Scripture Introductions

Easter 5 April 28, 2013 Scripture Introductions by Stewart Clarke
[Newness runs as a theme through the readings, but, sometimes, as a challenge in the early Church, as we see in the Acts reading. Then, we are told of a whole new Creation in Revelation, and a new approach to life in the Gospel! (2). Of course, you will do what you wish with these, ignoring or revising, but, surely honouring the Scriptures and the interest and intelligence of our congregations. Perhaps they can be one more step in Biblical literacy (ahem).]
The first reading tells of a major crisis of faith in the early Christian community. Jesus was always a Jew, and drew from this deep spiritual tradition. His first followers were all Jews, and so were their early followers. Jewish faith and tradition were the air they breathed, and the differences between them and Gentiles were obvious and significant. But the apostles were mobile and the story of Jesus was told far beyond Jerusalem and Israel. Gentiles became converts, and this raised the question: could they, or how could they become Christians without first becoming Jews? Let’s listen, as Luke explains, with God’s intervention (3), in Acts 11: 1 – 18 (4) You may wish to reserve your acclaim until after the Gospel reading, or use traditional language, or say something like: May we hear God's voice as clearly as Peter. Amen.
The Psalm invites all creation to praise God. (“Praise the Lord,” is, of course, “Hallelujah!” Let’s…. Ps. 148
In Revelation, the author sings of a whole new Creation, with a new holy centre representing God’s presence, and a new atmosphere of blessing! No more tears! No more death! We are invited to view God’s true Shalom! (5) Let’s listen to John’s vision in Rev. 21: 1 – 6 May we too envision and work towards God's shalom. Amen.
In the Gospel reading, we hear Jesus announcing the new age, with a new Commandment., so simple and so complex (You may want to skip the first few words, “When he was gone,” which are a reference to Judas, and don’t add much, on their own. Or you may want to remind them of the time of Passover, the gathering, the foot washing and the questions between Jesus and Judas and Judas’ departure.) Let’s rise to honour and be open to the Good News for us in: (Or: Let’s listen closely for the Good News for us in: ) John 13: 31 – 35 May we love each other, as Jesus loves us. Amen. (It is appropriate to follow the readings with thanks and praise.)
  1. Thanks to CAM and EMC, retrospectively.
  2. BTW: I was informed – (I wish I could say, “reminded”) that the Psalm is not another lection, as such, but an invitation to sing in response to the first, usually Older Testament, Tanakh, reading, though at this season from the Acts of the Apostles.
  3. I note, with some surprise, that Simon is prepared to debate with God, but this fits the tradition, as well!
  4. Peter’s response to God’s command should be read with suitable horror! You may want another voice for God’s reply!
  5. Surely we don’t have to be reminded that the Greek does not say “men,” but “humans!” The reference to the dwelling of God with human beings is a reminder of “Emmanuel.” Similarly, if we use “he,” it shows us the limitations of the English language rather than the gender of God!! If some use “she,” it may be a corrective to the use of “he” for so many years. If we could accept that “God” in Hebrew is a plural form, (Elohim), we might use “they,” but that, surely, would require repeated explanation.
(Comments to Stew at