11 November 2006

Why you shouldn't bother...

...with Series A, B, or C.

I know, almost everyone does, but really, what is the point?

The big dream when Mama Rome went to the three year cycle was for better Biblical literacy. Have we achieved that by using three year cycle? Given today's horrific attendance pattern, it might be possible to go for nine years without hearing a vital Gospel reading! That is an aid to memory? I don't think so.

Pastors, please explore the possibility as Advent arrives of adopting the historic, one-year series. The ancients were not wrong when they observed that "repetition is the mother of learning." It really is. You preach those same pericopes year after year and you will screw them down into your people's consciousness. You will give them a frame of reference and means of understanding the whole of the Scriptures.

Besides, it's cheaper! Buy one Lectionary for $70 instead of three lectionaries for $125 or whatever it is.

If you are still in doubt, find a copy of Maxwell's essay in *Through the Church the Song Goes On* and read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it. Then you too will discover the joy of hearing one of your parishioners say: "Oh, it's 'Wake, Awake Sunday!'"

Oh, and did I mention: if you do, you have Luther's postils to draw on, and if you do Deutsch also Walther's and Loehe's, and if you do English also sermons from Petersen and even, if you're absolutely stuck, from Weedon!


Fr. Timothy May said...

Thank you for bringing this topic up. We have been using the one-year series for 2 or 3 years. I appreciate it for the rich homiletic resources that are provided going back in church history. Also, I am interested in being in contact with other pastors who use this series. Hope your post gets another pastor or more on board! (Also, we are using the new Lectionary and the Altar Book arrived this week.)

FatherDMJ said...

I am about to start trip number five through the Historic Lectionary. I learn something new every time I preach those rich Gospel pericopes.

I've persuaded two pastors in my neck of the woods to switch. Four of us will meet every other week to look through the pericopes and discuss them.

Tim, if you want to talk about the Historic Series, I'm with you!

FatherDMJ said...

For the record, there are translations of Walther's Gospel and Epistle sermons (Evangelium-Postille und Epistlen-Postille), as well as Stoeckhardt's Gospel sermons. There are plenty of untranslated Walther sermons as well as translated Walther sermons found in the new Walther devotional book from CPH.

Pr. Petersen has an outstanding bibliography on liturgy and the Historic Series at the Redeemer, Fort Wayne, IN website.

Stoleman said...

I agree with FatherDMJ and Rev. May. The One Year Lectionary is an opportunity for the church to return from breadth to depth. As a life long Lutheran our recent bid to 'start something new' with the 3 Year Lectionary only provided opportunities to 'change' or 'add something new'. Not remain a point of light, but separate into light that is divided instead of 'united'.

Please understand my liking of the one year lectionary has deep roots, even to Nesper who provides a text for us to understand the different Pericope systems.

Hopefully, I will begin to provide information for others how our catechism may be linked to the One Year Lectionary on my blog. I am running into some issues, but hope to begin this with the 1st Sunday in Advent.

In essence, "GO ONE YEAR LECTIONARY, GO!!!!"

William Weedon said...

We have a pericope study group that meets weekly at St. Paul's. I think we already have Curtis, Asburry, Maxwell, Feicho and Weedon doing historic. I think we'll see Landskroener and possibly Clayton head that way in Advent. When you think that about 10-15 years ago next to no one was doing one year, that's quite a come-back, and I know it's spread across the country too - not just here in greater St. Louis.

Also I really want to underline the point I think Pastor May made: the MUSIC of the Lutheran Church was WRITTEN for the historic series!

Fr. Hank said...

I am of an age when all one had to do was say,,,,,,, e.g. 'The Introit, Epistle, Collect,,,,' what ever for whichever Sunday of Feast Day and folks knew what you were talking about and could then tie it into whichever point of faith or morals was being discussed. I still think in those terms.

Not to mention being exposed to Cranmer's English, and bits and snatches of the Sarum Rite.
The weak link in the Historic series as I recall was the OT Lessons, I presume they have been tightened up and given equal status in the new Lectionary.

Word has it that Our German Shepherd is moving to reinstate the old series from the Latin Rite, a step long overdue along with the use of the RSV as the approved liturgical text.

Rev. Benjamin Mayes said...

Emmaus, St. Louis (Jefferson just south of I-44) is going to the historic one-year series starting on Advent 1. I can't wait!

Other one-year resources include Johann Gerhard's Postill (vol. 1) from Repristination Press. Pr. Juhl, can you give some bibliography on the translations of the Walther postills? There was an excellent, excellent postill from the 17th cent. published by LCMS pastors around Fort Wayne in the latter half of the 19th cent., called the "Echt Evangelische Auslegung." This commentary presents excerpts from the "Harmony of the Gospels" by Chemnitz and Gerhard. I have only the volume for the non-festival half of the church year, and for the festival half I always find good stuff from Gerhard vol. 1. Now and then I find something helpful in Toale, Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers.

Susan said...

Pastor Weedon, you forgot to mention that Luther's "Day By Day" fits the one-year series! I don't know if pastors would use it for sermon prep or anything serious like that, but it sure makes it easier for us laymen to have "Day By Day" fit with what's going on in our own congregations.

And if y'all can get the synod back to the one-year series, then maybe when the next New Hymnal comes out, we can have our propers back in the pew edition of the hymnal again. Because I'm missing that in LSB!

Anonymous said...

"Wake, awake" Sunday?

Didn't know there was such a thing in the historic calendar!

William Weedon said...

Last Sunday of the Church Year, with propers from Trinity 27. The ten virgins.

William Weedon said...


Good point! And also *Luther for the Busy Man* from Australia, and Fritz Eckardt's *Every Day Will I Bless Thee*.

Anonymous said...

no.... the lectionary of the Last Sunday of the Church Year does -not- include the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

William Weedon said...

It does in Lutheran use. The Lutheran Liturgy, Lutheran Worship, and Lutheran Service Book all assign the last Sunday after Trinity as the parable of the ten virgins. I know that there has been a bit of development about HOW to end the Church year, but I do believe for quite a long time Lutherans have observed the end with Virgins.

Sch├╝tz said...

Susan mentioned Luther's "Day by day" fitting in with the one year series. In mentioning this, she draws our attention to the fact that the historical series of Sunday readings originated from a much larger series of readings for everyday of the Church year, which explains the arrangement of the old series. In fact, the same thing needs to be kept in mind with Mama Roma's new 3 year cycle--it is complemented by the 2 year series of daily readings for the Mass. Not much gets left out of the entire combination of daily and Sunday masses. A fair number of Catholics are still in the habit of attending daily mass, and in combination with Sunday Mass and the growing devotion of Lectio Divina, this can lead to a very deep and rich scriptural spirituality.

In addition, the difficulty with returning to the historical lectionary is that you also have to return to the historical arrangement of the Church year, including the "Pre-Lent" Sundays, the 40 day Easter (rather than 50 days), Trinity-tide rather than Post-Pentecost etc. I'm not sure this is always a good thing.

I am, however, quite aware of the deficiencies of the 3 year lectionary, and believe that it could well benefit from an overhaul similar to that which the current English translation is receiving. My greatest concern is the manner in which "difficult" passages are simply omitted, and the "cut-and-paste" approach to many readings. Second to this is the way in which the First Reading is clearly selected on the basis of the Gospel, meaning that little understanding of the OT emerges from this cycle. I think the Revised Common Lectionary will be of service to any future Catholic reform, but in terms of what mistakes not to make rather than as an exact model!

William Weedon said...

I think the return of pre-Lent is one of the stronger arguments FOR the historic series. Who goes on a journey without making preparations? Gesima tide provides the means - with outstanding readings for the same!

Our LSB does provide a daily lectionary as well, in broad agreement with the ancient Church's notions of which books are read during which seasons of the year. But because Lutherans are not wont to practice the daily mass (though not opposed to it), the daily readings are envisioned as being used more in daily Matins or Vespers or the morning and evening prayers of the household. They are much longer readings than are provided in the Roman Breviary, and basically fill the role of the 2 year cycle of daily Mass readings in the current Roman schema, except that they take you through most of the OT narratives and all of the NT during the year; I think through the NT twice.

Jimbo said...

actually, there is some repetition in the LW lectionary. 2 last Sunday B has Mark 13:24-31, Last Sunday has Mark 13:32-37. Which is immediately followed by Advent 1 C - Luke 21:25-36 (Advent II for you One Year'ers). Note well that Mark 13:24-37 is parallel to Luke 21:25-36, which you get three Sundays in a row (though Luke adds "Lift up your heads").

The LSB series corrects this by bringing together the Mark 13 passages into one Sunday, and swapping out Luke 21 for the Palm Sunday entry from Luke on Advent 1 C(Advent 1 A is now Palm Sunday from Matthew, B from Mark). LSB's Advent 2 introduces John the Baptizer (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3), and Advent 3 in A and C is the same as the One Year (Matthew 11, Luke 7). (Advent 3 B is similar to Advent 4 1-Yr's John 1 option).


William Weedon said...

Happy birthday, Jimbo! Thirty-three. Gee, I'm not sure I can ever REMEMBER that long ago! ; )

Anonymous said...

Concerning Walther's sermons in English, CPH recently published "God grant it," a daily devotional with excerpts from his sermons.
My congregation just switched back to the one year lectionary; it's amazing how many pastors would love to do it, but their congregations like the colourful bulletin covers from cph... Now isn't that a definite reason for using a 3-year series????

Rev. Gerson Flor
Georgetown, Ontario