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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Why I Use the Three-Year Lectionary


My name is Rick.

I am a user
of the three-year lectionary.

Here's why:

It is the lectionary from which my pastors fed me with the Gospel of Christ through high school and college.

It is the lectionary that my field-work and vicarage pastors used in the course of my training for the pastoral office. It is the lectionary from which they also fed me with the Gospel of Christ, and with which they assisted me in learning the art of preaching the Gospel.

It is the lectionary that over 90% of my brother pastors within my synodical fellowship use to feed the flocks entrusted to their spiritual care. Therefore, in conversation with my colleagues we are able to engage one another in discussions of these texts that we hold in common, and we are able to assist one another in our understanding and preaching of these Holy Scriptures.

Over fourteen years of preaching from the three-year lectionary, I have found it to serve the preaching of the Gospel faithfully and well.

I especially appreciate the way it moves through the Gospel witness of the several holy Evangelists, an approach that approximates the lectio continua of the early Church.

I also very much appreciate the reading of the Acts of the Apostles throughout Eastertide.

I am grateful for the extensive historical research that went into the formation of the original three-year lectionary by the Roman Church after Vatican II. I am likewise grateful for the focus of that work on the Paschal Mystery (the Cross and Resurrection of Christ); for the fundamental connection of this lectionary to the celebration of the Mass; and for the selection of its Old Testament lections on the basis of a unified Christological reading of the Holy Scriptures.

I am also very grateful for the way the three-year lectionary reinvigorated liturgical preaching in the Lutheran Church, and greatly helped to restore the practice of preaching on the appointed lections, the Holy Gospel in particular. On that score, I maintain that the renewed interest in, appreciation for, and salutary use of the historic lectionary in recent decades would not have occurred apart from the introduction of the three-year lectionary.

I do not use the three-year lectionary out of any protest against the historic lectionary; but I do persist in exercising my freedom to use the three-year lectionary against pressures which suggest that I am confessionally bound to use the historic lectionary. Our confession and preaching of the Gospel do not require the use of any one unique lectionary vis-a-vis another. The unity of our common confession does not necessitate the same lectionary, but the same Christ.

I don't use the three-year lectionary because of its "ecumenical significance," but neither do I refuse to use it on that basis. In the main, it is the lectionary used by the bulk of Christendom in the present day of the Church on earth. I do not hold that against it, but rather am glad of it. My confession and preaching of Christ and His Gospel from the three-year lectionary are, perhaps, a witness to those of other confessions who use basically the same lectionary.