It’s nothing to brag about, and I hope it doesn’t come off as that when I say it, but I’m pretty good with lectionaries. I know, I know. Your search is over! You’ve been looking for someone with that skill-set for years, and now your quest is over! If you check the right of this page, for instance, you’ll find listings for Morning and Evening Prayer every day. Psalm(s), First Lessons, Second Lessons. These are taken from the lectionary in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP).
It’s not a commonly used word, so before I continue let me just explain that a lectionary is a schedule of Bible readings/lessons to be used in times of worship/prayer. We use the Revised Common Lectionary on Sundays, which is on a three year cycle – each year emphasizes the use of Matthew, Mark, or Luke for the Gospel Lessons (with John mixed in to every year, also). Right now we’re in Year C. But the lectionary from the BCP is something different, and it’s what I prefer in my daily prayers.
Yesterday morning I couldn’t get the church website to come up on my phone, and so I couldn’t get the lessons for the day to appear. Not a huge problem, you would think. I had the BCP there with me, and the lessons on the website are taken out of the charts in the opening pages of the book. So I opened to them. Right away I found the week of the Third Sunday after Epiphany, and the Wednesday morning lesson listed was Malachi 3:13-4 end. So I read the lesson, which closes with these words:
5Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 6He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.
I considered Elijah’s coming, and how Jesus had taught His disciples that John the Baptist was “the Elijah” to come. Then I moved on, praying through the canticle. Now, by the time I finished the canticle I realized that I’d been wrong. In the BCP lectionary, it isn’t the week following the third Sunday after Epiphany. It is the week following Septuagesima (how could anyone forget that, right?). So for my second lesson I turned to Septuagesima, and the second lesson for the Wednesday was Matthew 17:1-23, which features these verses:
11He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; 12but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” 13Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
So even though I got my lectionary readings confused, God was at work. He blessed my prayer time in an unexpected yet quite welcome way.