Scheduled Reading of Scripture
The second mention I made of things considered “adiaphora” is the use of a lectionary, that is, a schedule for Scripture readings. There are two lectionaries that we employ in our congregation. The first is the Revised Common Lectionary for Sunday Lessons in the Divine Service. We use the Three Year Lectionary, which means, it runs a three year cycle before starting over again. There is also a One Year Lectionary which starts over again each year. The other lectionary we make use of is the Two Year Daily Lectionary as found in the Lutheran Book of Worship.
The Three Year Lectionary for the Divine Service includes the First Lesson, usually drawn from the Old Testament. It assigns a Psalm Reading which is usually chanted back and forth between Assisting Minster and the congregation (responsively), or between two sides (antiphonally). The Psalmody affords the congregation an opportunity to participate between the First and Second Lesson. The Second Lesson is usually drawn from one of the New Testament Letters of an Apostle. And the Gospel Lesson is a portion from one of the four Gospel Accounts.
The Daily Lectionary, for the most part, does not correspond to the Seasons of the Church Year and the Lessons for the Divine Service. Its intention is the systematic reading of most of the Biblical Text. Like the Sunday readings it utilizes a reading from the Old Testament, one from the Letters of the New Testament, and one from a Gospel Account.
Now to get to the point, these tools are not explicitly commanded in Scripture. But that hardly means they are unimportant, or that they are not most helpful and edifying.
Again, there is Biblical precedence for scheduled readings as reflected in temple and synagogue worship, not to mention during the observance of festivals in the Old Testament. Furthermore, the use of lectionaries in Christian communities has been consistently practiced from the beginning.
I will write more next week on why lectionaries should not be abandoned.
Since You Asked…
What is the significance of All Saints’ Day?
The significance is expressed in the hymn The Church’s One Foundation, the fifth stanza: “And mystic sweet communion / With those whose rest is won.” We certainly mourn in death the physical separation with our loved ones, but the Church affirms that the dead in Christ are very much alive and are present with our Lord. We further believe in the Resurrection of the dead on the last day, and our joyful reunion with the saints of all the ages in the eternal kingdom of our Lord. Therefore we can speak of our dearly departed as being a part of the Church Triumphant while we remain the Church Militant. On the festival of All Saints we direct our attention to the richness of Christian history, and the manifold workings of God’s grace through the lives of believers who have gone before us. It is also an appropriate time to honor the memory of those members of our congregation who have died.