Monday, February 10, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 16, 2014, the Sixth 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.


First Reading - Deuteronomy 30:15-20
30:15  Why am I surprised to read “See” rather than “Hear” or “Listen”?  I am also somewhat surprised to read “today” rather than “this day”.

30:16 This is a rather long verse with a lot packed into it. Are commandments, decrees, and ordinances synonyms used for emphasis or does each term refer to something different? Note that life is paired with prosperity.  Death is paired with adversity. How much is this a linguistic/poetic construction and how much is it a theological construction?  Does this verse lend itself to a justification by works or ahealth/wealth/prosperity sort of faith?

30:17 Why now “hear” rather than “see”?  Is the not hearing an allusion to the Deuteronomy 6:4?

30:18 I find it interesting that while death will come quickly, the people will still enter and possess the land.

30:15-18 Note that 30:15-16 seems to be contrasted with 30:17-18.

30:19 Who can dispute with witnesses like heaven and earth?  In verse 15, the pairing was life/prosperity and death/adversity.  Now it is life/blessings and death/curses.  In verse 15 the scheme was A and A’, B and B’.  Here, it is A and B, A’ and B’.

30:20 Can we remain faithful to the text while adding Sarah, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, Bilhah, and Rachel?

119:1 The First Reading establishes the choice.  The Psalm outlines the rewards or effects of the better choice.

119:1-8 Note the synonyms: (1) law, (2) decrees, (3) ways, (4) precepts, (5) statutes, (6) commandments, (7) ordinances, and (8) statutes (again).  What can teachers and preachers learn from the Psalmist’s literary creativity in addition to the Psalmist’s theology?  This Psalm is also an acrostic!  “Ah, but can Doctors even feign great homilies? I judge keeping lovely muses nasty.  Oh, please, quit reading sarcastic tomes.  Unveil virtuous workers. Xanex yields zero.”  Do you ever play with words, rhyming schemes, acrostic constructions, parallelisms, alliteration, or chiastic constructions in your sermons?

3:1 Picking up where we left off last week . . . are you a spiritual person or are you an infant in Christ?  What about most of the people in the Christian community in which you find yourself?

3:2 As a preacher or teacher, do you serve milk, a Gerber’s Gospel, or a meat and potatoes Gospel?  How can we feed all the people with the Word of God when some people are infants in Christ and others are spiritual people?

3:3 How much jealousy and quarreling exist in your congregation?

3:4 To whom do you belong? Who are the Paul and the Apollos in the communities we know?

3:5 Note that Paul, in this verse, sets himself on equal footing with Apollos and vice versa.  Peter and Christ have dropped out of the construction.

3:6 Are you a planter or a waterer?

3:6-7 God may give the growth, but who is the reaper?

3:8 What wages are appropriate?  Should planters be paid the same as waterers?

3:9 Note the “we/you” language.  Where do you fall in this dichotomy?  After all this agricultural imagery, why does Paul introduce “God’s building”?

5:21 Note the emphasis on hearing rather than sight and seeing.  “It was said to those of ancient times” sounds like something in the past that has no or little influence in the present.  Who said this and to whom?  When were those ancient times?

5:22 Judgment, the council, the hell of fire – this sounds like increasing levels of punishment.

5:23-26 You might want to skip over these verses during the stewardship drive. What if you have something against your brother or sister?

5:27 This is beginning to sound formulaic (see 3:21).

5:27-28 I refer you to comments made by Jimmy Carter when he was still President.

5:29-30 If we do not take this literally, then what is the meaning of the figurative language? How might young children hear this verse?

5:31-32 Note the slight change in the formulaic introduction.  Why do conservatives, evangelicals, and literalists tend to overlook this passage when it comes their calls for defendin the institution of marriage against calls for LGBTQ marriage equality?

5:33 More formulaic language.  Does it make a difference that all these things were said rather than written?

5:34-37 How do we interpret this verse when we are required to take a civil oath, as in an oath of public office or court of law?


I began writing LECTIONARY RUMINATIONS, the precursor to LECTIONARY RUMINATIONS 2.0, four years ago.   With this entry I begin my fifth year of publishing my ruminations on the upcoming Lectionary Readings.

No comments: