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.

Acts 2:1-11

Pentecost is the fiftieth day after the Sabbath of Passover week (Leviticus 23:15-16). It is the first day of the week (Sunday). It is also called the Feast of Weeks (Deuteronomy 16:10), the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16), the day of firstfruits (Numbers 28:26). These are all underlying themes to this reading. The experience includes sight and sound. Some interpret this as an experience of "tongues" - possibly it is better to read it as a miracle of "ears". And a reversal of the tower of Babpel (Genesis 11).

Luke in the Gospel locates the ascension on Easter Day. In his second volume (scroll) which we call the Acts of the Apostles, he places it forty days later. This provides a help for how he expects his readers to interpret the literal-historical nature of this event. He uses the term ατενιζοντες (Acts 1:10) "looking intently", exactly paralleling the vision of Stephen (Acts 7:55) as he looked intently up to heaven and "saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." This parallel again underscores how the original author understood the perception he was describing.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

This letter was probably written about 54 CE. Paul is attempting to bring unity to a community in which some, claiming to follow the Spirit, were causing disunity.

John 20:19-23

The Hebrew ruah, the Greek πνευμα, the Latin spiritus mean breath or wind. Ancients saw this, water, and fire, as being liquid like. These images lie behind our first and third readings today.
You are visitor number since the launch of this site on Maundy Thursday, 13 April 2006