Lectionary Reading Introduction

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 7:10-16

The year is 734-733 BC. King Ahaz of Judah has killed his son. Israel and Syria are threatening from the North, and hence the Davidic line is in danger. Ahaz appeals to Assyria for help. Ahaz does not seek a sign from God, but Isaiah declares that Ahaz's wife is pregnant with a new heir to the throne and as a sign that God is with Ahaz. Tiglath-pilesar of Assyria then invades Damascus, exiling those who live there and killing the king (2 Kings 16).

Romans 1:1-7

Paul writes this letter primarily to fellow-Judeans living in Rome (the letter nowhere refers to Romans, however). He is writing around 57-58AD probably from Corinth (or its port, Cenchrae). He is writing to a community he has never visited.

Matthew 1:18-24

In betrothal a couple were chosen for each other, normally by their parents. In marriage the man takes his wife into his home (Matt 25:1-12). The story assumes the separateness of men and women, with Joseph, hence, possibly one of the last to learn of Mary's pregnancy. Women may have noticed Mary's not sharing in the monthly ritual purification. Intercourse with a betrothed woman is adultery (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Joseph realises he will be able to show the cloth with the "evidence of virginity" (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) and Mary is hence threatened with the possibility of death (see also Numbers 5:11-31). In seeking to divorce her quietly, Joseph is hoping the rightful father will come to Mary's aid.
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