Scripture Introductions

Pentecost 3 June 21. 2009 Scripture Introductions by Stewart Clarke
(I have heard Scripture readings called "gems," with the suggestion that they stand alone. On the other hand, I think, when you have a gem, you normally provide an appropriate mounting so that it can be appreciated more fully. That describes, as I see things, the function of the "Intro.") The story in our first reading comes from a thousand years and more before Jesus' time, but the scene seems modern. Israel has come into the Promised Land and become a presence there. With Saul as king, it is enforcing its identity and rights against the power of the Philistines, whose name is parallel to "Palestine" or "Palestinian!" There are two sets of stories of how David came to Saul's attention. In one, the focus is on David the musician. This one emphasizes his role as shepherd, who will lead the united kingdom of Israel and Judah, with God's blessing. But, first, he has to rescue the flock. In this story, told, naturally, from the Israelite point of view, there is a real moment of crisis, in which all could easily be lost, as two champions face each other, winner take all! Let's listen to a powerful tale, beautifully told in [2]: I Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49 You may want to reserve your acclaim until after the Gospel reading, or use traditional words, or you may wish to say something like: May we be reminded that God works in history, and be aware of God's challenges and messages today. Amen.
As David sought strength from God in facing Goliath, the writer of the Psalm seeks help in the face of those who arrogantly oppose or oppress him. Let us.. Psalm 9:9-20 (VU p.732)
In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul describes a critical time in which they live, the "Now" of salvation, fraught with difficulty and danger, but filled with grace and hope. Let's listen, as Paul explains: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 May we rely on God's grace in our times of crisis. Amen.
The Gospel also shows us a critical moment. Whether it is strictly historic or tells profound truth in story form, it may help us frame and answer the question, "Who is this Jesus?" 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: ) Mark 4:35-41 May our faith be strengthened in the storms of life. Amen. It is appropriate to follow the readings with thanks and praise.
  1. With thanks to MRR.
  2. Cutting verses from the tale may remind us that we no longer live in an oral society. For us, it may be important not to take too long to get to the point.. In an oral tradition, the story would be relished, and cutting would be a minor crime. If you want a sample, try shortening one of a child's bedtime stories!
(Comments to Stew at