Revision of the order for the lectionary and sermon texts

Dear Madam, Dear Sir, Dear Sisters and Brothers,

In the spring of 2011 the church authorities of the EKD, UEK and VELKD resolved to introduce a limited revision of the current lectionary.

The present lectionary has hardly been changed since 1978. It follows a six-yearly cycle of sermon texts. The sermon texts also include the three bible readings for the particular Sunday or festival, one each from the Old Testament, the Epistles and the Gospels. These readings recur annually.

Since September 2011, a working group with representatives of scholarship and practice has been working on the draft of a limited revision of the lectionary. The composition of the group is almost gender balanced so it expresses a respect for gender justice as well. The proposal for revision should be available in the autumn of 2014.

To this end, the church authorities have laid down the following basic guidelines.

  • As in the past, there will be one reading each from the Epistles and the Gospels. These will essentially follow the early mediaeval (so-called early church) lectionaries found in the tradition of the western churches and should only be changed on very weighty grounds. There will also continue to be one reading from the Old Testament for each Sunday and festival. However, the sermon texts will not necessarily be taken for the whole year from the same section of the bible but vary wherever this makes sense.
  • In future there will also continue to be a cycle of sermon texts for about six years. The selection of the sermon texts should continue to be based on the principle of consonance which reflects the mutual relationships between the readings, the sermon texts and also the text, hymn and psalm for the week.
  • The number of sermon texts from the Old Testament will be considerably increased in order to take account of the growing awareness over the past few decades of the importance of the Old Testament for the Christian faith and to reflect on this.
  • The lectionaries and sermon text series of other churches and the existing proposals for revision are to be examined to see whether they contain helpful stimuli which could be incorporated into the new order.
  • Finally, it should also be investigated to what extent changes in church and society would suggest a cautious change in the form of the church’s year and of specific festivals and commemorative days during the church year.

For questions about this project, (Ms.) Oberkirchenrätin Jahn and (Ms.) Rev. Dr. Zeitler will be happy to respond. We should also be grateful if you would pass on any information about reflections on reforming lectionaries in the context of your own church.

God’s blessing on your work.

Dr. Ulrich Anke, EKD                   

Bishop Martin Schindehütte, UEK       

Dr. Friedrich Hauschildt, VELKD

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European City of the Reformation