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. This is an experimental venture and I will see how useful it appears.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Isaiah Chapters 56:1-66:24 are normally referred to as “Third Isaiah”. Their context appears to be in the Holy Land after the exiles have returned to Judah (ie. after 539BCE). There is suggestion that these oracles are from a disciple of Second Isaiah. The year of the Lord’s favour (61:2) refers to the Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25). This was to be every fifty years. Debts were cancelled, property returned to original owners. The first verses are the voice of the prophet, the second section of our reading are from the voice of Jerusalem. The omitted verses connect well with this week’s gospel reading – John has been presented as the son of a priest who, rather than taking up his right as priest, critiques the Jerusalem priesthood as a prophet.
I Thessalonians 5:16-24
This Sunday is traditionally called “Gaudete Sunday”. Gaudete means rejoice. This reading reflects that tradition. It comes from what is understood to be the first book in the New Testament. These are concluding remarks Paul has written from Corinth in 50 or 51CE. See more: http://www.liturgy.co.nz/lectionary/aos29.html
John 1:6-8, 19-28
The 1976 excavations in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem revealed the wealth of the Jerusalem priestly class. I am intrigued by John’s baptism occurring on the East bank of the Jordan – and wonder if there is political implications in those baptised wading through the Jordan into the land much as Joshua originally had.