So what is going on with our bloody lectionary? For those of you who do not engage in a daily church service or on-line worship, there does exist this lectionary thingy that over the years has evolved into what we call the Revised Common Lectionary, or RCL for short, that provides groupings of Psalms, O.T. readings, Epistle readings, and Gospel readings for morning and evening worship and for worship on Sundays, Eucharistic readings, and feasts and Holy days. For the past several years, I have been providing some humble commentary on the verses of the Bible that get left out of the Sunday Eucharistic readings. These missing verses appear in the middle of the Biblical texts and most pewsitters are unaware of the omissions as they listen or sit reading along in their bulletins. Some of these edits appear suspicious in that imprecatory, difficult, or potentially controversial verses wind up being the ones that are expurgated. I don't see as much of this going on during the week as I see on Sundays, but today the RCL tried to sneak one by me. You see, during the weekdays, the RCL usually reads straight through a book of the Bible so that you can get through the entire Gospel of Luke for example in a series of daily readings. But look at what happens to Paul's letter to the Romans between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
On Tuesday we read (or hear) Romans 1:16-25.
On Wednesday we get Romans 1:28-2:11.
Does anyone notice the missing verses???
I have heard the excuse that the lectionary shortens some Sunday readings so that the service does not run long. I think we have debunked that myth in the past when it was noted that one or two verses were all that was cut. Just yesterday I was reading an explanation of the Lectionary in the Prayer Book Society's Spring Quarter 2010 (print version not on-line) of "Mandate," and while the Rev. Gavin Dunbar gives a capable commentary on the history, weaknesses, structures, and purpose the lectionaries, there was no comment like the one I am about to make about the RCL:
There is a conspiracy to keep you from reading things that might offend the zeitgeist.
I hate conspiracy theories, and here I go starting one, but what else can I do when I pick up the Bible and read today's missing verses:
26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
Or as we used to hear when read from the KJV:
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
Does this rank up there with the time the RCL dropped the following from the Sunday reading of May 16, 2010 (reported here)?
"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."Maybe not, but when even an under the radar Bible reader like me notices that the verses that sound easy, sweet, and soothing never seem to be the ones that get sunk, is it any wonder that one's mind starts questioning the intentions of those commanding the fleet?