Sunday, September 10, 2006

scripture and rhythm

I have a problem with my Scriptural rhythm and I’m looking for a new method. For a number of years I have used a regular Scriptural rhythm based on the Revised Common Lectionary. It offers 4 readings – Psalm, Old Testament, Gospel, Epistle.

At the start of the year I suggested a pattern of shared Scripture readings to our church leadership team. I invited us to all read the same Scriptures, as this would give us a shared Biblical language. I also invited us to meet regularly for lectio divina around these texts we were dwelling in together. Different staff would led us. Nine months on, a real sense of communal collegiality has developed in which the Scriptures are literally forming our conversations and dreams.

In introducing this pattern, I was concerned that the Revised Common Lectionary might be too complex for a group of Baptists. Instead, I found a set of readings in Daily Prayer. This offered a Psalm and one other reading, swapping between Old Testament and New Testament. It could be photocopied as a simple booklet. It has caught on and quite a number of our church community at Opawa are now reading with us. I doubt they would have connected with the RCL.

But. A big but. The strength of Daily Prayer is it’s weakness. The daily progression does not integrate into a weekly rhythm. Thus we can’t integrate our daily readings into our weekly gatherings. I need something simple, that can also give us a progression weekly (and we gather as different congregations on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So we need like 3 different weekly rhythms!).

So the RCL is too complex. And Daily Prayer can’t be integrated into weekly patterns. Does anyone have any suggestions that might help – something simpler than RCL that can work both daily and weekly?

Posted by steve at 04:58 PM


  1. We are using the Anglican Lectionary readings for morning and evening prayer, it does have a daily rhythm and to some extent a weekly rhythm (we use the sunday and the thursday communion readings to create a weekly rhythm for our gatherings) see

    Comment by Mark Berry — September 11, 2006 @ 4:55 am

  2. Joce’s reflections as God as gardener rang true for me.
    Since I moved to rural Aberdeenshire I’ve been trying to create a garden out of a field! Tough.
    My indoor cactus is something worth seeing when it’s in flower. About 20 years old it was given to me with only 2 leaves and now has a diamater of about 2 feet.
    Recently I gave each of my colleagues in the ministers fellowship a two leaf cutting in a little pot. They didn’t look like they had much promise (The plants!) I invited them to water and nurture them and reflect on the process – being careful in their observation. I had comments like ‘My wife will like this!’ I also gave plants to my support group. Recently while on a work trip – not feeling the best – I had an email from Elaine who heads up my support group – she just said – I’ve been watering my plant, thinking and praying for you…………….
    I suppose I could embelish this telling – adding a question at the end like Jesus was prone to do…..’Now who is the leader?…..

    Comment by Olive Fleming Drane — September 11, 2006 @ 4:55 am

  3. Steve,

    What you outline is actually something we too have been developing for a rhythm at Highgate. Over the last 2 years we’ve been developing this and seeking to help epople bed into the text that forms and shapes our mission roles here. Those who have this discipline and attend the CAim look forward to this midweek between sundays now and conversations and peoples seeing are often full of amazement at how the text for that day follows and builds on before and into our lives individually, but more significantly as a community.
    I actually take the RCL for the year from the Anglican Te maramataka lectionary, trawl through it to get a psalm and either OT/NT reading for each day and then publish a monthly portion. Sundays do take a blip in some ways, but for our midweek it has so informed that worship gathering and I have this year had a team now simply work alongside. We take the text for the day and are on the verge now of developing some interesting worship liturgies/reflections. A meal has grown up too prior and rotates from house to house with an email going out to all who want to sign up. We are tentatively considering a similar reflective service some Sunday nights with a meal, etc. There has even been a project of service to go clear up gardens, dig in etc in prep for Spring sowing.(i emailed out joce’s leader as gardener to our folks!) As for regular Sunday for next year I may revamp it all a bit more with the daily texts and simply adjust the ongoing weekly reading so that it bounces through more fully for us. That’s our story for what it is worth.

    Comment by Fyfe — September 11, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

  4. Steve
    I am engaging with a similar set of dilemnas here at Oakworth – and am in the process of making a change. Wanting to encourage daily reading together I have used an adapted form of the Anglican RCL – with the same problems of complexity – and wondering whether people were really engaging with a pattern of daily Readings which I could not fully explain (there has been a lot of clergy criticism of it here in the UK). In my research of a lot of alternatives I have opted for this Anglican Communion pattern of daily readings which has been instigated by the worldwide Bishops – it adds something to feel part of something sharing the Word in a genuinely worldwide context. It is straightforward, accessible to all by computer on a daily basis, and downloadablle for printing for others. The only thing it doesn’t really fit of your requirements is linking with the Sunday or Eucharistic readings – but in the Anglican tradition the weekday office readings have always been a different “track” from the Sunday/DailyEucharistic/ Saints Days readings. Hope this helps the link is with the data on the left of the page:

    Comment by Tom Allen — September 11, 2006 @ 9:04 pm

  5. Greetings Steve

    Firstly, may I honour your venture into the scriptures together.
    I am also not completely certain I understand the complexities you are describing.
    My primary encouragement for you would be that you persevere with RCL. It must be one of the most amazing God-inspired movements of our time uniting Christians around the world whatever their language or denomination. I have worshipped on every continent except Antarctica – and whatever the language, I have known what scriptures are being proclaimed!
    I am not sure why you think it is complex – there is an almost unlimited availability of resources in books and online based on RCL. A good start is:
    For the First Testament, communities have a choice: related to the Gospel reading, or continuing from week to week.
    I would not think of the Psalm as a “reading” – hence one has three readings and a psalm. The tradition of lectio is very happy with repetition. One could read half a set reading a day (ie. 6 days) or read each reading twice (Mon: OT, Tue: epist, Wed:Gospel, Thurs: OT again, etc)
    A completely different point:
    people who have not recently been to my site
    (where there are lots of RCL related pointers, resources, links, & ideas, see for example
    would have missed out on my discovery of Daily Prayer podcasts:

    Comment by Bosco Peters — September 11, 2006 @ 9:48 pm

  6. I don’t have any tips but I love this idea steve. I too need help developing rhythm in my scriptural pursuits. We will be exploring this as a possibility for our community – the leaders at least and maybe as a guide for our midweeks. Thanks to all for the tools and tips 🙂

    Comment by Makeesha — September 12, 2006 @ 3:01 am

  7. There’s some kind of internal error on this site, no need to repost your comments…they’ll appear in spite of the error message and if you keep submitting there will be multiple posts…just fyi.

    Comment by Makeesha — September 12, 2006 @ 3:02 am

  8. appreciate all the comments; thanks.

    am i allowed to quietly chuckle over Tom and Bosco, suggesting different lectionary readings as part of extolling a shared universal church?

    bosco, the complexity is merely us illiterate baptists who’se eyes glaze over at 4 readings littered with saints and more options depending on morning or evening. it’s also about photocopyability – the dialy prayer we used is 16 pages A5 – so much less intimidating than the Anglican Te maramataka lectionary.

    plus its also about trying to mix both daily readings as regular with 7 day gatherings. So last week the readings were from 1 Samuel, but if you were not reading daily readings but turn up at our Tuesday church you would have jumped from 1 sam 5 to 1 samuel 16; while sunday from 1 samuel 9 ot 1 sam 24. So there is not apparent regular rhythm weekly.

    very nice to be having this sort of chat on a baptist website!

    Comment by Lynne — September 12, 2006 @ 8:14 pm

  9. Lynne and Steve
    Regarding how to deal with the one per week and the everyday this is the reason why the Anglican lectionary has disconnected the weekly readings (used when we gather together for worship) from the daily readings (used individually or in small groups often where there is no preaching). In churches here people use the Sunday readings for each main gathering during the week (which provides continuity of story)or simply accept that continuity is in the end less important than quality engaging with the text – especially with the Gospels.I certainly agree with the complexity problem for which the Anglican lectionery here in the UK is particularly bad. So for example clergy I was with this morning had used different psalms for the morning office. I guess the essence is that if we want to spread the practice beyond the cleryg / lay specialists – then we have to something which is accessible and clear.

    Comment by Tom Allen — September 13, 2006 @ 1:27 am

  10. did i say that?
    last comment from me was actually from steve, using my pc… but could have said it, don’t mind being quoted as such 🙂

    Comment by Lynne — September 13, 2006 @ 9:10 am

  11. Greetings
    Your chuckle, Lynne (or is it Steve – I get so confused when two become one:-) , need not be so quiet 🙂
    And yes – you can imagine my delight that this discussion is happening here!

    Ok you mention the Anglican NZ Lectionary/Maramataka (it is also online) – and certainly I wasn’t thinking you would be using something so complex. RCL essentially refers to the three Sunday readings & psalm. The core for coming Sunday is Mark 8:27-38. Mark will basically be read through completely this year. With no connection is James 3:1-12 also being read Sunday by Sunday. Then comes a community choice: do we read the First Testament in similar integrity (“Continuous” Prov 1:20-33)? The first attempts at RCL in the 1960s connected the OT to the gospel (“Related” Isa 50:4-9a). Each choice comes with its psalm (19, or 116:1-9).

    These readings are basically used world-wide by all Roman Catholics (half of Christianity), Anglicans, Methodists, most Presbyterians, etc. & now maybe some Opawa Baptists 🙂

    It is a Sunday system of readings. I was trying to suggest how you could adapt such a system to your context. Maybe what you are saying is that these three readings and the psalm form your community’s weekly discipline & each person & gathering has to use them as works for that particular context.

    Tom pointed to a new experimental daily lectionary which appears to be designed for people already part of RCL Sunday by Sunday and are supplementing this with an independent daily discipline but not of the complexity you mention in NZ Lectionary/Maramataka. In Tom’s saying the Sunday RCL readings would be used at each significant independent congregation Sunday or weekday I think he, like me, is highlighting that, whatever else one uses, I would encourage RCL as the core.

    As well as perusing the sites I posted, I note again the plethora of RCL resources. Here are just two more which may help:

    God bless your venture.

    Comment by Bosco Peters — September 13, 2006 @ 9:49 am

  12. I just received this email from OC Books (I cannot recommend it, as I’ve never used it – but I could not help but think of this conversation):

    Over the last few years, the Upper Room Disciplines daily readings book has
    become increasingly popular. Writers offer a variety of perspectives on
    daily Bible readings selected from the Revised Common Lectionary. Each
    scriptural and real-life based meditation includes suggestions for prayer
    and further reflection. In addition, there is an outline explaining how to
    use the book in small groups.

    Comment by Bosco Peters — September 14, 2006 @ 4:59 pm

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