Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, December 4, 2011, the Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

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 may be linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)

Isaiah 40:1-11
v. 1 Perhaps this all too familiar passage from Isaiah reminds us that Advent is a season for the preacher to comfort, while Lent is a season for the preacher to afflict.

v. 2 This sounds like legal language.

v. 3 Whose voice is crying out?

vs. 3-4 Having grown up and spent most of my life in the mountains of West Virginia, I particularly 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 following language to the ecologically devastating practice of Mountain Top Removal Mining.

v. 5 What is the mouth of the Lord?

vs. 6-7 How does 6b-7 fit in here?

v. 9 How can the prophet get up to a high mountain if all the mountains will be made low?

v. 11 Who is the mother sheep?

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
v. 1 Does this verse assume a theology of the land?

v. 2 How do you and your church deal with “Selah”?

v. 8 Does God speak peace only to God’s people?

vs. 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?

v. 10 I think this is fascinating imagery!

v. 12 Once again, I ask, does this verse assume 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?

2 Peter 3:8-15a
v. 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”.

v. 9 slowness vs. patience.

v.10 Of all the images that one could employ, why employ the imagery of a thief?

vs. 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 that seems to be expanding at an increasing rate and may expand indefinitely?

v.13 Where else can we find “new heavens and a new earth” language?

v. 14 What might be a spot or blemish?

Mark 1:1-8
v. 1 For a minute, there, I thought I was reading the incipit of Genesis.

vs. 2-3 Déjà vu! Why does Mark quote Isaiah 40:3?

v.4 Never having been a Baptist, I much prefer the NRSV “John the baptizer” rather than the more familiar John the Baptist”.

v.5 I think there is some hyperbole here.

v. 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?

vs. 7-8 What power did John have? How could John have known all of this?

ADDENDUM
In addition to serving as the half time Pastor of North Church Queens www.northchurchqueens.org and writing Lectionary Ruminations, I also tutor part time. If you or someone you know needs a tutor, or if you would like to be a tutor, check out my WyzAnt page and follow the appropriate links.

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