A Lost Opportunity
Today is known in the Church as “Wednesday of the First Week of Luke” as it pertains to the liturgical cycle. In practical terms that means this week we begin reading from the Gospel According to Saint Luke. Each year on the Monday following the Feast of Holy Cross we begin a new season by reading from Luke. We will read from Luke until Christmas.
I have written before about the lectionary of the Church. As a reminder the lectionary splits every verse (except the Book of Revelation) of the New Testament into daily readings. As long as we read every day, we will read the entire New Testament (again with the exception of Revelation) each year. Yesterday, something strange happened.
The Gospel reading assigned for yesterday was not the reading for “Tuesday of the First Week of Luke” as it ‘should’ have been. In most places the reading was for the commemoration of Saint Eustathios. (Luke 21.12-19) This was a lost opportunity. According to the lectionary, the reading ‘should’ have been the genealogy of Christ (Luke 3.23-38).
It is good for us to be reminded of the human lineage of Christ as it reminds us of God’s promise. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God has promised to save us. Skipping over the genealogy passage ‘breaks’ the flow of scripture. It also tends to help us forget the human lineage of Christ. That is important because if Christ WAS the offspring of Abraham. Consider today’s epistle reading.
Brethren, to give a human example: no one annuls even a man’s covenant, or adds to it, once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to your offsprings,” referring to many; but, referring to one, “And to your offspring,” which is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
These matters might seem trivial, but in the scope of our need for constant reminders of God’s love and promise, they make a difference. So, where do we find these readings if the lectionary doesn’t have them like happened yesterday? Here are three options for you.
In the back of your Orthodox Study Bible, you will find the complete lectionary without calendar dates. In your daily readings, you need only read the next reading listed. Today is Wednesday of the First Week of Luke. Tomorrow is Thursday of the First Week of Luke, etc. The second option is using the Digital Chant Stand from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Simply navigate to the correct calendar date and click on Readings of the Day. If there are multiple options, as was the case yesterday, you will find the daily reading and reading for the feast.
The third option is a bit of an investment, but a nice addition to your home altar. You can always purchase a Gospel Book and Epistle Book from any Orthodox Church supply. They do exist without expensive gold covers. The books are already published in order of the readings of the day. Just turn the page and read the next reading.
Don’t lose another opportunity to experience the full Orthodox daily life. Take advantage of technology or order more books, but keep reading the Holy Scriptures and they will become a part of you.