Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 22, 2013, the Fourth Sunday of Advent (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.


With both Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23 being among Readings, the Third Sunday of Advent is a good time to sing the O Antiphons.  Unfortunately the Presbyterian Hymnal (#9) offers only three rather than all seven verses.  Fortunately Glory to God: Hymns, Psalms, & Spiritual Songs (#88) offers all seven verses!  See the “Litany for Advent – O Antiphons” in the Book of Common Worship pages 166-167 and consider having the congregation sing the responses rather than say them.

7:10 Who is Ahaz and why is the LORD speaking to him?  Does the LORD ever speak to you?

7:11 What is the meaning of “sign”?  Do you ever ask for a sign?  How deep is Sheol?  How high is heaven?

7:12 Do you recall Massah and Meribah? How do we put the LORD to the test? 

7:13 How was the house of David wearing God?  How do we weary God?

7:14 Why does the Lord give this or any sign?  Isaiah says the sign shall be a “young woman” being with child, bearing a son, and naming him Immanuel.  Why do we now thin and speak of a virgin being with child, bearing a son, and naming him Immanuel. In what sense is any pregnancy and birth a sign, and what might it me a sign of?

7:15 What are curds and what does a diet of curds and wild honey symbolize?  At what age might this child know how to refuse the evil and choose the good?

7:16 What land?  What two kings?
80:1 Who is the Shepherd of Israel? What is a cherubim, where are they, and who sits enthroned upon them?

80:2 Why the mention of, and only of, Ephraim, and Benjamin and Manasseh?

80:3 What is the connection between God’s shining face and salvation?

80:4 Do you ever feel that God is angry with your prayers?

80:5 Perhaps we can juxtapose this imager with the bread of life and the sup of salvation.

80:6 Do your neighbors ever scorn you or laugh at you?  Is the Psalmist perhaps playing on God’s sense of self honor?

80:7 I am beginning to hear a refrain.  See 80:3.

80:17 What does the right hand of God symbolize and who is there?  How do we deal with such a anthropomorphic language when we know God has no physical body?

80:18 This is beginning to sound like a little “you scratch our back, we will scratch yours” proposition.

80:19 The third refrain (see 80:3, 7) but this time I am reminded of other passages of Scripture relating to God’s shining face. 

1:1 What does it mean to be called?  What does it mean to be set apart?

1:2 Where, specifically, did God promise the gospel?

1:3 How do we deal with this “decended from David according to the flesh” when, especially at this time of year, people tend to focus on a miraculous birth by a virgin? (see my comments on Isaiah 7:14).

1:4 It seems that Paul is saying Jesus was declared “Son of God” by his resurrection, not his baptism or birth.

1:5 Who are the “we”?

1:6 Again, what does it mean to be called, and what does it mean to belong to Jesus Christ?

1:7 What is a saint?  How do we deal with a non-Trinitarian ascription in light of the Doctrine of the Trinity?

1:18 In what way?  What does I mean to be with child “from the Holy Spirit”?

1:19 What is a righteous man?  How could Joseph have exposed Mary to public disgrace?  What does it mean to “dismiss her quietly”?  What would have happened to Mary and her child if Joseph had in fact dismissed her quietly?

1:20 It seems that angels appear to people in dreams more than in any other way.  Are you familiar with what John Sanford and Morton Kelsey have written about dream from a Christian perspective?  What might Carl Jung say about this passage?  Has an angel ever spoken to you in your dreams?

1:21 What is the meaning of the name “Jesus” and why name him that because he will save his people from their sins?

1:22 So the point of this narrative is not necessarily to establish Jesus’ divinity but rather to establish his birth as fulfillment of prophecy.

1:23 See Isaiah 7:4.  Why was Joseph instructed to name the child “Jesus” rather than “Immanuel”?

1:24 What does it mean to “take her as his wife”?

1:25 Does the mention of Joseph not having marital relations with Mary serve to establish Jesus’ divinity, Mary’s Virginity, or the fulfillment of prophecy?  What if the author of Matthew had been familiar and/or worked with the Isaiah in the Hebrew rather than the Latin?

No comments: