I've had some positive things to say about The Revised Common Lectionary, which provides shared sets of Bible lessons across Christian denominations each Sunday.
But the current cycle is really, well, what's the theological term? Pissing me off.
Instead of a set of lessons built around a common theme for the week, we have two competing cycles running. The wonderful Old Testament lessons on the Prophet Elijah do not have common themes with the wonderful New Testament expressions of God's grace in Paul's Letter to the Galatians and The Gospel of Luke. The options are to force a cheap theme that isn't true to the texts, or to leave the people wondering why you avoided the challenging passages in one of the readings.
Current Sundays frequently juxtapose violent Old Testament passages with New Testament words of mercy, and reek dangerously of the historic stereotype of "that ugly Jewish religion which our beautiful Christian faith came to replace." It is a perception that has aided and abetted anti-Semitism over the centuries.
Then there's the sheer length of the readings. Even with some suggested (and, to most readers, confusing) sections to omit, there's a mind-numbing jumble of words that drop on the congregation. One of my parishioners came up with her lesson leaflet and asked me, "Is the font smaller?" Sure enough, it is. There's no way to make the long selections fit on the sheets, so the publishers are just throwing them on with dinky, eye straining letters.
Today sported a silly didactic use of Psalms 42 & 43 in combination. Usually, there is a single Psalm or even a short portion of a Psalm for congregational responsive reading. But somebody among the Illuminati decided that we needed to make the big, impressive point that two Psalms share a refrain and we should throw down all twenty-one combined verses to teach our people about poetic devices of the Old Testament. I am sure that there were pathetic sermons all over the mainline church world today - "Speaking these two poems as one teaches us that they were once of a piece. We reclaim an ancient beauty lost to us when we omit one or the other." Now we have a lectionary supporting the worst kind of preaching - the factoid crammed crap that somebody mouths after running to a reference book instead of actually reading, praying, and seeking God's word for the people.
'Til next time, Rant Off.