Preparing for Holy Week
Collect from Common Worship (CofE)
Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Exegesis of this Sunday’s readings
Introduction to the readings
The context, the frame of the reading about to be heard. This could be used as an introduction, printed on a pew sheet (acknowledged, of course), or adapted in other ways.
The Hebrew people have been driven into Babylonian exile. This is in the third of four sections (Ch 33-39) comforting God’s people, and promising a better future. Ezekiel’s prophetic ministry occurs with the exiles in Babylon between 593 to 571 BCE. Here is an interpretation of a vision in which the people has been killed – but ruah – the wind, breath, spirit of God is active.
“Flesh” for Paul is not merely “body”. It is our natural, unredeemed human nature. “Spirit”, hence, is not anti-body, but rather creation living appropriately – as God intends.
This is one of the seven signs in John’s gospel. In John’s gospel this is a sign that some find faith through. For others – this is the last straw, and seals Jesus’ fate. To reduce this to merely a resuscitation story and debate its historicity, misses the context of the early community which told it to grapple with the physical death of believers in the community of the one who gives eternal life. The cultural background of the story is conscious of the plight resulting from the loss of the brother, leaving two sisters alone in a home in a context when women did not go “out to work” and there was no social security or insurance. Martha’s and Mary’s going out of the village to meet a man also would have been understood as a breach of cultural practice.
This Gospel reading has been present for this Sunday from at least the Milanese rite (evident in the Sacramentary of Bergamo and the Ambrosian Missal.
Please add your ideas, resources, prayers, hymn suggestions, comments…