Rachel Held Evans is blogging the lectionary

Rachel Held Evans, an evangelical blogger whom I’ve mentioned here once or twice, recently had an “ah-ha!” moment about the Revised Common Lectionary:

Suddenly, I liked the idea of having an “assignment,” a sort of spiritual and creative challenge that kept the focus on the text and not on me. Furthermore, as I began preparing for that sermon, I discovered this whole world of online collaboration happening among clergy from Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, and Lutheran churches (and more!) all working through the same few passages in preparation for their services that week.  And they weren’t just thinking about their sermons. They were joining with artists and musicians and liturgists and Sunday school teachers and writers and laypeople to think about how Luke 17:5-10 might translate into art, worship, poetry, children’s messages, even bulletin designs. (Even after the sermon was finished, I loved checking the blogs and sermon podcasts of some of my favorite pastors to see their “take” on the passage.)

And it struck me: This is exactly how the Bible is meant to be engaged—collaboratively, in community, with a diversity of people and perspectives represented. 

Evans, growing up in an evangelical environment, wouldn’t have had exposure to lectionary-based worship. However, her writing – both in books and on her blog – is deeply interested in Scriptural hermeneutics and complexly honest ways of grappling with the Biblical texts. I am delighted to see such an immediate recognition of the benefits of a lectionary tradition, and I look forward to finding out what she does with it in this new series, in which she plans to engage the coming Sunday’s texts every Thursday as a regular feature.



  1. I have noticed this myself. Not so much from blogs, but from posted sermon ads on Church signage here in the South. I know what we would be doing and when their signage is advertising a reading that corresponds it makes me think that is exactly what is going on. It’s not just Episcopal/Lutheran churches – it’s also Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and others. It seems to me it is more the case during Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter than during OT, but the fact is that the Lectionary is one thing that people like even if they don’t realize it. It is not haphazard; it is organized and thorough. Anyone can benefit from it.

  2. it would be great if us Romans can share in the RCL used among other traditions. While the Roman and CRL are close, it is not exact. Sometimes one of the readings are different. Add to this the different translations used.

  3. It would be great if those other traditions would share the Roman Lectionary. While the Roman Lectionary and CRL are close (the CRL was an adaptation of the earlier Roman Lectionary after all) they are not exact. Sometimes one of the readings are different (maybe a little too Catholic?). Add to this the different translations used.

    Why is working together so often discussed as the Catholic church needs to change? If if our readings are different from time to time and even though we use a different translation, does that really make it so difficult to talk together?

  4. Rick Connor :Sometimes one of the readings are different (maybe a little too Catholic?).

    One would would be well-advised to take a look at the RCL before making snarky remarks about it. If anything, the RCL is more “catholic” in the universal sense, as much more of the Old Testament is proclaimed. There are two tracks of Old Testament readings in the second “ordinary time” season. (Communities choose which track they wish to follow). One of them presents large sections of OT sagas in sequential readings, so that the stories of OT heroes and heroines that may be familiar to children from church school can be heard as part of the liturgy. The psalm has been chosen as a “response” to the first reading; sometimes the connection is even a direct quotation. This sends the message–probably often subconsciously–that scripture hangs together.
    The three-year lectionary was one of the great gifts of V2 to the Christian world; enthusiasm for it led to others thinking, “How can we make this even better?”

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