Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 2, 2014, the Fourth 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.


6:1 Rather than the usual and customary “This is the word that came to Micah” we have a call to “Hear”.  How much is this opening verse influenced by, an allusion to, and/or a midrash on Deuteronomy 6:4 and similar passages?  Does it make any difference that early Judaism tends to be an aural faith?  Why plead before the mountains and hills?

6:2 Are the mountains and foundations of the earth serving as witnesses?  Judges?  It is usually the people of Israel complaining to and about the LORD.  Now the LORD is complaining about the people.  Am I mistaken, or does this verse not seem to follow from the previous one?

6:3 What has the LORD done?  Has the LORD wearied the people?

6:4 It seems God is recounting Salvation history.  I like the fact that the LORD mentions Miriam along with Moses and Aaron.   Exactly what are “the saving acts of the LORD” and how does one “know” them?

6:5 What did King Balak devise?  What did Balam answer him?  What happened from Shittim to Gilgal?

6:6-7 This reads like a response to the indictment in 2-5, yet there is no narrative transition.  Are these at all rhetorical questions?

6:8 Who is speaking in this verse, Micah or the LORD?  According to my math, doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God is equal to or greater than all the genuflections, burnt offerings, or human sacrifices we could possibly render, but it does not pay the bills.

15:1 Are these also rhetorical questions?  What are the expected answers?

15:1-5 If taken literally, these verses seem to suggest that no one may abide in the LORD’s tent.  No one may dwell on the LORD’s holy hill.  Does bringing these verses into conversation with Micah 8 offer any additional insight?  Why are these virtues spelled out rather than appealing to the Ten Commandments?

1:18 What is the message about the cross?  What is the meaning of “foolishness”

1:19 As an amateur philosopher, I find this verse a little disconcerting.  Maybe we need to deconstruct it and explore its deep structure.  By the way, where is this written?

1:20 Are these rhetorical questions?  Whom might Paul have in mind?

1:21 So while human wisdom will be destroyed, it is alright for God to be wise?

1:22 So “wisdom” is being used as a metaphor or code word for “Greeks”?  What about Christians who centuries later would refer to Plato as a proto-Christian?  What sort of “signs” do Jews demand?

1:23 How is the proclamation of Christ crucified a “stumbling block” to Jews?  How is the proclamation of Christ crucified “foolishness” to Gentiles?

1:24 Here we encounter call language again.  What does it mean to equate “the power of God” and “the wisdom of God” with Christ and vice versa?

1:26-29 This might have preached in Paul’s day, but what about white, upper middle class, Christian America?  This might preach in an economically distressed, immigrant, or even middle class congregation, but in Old First Church?  Why does Paul seem to equate wisdom with power and nobility?

1:30 Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption are not necessarily common everyday words.  How can a teacher or preacher unpack them?  While Paul started out in this passage as apparently antagonistic toward wisdom, he concludes by claiming that Christ Jesus is the wisdom from God.  What gives?    How might Paul’s “wisdom from God” compare and/or contrast with the Fourth Gospel’s “word/logos”?

1:31 Where is it so written and how does that writing’s context inform this passage?

5:1 Why is “crowds” plural?  What mountain did Jesus go up? This is such a familiar passage, how can we hear it again but as if for the first time? What do we call the large section of teaching which this begins?  How many sections of teaching material are there in Matthew?

5:3 In this and in the following eight verses, what does it mean to be ‘blessed”? What does it mean to be poor in spirit?  Who are the poor in spirit today? What is the kingdom of God?

5:5 What does it mean to be meek?

5:6 Might this at all inform our understanding of the Eucharist?

5:7 What does it mean to be merciful?

5:8 What does it mean to be pure in heart?  What about the prohibition about looking upon the face of God?

5:9 You may want to consider “Peacemaking: The Believer’s Calling” adopted by the 1980 UPCUSA GA.

5:10 Why might “the kingdom of heaven” appear twice (see 5:3)?

5:11 While 5:3-12 were indirect and hypothetical, this verse is direct and personal.

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