Wait a minute! We’ve come to know Year A, Year B, and Year C over the years. As we’ve cycled through these cycles of readings, they have become familiar and perhaps even welcome guides to our faith practices. But Year W?
For the season of Lent and Easter—beginning with Ash Wednesday and through Pentecost Sunday—we will interrupt our regular practice of following the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) to take on a modified set of scripture readings instead. The occasion gives us a good opportunity to remember what a lectionary is and what it is for.
What is a Lectionary?
Simply put, a lectionary is an order of readings practiced by faith communities. The RCL is a three-year cycle of Sunday readings: (1) a first reading (usually from the First Testament), with a song, a psalm or canticle, that offers a response to it, (2) a second reading (usually from a New Testament letter or epistle), and (3) a Gospel reading. Year A generally follows Matthew, Year B centers Mark. We are currently in Year C, which centers Luke. The Gospel of John shows up in all three lectionary cycles, usually during the festival seasons (Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter and the festival Sundays that surround each).
It has been our common practice at St. Andrew to follow the RCL for numerous reasons. Among them:
So, back to the initial question:
While the RCL cycle of readings draws out a generous selection of the scriptures, it is not comprehensive. Even in the three-year cycle some stories and scriptures are left out. Decisions have been made as to which texts best inform our faith and action. And there is always room for debate.
Wilda C. Gafney, a biblical scholar and Episcopal priest who teaches at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas has brought her voice and her scholarship to the debate. She is interviewed in a recent Christian Century article that provides some background to a project that began in 2017 with her desire to center neglected stories of women in the Bible.
She’s doing this in a variety of ways, among them,