Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Warning to the Writers of the RCL

I usually blog about the Sunday sermon, but this was really bugging me today.

This Sunday's readings highlight one of my pet peeves, and that is the problem of the "missing verses." We use the Revised Common Lectionary for the assigned readings and quite frequently this presents us pewsitters with an expurgated version of the Bible. What they did today to Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-12 sounds innocent enough,
12 ‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work.
13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

16 ‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’
17The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

20 The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen

I wonder if they just wanted to make things sound pretty by cutting the verses of warning,
v. 15
"Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises falsehood."

We sure should have heard that one the day after the consecration of Mary Glasspool in Los Angeles. I know, that verse is exclusionist (bad), and we are living in the age of theological pluralism (everybody gets in), and rationalism (there is no absolute truth so there is no absolute falsehood), but at times like this, I am beyond suspicious of the motives of the composers of the RCL.

And also left out was the part that the RCL really, really should not have tried to expurgate, vs. 18-19
"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."

Uh oh...


  1. Verses 18-19 are seminal to the scripture. If most of us knew those verses, innumerable heresies could be avoided.


  2. Andy Bawtree5:19 PM

    Dear Vic,

    As one Vic to another - take ABC Cranmer's advice not the RCL committee and offer the whole reading, who likes filets when you can have a whole side of beef?
    We need to to be feeding our flocks, if we don't do it who will?
    The whole of God's written word for the good of God's people I say, what did you do today ?

    Your fellow warrior in the fight,

    Andy Bawtree

  3. I gave up on the RCL and use the readings table from the 1662 BCP. I found the same problem with the appointed readings for Sunday worship -- chopped up, challenging portions deleted. Fortunately our pastor insists the whole passage be read.

  4. Readers can and should choose to read the whole text when presented with these RCL edits. For Sunday worship this kind of thing should be decided upon earlier in the week by the worship leaders. As a lowly pewsitter, I will file a complaint to the powers that be.

    A deeper question is whether or not there is an underlying motivation in the choices by the RCL as to what is intended to be heard on Sundays.

  5. Anonymous8:48 PM

    It is indeed odd that the Church that always implores us to consider the context of a verse omits so many verses in a passage that the full meaning of the passage cannot be ascertained. Gee, if I were to edit the speeches of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson so freely as the editors of the RCL, I could make them both honest men.