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.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

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.

Romans 8:6-11

"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.

John 11:1-45

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.
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