Notes on the readings October to December 2009

Note: ¶ = Reading omitted at St Mary's, Temple Balsall

October | November | December

Sunday 4 October, 2009
The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Proper 22

¶ Job 1.1; 2. 1 – 10
Job is the victim of a heavenly gamble about his fidelity to God.  At huge cost his trust in God holds firm.  His vindication, however, lies many pages ahead.

or Genesis 2. 18 24
We receive the basic text that gives God’s blessing to the basic naturalness of marriage.  Its purpose, as seen here, is simply to provide company in a lonely world.  We are only truly ourselves in interaction with others, especially those closest to us, among whom we can both give and receive.

Hebrews 1. 1 4; 2. 5 12
This passage states a high doctrine of Jesus.  He has put his stamp on the whole of God’s creation and is now exalted to highest heaven.  Yet he did come, wonderfully, ‘for a little while’, to be lower than the angels, then to receive highest honour.  It is a dramatic picture, expounding verses of
Psalm 8.

Mark 10.  2 16
The Genesis passage helps us to see why Jesus, looking to human fundamentals, sees divorce as a tragedy that should not occur.  It casts us back into isolation which makes for our isolation and misery.  There is a simplicity that is the best route to the kingdom of God.

  • We give thanks for the underlying simplicity and wholesomeness of our basic relationships.
  • For the eye of faith, Jesus is all-embracing in his significance and we give  praise.
  • We pray for the strengthening of the institution of marriage.

Sunday 11 October, 2009
The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity Proper 23

¶ Job 23. 1 9, 16 – 17
Who thinks the Bible is full of unreal piety?  Job expresses a spiritual devastation, with God far away, which many can echo at times.  If only all loss of faith were so hard fought!

or Amos 5. 6 7, 10 15
The prophet Amos was one of the first we know of to attack the evils of society itself, a forerunner of many, down to our own day.  He stands against the complacency which leads so many to accept social evils so long as they are profitable.  Down to our own day.

Hebrews 4. 12 16
Jesus is called ‘high priest’, and this writing works out the image in detail later.  The role in mind is that of mediator.  The priest stands ‘between’ humans and God, making due offerings on their behalf, for the sake of their good.

Mark 10. 17 31
First, Jesus goes behind even the Ten Commandments to the command to love which now has absolute priority (and so he stops the mouths of noisy moralists).  Then he attacks the rich.  There is no doubt that wealth is a great comfort but it is easily a distraction from the things of God – and in the world brought by Jesus values are quite different.

  • Pray to be alert to the demands of the society in which we live.
  • We may long for guidance, but the demand that we ‘love’ may be all we truly need.
  • In what ways can we relax the hold of possessions upon our hearts?

Sunday 18 October, 2009
The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity Proper 24

¶ Job 38. 1 – 7 (34 – 41)
Not all now find God’s answer to Job’s problem of his unmerited suffering satisfactory.  It is simply an assertion of God’s power and greatness:  who are we to answer back?  How ‘rational’ can we ‘reasonably’ be?

or Isaiah 53. 4 12
This chapter of Isaiah, whose original reference is obscure, is now often known as the Song of the Suffering Servant of God.  All through Christian history it has been read as throwing light on what happened to Jesus and helping us to reflect on his self-giving, mysteriously, for the good of all, in the name of our holy and generous God.

Hebrews 5. 1 10
The writer picked up on Psalm 110. 4, which refers to the obscure priest king of Jerusalem who comes in a story in Genesis 14.  He sees him as a symbol of Jesus. The high priest of old was a mediator between his people and God, humbly offering prayer and sacrifice; in the case of Jesus his own self, body and soul.

Mark 10. 35 45
Jesus renounces all human greatness.  He takes on the role of the servant, as in Isaiah 53, who gives himself ‘for many’.  And we take this for ourselves as we share in baptism and drink the cup of the Eucharist.

  • Pray to accept the humility of Christ into our own lives.
  • Thank God for Jesus who stands for us with God and for God with us.
  • Praise God for the gifts of baptism and Eucharist, joining us to himself.

Sunday 25 October, 2009
Bible Sunday

¶ Isaiah 55. 1 11
The theme is the sheer generosity of God, like an abundant source of all provision for our lives.  His goodness comes too in our inner lives, in forgiveness and in his utter faithfulness to us.  

¶ 2 Timothy 3. 14 4. 5
When this letter was written, perhaps seventy years after Jesus’ life-time, there was beginning to be a worry about believers straying from the received gospel message.  Ever since, it has been a problem for Christian people, perhaps especially our leaders and teachers,  needing sensitivity and care, lest faith should be bruised or stifled.

John 5. 36 47
Here, Jesus is put forward as the key to unlock the great meaning of scripture, the clue to what, taken as a whole, may seem unwieldy and obscure, as well as inspiring and feeding the soul.  Without this key, we can easily go astray in our reading and pondering.

  • We give thanks for the gift of scripture and pray to read wisely and well.
  • Pray always to read in the light of Christ.
  • Pray for humility to receive from the Church just as we make our owncontribution.

Sunday 1 November, 2009
All Saints' Day

Wisdom of Solomon 3. 1 9
The writer considers the future of God’s faithful ones and is confident of their ample reward.

¶ or Isaiah 25. 6 9
We read of a poetic vista of wonderful prosperity and happiness to come for the people of God.  Our destiny is with him and he is the key to our true fulfilment. It puts some popular beliefs about the future in the shade.

Revelation 21. 1 6a
This vision of God’s future in store for his people takes up some of the imagery of Isaiah, but goes further.  His intent is nothing less than a new creation – and God has all in his hand, from beginning to end.  All we need to do is to accept him.

John 11. 32 – 44
The raising of Lazarus, friend of Jesus, is a major sign of hope and joy for all Jesus’ faithful ones.

  • Our hope, now and for ever, lies only in God, who gives us what he wills.
  • Thank God for opening the door to sanctity for us and giving us hope.
  • Our future is beyond our imagining, so we focus simply on God and we trust.

Sunday 8 November, 2009
Remembrance Sunday
The Third Sunday before Advent

  • First Reading: Wisdom of Solomon 6. 12 - 16
  • Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4. 12 - 18
  • Gospel: Matthew 25. 1 – 13

Sunday 15 November, 2009
The Second Sunday before Advent

Daniel 12. 1 3
The ancient Jews did not come to a clear belief in life after death until very late in the pre-Christian time.  It may surprise us that its absence did not impair their trust in God.  Here, from 167 BC, is one of the few witnesses to this belief.  It came in terms of ‘resurrection’, renewed life as a pure gift from the hand of God.

¶ Hebrews 10. 11 14, (15 18), 19 25
The picture is of the high priest in old Judaism entering the heart of the temple, ‘through the curtain’, to offer the great sacrifice that would take away the people’s sins.  For the writer, it stands as a foreshadowing of Jesus, who also, we may say, ‘went through’ his own human life and death to the goal of heaven for us all.

Psalm 16. 1 - 11

Mark 13. 1 8
Before his passion, Jesus considers the temple in Jerusalem and sees its transience.  Its end will come and there will be much strife and confusion.  Jews commonly saw such strife as the precursor to the coming of God’s victory, and the contrast comes into Christian hopes – and fears.

  • Pray for a firmer hope in the great generosity of God.
  • Give thanks for the binding gift of Jesus’ self-offering.
  • Can we accept the grief which often seems to be the essential gate to fulfilment?

Sunday 22 November, 2009
Christ the King

Daniel 7. 9 10, 13 14
This was an important passage when read by early Christians.  It gave a picture of the coming end of things, with God’s judgment of the human race in great and solemn majesty.  ‘One like a human being’ is, literally, ‘a son of man’.  It was taken in the Gospels to paint the picture of Jesus as lord and judge on God’s behalf.

Revelation 1. 4b 8
Inspired by the vision in Daniel, the writer fixes his attention on Jesus as assuredly God’s agent for judgment and salvation.  It is one of the most splendid and glorious pictures of Jesus’ role, expressing total faith in him and praise for his gifts to his own.

John 18. 33b 37
Jesus’ trial before Pilate centres on the theme of kingship.  Where is true sovereignty to be found?  In Pilate and all he stands for, that is, worldly power at its most far-reaching and extensive, or in the powerless and wretched prisoner, Jesus of Nazareth.  The writer of the Gospel has no hesitation in deciding.

  • Ponder the strengths nad weaknesses of the idea of Jesus as ‘King’.
  • Pray to welcome the gentle rule of Jesus and all he stands for.
  • We adore the true majesty of Christ.


Sunday 29 November, 2009
The First Sunday of Advent

Jeremiah 33. 14 16
The prophet, writing at a time of gloom and uncertainty, sees future joy in terms of a new king of the old house of David.  In such a one lies hope of better things.  Christians often came to make much of Jesus’ having such an ancestry.

1 Thessalonians 3. 9 13
This passage from the oldest of Paul’s letters expresses movingly the apostle’s affection and concern for his new gentile converts in Thessalonica in northern Greece.  He has all the instincts of the true pastor, here on view from the very beginning of the Church’s life.

Luke 21. 25 36
Each of the first three Gospels contains a vivid picture of the coming winding-up of the world with the return of Jesus in triumph and judgment.  That early hope was not fulfilled, but the essential confidence in God which it expresses remains, even if we might put it less dramatically.  But how do we feel it and know it?

  • Pray not to be so absorbed by the present that we cannot raise our eyes beyond.
  • Thank God for the strength of Christian community which warms our hearts.
  • Pray for the strengthening of confidence in God’s future always open to us.

Sunday 6 December, 2009
The Second Sunday of Advent

¶ Baruch 5. 1 9
In the spirit of the other later prophets, this passage speaks with joy and confidence of God’s vindication of his people.

Malachi 3. 1 4
This late prophet of Israel looks forward to God’s great day, with its dramatic force and frightening realism.  No good underplaying the majesty of God’s future in store for us.  He is not to be trifled with and we must be watchful, always poised and alert before him. 

Philippians 1. 3 11
Paul often began his letters with thanksgiving for the faith and love he saw in his converts.  In this case, it is particularly heartfelt.  He is in prison and Christians from Philippi have attended to his welfare.  He is confident that their virtue will be rewarded.

Luke 3. 1 6
Luke the evangelist is a man with a feel for the world about him and he dates the start of Jesus’ ministry carefully to AD29 (as we call it, less cumbersomely than he had to do!).  And that ministry begins with the ground-laying preaching of John the Baptist, full of promise for what is to come.

  • Vigilance before God is a quality we can easily forget.
  • The warmth of Christian common life is to be cherished.
  • Pray to sense the historical reality of Jesus’ coming to his great work.

Sunday 13 December, 2009
The Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3. 14 20
The special strength of this passage from old Jewish prophecy lies in its stress of God being ‘in your midst’.  His presence is not just a hope for the future, but is recognized in the here and now.  It is a confidence which early Christians were glad to share, with joy and excitement.  So may we.

Philippians 4. 4 7
Familiar words, in liturgy and in musical settings.  It is a passage of deep reassurance, coming remarkably from Paul in the midst of a time in prison for his faith.  His calm and confidence are worth dwelling upon.

Luke 3. 7 18
John does not simply baptize with a view to renewed service of God but also gives simple and direct moral instruction, appropriate to his audience.  It is strictly practical, addressed to everyday temptations.

  • Pray to enter into a sense of God’s real presence among us, not to be doubted.
  • Pray for the ability to keep underlying serenity before God in the face of
  • We hope not to neglect the simple duties that lie before us.

Sunday 20 December, 2009
The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Micah 5. 2 5a
A passage seized upon in early Christianity in relation to Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, with its ancient associations with King David.  It helped to kindle the hope of his saving role, if not political then certainly crucial in God’s purposes, now seen afresh.

¶ Hebrews 10. 5 10
A central theme of this writing is the way Jesus has superseded the crucial role in Judaism of the sacrifices in the temple at Jerusalem, as ordered in the old Law of Moses.  In his own very self, Jesus perfects all that they sought to do:  the restoring of our relationship with God, spoiled by sin and the defects of our lives.

Psalm: Magnificat

Luke 1. 39 – 45 (46 – 55)
The encounter between Mary and Elizabeth makes a familiar and beautiful scene, full of a sense of expectation of a wonderful future in store.  Mary’s song puts the hope into words.  God seeks to transform human life at all levels and will achieve it by his generous gift.

  • Pray for the fulfilment of our dearest hopes in the life and meaning of Jesus.
  • We trust that the offering of Jesus will stay in our hearts and minds.
  • Trust that the encounter with Jesus may renew us at all levels of life with God.

Thursday 24 December 2009
Christmas Eve

Isaiah 9. 2 – 7
A birth is usually an occasion for rejoicing and hope.  But this birth carries great promise for us all.

¶ Titus 2. 11 – 14
God’s gift of himself in Jesus is unlimited in its scope.  It is for the great good of everyone.

¶ Luke 2. 1 – 14 (15 – 20)
Jesus’ birth was both an obscure event, known to a mere handful, and universal in its scope and purpose.

or John 1. 1 – 14
Jesus is no sudden fresh thought of God’s, but the climax of his meaning and purpose right from the start.

  • We praise God for the gift of Jesus: let us adore him.
  • Thank God for opening up the widest of horizons.
  • Pray to feel the wonder of God’s simplicity.
  • We repent of our failures of vision and imagination.

Friday 25 December, 2009
Christmas Day

¶ Isaiah 9. 2 – 7
A birth is usually an occasion for rejoicing and hope.  But this birth carries great promise for us all.

Titus 2. 11 – 14
God’s gift of himself in Jesus is unlimited in its scope.  It is for the great good of everyone.

Luke 2. 1 – 14 (15 – 20)
Jesus’ birth was both an obscure event, known to a mere handful, and universal in its scope and purpose.

  • We praise God for the gift of Jesus: let us adore him.
  • Thank God for opening up the widest of horizons.
  • Pray to feel the wonder of God’s simplicity.

Sunday 27 December, 2009
The First Sunday of Christmas

1 Samuel 2. 18 – 20, 26
Samuel, dedicated from birth to the special service of God, makes a good pattern for the child Jesus.

Colossians 3. 12 17
Paul’s teaching about the moral life is basic, plain – and joyful; not irksome, harsh or burdensome.

Luke 2. 41 52
The boy Jesus devotes himself to the holy learning of his people – humbly and devoutly.

  • Pray for the spirit of devout patience before God.
  • Thank God for the daily joy of the service of God.
  • Praise God for his loving guidance.

top | next


Arms of Lady Katherine Leveson

The Foundation of Lady Katherine Leveson
Registered Charity no. 213618
Temple Balsall, Knowle, Solihull, West Midlands B93 0AN

contact us         site map

Sustainable Design - created to work