Scripture Introductions

Easter 3 April 26. 2009 Scripture Introductions by Stewart Clarke
(The first reading cries for background, since something was obviously going on before Peter's sermon, and, in the Gospel Jesus appears to a group deeply involved in some news! So I invite you to improve on these bits that I offer, to further the Biblical education and honour the interest and intelligence of your congregation(s) as well as honour God.) The first reading this morning reports on a sermon by Peter. About mid-morning Peter and John had been on their way to the Temple. On their way, they see a lame beggar. Rather than give him money [2] they offer healing, in Jesus' Name. Then they continue into the Temple, with the healed and joyful man dancing beside them. With so many eyes on them, Peter begins to preach. There is a lot of common humanity in Peter as he preaches.[3] Putting aside his own denial of Jesus and unable to criticize the Romans, who had actually executed Jesus, he lays all the blame on the Jewish authorities[4], even while he links Jesus with the Jewish tradition, all the way back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He even overstates his case in his reference to "all the prophets," when he is surely thinking of the Suffering Servant Songs of second Isaiah! On the other hand, he is passionate about preaching Jesus! Let's listen. Acts 3:12-19 (You may want to save your acclamation until after the Gospel reading, with a pause after the readings, or say something traditional or something like: May we, like Peter, be empowered to move past our fear, and proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.)
The Psalm, in part, echoes the experience of the man who was healed. The author calls on God, gives himself advice, and gives thanks. Could it come from a time when David was under duress? Let us.. Psalm 4 (VU p.727)
The author of our Epistle reading, traditionally the Apostle John, exults in God's love, and counsels his hearers to be pure and righteous. He seems to set up an impossible standard, yet invites us to accept the challenge. (Is this, at least to some extent, a return to an emphasis on the law and right behaviour, rather than Grace? RSC. ) Let us listen as he both praises and advises. 1 John 3:1-7 May we be reminded that, despite our shortcomings, we are beloved by God. Amen.
Our Gospel reading picks up the story after Jesus' encounter with the couple on the road to Emmaus. He had talked with them, but they had not recognized him, until he said the traditional Blessing of God, including breaking bread, which has become part of Communion for us. They must have seen Jesus do it any time they reclined to eat, and then may have seen it in new light in the Upper Room. They rushed back to Jerusalem to find "the eleven.[5]" And, while they are exchanging astonished news, Jesus appears with his familiar perhaps matter-of-fact, "Peace be with you. "(Shalom Aleikhem) Let us rise to honour and be open to the Good News for us in: (Or: Let us listen closely for the Good News for us in:) Luke 24:36b-48 May we know Jesus in the breaking of the bread, the touch of another's hands, and the words of scripture. Amen It is appropriate to follow the readings with thanks and praise.
  1. With thanks to CAM and MRR.
  2. They suggest that they have none, not a cent!
  3. We tend to portray Peter as the Rock, which suggests consistency. I tend to think that Jesus called Simon, "Peter,{ in the same teasing way that some call me, "Curly." That is, I have little hair, but friends accept me anyway. Peter is not always consistent or steady, as Paul learned from experience, but he is warmly human.
  4. It is worth noting and stating, I think, that this is not intended to be anti-Semitic, although it has sometimes been taken as such, hence the reference to the authorities!
  5. The disciples minus Judas, of course, but how many others?
(Comments to Stew at