Our lives are shaped by various calendars: social, civic, religious, and personal. These calendars give meaning to seasons and certain days in the year. In the church our calendar is based on a liturgical year which divides the year into seasons-- Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary time -- and feast days. Each of these seasons asks us to reflect on God in our lives in specific ways. Our readings on Sundays reflect this pattern.
Our readings are set out by what is called the Revised Common Lectionary, published in 1992, and adopted by The Episcopal Church in 2006. A lectionary is simply a set of readings appointed to be read during public worship. The Revised Common Lectionary is the result of ecumenical work over the last sixty years.
After Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church established a lectionary (1969) with a three-year cycle for Sunday readings. This work became the basis for several other denominations to establish their own lectionaries, as The Episcopal Church did in the 1979 editions of The Book of Common Prayer.
The Ecumenical movement with its concern for unity and working together propelled the establishment of what is known as The Common Lectionary, published in 1983. It provided a common set of scripture to be read across various Christian denominations. This initial effort took account of various criticism and the Revised Common Lectionary.
The Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of Sunday Eucharistic readings in which Matthew, Mark, and Luke are read in successive years with some material from John read in each year.
There are several online versions of the Revised Common Lectionary:
“Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever”
Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Proper 28