LECTIONARY READINGS INTRODUCTIONS
This site provides something different: many sites and books provide a brief summary of the reading – so that people read out or have in their pew sheet an outline of what they are about to hear. They are told beforehand what to expect. Does this not limit what they hear the Spirit address them? This site provides something different – often one cannot appreciate what is being read because there is no context provided. This site provides the context, the frame of the reading about to be heard. It could be used as an introduction, printed on a pew sheet (acknowledged, of course), or adapted in other ways.
In the story, whatever the difficulties between Isaac and Ishmael, they are together to bury their father Abraham. Having narrated the descendants of Ishmael, the story now turns to the descendants of Isaac.
Second Isaiah or Deutero-Isaiah covers Chapters 40-55 and hence today’s text is from the conclusion of this. This material originates during the latter part (c. 545 – 540 BCE) of the Babylonian exile. In October 539 BCE, the Persian king Cyrus took Babylon. He liberates them from their exile. Second Isaiah is strongly monotheistic. It also includes the famous Servant Songs (42:1 – 4; 49:1 – 6; 50:4 – 9; 52:13 – 53:12).
Romans 7:7-12 has had Paul describe being tossed to and fro. Here, now, flesh and spirit are opposed – but in the sense of unredeemed and redeemed human, rather than for and against the physical. The passage provides hope as to which is winning.
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
The context is peasants who clearly know that a four or five-fold yield on sowing is a good harvest. The wastefulness is shockingly humorous, as is the harvest.
Omitting verses 10-17 omits the discussion about who is in and who is not, who is included and who is excluded. Inclusion and exclusion in household, family, friends, village, area, religious/cultural group was highly significant in Jesus’ day – as today.
Today’s readings online (link off this site)