Following the Church Year

It’s Advent, my friends! This is one of my favorite parts of the church year.

A note on the lectionary

I write a lot of reflections on the lectionary readings around here, but I realize that the term “lectionary” might be pretty unfamiliar to some.

So, a quick explanation:

Many Protestant churches around the world use the same lectionary (set of readings) to determine which scripture passages are used each Sunday. There have been a number of different versions of Common Lectionaries over the twentieth century, but the version we use now — the Revised Common Lectionary — has been in use for about 20 years.

[Click for a list of which churches use the Revised Common Lectionary]

Each week the readings generally include a passage from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles, and the Gospels. Since there are so many passages to get through, the readings rotate on a three-year cycle. (We’re about to start Year B.)

There are all kinds of good websites that list the lectionary readings and offer commentary each week. Here are some I like to use:

Over the past year, I have used the lectionary readings as my personal Bible study, and it has been a deep, rich, and challenging experience. I hope you will consider exploring the lectionary calendar as part of your own personal faith journey!

Advent: Waiting on God

The whole cycle of the lectionary begins at Advent: the season that precedes Christmas. That means that this week, the first week of Advent, is actually the first week of the whole church year.

This Advent, I’m planning to write on the theme of waiting. Advent is an expectant time of darkness and quiet. It feels very distinct from the time that comes after Christmas, after Jesus has been incarnated and born into the world. I’m looking forward to sitting with the scripture readings for this season and soaking up their blessings.

I hope you will join me in walking through the next few weeks. And tell me: How do you celebrate Advent in your household, family, or church tradition? What is your favorite season or holiday of the church year?

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Filed under Advent 2011, Lectionary Reflections, My Faith Journey, Theology and Faith

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