Monday, 31 December 2007

Lectionary - Methodist or otherwise.

Regular readers will know I placed a post here the other day applauding the work that Methodist Preacher has done loading the whole years worth of lectionary readings onto his blog. I made a statement that this type of resource was not available on the internet and was quickly advised that my statement was incorrect. In view of this I pulled the post to give me an opportunity to research the facts before making further comment, and having done this I intend to make comment based on my research.
Before I do make comment though it may be worth saying that in the Walsall circuit preachers are 'encouraged' to use the lectionary readings (or some of them) and some are reproduced on the circuit plan each quarter. I have listened to members of congregations as I have travelled around the circuit and a fellow preacher who had moved to this circuit from one where there was no great emphasis on lectionary readings shared some of the comments he had received as he started to travel around this circuit. There were a couple of comments that struck me which came from those quite rare people who attend both morning and evening services, and these were that they got the same readings morning and evening, the same hymns and sometimes even the same illustrations or stories in the sermon. Some of this may be down to the use of Roots Magazine by a number of preachers.
From a personal point of view when preaching in an evening I would look at the plan and if fairly confident that the morning preacher would have used lectionary readings I made the decision to consider using the readings allocated for a second service - thus giving congregations something different. I know to that my colleague who shared the comments he had picked up was also looking at using these readings when he was planned in an evening.

I decided to go back to the internet and typed Revised Common Lectionary into Google and decided to look at the first ten items in the list to see how good the internet was. I have to say that the results were not entirely different to what I had expected and with the exception of one they were nowhere near as comprehensive as the list in our worship book or as what can be found on Methodist Preachers blog. I will list my findings below but have to say that I still think that what Methodist Preacher has done is an excellent piece of work and should prove to be a useful resource to many of his colleagues.

Results from Google.
Vanderbilt - only listed one set of readings.
Montreal Anglican - Links to Vanderbilt so only one set of readings.
Textweek - only listed on set of readings. - received an error message 6 times (3 each on Mozilla and Internet Explorer)
LM - pdf file would not download on either Mozilla of Internet Explorer( and yes I do have Adobe)
CofE.Anglican - one set only.
Wikipedia - explains what the lectionary is. - only one set.
Lectionary Commentary - Probably the best resource except it took around 7 links to actually get to the lists of readings - and then there are lots.
The tenth one was Vanderbilt again and then after that the next 8 or 9 were a variety of booksellers and publisher items with books containing the lectionary.

Having spent the time doing this exercise I have come to the conclusion that with the exception of Lectionary Commentary the Revised Common Lectionary in the form we have in our worship book does not appear on the internet as readily as the comment would seem to suggest, although I would perhaps have to acquiesce in respect of the 'Principal Service' readings which were available on 6 out of the 10 results from Google.
I still hold the view that at the very least a link to this resource on the Methodist Church website could be useful to preachers both lay and ordained who may wish to have a computerised version of them, and realistically this would only take a couple of minutes to do. I have to say that I do use resources on the computer whether in programmes I have purchased or the internet for my preparation of services and find the range of resources that are available quite excellent and any addition to these resources can surely only prove helpful to those of us who prepare and lead worship on many occasions each year.

In closing I make no apology for the length of this post but felt that I needed to check my facts and to ensure that readers understood why I pulled the original post and what my findings were after doing the research on the internet.


Methodist Preacher said...

Thanks Fat Prophet for undertaking the research. A very good percentage of the hits on my site are now from people googling "methodist lectionary", so I suppose it works like the bags of sugar at the back of the supermarket and gets people onto the site.

However, I firmly believe that a Local Preacher's area on the main Methodist website would be preferable to my efforts. We could have an online version of index of Hymns and Psalms, Mission Praise (all editions!), Songs of Fellowship plus some helpful notes and suggestions.

This would be more helpful than much of the stuff currently featured on the official site.

We shall see - I now know that our sites are being closely monitored, so hopefully someone will get the message!

PamBG said...

Thanks for doing the research.

I have no 'opposition' to putting the lectionary on the church website; obviously, that would be helpful to a number of people.

My question is whether doing so would be cost-effective? Bascially, it seems to me that we preachers are asking Church House to provide us a resource that is otherwise easily available to us. Whether available to us on the internet or available to us via the MWB. I used to travel a lot - almost weekly - and it was never a problem to look up next Sunday's lectionary readings and take them with me.

I simply hope that if Church House does decide to heed this request that we will realise they have spent limited resources and say 'thank you' rather than 'it's about time'. And I hope that if they decide not to do this that we are understanding.

Perhaps one way of getting this on line would be for interested volunteers to liase with person (I think it's one personn!) who maintains the website. Volunteers could spend the time needed to do typing and coding and offer this so that it could be readily put on the website quickly and for a small cost on the part of Church House?

Fat Prophet said...

Thank you both for your comments - perhaps I have the wrong idea about the Methodist church website in that as well as being there to inform people what the Methodist Church is about I had thought it was a tool for those of us in Methodism to find information that may be useful/relevant to us. As a Local Preachers Secretary I am pleased that there are a number of resources available to me via the website such as forms and guidance notes, especially as I do very little writing by hand it is always helpful to have a form that I can fill in on the computer.
In respect of putting the lectionary on to the website I really do see this as a resource which if the comments on Methodist Preachers blog are anything to go by a number of people out there do arrive at his site when looking for the lectionary. I appreciate the points about the workload of staff at Church House and how time consuming this could be but realistically the work for this year has already been done - perhaps a simple copy and paste excercise or even asking Methodist Preacher to send the work electronically to Church House for it to be copied onto the website.
I note that people are reaching Methodist Preachers blog through 'googling' Methodist Lectionary and I have to say that is not something I did during my research so consequently did not arrive there.
I owuld certainly commend Church House if this were to be put on to the website and would do that when speaking to other people about it.
I have on a number of occasions recently had reason to contact the Local Preachers Office and been very pleased with the swift response and have said so to folk when this has happened. I am a great believer in giving praise when it is deserved and certainly do that in my employment and other fields as well as in church related circumstances - it is really a great shame that more people do not do this.

Doorman-Priest said...

Glad to have visited.