Frequently Asked Questions

What is ‘Lectio’?

Lectio is a Latin word referring to a ‘selection’ or a ‘reading’. It comes from the Latin verb lego, which means ‘I read’ or ‘I gather’.

What is a lectionary?

A lectionary is a schedule of readings, typically used by churches for use in their public worship gatherings. Not all churches use lectionaries; some allow the preacher to decide what biblical passages will be read. But it’s more typical for a church to use some kind of schedule to map out how the Bible will be read in Sunday worship.

What is the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL)?

The Revised Common Lectionary is schedule of readings that has been adopted for use in public worship by a large number of churches throughout the globe. It is a modification of the lectionary used by the Roman Catholic Church and has gone through many years of vetting and approval by different church bodies. It is a three-year cycle of readings, and its readings are rooted in the celebrations and seasons of the church year.

What Is the church year?

The earliest periodic Christian festival was Sunday—the Lord’s Day—which was a day celebrating Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. Over time, a more elaborate annual celebration of the resurrection became part of the church’s worship: we call this Easter. Later still, the church developed another major annual festival celebrating the nativity or birth of Jesus, what we now know as Christmas. Easter and Christmas anchor what has now become the Church year: preparatory seasons before these major festivals, days and weeks of celebration following them, and additional feast days occurring at various times between them. The church year starts with the First Sunday in Advent, which is the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day (December 25th).

What is is a resource designed to help you read the Bible with the Church. Each day, it provides the Daily Readings of the Revised Common Lectionary. These daily readings both prepare for and reflect upon all the biblical passages that are assigned to be read in Sunday’s worship.

Why would one want to read the Bible this way rather than reading it book-by-book?

Reading the Bible one book at a time is another legitimate approach to reading scripture, and one that should be commended to all the faithful. However, following the Daily Readings of the RCL will immerse you within the cycles of stories and celebrations of the church year. It can also help you see new thematic connections between different parts of the Bible. The experience of Sunday worship may become more meaningful as you will have spent time both preparing for and reflecting on the themes that will appear in the readings, hymns and preaching.

How are the Daily Readings structured?

The cycle of Daily Readings is anchored in the texts the RCL appoints for Sunday. If your local church uses the RCL, the readings you hear there will likely be the exact same readings that appear on Sunday at (—though see the important exception in the question and answer below). Throughout the rest of the week, passages from the Daily Readings relate to those Sunday readings: passages appearing on Thursday through Saturday help prepare for Sunday, while passages appearing on Monday through Wednesday reflect back on the prior Sunday.

Sunday typically includes four passages, one from the Old Testament, one from the Psalms, one from the New Testament material apart from the gospels (the epistles, the Acts of the Apostles, or Revelation), and a passage from one of the gospels. On days away from Sunday, three readings are included. Each day starts with a psalm, one repeated on Monday through Wednesday and a different one repeated Thursday through Saturday. The latter psalm is the one you will hear or recite in church on Sunday. A reading from the Old Testament follows the psalm. Finally there is a reading from the New Testament: a passage from one of the gospels on Saturday and Wednesday, and a passage from elsewhere in the New Testament (typically an epistle) on other weekdays.

What are the “Alternative” readings?

During the Sundays after the festival of Pentecost, the RCL allows for two different approaches for reading from the Old Testament. According to the first principal, large portions of entire books from the Old Testament would be read in a semi-continuous fashion week after week. According to the second principal, each Sunday the passage from the Old Testament would be selected according to its complementarity or thematic relevance to the gospel passage appointed for that Sunday. uses the second, complementary approach for presenting the Old Testament passage and psalm and provides a reference for the semi-continuous alternative. If your local church community follows the semi-continuous approach, you may prefer to use the references to the alternative passages during the Sundays after Pentecost.

Who decided how the lectionary would be put together?

The Revised Common Lectionary and the Daily Readings were developed by the Consultation on Common Texts, an ecumenical consultation of liturgical scholars and denominations representatives from the United States and Canada which produced the lectionary and liturgical texts for common use by Christian churches worldwide. You can read about its history and work here.

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