The Lectionary: A Bible Plan for All People

Reading the Bible Daily

When I was 18 I started a Bible reading plan that took me through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice every year. I have tried to stick to that discipline in some shape or form ever since, and I can confidently say no other spiritual practice has been more transformational or consequential in my life. When I began, sometimes my daily reading was explosive and full of consolation, while other times it simply felt like eating the vegetables my mom packed in my lunch. And yet over time, as I ingested the full witness of Scripture over and over, the bizarre thing was that I started to notice something happening to me. My affections began to be changed and re-oriented. My imagination became gradually more sanctified. And above all, my picture of the Lord Jesus began to expand and deepen in living color. Now, having lived off of the daily bread of the Scriptures for so long, I could not stop if I tried. As Peter said, “Where else can I go? Only you have the words of life.”

The Historic Lectionary

Countless Christians throughout the ages have experienced this same thing, which was why it was recommended to me in the first place. And only later in my life did I realize that the Church has provided a common Bible reading plan for the people of God, which we call “the Lectionary.” In fact, during the English Reformation this was one of the chief things that Thomas Cranmer--one of the original architects of the Book of Common Prayer (or BCP)--set out to do. His intent was to create a common lectionary for the English speaking church which could be read morning and evening wherever the people gathered. As he wrote in the preface to the 1549 BCP, his intent was that "the whole Bible (or the greatest part thereof) should be read over once in the year...that the people (by daily hearing of holy Scripture read in the Church) should continually profit more and more in the knowledge of God, and be the more inflamed with the love of his true religion.”

We are inheritors of this tradition. We still have such a lectionary today, and I cannot think of anything so beneficial for Christ Church Madison as incorporating it into our daily life. First, because it allows us to receive the implanted word of God in daily doses. But second, because it allows us to do it together, so that when we are grabbing coffee or bumping into each other around Madison, we can say, “did you read that Psalm this morning?” or “wow…how epic is Ecclesiastes 2!”

Our Lectionary

The lectionary we use is provided in our denomination’s 2019 BCP (learn more about its creation here). If you own a BCP, you can find it in the very back, under the title “Daily Office Lectionary.” If you don’t have one, you can find a free PDF here. The lectionary is divided into two sections, one on the left side of the page, and one on the right. They are both organized according to the calendar year, and both contain a reading from the OT, NT, and the Psalms. One way to do it—the more hardcore way—is to read both sections daily, which would take you through the OT once and the NT twice each year. Another way—the simpler way we have chosen to do it—is to just read one section each day, which takes us through the NT once each year and the OT once every two years. Last year we followed the readings on the right side of the page (titled II), and this year we are following the readings on the left side of the page (titled I). See a picture below.
Our App

But also, thanks to some awesome people in our church, the coolest way to access the readings for the day can be found in our super nifty app! By the way, did you know our church has an app?! Yes we do, and you can learn all about it here. In our app there is a tab at the bottom that says “lectionary,” and if you tap it, and click on “plan,” you can find all the readings for each day that folks from our church have painstakingly entered into the calendar.

All that to say, my hope is that our church might seize these rich tools to feast personally and daily on the Scriptures. These are also the Scriptures that you'll here when you come to Morning Prayer and Evensong. And through it all, may we indeed become “inflamed with the love of true religion."

Fr. Scott
Christmastide 2022
Posted in