Well, not quite. However, given this Sunday’s (May 19) Gospel lesson, you might think so:
I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you,
you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.
-from John 13
On the day of Pentecost this year (June 9), we will read:
If you love me,
you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate,
to be with you forever.
-from John 14
A perfect anthem for either of these passages might be the Thomas Tallis “If ye love me,” which the Parish Choir will sing as the introit this Sunday morning. Truth be told, it is one of the choir's very favorite anthems, and I confess I love it also.
Between choral collections and single octavo copies in our parish music library, we probably own four to five copies or editions of this anthem. And in my personal CD collection, you will probably find four to five recordings of it by various English and American cathedral choirs.
But back to the discussion of the lectionary readings.
On the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Rogation Sunday, May 26) we will hear:
Those who love me will keep my word,
and my Father will love them,
and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words
and the word that you hear is not mine
but is from the Father who sent me.
And on the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Ascension Sunday, June 2) we will hear the account of Jesus ascending to the Father in glory and more about love:
Righteous Father, the world does not know you,
but I know you, and these know that you have sent me.
I made your name known to them, and I will make it known,
so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them,
and I in them.
-from John 17
The Revised Common Lectionary is a wonderful tool that was developed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1969 (revised in 1981) after the Vatican II Council. It provides for a three-year cycle of Sunday readings.
This Roman lectionary was the basis for the lectionary in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church. The Revised Common Lectionary that we now use was published in 1992 and was officially adopted by The Episcopal Church in 2006.
While I celebrate the fact that Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and numerous other faith traditions now use a set of common Sunday scripture readings, I confess that I know the 1979 BCP lectionary better. That lectionary is in part what drew me to the Episcopal Church in high school and college, and it is the lectionary into which I delved deeply into in my graduate school liturgical study.
I knew to expect “If ye love me, keep my commandments” on the Day of Pentecost, and I knew to expect Psalm 130 “Out of the deep have I called unto thee” in the middle of Lent. And now, at least occasionally, Psalm 130 crops up in the middle of the fall semester (Pentecost season).
Our Good Friday psalm, Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” now occasionally shows up in the early or late fall semester as well, still Pentecost season.
They say that Episcopalians do not like change (reference the “lightbulb” jokes). And I confess that the older I grow, the less I like it as well. But is a comforting and neat thing to know that we are reading the same Scriptures on Sunday mornings as multiple other denominations.
We could all use a little unity these days, yes? Even the Christians together.
In the Revised Common Lectionary leading up to the Day of Pentecost, Jesus has much to say about love, perhaps more than any other topic, but that is another entire blog.
Read more about the Revised Common Lectionary here: