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.

Joel 2:23-32

Joel is our Ash Wednesday and Day of Pentecost prophet. Attempts to date him result in theories varying from 800BC to 30BC. A plague of locusts has invaded leaving hunger, destitution for humans and animals in a devastated land.

Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22

The ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel have been dispersed by the Assyrians. King Josiah has started a reform movement in the southern kingdom of Judah, his successor Jehoiakim did not continue this. In this seventh century before Christ Jeremiah stands at the gate of the temple and proclaims this as part of a great sermon.

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Since the nineteenth century the authorship of this letter has been disputed. Writing in another’s name was an acceptable part of that culture in a way it is not generally today. Today's text picks up directly from the end of last week's reading. The verses omitted this week give personal details. 4:17 Paul states he has escaped the lion’s mouth - a means of execution for those not Roman citizens. Execution for them was by the sword. In the omitted text he seeks his φελονης (often translated "cloak" 4:13). The Orthodox church still calls the chasuble the phelonion. Stole and chasuble is the first-century equivalent of wearing a tie and jacket. The chasuble was the mark of a Roman citizen and Paul apparently wanted to go out like one.

Luke 18:9-14

The gospel picks up directly from last week's text. Luke in fact has Jesus accusing the Pharisees of greed (11:39), loving money (16:14) and being adulterous (16:18). Some tax collectors collected taxes indirectly through tolls at major transport and commercial centres like Capernaum and Jericho. Hence, they were urged to collect no more than appointed (3:12). Men only beat their breasts in extreme anguish in this culture (23:48) - it is more normally reserved for women (23:27).

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