Monday, January 6, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 12, 2014, the Baptism of the Lord (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.


Moving from an emphasis on Jesus’ birth during Advent, Christmas and Epiphany to the baptism of an adult Jesus three Sundays after Christmas always seems to jolt my sensibilities, but is there any way around it?  How might teachers and preachers smooth the transition?

42:1 In Isaiah’s original context, whom would Isaiah identify as the servant? Was the Spirit put on him because he was already a servant, or did he become a servant because the spirit was put upon him? In light of today’s Gospel Reading, who is the servant,  John the Baptizer or Jesus?

42:2 Why does this matter?

42:3 What is a “bruised reed”? Why would a dimly burning wick be quenched?

42:4 This is the third occurrence of the word “justice” (see verses 1 and 3).  What is the nature of this justice?

42:5 Now that we have the formulaic “Thus say God, the LORD”, might we ask who was speaking in verses 1-4?  I like the pairing of “breath” and “spirit”. Which creation account, if either, does Isaiah allude to?

42:6-7 To whom is the LORD speaking? Does this passage at all inform any doctrine of call? Note the plural “nations”!

42:8 What is the name of the LORD?

42:9 Change is difficult.  Are most people in the pews willing and ready to accept that “former things have come to pass”  What the “new things I now declare”?

29:1 Who are the “heavenly beings”?  Are there heavenly beings in additional to angels, cherubim and seraphim?

29:2 What is the LORD’s name (see Isaiah 42:8)? What is “holy splendor”?

29:3 Is the Psalmist alluding to the first creation account or simply alluding to the attributes and praise of God of the Storm?  Might we find some some baptismal imagery and language here? 

29:4-10 When I have been backpacking, I have loved loud, crashing thunder and lightning because wilderness storms remind me of the awesome grandeur of God.  What if we baptized from maelstroms rather than cute, little, calm, manageable fonts?  Perhaps a domesticated God is not worthy of praise.

29:5 What is so special about the cedars of Lebanon?

29:6 Who or what is “Sirion”?

29:8 What and where is the wilderness of Kadesh?

29:11 After all the previous violent storm imagery, how shall we interpret this blessing of peace?

10:34 Who was Peter speaking to? It has been awhile since we have heard from Peter.  While it might be true that God shows no partiality, I think we cannot say the same of the institutional church.

10:35 Does “nation” refer to geographical realities or ethnic and religious groups? Does this verse point to any sort of universalism? What does it mean to “fear” God? Can someone fear God and not be a practicing Jew or Christian? How does this verse fly in the face of justification by faith through grace?

10:36 Why “peace” rather than salvation?

10:37 Did John practice or preach baptism? Does this verse justify this Reading being selected for “Baptism of the Lord”?

10:38 What is the difference between being anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power? Does this verse suggest that all illness is a result of oppression by the devil?

10:39 Why a “tree” rather than a cross?

10:41 How does this verse impact our theology of the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist?

10:42 How does this verse inform our understanding of ordination?

10:43 “All the prophets”?  Really?  I think Peter is prone to a little hyperbole.

3:13 When was “Then”? How will you answer people when they ask “if Jesus was sinless, why did he seek to be baptized?”?

3:14 Was John asking the above question?

3:15 How does Jesus being baptized by John “fulfill all righteousness”?

3:16 Jesus “saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him,” but did anyone else see it? How do dove’s descend?

3:17 Whose voice is heard? Who heard this voice?  Might this verse prefigure anything similar in Matthew?

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