I just completed designing this year’s bookmarks for the weekly lectionary readings.
» Download my lectionary printable bookmarks in PDF format.
Why did I develop these bookmarks?
Most denominations have a regular schedule of what is read from the Bible in Sunday church services. In fact, most denominations share pretty much the same schedule. Every Sunday there are four readings:
- First reading (most times from the Old Testament)
- Psalm (usually sung)
- Second reading (usually from one of the epistles in the New Testament)
- Gospel reading
During the week prior to church, I like to prepare by studying the scheduled readings for the upcoming Sunday service. With four readings every week, how do you keep track? Each of the following methods are completely valid techniques. Anything that gets you into the Bible is great.
However, I have a couple challenges with some of the methods, since I have a particular need for how I like to do my readings. After meals I like to get out a physical Bible and read to my 2-year-old and 5-year-old. Getting the actual Bible out is important to me, and for them to demonstrate that the Bible is indeed a rich resource that we can read from daily.
Four methods to keep track of the weekly lectionary readings
Method 1: Find and print a listing of all the readings.
Most denominations offer a complete year’s schedule of the readings online. Super handy! For instance, here’s the Missouri Synod Lutheran’s lectionary schedule. Here’s the Roman Catholic schedule for USA.
I could print these out onto 8.5×11 paper, fold it up, and put it in the beginning of my Bible. Every week, I pull out that sheet of paper. Then bookmark each of the readings. Ok, sounds fair enough.
This method has us reading from the actual Bible. However, even though a page is bookmarked, I will often forget where on the page the exact reading is. I could write the reference in the margins. But sometimes a single spread will contain multiple week’s worth of readings. How will I know which reading is from which week?
In the margins of my Bible next to each reading, I could mark down the season in the Church Year. Which works for short seasons like Advent. I can remember if it’s the 3rd Sunday in Advent. But when it comes to the longer “Ordinary season” with 33 weeks, how can I remember when it’s week 23 or 24?
I’d have to pull out my 8.5×11 paper and look up the current’s week’s season. As soon as I read the season from the paper, flip to my bookmark, I’ll forget if it’s week 23 or 24. Or when I’m done with the first reading, and go to the Psalm… uh… which week is it again? Confusing.
My bookmarks give the specific reading for that week. No having to flip back and forth. The reading is listed right on the bookmark.
I don’t have just one bookmark. There are bookmarks for each reading. Once a week, I just simply change the location of the bookmarks to the proper page. There’s a nice feeling on Monday morning when I move the bookmarks to their new spot. The start of the new week. The new set of readings.
Method 2: Use a lectionary book
The Catholic church sells a small bound book with all the text from the actual readings, in the order how they are read. The book would start off with the First Sunday of Advent. Under which is the full text for each of the 1st reading, Psalm, 2nd reading, and Gospel. This is INCREDIBLY handy. No having to flip through pages and pages in the Bible, hunting for the proper spot. All the verses are right there. Boom.
A few things I don’t prefer about this method of a lectionary book:
One: I enjoy flipping through the Bible to find the passages.
Where is 1 Thessalonians again? It teaches me where the books of the Bible are.
Two: I want to read more easily.
What if I’m reading something in 1 Thessalonians, and I want to simply continue on to see what is said? With the lectionary book, there are no additional parts of the Bible. You only get the clippings. Sure, I could get out my larger Bible to continue reading more. But that’s an extra step that I probably wouldn’t take in most cases. But if I’m reading straight from the Bible, then boom, I can easily continue onward. So many times when I’m reading to my kids, I’ll simply continue to the next set of verses even though they aren’t being read in church that week. It’s so nice to have more of the story.
Three: with a lectionary book you aren’t demonstrating how you can read from the actual Bible.
So often our Bibles sit on our shelves unread. Our children may not even realize that what is being read in church comes from that same thick book on the shelf. Seems rather crazy. It’s obvious the readings are from the Bible, right? Well, they only learn that when they see someone reading from an actual Bible.
Method 3: Use an smartphone app
I love mobile apps that offer the Bible for anytime, anywhere. So handy to have the Bible literally within fingertips. And if this is what it takes for some people to read the Bible, then yes, please use a smartphone app. Long ago, I asked my Bible Study leader which translation of the Bible to use. His answer: the one that you enjoy reading.
However, I like reading from the actual book as explained in methods 1 and 2.
I’ve tried all three of these methods, but none of these three really worked for me, so we have method four…
Method 4: Use custom bookmarks [my preferred method]
Laying out the bookmarks in a certain way makes it easiest to find the readings every week. Each of the four readings has its own bookmark. Thus, my reading Bible has four bookmarks.
It takes a bit of work to convert the webpages into a consistent format to fit inside these four bookmarks. But it’s well worth the effort. Every day I can easily turn to the page in my Bible for a specific reading of the week. That ease and speed makes a world of difference when I’m sitting at the dining room table with a two-year-old and a five-year-old.