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Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Historic Lectionary

At the beginning of Advent last year, I made the switch from using the 3-year lectionary to using the Historic Lectionary. With Holy Trinity Sunday tomorrow, it has been about six months that I have been using the 1-year lectionary. My entire life I have only remembered the 3-year lectionary. I used the 3-year throughout my ministry from 1995-2010. Why, after, all that time, did I switch to the Historic Lectionary?

1. I have been working on translating Wilhelm Loehe's sermons on the Gospel readings for over a year now. Loehe, obviously, used the Historic Lectionary. Switching to that lectionary gave me more connectedness to what I was translating from Loehe.

2. There are MANY Lutheran sermons available on the Historic lectionary. Preachers like Luther, Walther, and friends in Germany used/use the Historic lectionary. It is nice to sync up with those resources.

Now, here is where I show my independent streak. I had several choices to go with for the Historic lectionary: LCMS TLH or LSB version, ELS version, Anglican version, SELK version, etc. I ultimately chose the SELK's Historic lectionary. I found that the Old Testament lections, in general, drew from Genesis and Isaiah. Genesis is the foundational Scripture from which the other 65 books flow, and Isaiah is often called the "Fifth Evangelist". In general, however, most of the Historic lectionary variants use the same Gospel lection. There is a fair degree of commonality regarding the Epistle lections. The Old Testament lections show the great variety that exists in the Historic variants.

Overall, I have enjoyed preaching on the Historic lectionary this past year (mostly from the Gospel lections). The themes for the Sundays are well-chosen and time-tested. It was different using the Gesima Sundays before Lent, and a great joy to do so. The great strengths in the Historic lectionary are drawn out in seasons like Advent, Christmas, Holy Week/Easter, and the final three Sundays of the Church year.

There are a few rough edges in the Historic lectionary. Not every lectionary is perfect. Sometimes I thought the LCMS LSB variant was better than the SELK variant for a given Sunday. But Scripture is Scripture. You can't go wrong preaching on the Word of God.

As the Church enters the long Trinity Season, I am looking forward to the Historic lectionary. There are lots of great themes on the horizon, and there are some great, old sermons to be read from Lutheran preachers of the past and present.

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