Services & Classes
Since as early as about 180 A.D., the early Church used lectionary readings--an ordered system of selected readings of Scripture--in the worship services of the Church. Since at least as early as 325 A.D., specially selected Scripture portions were read aloud on the major feast days, and on ordinary Sundays the Scriptures were read aloud in lectio continua fashion, that is, a continuous reading through the books of Scripture.
That practice of the early Church followed ancient precedent from the Jewish synagogues, which had fixed Scripture readings for the Jewish feasts, as well as readings chosen for ordinary Sabbaths on the principle of lectio continua. This may have been the practice when, at the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus "stood up to read the lesson and was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah" (Luke 4:16-17 NEB).
Epworth Chapel on the Green follows, as do countless other churches, the three-year cycle of lectionary readings as appointed for both ordinary Sundays and feast days in The Book of Common Prayer. That three-year cycle--Year A, Year B and Year C--always begins in Year A on the first Sunday in Advent, in years evenly divisible by three. For example, 2001 divided by 3 is 667, so Year A began on the first Sunday in Advent in 2001.
The lectionary makes evident for the congregation the relationship of the readings of one Sunday with those that come before and after it. Within each of the seasons of Lent, Easter, Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, the flow of the season is reflected in all of the Scripture texts. The various Scripture readings follow, therefore, the Christian calendar, not the secular calendar or secular or national holidays or events. Combined with observance of the Christian calendar, the lectionary readings enable Epworthies to live within the Gospel through the ways in which we mark time. To that end, each week we publish the following Sunday's readings, to enable and encourage people to come prepared for that day's worship service.