This coming liturgical year (which starts Sunday Nov 27th) we will be using A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church: Year A for Scripture selections (and translations) for Holy Eucharist. (We normally use the Revised Common Lectionary, along with a few special series from time to time.)
A Women’s Lectionary is curated and translated by the Rev. Wilda Gafney, which focuses on the stories of women in the Scriptures who are too often on the margins of our regular Bible “diet.”
Our Leadership Team thought this would be a practical way for us to continue the journey we have been on over the past few years of learning to listen to and stand in solidarity with the marginalized by telling the story of God and God’s people through the most marginalized characters in the text.
Also, just like our previous Lenten series on racism and Mammon, this may be a stretching experience for us! There are a couple aspects of the Women’s Lectionary that will be new for our community:
1) A gender-expansive translation
Gafney’s translations of the texts contain evocative and creative names for God, and in the Psalms uses feminine or gender-neutral pronouns for God, allowing us to hear the Scriptures in a “feminine vocal register.”
2) Texts from the “apocrypha” are included
Occasionally deutercanonical texts (i.e. the so-called “Apocrypha”) are included. These books were widely accepted as Scripture by the early church, and are still considered part of the canon of Scripture by Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
Most Protestant denominations rejected these texts, but Anglicanism has always included them as able to be read by the church “for example of life and instruction of manners,” but not to establish any doctrine.
Anglicans have always made some liturgical use of the apocryphal books, and [modern] lectionaries have extended that use… We read them and value them, but they have a secondary position, being used only to reinforce the doctrines of the proto-canonical Old Testament books.Reginald Fuller, quoted in The Study of Anglicanism, p. 93
Since the Anglican consensus is to view the apocrypha has helpful, but not canonical, we will end these readings in worship by saying “Here ends the reading” rather than “The Word of the Lord.”
An experiment in formation from the margins
Dallas Willard once said that “familiarity breeds unfamiliarity.” So I’m praying that this experiment in hearing God speak to us in fresh ways through new stories and new translations will bring us into deeper communion with God and each other, and deeper solidarity with the marginalized.
On Sunday Nov 27 at 9am all are invited to a discussion about this lectionary for our Adult School School hour.
And of course, let me or Fr. Spencer or Fr. Matt know if you have any questions. I’m looking forward to this journey!