Sunday, May 4, 2008

Christian Talking Points: Holy Days and the Daily Office Lectionary

I was delighted to pick up the web link to the Daily Office Lectionary from the Hills of the North website. I very much liked the idea of following the readings in the daily Lectionary, but had not yet actually done so. I had put on my Goals for 2008 to develop a practice of following the daily office.

In a broad way, the Christian tradition is to focus on key elements of Christian doctrine on particular Holy Days. For example, discussing our sins and repentance is given priority in Lent; Easter Sunday is the day Christians affirm their belief in the Resurrection and that sin and death have been defeated. Staying with the Christian "talking points" for the Holy Days ensures that over the course of a year, the key Christian teachings have been given.

The problems with veering away from the "talking points" is demonstrated in the criticism of the Presiding Bishop's Easter Message. (Anglican Scotist assembled a partial list of the criticism that included the online blogs Hills of the North and Midwest Conservative Journal. The Daily Camera article has an interview with the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon's criticism and provides the contrasting example of the Easter sermon by Bishop Martyn Minns. The Rev. Dr. Philip Turner's critique is the final section of his article posted on the ACI website and discussed on this blog. Anglican Scotist posted a defense of the PB's Easter Message. )

The celebration of Holy Days ensures that the Christian community is meditating on the same teachings at the same time. In the same way, it is beautiful to know that each Sunday in churches across the world, congregations are hearing the same lessons read in the churches. We strengthen the Christian community when we participate in mediations on the same scriptural passages. Joining in to follow the Lectionary readings of the Daily Office extends this concept further.

The Daily Office provides a structure for Bible Study. I think there is always a tendency to pick and choose among the reading we do in the Bible. Following the Lectionary is a way to get the whole range of Bible readings. In the introductory material on page 934 of the 1979 Prayer Book, we are told that "Any readings may be lengthened at discretion." So, the readings from the Daily Office Lectionary provides the jumping off point for more extended study.

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