Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, February 27, 2011, the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references are linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.) Lectionary Ruminations is also cross posted on my personal blog,

Isaiah 49:8-16a
v. 8 “Thus says the Lord” certainly leaves no doubt about whom Isaiah claims is speaking here. What is the “time of favor” and “day of salvation” being referred to? What does it mean that God has “kept” us and “given” us as a covenant to the people?

v. 9 What prisoners are being referred to? Are “the prisoners” the same as “those who are in darkness”? How can bare heights be anyone’s or anything’s pasture if it is bare?

v. 10 Is this a reference to only physical hunger and thirst? Who is the one having pity? How can springs of water serve as a guide?

v. 11 This is not mountain top removal mining being referred to here. Might this same thought be expressed by a phrase such as “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” (See Isaiah 40:3-4)

v. 12 Why might the north and south be mentioned, but not the poetic parallel east and west? Is there anything special about the land of Syene?

v. 13 How do the heavens sing and how does the earth exult? How do mountains sing? Why would the heavens and mountains sing and the earth exult because the LORD has (note the tense) comforted the LORD’s people and will have (note the tense) compassion on the Lord’sSuffering ones?

v. 14 Have you ever felt like Zion?

v. 15This is one of my favorite passages in Isaiah, alluded to by A Brief Statement of Faith line 49. What does it mean that God cannot forget us?

v. 16 So God has my name tattooed in the palms of God’s holy hands? How special!

Psalm 131
I think this might be the shortest psalm in the Psalter!

v. 1 The first two lines sound to me like a lament, but the third and fourth lines sounds more like confessions of a follow of Scottish Common Sense Philosophy.

v.2 In light of Isaiah 49:15, I cannot but help envision myself as a nursing child at the breast of a maternal God.

v. 3 What does it mean to “hope in the Lord”? (See Psalm 130:7)

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
v. 1 Who is the “us”? What does it mean to be “stewards of God’s mysteries”? What are “God’s mysteries”?

v. 2 What does it mean to “be found trustworthy?”

v. 3 Who is judging and who is being judged and for what?

v. 4 In other words, we have all committed sins we are not even aware of committing?

v. 5 So if we expect the Lord to be our judge, we should refrain from judging one another until Jesus returns and then truly allow him to be our judge? For PC(USA) Presbyterians, what does this say about the Rules of Discipline in the Book of Order?

Matthew 6:24-34
v. 24 What does this verse tell us about any Pastor trying to serve yoked churches? Oh, this is not about churches but God and wealth. Most of the wee-kirks I have served have not had much wealth, nevertheless, I think it is just as easy to worship the wealth they do not have as much as the wealth they might have.

v. 25 According to the rules of logic and rhetoric, how does “Therefore” follow from the verse preceding it? Who is speaking here? I am sorry Jesus, but in this post recessionary period of high unemployment, it is very difficult not to worry just a little. Yes, life is more than and clothing, but according to Maslow, until theses basic needs are met, it is difficult to focus on needs further up the hierarchy.

v.26 Yes, I think that to God I am more valuable than a bird, but as a teenager I also read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Quoting from THE SPARROW “Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your heavenly father’s knowledge; but the sparrow still falls.” (See Luke 10:29-30)

v. 27 Most Medical Doctors and Psychologists would probably argue that we actually subtract hours from our life by excessive worrying.

v. 28 But I and the people I am responsible for are not lilies.

v. 29 True, lilies in the field appear more glorious than Solomon or any fashion model, but Solomon could afford a great wardrobe and fashion models can afford Botox, cosmetic surgery, personal trainers, and to afford a wardrobe most of us could never hope to afford.

v. 30 I am glad St. Patrick’s Day is not too far away, because it sounds like I am going to be wearing green.

v. 33 If I strive first for the kingdom of God, can I still strive second for these other things?

v.34 Perhaps the Lord’s Prayer “give us this day our daily bread” and the story about daily manna can be instructive here. Frankly, today’s troubles are more than enough for today. I would like to put off some of them until tomorrow so that I do not have to worry about them until tomorrow.

I have specifically invited the congregation I serve at North Church Queens to read these ruminations before worship, as they may form the bulk of my Sermon, entitled “Lectionary Ruminations”. I will copy these ruminations and distribute them to worshipers before worship.

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