Lectionary Reading Introduction

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.

Today's readings online
You are visitor number since the launch of this site on Maundy Thursday, 13 April 2006