What is meant by the terms 'lectionary' and 'liturgy' (or for that matter 'liturgist'!?)

A lectionary a list of passages from scripture (called 'lections' or 'lessons') that are selected to be read at certain times during the church year (see Seasons of the Church). Like many other Christian denominations PC(USA)–and so Servant-Savior–uses the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) published in 1992. Many, many churches across the USA and Canada consulted on the production of the RCL so it is truly a work by the people for the people for use in our worship of God. 

Nearly every Sunday (or other special service) during the year you will see the Pastor joined by a member of our congregation. The duties of this person include that of 'lector' (that is, the person reading the lectionary) but it is much more than that and so we refer to this person as the 'liturgist'. This is an important distinction because the liturgist does much more than simply read the 'lesson' for the day (the word 'lectionary' shares the same root word as 'lecture'–in other words, the teacher speaks, the students listen!) the ancient Greek root of of the word 'liturgy' (leitourgia) by contrast refers not to lecturers lecturing but rather to the people and their work. The liturgist calls to the people of the congregation to prepare for and to hear the Word of God proclaimed by the Pastor; we as the congregation actively respond to that call in our collective response to liturgical statements (as in our Confessional statements), our joining in prayers, our singing and playing of hymns, and in our sharing of our joys and concerns with each other.

The work of the people or 'liturgy' then is the participation of all of us–Pastor, liturgist, and congregation–each week as we worship and celebrate the Lord's Supper as a community. Our communal work each week allows us to renew ourselves and our community and so empowers and sustains our church, Christ's living body on Earth, to better bear witness to and to serve God in the world.  

Your Guide to the Weekly (and Daily!) Lectionary

Each Sunday following our Prayer for Illumination, or prayer to prepare us to hear the Word, our liturgist for the week will read from scripture–usually two passages from the Old Testament, and usually one of those being from Psalms (a collection of sacred songs or hymns)–and the Pastor will follow this with a reading from the New Testament–often something from either the gospels or from the letters (epistles) of Paul–before giving a sermon on the meaning of the scripture we have just heard and its relevance to us and our world today.


All passages for the week are selected by the Pastor from those designated for that particular day by the Revised Common Lectionary. If you would like to see what those readings will be for the week just follow the link below to the PC(USA) website where you will find printable lists. Do note that in addition to Sunday Service and Special Services (Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and so on) you will also find the Daily Lectionary readings which you might like to read and incorporate as part of your own daily prayer schedule.  

Can I sign up to be a liturgist?

Glad you asked! Yes! Sí, Oui, Ja, Na'am, Areh, Sim, Haan, Hanji! Yes! You can sign up to be a liturgist by adding your name to the sign-up sheet available before and after service each Sunday in the Bistro area. If you have never participated in the service in this way please do think hard about doing so now. Everything you need is provided for you and it we are not a scary lot so no need to be nervous. Remember that the liturgy is the work of the people; it makes most sense then that as many members of the congregation who are able to do take their turn as liturgist–absolutely no public-speaking experience is expected our required! So sign up! No excuses! 

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