Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 8, 2016, the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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.

16:16 Who are the “we”?  What makes a place of prayer different from any other place? What is a spirit of divination?
16:17 Why was she following Paul and those with him? Why would she proclaim such a thing?
16:18 Why might Paul have been annoyed, after all, she was speaking the truth and seemed to be giving them free publicity? Note that what this girl was saying was not soothsaying but truth telling.  What was Paul’s motivation for casting out the demon?
16:19 And the moral of the story is “do not threaten someone’s livelihood”?
16:20 Who are the magistrates? How were Paul and Silas disturbing the city?
16:21What customs might Paul and Silas have been advocating and why were these customs not lawful.
16:22 Why would the crowd join in attacking them?
16:23 What is a flogging?
16:24 How many were so incarcerated?
16:25 Is there any significance or symbolism associated with midnight? When did Silas enter the scene? Who was he? What do we know about him?
16:26 Is this a description of a mere natural phenomena or something more? I can imagine chains coming loose from the wall, but stocks coming loose?
16:27 Why was the jailor about to kill himself?
16:28 Why would Paul announce their presence?
16:29 Why did the jailer fall down trembling before them?
16:30 Might there be a multi-valent meaning here?
16:31 How can a household be save based on one person’s faith?
16:32 Is speaking the word of the Lord the same as preaching a sermon.
16:33 Do you think the jailor washed their wounds using the same source of water used for the baptism?
16:34 Even though Paul and Silas were eating a meal in the jailor’s house rather than the jail, were they still prisoners?

97:1 Does it make any sense to talk about the LORD being king when living in a democratic republic?  What do coastlands symbolize or represent?
97:2 Why are clouds and thick darkness all around the LORD?  What is the relationship between righteousness and justice?
97:3 What does fire symbolize or represent?
97:4 What, if any, is the connection between thunder storms and God? How does the earth tremble?
97:5 Is this a description of volcanic activity?
97:6 Project images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope here! Yes, peoples (note the plural) behold God’s glory but do they know they are beholding God’s glory?
97:7 What about people who do not worship images?  How do gods bow down before the LORD is there are no other gods?
97:8 What is the difference between Zion and Judah?
97:9 How can the LORD be over all the earth if the earth is round? Who or what are these other gods?
97:10 Rather than hating evil I prefer loving the good.
97:11 Do the unrighteousness not see or experience the sunrise?
97:12 How can one give thanks to the LORD’s holy name when the LORD’s holy name is not to be pronounced?

22:12 Who is speaking?  This sounds like a verse in support of “works righteousness”. Will the reward enable the repayment?
22:13 Does this still need explanation or do all those in the pew understand it?
22:14 What do washed robes symbolize?  What would one wash them with? What is the tree of life”?  How else would one enter a city if not by the gates (note the plural)?
22:16 What angel is Jesus referring to?  How can one be both a root and a descendant?  What is “the bright morning star”?
22:17 Who is the bride? What is the “water of life” and how does it differ from “the tree of life”?
22:20 Who is testifying to these things?
22:21 Who is offering this blessing? Who are all the saints?

17:20 Who is asking? Who are “these”?
17:21 How does “oneness” lead people to belief?
17:22 How does glory promote oneness?
17:23 Why will complete oneness lead to the world’s knowing anything?
17:24 What would it mean for “those” to be where Jesus is?
17:25 What might this verse suggest about religious and/or spiritual knowledge?
17:26 What is the significance or symbolism of making God’s name known?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 1, 2016, the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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.

16:9 Was this a dream or a vision?  Does it make a difference?  How many visions has Paul now experienced? Where is Macedonia and where was Paul when he saw this vision?
16:10 What is the meaning of “immediately”? What would Paul need to cross over in order to go to Macedonia? Note the plural “us”!
16:11 Who is “we”?  Who is telling this story?  What do we know about Troas, Samothrace, and Neapolis?
16:12 What do we know about Philippi in addition to what we are told in this verse? Does it make any difference that Philippi is a Roman colony?
16:13 What is “a place of prayer”?  Why might it have been outside the gate? Where there no men gathered there? 
16:14 What is a “worshiper of God”?  What do we know about Thyatira?  Is there any significance to Lydia being a dealer in purple cloth?  How does the Lord open the heart?  Was Lydia spiritual but not religious?  Was she “a seeker”?
16:15 Who were in Lydia’s household and why were they all baptized?  Consider Acts 11:14 from last week’s Lectionary Readings. Might Lydia’s invitation to Paul and those with him to stay in  her home be a bit scandalous?

67:1 The “us” makes this a communal rather than a personal psalm.  What does it mean for God’s face to shine on someone?  What is “The Aaronic blessing”? How do you handle “Selah”?
67:2 Is God’s way the same as God’s saving power, or am I reading too much into the parallelism of the Hebrew Poetry? Note that 67:1 seems addressed to worshipers while 67:2 is addressed to God.
67:3 Why the plural “peoples” rather than the singular “people”?
67:4 Is there a difference between “nations” and “peoples”?
67:5 I hear a refrain that could be adapted for use as a Call to Worship.
67:6 What is the “increase” yielded by the earth? It seems the psalmist shifts from addressing God to addressing worshipers.
67:7 What is the meaning of “all the ends of the earth”? How many ends does the earth have? How can they revere God?

21:10 What is the meaning of “in the spirit”?  Who carried the narrator away?  What great, high mountain might the narrator have been carried away to? How could Jerusalem come down out of heaven?
21:22 Was the author writing before or after the destruction of the temple? And the Lord Almighty and the Lamb be a temple?
21:23 Maybe the city does not need the light of the sun or moon, but what about their gravitational pull?
21:24 It sounds like this Jerusalem is like a beacon.
21:25 What do open gates symbolize?
21:26 What is the glory and honor of the nations?
21:27 What is the Lamb’s book of life?
22:1 Where did the angel come from?  Are there any rivers in contemporary Jerusalem?  What is the water of life? Are God and the Lamb sitting on a single throne?
22:2 This city is beginning to resemble Venice more than Jerusalem. How is a tree on “either” side of a river?  What kind of tree has twelve kinds of fruit?  How can leaves heal? Let’s see, 12 fruits x 12 months = 144 individual piece of fruit,
22:3 Servants will worship the singular whom?
22:4 Other than names, what is traditionally on foreheads?
22:5 Who are “they” who will reign?

This week’s Lectionary offers the choice of one of two Readings from John. How will you decide which one to use?
14:23 Whom did Jesus answer? Is God’s love conditional or unconditional?
14:24 Is it logical to conclude that if a person keeps Jesus’ words that they will also love Jesus? Is this verse anti-Semitic?
14:25 How could Jesus say these things if he were not with them? Who is “you”?
14:26 What is the meaning of “Advocate” apart from the Holy Spirit? Why is “Advocate” capitalized?  Why might anyone need or want an Advocate? What is the difference between teaching and reminding? Will the Advocate give additional or new teaching in addition to what Jesus already taught?
14:27 “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” is one of my favorite verses in all of Christian Scripture.  I often read this sentence from Scripture at a Service of Witness to the Resurrection and/or at the graveside.  Is fear a form of doubt or lack of faith?
14:28 Why the “if”? Did Jesus think those to whom he was speaking loved him or not?
14:29 Can they not believe now? Why would they not believe until after this occurs?

Or

5:1 After what? Which festival might this have been? Does it matter?
5:2 What and where is the Sheep Gate? What is the meaning of Beth-zatha? Is the fact that this pool had five porticoes significant? What is a portico?
5:3 Paralyzed?
(5:4) What are you going do with the questionable 4th verse? If you choose to use it, how will you handle that a paralyzed person would not be able to step into the pool?
5:5 Is the number thirty-eight significant. This man would be older than Jesus.
5:6 Why would Jesus ask such a question?
5:7 What, in essence, is the problem?
5:8 What is the meaning of Jesus’ proclamation?
5:9 What is the significance of “at once”? So what that it was the Sabbath?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position. This Sunday I will be preaching and leading worship at The Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. The service begins at 11:00 AM.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 24, 2016, the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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.

11:1 What Gentiles had accepted the word of God?
11:2 What is the difference between a circumcised and uncircumcised believer?
11:3 What was wrong about Peter eating with uncircumcised men?
11:4 Some people may need step by step explanations and others may follow intuitive leaps. Which type are you?
11:5 How and why did Peter enter into a trance?  What is a vision.  Have you ever been in a trance or experienced a vision?  What is the difference, if any, between a “vision” and a “big dream”?
11:6 What is significant about the animals that Peter describes?
11:7 Did Peter audibly hear a voice that others could have heard or did he hear a voice in his vision that others would not have been able to her? Whose voice did Peter hear?
11:8 What does it mean that something is profane or unclean?
11:9 What had God made clean?
11:10 It seems that for Peter, things come and happen in threes. Why might that be?
11:11See what I mean, “three” men!
11:12 What “Spirit” is Peter referring to?  Who is the “us”?  Who are these “six brothers”?
11:13 Had this man also experienced a vison?
11:14 What is the definition of a “household”? What is the implication regarding baptism of infants?
11:15 So there was the rush of a mighty wind, tongues as of fire, and people speaking in various languages? It seems that the Holy Spirit fell upon these Gentile believers before they were baptized
11:16 Would Peter not have remembered this saying of Jesus if the account narrated above had not happened?  What sayings of Jesus might Peter never have remembered and are now long forgotten?
11:17 Is this a rhetorical question?
11:18 How can one be silenced and at the same time praise God? If Gentiles were not under the Law of Moses, then what did they have to repent of?

148:1 Why is God usually praised from the heights but not the valleys?
148:2 Who, or what, are the host?
148:3 How do celestial objects praise God?
148:4 How many gradations of heaven are there? How many heavens are between the highest heavens and the lowest heavens?
148:5 Does this verse refer to one of the creation accounts but not the other?
148:6 Does this assume a pre-Copernican universe?
148:7 What are Biblical sea monsters?
148:8 If elements of weather obey God’s commands, then are natural weather disasters sent by God?
148:9 What trees, if any, are not included?
148:10 Does cattle include all domesticated livestock?
148:11 While present throughout this psalm, the Hebraic poetic parallelism is particularly evident in this verse.
148:12 Does this verse remind you of any other verse or passage from the Jewish Scriptures?
148:13 How can one praise the name of the Lord when the Lord’s is not to be pronounced?
148:14 What is a “horn” and what does it symbolize?

21:1 This Sunday we have at least two visions, this one and the one narrated in the First Reading from Acts.  Why do people no longer have visions like these?  When I read this passage I think of how C.S. Lewis described the new heaven and new earth in his Chronicles of Narnia. Why would the sea be no more?
21:2 Why are cities feminized?  The story of God’s mighty acts might have started with a garden but it ends with a city!  Apparently God was into urban renewal. Note that Acts 11:5 also presents a vision of something coming down from heaven.
21:3 Note that the text says God will dwell with God’s peoples and does not say that God’s peoples will dwell with God. Why the plural “peoples”? Whose voice is heard?
21:4 We may usually associate this verse with The Service of Witness to the Resurrection.
21:5 Who is seated on the throne?  Write what?
21:6 Where is the spring of the water of life?  Did this passage lead to legends of the “fountain of youth”?  What about the hungry?

13:31Gone out from where or what?  Who is “the Son of Man” and what does this phrase mean?  Where does the image of “the Son of Man” come from?
13:32 What in the world is John saying here?
13:33 Who are the “little children”?  Why are these “little children” distinguished from the Jews?
13:34 If this is a new commandment, what was the old commandment?
13:35 So the new commandment is that disciples are to love other disciples?  What about people who are not disciples?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 17, 2016, the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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.

9:36 Is there anything we need to know about Joppa to help interpret this Passage?  What does the name Tabitha mean?  If Tabitha is not Greek, what language is it?  Does her being devoted to good works and charity suggest an appeal to works righteousness?
9:37 Who are “they”?  Is there anything suggestive about her body being placed in “an upper room”?
9:38 What do we know about Lydda and why was Peter there?
9:39 Do we need to know anything about weeping widows to help us understand this verse?
9:40 Why would Peter put them all outside. Did anyone remain in the room with Peter, and if so, whom? If no one remained in the room with Peter, how do we know what Peter did?
9:41 Who are “the saints”?
9:42 Why would people believe in the Lord rather than believing in Peter?
9:43 Do we know anything else about Simon, other than that he was a tanner? Does it matter that he was a tanner?

23:1-6 Is this Reading too familiar for us to hear in it anything new?
23:1 Who is this Psalm speaking about?  Can the image of a first century middle-eastern shepherd still speak to an industrialized, postmodern world?
23:2 People usually do not mind being led, but most people do not want to be “made” to do anything, even lie down in a green pasture.
23:3 How is a soul restored?  What is a right path?
23:4 What is the darkest valley you have ever walked through?  What evil(s), if any, do you or most people fear?  What are rods and staffs used for?
23:5 What does it mean to have a table prepared for you?  Would you want to eat in the presence of your enemies?  Have you ever been anointed with oil?  Have you ever anointed someone with oil?  What might oil symbolize and signify? What does it mean for a cup to overflow?
23:6 Would you rather have goodness and mercy precede you or follow.  Would you like to dwell in the house of the LORD the rest of your life?  What and where is the house of the LORD?

7:9 After what?  What is being described?  Who is robed in white, the lamb or the multitude?
7:10 Did they cry out in one language or many languages?
7:11 How would you describe this scene in your own words? What sort of gesture is falling on one’s face?
7:12 Does it make any difference that they sing rather than say? What is the symbolism of a sevenfold ascription of praise?
7:13 Was this a rhetorical question?
7:14 What was the great ordeal? How does washing anything in blood make it white?
7:15 Where is this temple?
7:16 Does this remind you of anything, even other Scripture?
7:17 Is a lamb being a shepherd ironic? How many springs of the water of life are there?

10:22 At what time? What is the festival of the Dedication?
10:23 What is the portico of Solomon and where was it in the temple?
10:24 What suspense?  “If”?
10:25 Did Jesus ever really come right out and tell he Jews that he was the Messiah?  What works was Jesus referring to?
10:26 Why did they not belong to his sheep? This is the third Reading this Sunday that mentions sheep!
10:27 Should we be reading this in light of anything else this gospel?
10:28 What sheep snatcher might Jesus have had in mind?  Is there a difference between eternal life and everlasting life?
10:29 Why is Jesus so concerned about snatching?
10:30 Have fun unpacking this six word statement. How does it follow from what came before in this reading?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 10, 2016, the Third Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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.

9:1-6 Note that the first six verses are the Reading while verses 7-20 are an optional addition. I prefer to read all twenty verses as the Reading for worship.
9:1 What does “meanwhile” tell us about how this passage functions in its literary context?  Was Saul only breathing threats and murder or had he already acted?
9:2 What are “letters to the synagogues” and why did Saul want them or need them?  How many synagogues might have been in Damascus at this time?  What do you know about Damascus? How would one “belong to the Way” and why is “Way” capitalized?
9:3 What does a light from heavenly usually symbolize?
9:4 Whose voice did Saul hear?
9:5 What is the meaning of Saul’s question “Who are you, Lord?”
9:6 Why tell him later and not at the present time?
(9:7) Who were travelling with Saul? How could they hear a voice but see no one? Did Saul see anyone?
(9:8) What might Saul’s blindness symbolize?  How might it have been caused?
(9:9) What might the “three days” allude to?  Why would Saul not eat or drink for three days?
(9:10) What else do we know about Ananias?  What is a “vision”?  Where before have we heard “Here I am, Lord”?  Can we read what Paul experienced as a “vison”?
(9:11) What do we know about Straight Street?  How popular of a name was Judas?  Where was Tarsus?  What do you think Saul was praying?
(9:12) Why is Saul’s vision not recounted from Saul’s perspective?  What is the symbolism and significance of laying on of hands as it related to healing?
(9:13) What had Saul done in Jerusalem?
(9:14) Did the chief priests really have the power to bind anyone?  Would Rome have permitted such an action? How would Ananias know what authority the chief priests had given to Saul?
(9:15) What does it mean to be an instrument whom the Lord has chosen?
(9:16) Why must Saul suffer?
9:17 Since when did being filled with the Holy Spirit enter the equation?  Had Jesus told Ananias this or did Ananias come up with this on his own?
9:18 What is the difference between “scales” and “something like scales”?  Does knowing that something physical seemed to fall from Saul’s eyes add or detract from the account?  Who baptized Saul? Was this Paul’s death and resurrection experience?
9:19 What do you think was happening while Saul was with the disciples in Damascus? 
9:20 How soon after his baptism and after regaining his strength is “immediately”?  Is “He is the Son of God” the core, the kernel of, the essence of the Gospel or just Saul’s early proclamation? Why does Saul refer to Jesus as the Son of God rather than the Messiah?
9:1-20 This is not the only Biblical account of Paul’s conversion.  Where else can we read about it and how are all the accounts similar and different?

30:1 Drawn up from what or where?
30:2 Why is “LORD” all uppercase in the NRSV? What does it mean to “cry to God for help”?
30:3 Where or what is Sheol and is it synonymous with the Pit? Why is “Pit” capitalized in the NRSV?
30:4 How can one give thanks to the LORD’s holy name when one is not supposed to pronounce the LORD’s holy name?
30:5 Why must the LORD be angry at all?
30:6 What prosperity?
30:7 How and why does the LORD hide the divine face and why was the Psalmist dismayed?
30:8 What is the meaning of “cried”?
30:9 Is the Psalmist bargaining with the LORD?  Is the Psalmist appealing to God’s logic or pride?
30:10 Must those who supplicate the LORD ask the LORD to hear them, or does the LORD listen to the prayers of all even when not asked to listen?
30:11 Why had the psalmist been mourning? Why do we not dance more (or at all) in worship>
30:12 Why does the Psalmist praise and give thanks? 

5:11 What do voices of angels sound like?  What is the difference between living creatures and elders?  What is a myriad?  Is this hyperbole?
5:12 Note the sevenfold ascription of praise.  Why seven?  When was the last time you heard anyone singing a hymn “with a full” voice, especially in a Presbyterian church?
5:13 Are you surprised that every creature sings?  Apparently, all of God's critters do indeed have a place in the choir!  Why might these creatures offer only a fourfold ascription of praise when the angels and others around the throne offered sevenfold praise?
5:14 Who or what are these four living creatures?  Why am I thinking of the Book of Kells?  Who are the elders?  Why do they fall down when the worship?

21:1 After what things?  Where is the Sea of Tiberias and what do you know about it?
21:2 How many people did Jesus appear before?  Why are the “two others” not named? Does their not being named invite you into the passage? Note that Thomas is present this time.
21:3 Why is it that Simon is usually the first one to always speak? Might his words have more than one meaning? Why would they fish at night?
21:4 Once again, the resurrected Jesus appears but those who knew him do not recognize him.  What gives? Is there any significance to this happening just after daybreak?
21:5 Why might Jesus have addressed those in the boat as “Children”?
21:6 What difference does it make what side of the boat you fish from?
21:7 What disciples didn’t Jesus love?  How did this disciple finally know that the person on the beach was Jesus? Why put on clothes to jump into the sea?
21:8 Were they dragging the net behind the boat because it was too heavy to lift into the boat?
21:9 Where did the fish and bread that was on the fire come from?
21:10 Why add more fish?
21:11 Is there any symbolic significance to the number 153?
21:12 We already had a “Last Supper”.  Is this the “First Breakfast”?
21:13 Why do we not serve little pieces of fish when we celebrate communion?
21:14 And the other two times were?
21:15 More than what? More than fish?
21:16 Where is this questioning heading?
21:17  Why did Peter feel Bad?  Is there any symbolic significance to Jesus asking Peter basically the same question three times?
21:18 What in the world, or in the otherworld, is Jesus talking about?
21:19 Why the parenthesis? How did the Gospel writer know this?
21:1-19 Might we refer to this passage as “Grilling with Jesus” or “Barbecue on the beach”?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 3, 2016, the Second Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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.

5:27 Who brought whom from where?  What council?  Who was the high priest and what is the high priest’s function?
5:28 What in the world is the high priest talking about?  Who is the “we” who gave strict orders?  By what authority could they give such orders?
5:29 Why is only Peter named?  Who might be among the other “apostles”?  “We must obey God rather than any human authority” reminds me of one of the one of the Historic Principles of Church Order (see F-3.0101).
5:30 Note that Peter references the God of “our” ancestors. Also note that God raised up Jesus, Jesus did not rise.  Why is the cross often referred to as a tree?
5:31 What is the significance of God’s metaphorical right hand? What is the Greek word translated as “Leader” in the NRSV?
5:32 What “things”? How is the Holy Spirit a witness?  Is there a sense that God gives the Holy Spirit as a reward for obedience?

118:14 Is there any difference between strength and might? How shall we understand the meaning of salvation in a Psalm compared to salvation in a New Testament text ?
118:15 When was the last time you heard a really glad song in worship?
118:15b-16 Is this actually the glad song referenced in 118:15?
118:17 What are the deeds of the LORD and could you recount them?
118:18 Is death the ultimate punishment?  For what was the psalmist punished?  Does this verse presume an angry God of wrath and vengeance?
118:19 Where are what are the gates of righteousness?
118:20 Where is this gate?
118:21 Does the LORD ever not answer?
118:22 What is the difference between a cornerstone and a keystone?  Why would builders reject a stone?
118:23 What is the LORD’s doing?
118:24 I thought the LORD made all days.
118:25 Note the transition from the singular to the plural. What sort of “success” was the psalmist asking for?
118:26 What does it mean to come in the name of the LORD?  Where and when have we heard this before?  Where and when will we hear it again?
118:27 What festal procession?  What are the horns of the altar?
118:28 What is the meaning of “extol” and how does it differ from giving thanks?
118:29 By definition, does not “steadfast love” endure for ever?
118:14-29 Why this Psalm this day?

1:4-8 Please note that this reading is from Revelation, NOT Revelations!  What difference does it make?
1:4 Is there anything special about these seven churches, besides the fact that John wrote to them?  What do you know about letter salutations in Greek and Hebrew cultures?  What are the seven spirits?
1:5 Does this verse presume a blood atonement theory?
1:6 How are we a kingdom?  Are we a kingdom of priests?
1:7 How can those who pierced him see him if they are dead when he comes?
1:8 Is it safe to assume that everyone in a church pew understands the meaning of “I am the Alpha and the Omega”? Compare this verse to verse 4.

20:19 Is the setting our Saturday evening or our Sunday evening?  Why did the disciples fear the Jews. What sort of greeting is “Peace be with you.”?
20:20 Why did Jesus show the disciples his hands and side? Did the disciples not rejoice before they saw his hands and side?
20:21 Why is the “Peace be with you” greeting repeated?
20:22 Why did Jesus breathe on the disciples?  What is the connection between breath and the Holy Spirit?
20:23 Does it make any difference that this is perhaps the latest Gospel when interpreting this verse? What is “The power of the keys”?
20:24 I wonder where Thomas was and why he was not there. Why was Thomas called “the Twin”?
20:25 Do you know anyone who can honestly say “I have seen the Lord”?  Rather than referring to him as “doubting Thomas” I would rather refer to him as “I am not gullible Thomas”!
20:26 Were the doors also locked?
20:27 Do not doubt what?  Believe what?
20:28 Jesus invited Thomas to touch his wounds, but did Thomas actually do so?  Might “My Lord and My God” be an example of an early statement of faith?
20:29 For whom is this verse written?
20:30 I wonder what other signs Jesus may have done that are not written in this book.  I think I feel an historical novel coming on: “The Other Signs of Jesus”!
20:31 This also reads like an early statement of faith. Is this verse talking about life in the here  and now or a future life everlasting?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, March 27, 2016, the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Day) (Year C)

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: There are many service as well as scripture options for this Day. Some congregations may have already observed a traditional Easter Vigil starting on Saturday but concluding on Sunday. Others may schedule a sunrise or early morning service in addition to the regularly scheduled Sunday service. Some congregations may observe a service in the evening in addition to a morning service. My ruminations will focus primarily on the readings associated with the traditional Sunday service, which still offers options for the Readings.

10:34 Do we hear this verse any differently in light of Pope Francis?  To whom is Peter speaking?  How shall we hear this in light of some of the rhetoric emanating from the current presidential primary campaigns?
10:35 Is “nation” a geographical, ethnic, or religious designation? What does it mean to fear God?
10:36 What is the message, or more specifically the content of the message, Peter is referring to?
10:37 Why might it be important to reference John?
10:38 I think we might generally know how Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism, but how and when was he anointed with power?  Must we buy into a personified “devil” to find truth in this verse?
10:39 Who are “we”?  What does it mean to be a witness?
10:40 Please note: Jesus did not rise from the dead.  God raised him from the dead. What is the nuanced meaning of “appear”? Could God not have allowed Jesus to appear?
10:41 Does Peter mean to suggest that only those who ate and drank with the risen Christ are witnesses?
10:42 Who commanded, God or Christ?  What is the difference between preaching and testifying?
10:43 Is “All” hyperbole?
Acts or Isaiah? I usually use the Acts passage rather than the Isaiah passage because Acts specifically refers to Jesus’ resurrection. Using the Acts Reading as the First Reading also leaves room to also use the 1 Corinthians Reading.

65:17 Do Christians consider this prophecy to have been fully fulfilled? Note that heavens is plural while earth is singular. What do we remember and what do we forget? Out of the death and destruction of the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile, their 9/11, arose a hope of resurrection and new life. Don’t forget the old but don’t be bound by it.
65:18 Why is the passing of the old and the coming of the new something to be glad about? Not the present participle “creating”.
65:19 God rejoices? But weeping and cries of distress are still heard in Jerusalem.
65:20 So everyone who dies a natural death before they turn a hundred in accursed?
65:21 Shall they build houses and plant vineyards on occupied territory?
65:22 What are the days of a tree like?
65:23 What shall we say when an Israeli child or a Palestinian child dies from violence?
65:24 So God is proactive?
65:25 Oh, if only this last phrase were true today.

118:1 The LORD is good, but the Lord’s followers often are not.
118:2 This is beginning to sound like a rubric for a responsive reading.
118:14 Are strength and might mere synonyms? What is their relation to salvation?
118:15 If we were to ever hear a glad song in worship, it ought to be on Easter!
118:15b-16 What is so special about the right hand of the LORD?  Do these verses display a bias against left handers?
118:17 Not dying is different from resurrection. What are the deeds of the LORD?
118:18Is this a singular or a collective “me”?  I wonder about the nature of this punishment.
118:19 Where are the gates of righteousness located and how many of them are there?
118:20 Is the gate of the LORD one of the gates of righteousness or a different gate?
118:21 What was the answer?  At least this psalmist apparently experienced prayer being answered.
118:22 What is a cornerstone and what purpose does it serve.  Do not confuse a corner stone with a keystone.
118:23 What is the LORD’s doing?  Who are “we”?
118:24 I thought the LORD made all days.

This passage is proclamation, not exclamation.
15:19 This sounds more like the end of an argument rather than the beginning. So, are we to be pitied or not?
15:20 Note again that Christ has been raised from the dead.  He did not rise from the dead.
15:21-22 Is this logical?
15:23 Who belong to Christ?
15:24 Is it possible to celebrate Easter without a little eschatology? Is this an indictment of secular and political power?
15:25 Who are his enemies.  What does it mean to put an enemy under one’s foot?
15:26 Did Christ defeat death when he was raised, or is this something yet to happen?

See ruminations above.

20:1 Note that only Mary Magdalene is mentioned.  We are not given a reason for her coming to the tomb.
20:2 Did Jesus not love Peter and the other disciples, but on this one?  In light of verse 1, who is the “we” Mary is talking about? Who did she mean by “They”?
23:3 Why is the other disciple not named?
20:4 Is there any deeper meaning here? How could they be running together and not arrive at the same time?
20:5 Why do you think the disciple did not go into the tomb?
20:6 Peter may have been slower, but was apparently, what, braver? Had the stone been removed so that Jesus could come out of the tomb or so Peter and the other disciple could go into the tomb?
20:7 Does this detail matter?
20:8 Believed what?
20:9 Note that here it is “rise from the dead” and not “be raised from the dead”.  How could they not understand the scripture? What scripture did they not understand?
20:10 Well, this is ant-climactic!
20:11 Peter and the other disciple were typical men, abandoning the woman!  Why had Mary not left with the two disciples? I find it interesting that we are told the other disciple “bent down to look in” (20:5) and that Mary “bent over to look into the tomb”. Do we need to bend down in some way to see into the truth of the empty tomb?
20:12 Why had the two disciples not seen the two angels?  Have you ever seen an angel?  What is your angelology?  Do angels ever wear anything but white?
20:13 Did the angels really need to ask the question?
20:14 Remember, this story is being told from the perspective of after the fact. Is there any significance to the fact that Mary did not see Jesus until after she turned?
20:15 Why does Jesus ask the same question asked by the angels? Was Jesus’ question a rhetorical one?  How cold Mary mistake the risen Jesus for the gardener? Could she not see his feet?
20:16 What does it mean when someone call you by name?
20:17 Would Mary be allowed to hold on to Jesus if he had ascended?  Why all this ascension talk? What is the meaning of “brothers”?
20:18 Thus Mary Magdalene is the first evangelist.  End of story!  Well, not quite.
John or Luke? John is my favorite gospel and since there is no liturgical year dedicated to John, I usually prefer to use the John Reading rather than the Luke Reading.

24:1 What is early dawn? Note that in the John Reading, Mary was the only woman at the tomb, but in the Luke Reading there are several. Why the discrepancy and does it make a difference?
24:2 Similar to the question I asked regarding John 20:6, I wonder if the stone had been rolled away so that Jesus could come out of the tomb or so the women could go in?
24:3 No habeas corpus.
24:4 Who were then men in dazzling white? Could this be an allusion to Moses and Elijah? How many witnesses were required by Jewish law?
24:5 The women were awed that the tomb was empty but terrified when confronted by the two men in dazzling white. Does Easter still awe and terrify us? Note that here “he has risen” not “he has been raised”.
24:6 Anamnesis?
24:7 When and where did Jesus say this? Note the “Son of Man” language. Why “again”?
24:8 Anamnesis!
24:9 Who were “the rest”?
24:10 Why are only three of the women named? How many other women were there? Why are the recipients of this news called apostles rather than disciples?
24:11 Do most people in our post-modern post-Christian culture hear the Easter story as an idle tale?
24:12 Peter must not have had his foot in his mouth in order to run to the tomb. Did he have to see for himself because the women’s testimony was not powerful enough?  What happened, exactly, that amazed Peter?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.