Monday, January 20, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 26, 2014, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (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.

9:1 Who were in anguish?  When was the former time? Where is the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali and what is so special about it?  When might the latter time be? Who is “he”?  Why is the sea associated with Galilee?

9:2 Who walked in darkness and lived in a land of deep darkness? What is the nature of the great light that has shined?

9:3 What does it mean to multiply the nation?

9:4 Who is the “you” has has broken these things?  Who was the oppressor?  What happened “on the day of Midian”?

27:1 Who shall you fear and of whom shall you be afraid?  In my experience, fear can be a crippling and paralyzing experience for congregations facing an uncertain future and needing to change.  The “light” of this verse explains why this psalm was paired with the Isaiah reading.  When read together, how does this Psalm enter into dialogue with the First Reading and vice versa? Why does this verse remind me of Taize?

27:4 A worthy petition, don’t you think?  Does living in the house of the LORD mean living in the Jerusalem temple?

27:5 What might qualify as a “day of trouble”?  Being concealed under the cover of a tent and being set high on a rock (for all to see) seem like a mixed metaphor.  As a backpacker I really like the tent imagery, and as a rock climber I like the rock imagery.

27:6 Wht does it mean to have your head lifted up above your enemies? 

27:7 This verse could be used as a response in bidding prayer.

27:8-9  What can happen to people who see the face of God?  What does it mean to seek God’s face?  What does God’s face represent?

27:9 Why might God hide the divine face, turn the servant away and cast the servant off?

One problem with this passage might be that we are too familiar with it and our preconceived notions of what it says and means might get in the way of fresh interpretations.  On the other hand, readers may want to review Is Christ Divided: A Report Approved by the 200th General Assembly (1988), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a lens through which to view and interpret this passage.

1:10 How does Paul strengthen his appeal?  Would Paul be making these statements if there were not disagreements and divisions?

1:11 Who is Chloe and Chloe’s people?

1:12 Who was Apollos?  Who was Cephas? Have you ever heard talk in your particular church approximating what Paul is describing here?

1:13 Are these rhetorical questions presuming the answer “No”?

1:14-16 I think Paul, in another letter, claimed to never have baptized.  Even in this verse, Paul does not see to totally trust his own memory. Who were Crispis and Gaius?  Who was Stephanas?  What is the meaning of “household?”  Might this household have included children and infants?

1:17 On what basis is Paul arguing that eloquent wisdom might empty the cross of Christ of its power?  For generations after Paul, Philosophy was considered the handmaiden to Theology.  Where would the Gospel be without philosophical reflection?

1:18 what do you make of the juxtaposition of foolishness and the power of God?

After an excursion into the Gospel According to John we are now back to a somewhat lectio continua reading of Matthew.

4:12 Why did Jesus withdraw to Galilee upon learning that John had been arrested.  From where did Jesus withdraw?

4:13 Apparently, Jesus withdrew from Nazareth.  What, if any, is the significance of Capernaum?  Are Zebulun and Naphtali the only reasons why the Isaaiah 9:1-4 apeears in today’s Lectionary Readings? (See Isaiah 9:1)

4:14-16 Other than the fulfillment of prophecy (see today’s First Reading), is there any other significance to Capernaum?  Does it sometimes seem like Matthew goes out of the way to document fulfillment of prophecy?  Why Matthew 4:15-16 differ slightly from Isaiah 9:2 in the NRSV?  Does it matter?

4:17 Have fun unpacking Jesus’ proclamation.  How has the Kingdom of heaven come near?

4:18-20 How does this version of the call of Simon and Andrew differ from last week’s account in the reading from John, 1:29-42?  Why the difference?  Note the word “immediately”.  What is the meaning (or meanings) of “followed”?

4:21 Why might Jesus’ first four disciples have been two sets of brothers?

4:22 Note another appearance of “immediately”.  What more do John and James leave behind compared to what Simon and Peter left behind?  What are we called to leave behind when we follow Jesus?

4:23 Should we assume at Simon, Andrew, James and John were “following” Jesus as he went through Galilee. What is the “good news of the kingdom” and does it differ from “the Gospel”?

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