Monday, December 15, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 21, 2014, the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

PREFACE:
I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

7:1 What king are we talking about?
7:2 David seems to be speaking to Nathan as God might. Who was Nathan?
7:3 How did Nathan know this?
7:4 What carries more authority, the word of the king or the word of the LORD? Why did the word of the LORD come to Nathan at night?
7:5 Why the question?
7:6 What seems to be at stake here? What is the difference, if any, between a tent and a tabernacle?
7:7 Why is God asking questions? Are these rhetorical questions?
7:8-9 Why the history lesson?
7:10 Has this not already been accomplished?
7:11 The first part of this verse seems misplaced. Note the play on the word “house.”
7:16 Was this fulfilled?

1:46b-55 You might want to compare this with 1 Samuel 2:1-10
1:47 Whose soul magnifies the Lord? When was the last time your soul magnified the Lord and your spirit rejoiced?
1:48 How was this servant lowly?
1:49 What great things?
1:50 What is the meaning of “fear”? Once again, why am I thinking of Edwin Friedman?
1:51 Where has the Mighty One sown strength? How have the proud been scattered? I find it interesting that thoughts are associated with the heart. We usually associate thoughts with the head or mind and feelings with the heart.
1:52 What powerful have been brought down and how have they been brought down?
1:53 Do the hungry want good things or good food? If the rich are sent away empty, are they still rich?
1:54 What is the meaning of “in remembrance of his mercy”?
1:55 What promises? Why is Abraham but never Sarah mentioned?

89:1 How can the Psalmist, or anyone, sing forever and proclaim anything to generations?  Is this nothing more than poetic hyperbole?
89:2 How firm are the heavens?
89:3-4 Apparently an allusion to the First Reading.  Does this verse justify the lectionary pairing this Psalm with the First Reading?  This Psalm is actually an alternate. Another possibility is the Magnificat, Luke 1:47-55.  I have used the Magnificat the past few cycles but this year am opting to use the Psalm 89. What is this verse quoting?
89:19 Who is the faithful one? Note that the rest of the reading is a narration of the vision.
89:20 What makes oil holy?
89:24 What is a “horn”?
89:26 So David is the Son of God?

16:25 What does Paul mean by “my gospel?”  What is the mystery that has been revealed?
16:26 What does Paul mean by “prophetic writings”?
16:27 Here is a nice ascription of praise that could be used liturgically.

1:26 In the sixth month of what? Why Gabriel? Why Nazareth?
1:27 Why a virgin? How can we read this verse with 21st century sensibilities without reading our prejudices back into the text? Why the house of David?
1:28 What does Gabriel mean by addressing Mary as “favored one?”
1:29 Apparently Mary did not know what Gabriel meant. When was the last time you were perplexed by a greeting and pondered what it meant?
1:30 I think the phrase “Do not be afraid” is the crux of this text.
1:31 Note that Mary “will” conceive.  She apparently was not yet pregnant. Why name him Jesus?
1:32-33 This is quite a prophecy!
1:34 A good question.
1:35 Is there a difference between being called “Son of God” and actually being the Son of God?
1:36 Apparently Elizabeth was between the second and third trimester. The way she is described reminds me of Sarah.
1:37 Could this be the key verse of the passage rather than 1:30?
1:38 Where have we heard “Here am I” before?  What if Mary had not let it be according to Gabriel’s word?

ADDENDUM
I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.

May you have a Christ filled merry Christmas and be blessed with peace, wholeness, and happiness in the New Year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 14, 2014, the Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

PREFACE:
I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

61:1 What does it feel like to have the spirit of the LORD upon oneself?  What else can one be anointed with in addition to the spirit and oil?
61:2 What is “the year of the Lord’s favor” and “the day of vengeance of our God” and how can they be mentioned in the same sentence?
61:3 What is a garland? What is oil of gladness? What is so special about oaks?
61:4 What other ancient ruins come to your mind in addition to Jerusalem?  Iona?  Lindesfarne? Detroit?
61:8 Does justice involve more than just hating robbery and wrongdoing? Who are “them”?
61:9 What does it mean for a people to be blessed by the LORD?
61:10 What does it feel like for one’s whole being to exalt in God?  God has clothed us with a tux and gown?
61:11 Do righteousness and praise just appear or do they grow and blossom?

126:1 In other words, we thought it not possible?  Note that this is in the past tense.
126:2 Why laughter? Shall we read this verse as a commentary on Isaiah 61:9?
126:3 What great things has the Lord done for us?
126:4 What is so special about the watercourses in the Negeb?
126:5-6 These verses, like Advent, proclaim a reversal of the status quo.
126:6 Shall we read this verse as a commentary on Isaiah 61:11?

Luke 1:46b-55 Note that this canticle is an alternative to the Psalm, not an alternative to the Second Redding, as suggested by the presbyterianmission website.
1:46b Who is speaking? When, if ever, has your soul magnified the Lord?
1:47 When did your spirit last rejoice?
1:48 What does it mean to be called blessed?
1:49 Here is an alternative way to address and speak of God.
1:50 What does it mean to fear God? Why am I thinking of Edwin H. Friedman?
1:51 What does it mean for the proud to be scattered  in the thoughts of their hearts? Since when did hearts think?
1:52-53 Note that these verses are in the present tense and how they all address a reversal.
1:54 How has God helped Israel?
1:55 Once again Sarah is overlooked, yet without her Abraham would not have had any descendants.

5:16 This is good advice. Is this the second shortest verse in the Bible?
5:17 More good advice. What does it mean to” pray without ceasing”? What do you know about contemplative living?
5:18 I find giving thanks in all circumstances harder than praying without ceasing or always rejoicing. I have been in some circumstances where I would have had great difficulty giving thanks.
5:19 Oh, how many ways we quench the Spirit. Let me count the ways.
5:20 How do we despise the words of prophets? What prophets are being referred to?
5:21 How do we “test” anything, let alone everything? Does this verse support the mission of Consumer Reports or the Underwriters Laboratory and similar organizations and institutions? How do we hold fast to what is good? What is good?
5:22 How many forms of evil are there?
5:23 Note the tripartite “spirit and soul and body”.  What is the difference between spirit and soul?  I would feel more comfortable with “mind, body and spirit”.
5:24 Who is it that calls? What does it mean to be called?

1:6 Are some “sent” and others not? What is the difference between “sent” and “called”?
1:7 “Witness” and “testify” are not usually part of the mainline and Presbyterian vocabulary.  Do they make you feel uncomfortable? How much do we hear them as legal terms and how much do we hear them as religious terms?
1:8 Was someone saying John was the light?
1:19 In this context, who or what is a Levite? It seems that John’s testimony was given in the context of him being questioned or examined. Was John on trial?
1:20 “Confessed” is an interesting choice of words.  John says, “I am not” while Jesus will say, at least seven times, “I am”! Were some hoping, even saying, that John was the Messiah?
1:21 People thought John was Elijah or Kahlil Gibran?
1:22 Why is John’s identity so important?
1:23 Are these John the Baptizer’s words or John the Evangelist’s words?
1:24-25 In verse 19 it was Jews sent by priests and Levites. Now it is those sent by the Pharisees. What is the connection between the Pharisees and baptism?
1:25 Is the presumption that it would have been alright for the Messiah, Elijah, or the prophet to baptize?
1:26 What did John mean by “Among you stands”?
1:27 Is there anything significant or symbolic about untying sandals?
1:28 What difference does it make where this took place?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 7, 2014, the Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

PREFACE:
I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

40:1 Perhaps this all too familiar passage reminds us that Advent is a season for the preacher to comfort, while Lent is a season for the preacher to afflict.
40:2 This sounds somewhat like legal language but good news none the less. What does it mean to speak tenderly?
40:3 Whose voice is crying out?
40:3-4 Having grown up and spent most of my life in the mountains of West Virginia, I resonate with the imagery of straight highways.  On the other hand, I fear someone might want to relate the “every mountain and hill shall be made low” and language following to the ecologically devastating practice of Mountain Top Removal Mining.
40:5 Who or what is the mouth of the Lord?
40:6-7 How do these verses fit in here? Has a new thought begun?
40:8 What does Isaiah mean by “the word of the LORD”?
40:9 How can the prophet get up to a high mountain if all the mountains will be made low? Where is God?
40:10 Is this militaristic imagery and language?
40:11 This language and imagery seems antithetical to the previous verse. Who is the mother sheep?

85:1 Does this verse assume a theology of the land?
85:2 How do you and your church deal with “Selah”?
85:1-2 Compare these verses with Isaiah 40:1-2.
85:8 Does God speak peace only to God’s people?
85:8-9 What about people who do not turn to God in their hearts and who do not fear God?  What does it mean to fear God? What does it mean to turn to God in your heart?
85:10-11 I like this imagery! The structure appears to be poetic.
85:12 Once again, I wonder if this verse and the entire Psalm assumes a theology of the land?  What is the connection between God and the land, the land and God?  Does this feed into the Arthurian legend and the Fisher King?
85:13 Is this a personification of righteousness?

3:8 I do not know where it originated, but there is a joke that goes something like this.  A person asks God if it is true that one day to God is like a thousand years.  God answers “yes.”  They then ask God if it is true that God will give them whatever they ask for.  God again answers “yes.”  The person finally asks God for a million dollars. God replies, “OK, I’ll do it tomorrow”. On the other hand I have often heard this verse used to reconcile the six day story of creation with evolution as if that solves all the apparent problems.
3:9 So God’s apparent slowness is really an manifestation of God’s patience?
3:10 Of all the images that one could employ, why employ the imagery of a thief?   What does the author mean by “the heavens”, “elements”, and “the earth”? Will what is done on the earth not be disclosed until the day of the Lord?
3:11-12 Shall we refer to this as the “Big Dissolution Theory?”  How do we reconcile this imagery with contemporary cosmology that posits an expanding universe expanding at an increasing rate and which may expand indefinitely? What is this verse asking?
3:13 Note that this is a “promise”, not a threat. Where else can we find “new heavens and a new earth” language? I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’ imager of a new heaven and a new earth in the final installment of The Chronicles of Narnia.
3:14 What might be a spot or blemish?
3:15a Once again, what appears to be the Lord’s tardiness is actually our salvation.

1:1 For a minute, there, I thought I was reading the incipit of Genesis. Exactly what is “the beginning of the good news”?
1:2-3 Déjà vu! Why does Mark quote Isaiah 40:3?
1:4 Never having been a Baptist, I much prefer the NRSV “John the baptizer” rather than the more familiar John the Baptist”. What about you? How did John’s baptism differ from the baptism of the early church?
1:5 I think there is some hyperbole here. Nevertheless, John is portrayed as a popular guy.
1:6 Has anyone else ever heard the explanation that “locusts” is not a reference to insects but to a nutty substance from a tree native to Palestine? What purpose might it serve to describe John this way?
1:7-8 What power did John have?  How could John have known all of this?
1:8 What is the difference between baptism with water baptism with the Holy Spirit?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, November 30, 2014, the First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

PREFACE:
I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

64:1 Must God tear the heavens open to come down?
64:2 Who are God’s adversaries
64:3 What awesome deeds does Isaiah have in mind?
64:4 What does it mean to wait for God?
64:5 Did God hide because the people transgressed or did the people transgress because God hid?
64:6 How can righteous deeds become like a filthy cloth?
64:7 What does it mean that God has hidden the divine face?
64:8 Why the change of metaphors from storm and fire to potter and clay?
63:9 Please God, be just a little angry and remember our iniquity for just a little while.

80:1 The verse follows nicely upon the heels of last week’s First Reading
80:2 What does it mean for God to stir up the divine might?
80:3 What is the shining face of God or what does it represent or symbolize?
80:4 Is there a difference between being angry with the people and being angry with their prayers?
80:5 This sounds like anti-Eucharistic language.
80:6 Is this an appeal to God’s pride?
80:7 What does God’s shining face represent or symbolize?
80:17 Whom is the Psalmist talking about?
80:18 Is the Psalmist bargaining with God, offer a quid pro quo?
80:19 A repeat of 80:7, suggesting a liturgical response.

1:3 Is there anything unique about “Grace to you and peace”?
1:4 Why “my” God and not “our” God?
1:5 How are we enriched in speech and knowledge?
1:6 What is “the testimony of Christ”?
1:7 What spiritual gift might we be lacking in? What does it mean for the Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed?
1:8 What is “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”?
1:9 What is “the fellowship”? Is that something like Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring?

13:24 In what days? So the sun and moon will no longer give light AFTER suffering?
13:25 Do you think the writer was referring to meteors rather than stars? What powers are in the heavens?
13:24-25 If something is being quoted, what?
13:26 Who and/or what is “the Son of Man”? Why does the Son of Man come in clouds?
13:27 Whar are the Son of Man’s angels? Does “the four winds” refer to the four cardinal directions?
13:28 How  you ever lived around fig trees?
13:29 What things?
13:30 How do we reconcile this verse with the fact that we are still reading it and waiting nearly two-thousand years later?
13:31 How will heaven and earth pass away but not words? What words?
13:32 So why all the talk about the lesson of the fig tree if no one know the day or hour?
13:33 In other words, pack your Christian “go bag” and make sure there is gas in the car.
13:34 Is this a parable?
13:35I would rather my master return than a thief come.
13:36 Are we all expected to be doorkeepers?
13:37 What does it mean to “Keep awake:?

ADDENDUM
I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, November 23, 2014, Christ the King (Reign of Christ) Sunday (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

PREFACE:
This is the last Sunday in Liturgical Year A. Next Sunday, November 30, the 1st Sunday in Advent, begins Liturgical Year B.

34:11 How did God lose these sheep in the first place? Why might God be doing the searching rather than entrusting the searching to a representative?
34:12 Why do sheep scatter and why do shepherds allow them to scatter?
34:13 How can one not read this and be a Zionist?
34:14-15 Why am I thinking of Psalm 23?
34:16 What is the difference between the lost and the strayed? Does it seem that God will search out and rescue the 99% while punishing the 1%?
34:20 I think it is time for me to eat less, exercise more, and drop a few pounds.
34:21 To whom is this addressed?
34:22 Note that God will judge between sheep and sheep, not sheep and goats.
34:23-24 David, King of the 99%!

100:1 Is “all the earth” a poetic reference to all people or and invitation to rocks and trees as well?
100:2 If we are to worship God with gladness, why do so many worship services feel like a funeral and so many worshipers act like they are mourners?
100:3 How many people in the pew understand the nuance of “LORD” and “God”? Does this verse justify this Psalm being paired with the Ezekiel Reading?  What and where is the LORD’s pasture?
100:4 To what does gates refer, the gates og the temple, the gates of the city, or something else? To what does courts refer?
100:5 Is it redundant to say his steadfast love endures forever? What does it mean for the LORD to be faithful?

1:15 How might Paul have heard of the Ephesians faith and love? Who are the saints?
1:16 I would love to hear Paul praying.
1:17 What is “a spirit of wisdom and revelation”?
1:18-19 I love the phrases “the riches of his glorious inheritance” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power”.
1:20Is this a reference to the Resurrection as well as the Ascension?
1:21 Yes, this Sunday is Christ the King.
1:22 What does “for the church” mean?
1:23 What does “fills all in all” mean?

25:31 Who is speaking? How much do we need to know about the theologically loaded title “Son of Man” to responsibly interpret this passage?  Does the mention of a throne justify this being the Gospel Reading for Christ the King?
25:32-33 The Gospel’s “sheep and goats” juxtaposed with the “sheep and sheep” of the Ezekiel Reading seems to offer us a mixed or confused, metaphor.
25:33 Is this an example of right-handed prejudice?
25:34 Is the king the same as the Son of Man?
25:37 What does it mean to be righteous?
25:41 The devil has angels?
25:35-45 How do members of the Tea Party and the 1% read these verses?
25:46 Must there be eternal punishment?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, November 16, 2014, the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

4:1 Here we go again.  This is beginning to remind me of déjà vu all over again. How many times did the Israelites do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?  How many times do we?
4:2 Do the names of rulers, commanders, and place names add or detract from the narrative?
4:3 This is beginning to sound like a broken record.  How many times do we cry out to the LORD, asking the LORD to get us out of trouble we have gotten ourselves into?
4:4 What blasphemy, a female prophet!  With regard to male prophets, how often are we told who their wife was?
4:5 Do you think the Palm of Deborah was known by that name in Deborah’s day? Too bad it was not a Bodhi tree.
4:6 How dare Deborah speak for God! I wonder why Barak.
4:7 What is a Wadi and why does it matter?

123:1 I thought God was enthroned on the cherubim.  Are the cherubim in heaven or in the Temple?
123:2 So God is a master and maid while we are servants and mistresses.  While the Israelites in the Judges passage cry to the LORD, the psalmist simply looks to the LORD.  Maybe those eyes were sad, droopy puppy dog eyes that the LORD simply could not resist.
123:3 To what contempt is the Psalmist referring?
123:4 To what scorn is the Psalmist referring? Are contempt and scorn synonymous?

5:1 What times and seasons? If nothing needs to be written to the Thessalonians about times and seasons then why does Paul bring it up?
5:2 Is this an example of chiastic structure:  “day lord / thief night”? What does Paul mean by “day of the Lord”?
5:3 Since I am of the male persuasion, I chose not to comment on this verse.  If there is anyone of the female persuasion out there who would like to comment, please do so.
5:4-5 There is a lot of “light” and “darkness” to keep track of in these verses. Beware of racial stereotypes. Can the Dead Sea scrolls help us put this passage into context?
5:6 Since the overriding metaphor is staying awake, why does Paul add “sober”?
5:7 What point is Paul trying to make?
5:8 Does the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation, change the metaphor?  Note that a breastplate and a helmet are entirely defensive rather than offensive. Have you ever heard of a type of prayer known in the Celtic tradition as a Lorica?
5:9 Why do my Reformed/Presbyterian ears perk up when I hear this verse?
5:10 Is Paul confusing his “sleep” metaphor and using it to mean more than one thing?
5:11 In other words, keep on keeping on.

25:14 “It is as if” make this what, q parable? Why do I have a problem with slave language?
25:15 What is a talent?  Ability to do what?
25:16 This slave ahould have been a stock broker or banker.
25:17 A 100% return! Not bad.
25:18 What were the abilities of the first and second slaves?  What was the ability of the third slave? Had the man going on a journey misjudged the abilities of his slaves?
25:19 What is a long time and does it matter?
25:21, 23 What does it mean to enter into the joy of a master?
25:24 Maybe the third slave said too much in addition to not doubling the talent.
25:25 How do we sometimes allow fear to cripple us?
25:26 Was the slave really wicked and lazy or just overly careful?
25:27 If we take this too literally, it begins to break down and seems illogical. After all, the man could have invested his money with bankers to begin with rather than entrusting it to his slaves.
25:28-29 Does the growing disparity between the rich and the poor impact how we might read and interpret these verses?
25:30 Have we heard anything like this before? Where?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, November 9, 2014, the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

24:1 What do you know about  Shechem? The listing of “elders, heads, judges, and the officers” suggests a rather organized society, just forty years after the Exodus.
24:2 Why does Joshua point back one generation to Terah rather than to Abraham?
24:3a Why isn’t Sarah mentioned?
24:14 What is this talk about putting away other gods all about? What other God were the people worshiping?
24:15 Joshua presents three choices: Serve the gods ancestors worshiped before God called Abraham, serve the local gods of the Amorites, or serve the LORD. What choices are the people presented with today?
24:14-18 Are these verses about monotheism, or about recognizing that of all the gods, only one, the LORD, is the one who has saved us?
24:19 “You cannot serve the LORD”? What is Joshua doing here?
24:20 The LORD sounds like a jealous God.
24:21 Is this a confession of faith?
24:22 What does it mean, in this context, to be a witness?
24:23 Did the people actually have statues of foreign gods, or is this a metaphorical “put away”?
24:24 Is this also a confession of faith?
24:25 Is this a third covenant? What statutes and ordinances are being referred to?

78:1 Who is the speaking?
78:2 Apparently Jesus was not the only person in the Bible to speak in parables. What are “dark sayings from of old”?
78:3 This sounds like a reference to the oral tradition.
78:4 Why might you want to hide dark sayings from children? What are the Lord’s glorious deeds and wonders?
78:5 Is the speaker not a child of his/her ancestors?
78:6 This is really thinking far ahead, to future generations.
78:7 What is the relation between works and commandments?
78:1-7 This Psalm reads like a call to educational ministry and mission.  What would this psalmist say about the state of Biblical literacy, or lack of, in today’s church?

1:13 How might we be uninformed?
1:14 What does Paul mean “God will bring with him”?
1:15 What is this all about?
1:16-17 Does this presuppose a pre-Copernican three tiered universe?  How do we translate this into modern cosmological terms?
1:18 How are these words encouraging?  See item #16 on page 914 in the PC(USA) Book of Common Worship.  See also page 949.

25:1 Is this a kingdom parable? Is there anything special about the number ten? Is there anything special about bridesmaids?
25:2 Why five foolish and five wise?
25:3-4 Does the oil represent anything or is this just about being prepared?
25:5 What is this about “delay”?  Note that both the wise and the foolish become drowsy and fall asleep. Was “delay” the real issue?
25:6 Why midnight?  Who shouted?
25:7 Why trim a lamp?
25:9 Were the wise being selfish? Why not share lamps?
25:10 I wonder how much oil the wise had brought with them. I wonder how long their oil would have lasted.
25:12 This sounds curt.
25:13 This point does not fit.  Based on what precedes, the point ought to have been “Be prepared.  Keep a supply of oil.”  Otherwise, the wise bridesmaids should not have slept while the foolish bridesmaids did sleep.

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.