Reading from the Revised Common Lectionary –

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Reading from the Old Testament, Isaiah 49:1–7
Reading from the Psalms, Psalm 40:1–11
Reading from the Epistles, 1 Corinthians 1:1–9
Reading from the Gospels, John 1:29–42

A Track 2 OT Reading from the Revised Common Lectionary

More on Reading from the Lectionary

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Reading from the Old Testament, Isaiah 49:1–7 (1/10/11)

Depending on the denomination you belong to, the period between Epiphany and Lent is called the “season of Epiphany” or “ordinary time.”  In the United Methodist Church, we call it ordinary time.  It’s not “common” time; it’s “counted” time, ordered in the sense of first, second, third, etc.  The lectionary readings don’t have any specific theme, although the Gospel readings relate various events from Jesus’ ministry.  (In case you are saying, “As opposed to what?” – his ministry as opposed to Passion Week.)

Now, long-time readers may remember the Hunter Theorem, which states, “Everything is related to everything.”  Every scripture is related to every other scripture, and every scripture is related to your life.  I have to admit, however, that during ordinary time, one sometimes has to work pretty hard to see the relationship among the four lectionary readings, and this is one of those weeks.

I’m sure we can all sympathize, in this post-Christmas period, with Isaiah’s feeling that "I'm completely worn out; my time has been wasted.”  The important thing is to remember what he says in the same breath:  “But I did it for the LORD God, and he will reward me."  Never cease keeping Christmas; never cease doing good.

Reading from the Psalms, Psalm 40:1–11 (1/11/11)

I suggest that you read today’s passage from the King James Version, mostly because I prefer the KJV’s translation of the psalms to any other.  It also never hurts to review the reasons for getting yourself a good, modern translation of the Bible.  The KJV (also the Douay Rheims and Jewish Publication Society Bible) uses strange, archaic words like “respecteth” and “didst” and “us-ward.”  It uses archaic forms of “you” – thee, thy, thou, thine.  It puts random words into italics.  Now, we know that the strange words are perfectly good 14th or 15th-century English, and we know that the italics show words that aren’t in the Hebrew or Greek but which have to be in the English.  Nevertheless, it makes the KJV difficult and slow to read.  I urge you to get a modern translation with study notes.

Reading from the Epistles, 1 Corinthians 1:1–9 (1/12/11)

In most weeks, the lectionary has a reading from the epistles.  “Epistles” means “letters,” and most of these books were written as letters to specific individuals, churches, or segments of the Christian community.  (It is possible that one or two were written as sermons.) 

1 and 2 Corinthians were written by Paul, to (amazingly enough) the Corinthians, i.e., the church at Corinth.  We have a normal format for letters in our own day:  inside address, date, address, greeting (“Dear Mom”), body (“Please ask Dad to send money”), signature.  In New Testament times, letters had most of these parts, but not the date, drat it.  The parts are in a different order than our letters, however.  The letters start with the signature:  “From Paul.”  Then it goes to the address:  “To God’s church in Corinth.”  The greeting is often several verses long; probably the remainder of our reading today could be classified as the greeting.
Reading from the Gospels, John 1:29–42 (1/13/11)

You can always count on John’s Gospel to report puns and word plays.  Puns and word plays don’t translate very well, but one way you can sometimes at least recognize them in English is when every translation you see has something different.  Look at John 1:30:
Part of the problem in this particular verse is that in Greek, as in English, both before and after can have either a spatial or temporal meaning – before or after me in the line, before or after 10 a.m.  And then there are two different words for aregegonen and en.   Just to add to your confusion, I’ve translated it differently from all of the above.

Note also in the last few verses that John must have a Greek-speaking audience in mind, because whenever he uses an Aramaic or Hebrew word (Rabbi, Messiah, Cephas), he translates it into Greek.  So I think that the puns were probably a whole lot clearer to 1st- and 2nd-century native Greek speakers than they are to us.  Read all the translations one after another (in either time or space), however, and you’ll have a pretty clear idea of what John the Baptist meant.

A Track 2 OT Reading from the Revised Common Lectionary
Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28; Matthew 7:21-29

I mentioned earlier that sometimes there is an alternative lectionary reading from the Old Testament.  In the “seasons,” e.g., Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter, the Track 1 readings are topical, like the Gospel readings.  In the time outside the special seasons, the Track 1 lectionary just reads through some OT book; this is called “hearing the author’s voice,” the “semi-continuous track,” or some similar designation.  The Track 2 lectionary specifically selects OT reading that are related to the Gospel reading.  We are not in a liturgical season that has these Track 2 readings, so I’ve chosen the OT and Gospel reading for another Sunday to show you how it works.

The “semi-continuous track” OT reading for this Sunday would be from Genesis 6, which is about Noah.  The NT reading is from the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus is talking about the importance of obedience to God.  The “Gospel theme track” OT reading is from Moses’ address to the children of Israel, and he’s talking about the importance of obedience to God.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to the Hunter Theorem, you will say, “Look, the Track 1 reading about Noah is also about obedience to God!  Everything is related to everything!” 

More on Reading from the Lectionary
Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus
Readings for the Second Sunday after Epiphany
Readings for the Third Sunday after Epiphany
Readings for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Copyright 2011, 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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