Paraphrases of the Scripture Lections
for the Tuesday of Holy Week

Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary.
Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT)
P. O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.


* Isaiah 49: 1-7

Everyone, from coast to coast, listen up!
    All you people, far and near, don’t miss a word.

Before I was born, the LORD had chosen me.
    While I was still in my mother’s womb
        I was given a name and a job.

I was created to be a surgeon’s knife,
    razor sharp in the hand of the LORD;
ready and waiting to slice through any defence
    and cut to the core with a word.

The LORD said to me, “Israel, you are my servant,
    the one who will put my name up in lights.”

But I said, “Then how come every thing I do comes to nothing?
    I’ve worked my guts out but there is nothing to show for it.
But I gave it my best shot for you LORD,
    so you decide whether I’m worth my pay.”

And now the LORD has more to say to me;
    this God who chose me as a servant before I was born;
who gave me the job of bringing home the people of Israel
    for a great reunion with God.
It is a privilege and an honour to do this for the LORD,
    and God has given me the strength to see it through.

But now the LORD says to me,
    “Getting the people of Israel back on their feet is great,
        but it’s a piece of cake for my number one worker.
    Now I’ve got a real challenge for you!
        I want you to help the whole world to see the light!
            I want you to give my saving love a global reach!”

I, the LORD, the one and only, who puts things right for Israel,
    have this to say:
“You have been treated like dirt.
    kicked around by the nations,
        and forced to work in chains for their rulers;
but let me tell you how it is going to be:
    Kings will stand up when you walk in;
        Governors will snap to attention at your approach.
You have my word on this and I can be trusted;
    I am the LORD, your one and only, and I have chosen you.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* Psalm 71: 1-14

I run to you for protection, LORD,
........please don’t ever let me down.

You always do the right thing,
........so please be there for me when I need you.
Hear me when I call for help
........and step in quickly to bail me out.

Keep me safe when I need somewhere to hide.
........You are like a mountain hideaway to me;
................like a bunker than nothing can blast open.

If I fall into hostile hands,
........be my God and rescue me;
Don’t let the callous and cruel
........get their claws into me.

You are my only hope,
........the only one I can depend on, LORD;
................I’ve trusted you since I was a kid.

I’ve leaned on you for support
........since the day I was born.
You were the midwife who delivered me from my mother’s womb,
........the safe hands who pulled me gasping into life.
................I’ll never stop thanking you for that!

Many people think my name spells trouble,
........but you stick up for me when they attack.
How can I ever thank you enough?
........I go on all day about how wonderful you are.

Don’t give up on me when I get too old, LORD;
........don’t turn your back when I’ve got nothing left to offer.

I’ll need your help, because my enemies are out to get me,
........they’re plotting against my life even now.
They’ve put out a contract on me
........and guaranteed immunity to whoever brings me down
They say you’ve given up on me
........and that no one will defend me.

Don’t ever let me out of your sight, God;
........jump to my defence at the first sign of trouble.

Turn the tables on those who slandered me,
........leave them with egg all over their faces.
See to it that those who set out to destroy me
........get the public humiliation they deserve.

I will never give up hope,
........because I trust in you.
Every time I open my mouth,
........I will sing your praises more and more.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31

........The message about the cross sounds like a lot of mindless cock-and-bull to those who have thrown their lot in with this present world order and are going down with the ship. But to those of us who are being saved from that, it is nothing less than the power of God! God spoke about this in the Scriptures:

“I will expose the brilliant insights of your experts
........and the wise counsel of your gurus;
I will expose them for what they really are,
........a load of codswallop!”
So where are the intellectuals now? Where are the religious experts? Where are those who have an answer for everything? What have they got to show for all their cleverness now that God has turned all the conventional wisdom on its head and made it look foolish? Seeing that no amount of human cleverness had ever woken anybody up to God’s ways, God made the wise decision to use something that seemed utterly foolish to everyone — our preaching! — to rescue those who would trust the message. Most people want something more than this. Those with a religious world view demand to see miraculous signs to prove that it is from God. Those with a modern rational world view insist that it should have to prove its intellectual credibility. But what we are preaching is a Messiah who was strung up and killed. The religious people find this unthinkable, and the intellectuals regard it as primitive nonsense; but to those who have heard the call of God, whatever their background, it is the ultimate good news of God’s chosen one — as miraculous and profound as one could ever wish for! When it’s all said and done, the sum total of the human race’s intellectual achievements don’t even begin to stack up against the foolishness of God; and the combined force of all the world’s powers is puny in comparison to the weakness of God.
........Sisters and brothers, you don’t have to look any further than your own experience of God’s call to see the truth of this. Not many of you were academic hot-shots. Not many of you were movers and shakers in the corridors of power. Not many of you were feted as celebrities. But God chose you! God chose those who were dismissed as fools to expose the bankruptcy of the world’s accepted wisdom. God chose those who were weak and vulnerable in the world to show up the corruption of those who wield power. God consistently chooses what is despised as the dregs by the world, things which are seen as worthless, to expose the worthlessness of things which are seen as being ‘it and a bit’. Because of this, no one who is accepted into God’s presence has any grounds for blowing their own trumpet. God and God alone is the source of the life you share in union with the Messiah, Jesus. It is only in Jesus that we have been able to tap into God’s wisdom. And it is only in Jesus that our lives have been put back on track, given a clean bill of health, and set on the path to wholeness. For this reason, the scriptures make sense to us when they say:
“If you are going to blow your trumpet about something,
........blow it about the Lord!”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net



* John 12: 20-36

........Many people were arriving in Jerusalem for the celebration of the Jewish religious festival known as Passover. However, not all of the people were Jewish, and one group of foreigners made contact with Philip, and said, “Sir, we would like to meet Jesus.”
........Philip, who was from the Galilean town of Bethsaida, told Andrew, and together they went and told Jesus about the request from the foreign visitors. On hearing about it, Jesus said, “If the foreigners are asking after us, we’ve reached the point of no return. The time has come for the New Human to be lifted up in all his glory.”
........He went on to say:
“I kid you not, a grain of wheat is nothing unless it hits the dirt and loses its life. But if it gives up its life as a single grain, then it will begin to produce a bumper crop of life. Anyone who prizes their own life above everything else will end up losing the lot. But those who treat their individual survival in this world as a matter of no consequence will find life opening up before them without limit. If any of these people want to apprentice themselves to me, they will need to come and stick with me. Those who work for me will be going wherever I go. Whoever works for me will get the thumbs-up from the God who conceived me. But at the moment, I’m all churned up inside. Should I call on the Father to bail me out of what is about to happen? No, I can’t do that because what is about to happen is the pinnacle of everything I came to achieve. So then, I call out to God and say, ‘Father, put your name up in lights!’ ”
........And a voice answered from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.”
........The crowd who were gathered there heard the voice. Some of them said it sounded like thunder, and others said, “A messenger from God has spoken to him.”
........Jesus addressed them, saying, “This voice has spoken for your benefit, not mine. The world is being weighed in the balance right now; and the one who has been calling the shots in this world will now be driven out. As for me, I will be lifted up off the ground, and when that happens, I will draw all people to myself.”
........With these words, he gave an indication of the kind of death he was going to die. The crowd questioned him about this, saying, “The Bible tells us that the Messiah will be with us forever, so how can you say that the New Human will be strung up? And who exactly is this New Human?”
........Jesus said to them, “The light will only be with you for a little while longer, so make your move while it continues to light up the way. If you leave it too late, the darkness will catch up with you, and if you try to make your move then, you’ll have no idea where you are going. Put your trust in the light as long as you have access to it, so that you may become people of the light.”
........And having said this, Jesus cleared off and made himself scarce.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net