Lectionary notes

16th October

Nehemiah 8, 1 – 4 (5 – 6) 8 – 12

Towards the end of the sixth century BC Cyrus, King of Persia, conquered Babylon and liberated the Jewish prisoners of war. A priest and a politician initiated their return to Jerusalem. Unity and civil order was established on the basis of the Law of Moses. (This sounds like an eye—witness report — you could be watching it all on TV!)

Colossians 3, 12 – 17

St. Paul presents a ‘cameo’ of the Christ—centred life.

Matthew 24, 30 – 35

In the symbolic language of a first-century Jew, Jesus warns his disciples that Time is not for ever. Only Truth – his truth – is permanent.

23th October

1 Kings 8, 22 – 30

Towards the end of the 10th century BC King Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem. His prayer at the Dedication Ceremony recognises the absurdity of confining God to a building.

Hebrews 12, 18 – 24

Using imagery from the stories of The Exodus and from ceremonies in the Temple, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews highlights the awe inspiring experience which awaits every one of us.

Matthew 21, 12 – 16

According to the three Synoptic Gospels the ‘cleansing of the Temple’ took place during the Passover Festival in the last week of Jesus’ life. This confrontation must have forced the Jewish authorities to ad.

6th November

Job 19, 23 – 27a

You cannot listen this lesson without hearing the music! The story of Job confronts the problem of innocent suffering, and contains one of the earliest Biblical visions of a life beyond the pains of this world.

2 Thessalonians 2, 1 – 5, and 13 – 17

Something in St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians led to a belief that the Day of Judgement had already come. In his second letter Paul needed to calm his converts and offer a longer view of the Divine purposes. (There was clearly some current expectation of a supremely evil event before God could finally establish his rule of justice).

Luke 20, 27 – 38

Beliefs concerning life-after-death were as varied in Our Lord’s time as they are now. Observe how adroitly Jesus deals with an attempt to outwit him in public debate!

13th November -  Remembrance Sunday

Malachi 4, 1 - 2a

The eternal struggle between Good and Evil – and the conviction that God is on the side of the righteous - is a theme common to most of the Old Testament prophets.

2 Thessalonians 3, 6 – 13

A mistaken belief that Jesus would soon return to establish his final kingdom led some Christians to abandon work, becoming a burden to the rest of the community. Paul will have none of this!

Luke 21, 5 – 19

Facing the certainty of his own death, Jesus was acutely aware of the inevitable fate of Judaism at the hands of the Romans. As he foresaw, a Jewish revolt in AD 70 led to the total destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. (Our Lord’s prediction of hatred and martyrdom rings true down twenty centuries.)

20th November

Jeremiah 23, 1 – 6

The statesman and prophet Jeremiah did not mince his words when he attacked political corruption, but he spoke ‘in code’. For ‘shepherds’ read – King, Court and Aristocracy. For ‘sheep’ read – oppressed ordinary folk. As always there rings the hope that God will raise up a just ruler.

Colossians 1, 11 – 20

Writing to converts who still feel threatened by the mysterious powers of pagan gods and devils, Paul presents an overwhelming vision of Jesus – the image of a saving Creator.

Luke 23, 33 – 43

As we reflect on the theme of Christ as ‘King’ – St. Luke reminds us that the Kingship of Jesus inverts human notions of sovereignty.

27th November  - ADVENT SUNDAY   

Isaiah 2, 1 – 5

From a tiny country in the Middle East – torn by international conflict in the 8th century BC – Isaiah dares to hope that all nations will learn the ways of God through Judaism, and will learn to live in peace.

Romans 13, 11 – 14

The Early Church lived in expectation that Jesus would return at any moment. St. Paul encourages Christians in Rome to maintain their Christ-like lifestyle in readiness the Second Coming.

Matthew 24, 36 – 44

Answering the disciples questions about the ‘End of the world’, Jesus draws from stories in the Hebrew Scriptures, and from homely incidents in daily life, to warn that judgement comes when least expected.

4th December  - ADVENT 2    

Isaiah 11, 1 – 10

The Hebrew prophets often looked back to the idealised reign of King David – son of Jesse – and then forward in the hope that God would provide Israel with another charismatic god-fearing leader.

Romans 15, 4 – 13

The first Christians were Jewish converts, and found it difficult to welcome non-Jews as equals in their new Faith. St. Paul leans heavily on the Jewish Scriptures to demonstrate that God’s love in Christ is for Jew and Gentile alike.

Matthew 3, 1 – 12

According to the Jewish Historian Josephus, King Herod regarded John the Baptist as a threat to the precarious peace of Israel, and therefore had him arrested. But John was calling for a spiritual revolution – and Jesus was among those who responded.

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