at it briefly, it seems that Ps. 145 pops up several times.

    Darrell Johnson once recommended McCheyne’s daily Bible reading plan (which you can find pretty easily on the Internet). It takes the reader through the entire Bible once in a year, and Psalms and the New Testament twice. It’s a big chunk of reading each day, though, and a disadvantage is that it is not geared toward the seasons of the church year.

  2. Ryan,

    Great! That’s just what I was hoping for…

    Elliot,

    I don’t think that this lectionary puts every verse of Scripture in front of your eyes. For example, as I went through 1 Chronicles earlier this fall, it skipped the first 9 tedious chapters… But the passages are short enough that I feel like I can read around the “assigned” passage to get a better picture.

    For the time being, I’ve given up plowing through huge tracts of scripture. I’ve been confronted with most of scripture in one form or another enough that taking a longer time to sit with a shorter text has taken over my habits.

    Glad to hear from both of you… Hope Vancouver is treating you well.

  3. Hey bro. I appreciate you sharing this sort of thing. I will try to track with you on this reading schedule. I appears to a good way to encounter scripture daily, though I expect I will miss some of the connection to the ecclesial year. Thanks,

  4. Hey Eric
    I’m with you on the lectionary thing. My mother first introduced me to the lectionary through a little quarterly publication produced by the Touchstone people (St. James Publishing?). It included the readings for every day along with an exegetical/devotional that explained more about the context of the book under focus for the season (usually quite good in my opinion). For me, all of this was a vast improvement on the Oswald Chambers approach: a contemplative thought on a snippet of a scripture verse with no apparent connection from one day to the next. The Spirit no doubt works through both. But the sense of connection and continuity – I agree – is certainly heightened in the lectionary.
    I’ve also been using the lectionary to set my primary preaching schedule for many of the same reasons you’ve mentioned. In addition, I like the idea that my preaching is in continuity with the devotional life of the congregation (potentially) and that the substance of what is declared from the pulpit need not originate with my own imagination. For me, this is a helpful way to discipline my own ego. As you’ve noted, with content matching the seasons of the church, there is a rhythm to our worship when we use the lectionary as a template. I’m not at all opposed to departures from the lectionary in order to focus in on something important in the life of the church.
    By the way, you can also access the PCUSA lectionary through your feed reader. Check it out here: http://www.pcusa.org/devotions/lectionary/index.htm

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