A Four-Year Lectionary – Rough Draft

My rough draft of a Four-Year Lectionary is now complete.  Comments and suggestions for improvement would be most appreciated.

My first goal in creating this four-year lectionary was to give John its rightful place in the readings. Rather than dividing John up between three years as the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) does (mainly during Lent and Eastertide), I believe John needs to have it’s own year, during which its theology and focus can become clear. I also believe that the passion narratives are given short shrift in the current RCL, and so in this lectionary they are found throughout each of the Lenten seasons. Further, I have tried to maintain a continuous reading throughout all four gospels insomuch as it is possible given the “interruption” of Lent and Easter. This also holds for the readings from the Old Testament and Epistles.

Because this uses a four-year cycle, many more scripture passages are used. The gospels of Mark, Luke and John are used almost in their entirety. Because it is much longer, some of the passages in Matthew are omitted, but their counterparts in other gospels are used, thus ensuring that no significant story or teaching of Jesus is omitted. Further, there are more readings from the Epistles, Acts, and the Hebrew scriptures (especially as concerns Wisdom literature, Joshua, Judges, the Psalms, and the Minor Prophets) in this lectionary. Many passages cited below have not been a part of any previous lectionary, and I have especially tried to include controversial passages that have been previously ignored and more passages that feature the women of the Bible.

Finally, this lectionary can actually be used over an eight-year cycle. This would be done by using the alternate readings every other time through this lectionary. In the future I hope to add alternate readings for the Epistles after Trinity Sunday that will focus more extensively on Wisdom literature, with extended readings from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon. In this way, even more scripture will be read and heard during Christian worship. I, for one, think this is a good thing.

I have added brief descriptions to some of the texts below. If you would like to add some to those without, I would be most appreciative. Also, this is a rough draft, and I am very open to suggestions for improvements. Click on the link below for a copy of this lectionary in PDF form.

A Four Year Lectionary

15 thoughts on “A Four-Year Lectionary – Rough Draft

  1. what a wonderful undertaking and what fantastic results. thanks Will for the time and attentiveness you put into this project. it is a word well appreciated and looks to be a very fine way of including more of John’s Gospel with the year D (four year) plan. simply wonderful!

  2. Will: Thanks for this gift. I want to spend some more time with it, but I think it offers a lot of promise, gives the Gospel of John it’s own ‘year,’ as well as expanding the scope of biblical readings. Thanks for taking this task on. Thom

  3. Will, thanks so much for this. An incredible amount of work to be sure. I wouldn’t have a clue where to begin such an undertaking and thus this question/comment/suggestion.
    I usually get so much out of John’s contributions, in fact, I’m developing a dependency upon the weekly work he provides. Given the difficulty some of us appear to have had trying to locate the appropriate Sunday, and his COCU indexing system, I am wondering whether there is some way of marrying your 4 year cycle to that system.

    Regardless, thanks so much for this. I wish I had another week or so of vacation…lol

    1. Keith: Ultimately, I would love to do something like what John does combined with the kind of work Jenee does with her website The Text This Week. But talk about work . . . that would be quite an undertaking and make what I have done with the lectionary look like peanuts. :^)

  4. This project of yours inspired a great conversation at my folks’ dinner table the last time I saw them about where each gospel leads to. One question from Dad was, “What part of John did he feel wasn’t represented?”

    I didn’t really have an answer for him, so I’ll ask you now — is there something specific about John’s theology you feel needs more attention? Or, is it something closer to you just like John and figure it should get more attention than it was getting?

    🙂 I don’t have much to comment on but did want to ‘give you props’ for your vision and labors. Keep up all the good work, Will!

    1. Andrew, I just noticed I never replied to your comment. I just think John should be read more like the other gospels are read . . . over one year’s time and not divided up between three lectionary years. Out of all four gospels, I think John is best read and preached in this way.

  5. This is a great idea. Though I no longer serve at a church that follows a lectionary, I always thought a 3-year cycle–even the RCL–unnecessarily gave certain passages and themes the short stick.

  6. I like the idea of a four-year lectionary for several reasons, but mostly because it would allow for the inclusion of many passages never used before. Many years ago I made up for my own use a compilation of Bible passages that people never heard in the worship of the Lutheran church. I was surprised that even entire books were ignored! It’s about time that God’s word be presented in its entirety.

    1. I worked through Year D last year and am currently on Year A. I have made some adjustments to the readings and after I have gone through the cycle in its entirety, I will publish my revisions. I am looking forward to the Judah and Tamar story that will come up in the readings in a few weeks (one of those passages the RCL conveniently ignores).

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