Monday, April 14, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 20, 2014, the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Day) (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.

PREFACE:
The Lectionary offers various alternate Readings.  The First Reading may be Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6.  The Second Reading may Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34:43.  If you choose to use the Acts passage for the First Reading, you would of course use the Colossians passage for the Second Reading.  If you choose the Jeremiah passage for the First Reading, you then have two passages to choose from for the Second Reading.  There are also two options for the Gospel.  Pick either John 20:1-18 or Matthew 28:1-10. 

10:34 What is the context of this passage? To whom is Peter speaking? What would it mean if God did show partiality?
10:35 What does “nation” refer to? What does it mean to “fear” God?
10:36-39 This reads like a brief synopsis of the life and ministry of Jesus.
10:38 Is not the Holy Spirit the same thing as power?
10:39 Why does Peter say Jesus was hung un a tree rather than a cross?
10:40 The Easter Proclamation!  How do you understand “allowed”?
10:41 What is the significance of eating and drinking with the resurrected Christ?
10:42 Who commanded “us”? What is the difference, if any, between preaching and testifying?
10:43 What “prophets” is Peter referring to?

31:1 At what time? How many families of Israel will there be “at that time”?
31:2 What sword and what wilderness?  Is this a reference to the Exodus or something else?
31:3 Who is “him”?  Who is “you”?
31:4-5 How is Israel virgin? Is something silently being contrasted here? Why all the “again”s?
31:6 What do you know about the hill country of Ephraim?  Sentinels usually watch for invaders.  Why would sentinels call for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem?

118:1-2 We have a call and response here that could easily be used or adapted as a Call to Worship.
118:14 How shall Christians read “salvation” in the Hebrew Scriptures?
118:15-16 Is the Psalmist quoting a glad song of victory? Does our congregational song usually sound like glad songs or funeral dirges?
118:17 What are the deeds of the LORD and how do we recount them?
118:18 What do you think was the nature of the Psalmist’s punishment? Can some punishments be worse than death?
118:19 What are, and where are, the gates of righteousness? Note that “gates” is plural, not singular!
118:20 I would love to know how you interpret this verse in light of verse 19. If there are many gates of the righteous, why is there only one gate of the LORD?
118:21 Note the shift from speaking of the LORD in the third person to speaking to the LORD in directr address.
118:22 Where and when will Christians hear this verse again?
118:23 What is the LORD’s doing? Why am I thinking of Billy Crystal?
118:24 What is the day the LORD has made?  How can we be glad in it? Like the first two verses, tis verse could be used or adapted as a Call to Worship, perhaps combined with 118:1-2, such as:

            One: O Give thanks to the LORD, for the LORD is good;
           All:  the LORD’s steadfast love endures forever!
           One: Let Israel say,
           All:  God’s steadfast love endures forever.
           One: This is the day that the LORD has made;
           All:  let us rejoice and be glad in it.
           One: Let us worship the LORD our God!

3:1 Why the “So”? Why an “if/then” statement even though the “then” is implicit? Is this raising a reference to baptism or the final resurrection?  What are the things that are above? 
3:2 Does it make any difference that the admonition refers to the mind rather than the heart? What does it mean to “Set your mind”? What things are above and what things are on the earth?
3:3 How have we died? What does it mean that your life is hidden?
3:4 I thought Christ has already been revealed in the life and ministry of Jesus.  Must this, by necessity, refer to the final resurrection at the end of the age?

See my ruminations for this passage above.

20:1 What is the first day of the week?  What does it mean that it was still dark?  How did Mary see that the stone had been removed from the tomb if was still dark?
20:2 Let’s speculate about the identity of the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved.  From the context, I think we can rule out Peter.  Whom might Mary have meant by “they”?  Why does Mary say, “we do not know”? If she was not alone, who was with her?
20:4 Poor Peter the slowpoke, slow to run, quick to speak. Maybe he was not a faster runner  because he was always sticking his foot in his mouth.
20:5 Why would he not go in?
20:6 Peter might be slow but he is not hesitant.
20:7 What is the significance to the wrapping from the head being folded and not with the other wrappings?  Why mention it if it is not significant?
20:8 I find it interesting that in reference to Peter, there is no mention of him believing.  In this passage, it is this “other disciple” that is the first to “believe”.
20:9 Based on this verse, what did the “other disciple” believe?  Did the disciple believe that Jesus had been raised, that the tomb was indeed empty, or that someone (they of verse 2) had taken the Lord out of the tomb?
20:10 This is a pretty anticlimactic verse.  I am glad the story does not end here.
20:11 Why did the disciples abandon Mary, leaving her all alone? Were they simply being typical men?  Why did Mary apparently not look into the tomb until the disciples had left?  Why did she have to bend over to look in?
20:12 How shall we moderns, or post-moderns, deal with angels when we encounter them in Scripture? Why had Peter and the other disciple not seen any Angels?
20:13 Did the angels speak in unison? Apparently Mary is still convinced that someone has taken and moved the body of Jesus.
20:14 How could, and why would, Mary not recognize Jesus?
20:15 Both Jesus and the Angels (in verse 13) address Mary in the same way and ask the same question, but Jesus asks even more than the angels asked.  Where else, when else, and who else has Jesus addressed as “Woman”?
20:16 After having first addressed her as “Woman”, Jesus now address Mary by name and she calls him “Rabbouni” rather than “gardener”.
20:17 Why would Jesus say this?  Was Mary attempting to grab hold of him or had she already done so? What do we make of Jesus’ talking about not yet having ascended?  What is the meaning of “brothers”?  Why “I am ascending” rather than “I will ascend”?
20:18 Does this make Mary the first post resurrection witness? Preacher? Evangelist? Perhaps, in recognition of the role played by Mary, the first words of any Easter liturgy ought to be spoken by a woman!

28:1 What is different in this account compared to John’s account?  How do we account for the differences?  Do the differences matter? Who was “the other Mary”?
28:2 I will repeat the same question as above.  Does the rolling away of the stone “cause” the earthquake?  Might the earthquake be symbolic of something else?
28:3 What do we usually associate lightning and snow with?
28:4 Are there any other occurrences in Scripture where an angel caused so much fear that people acted dead?
28:5 When and where else have we heard an angel say “Do not be afraid”?
28:6 Does seeing an empty tomb prove that Jesus was raised?
28:7 Why were the women not permitted to see the resurrected Jesus at the tomb?  Why did the disciples have to go to Galilee to see the resurrected Jesus?
28:8 How often in your experience has fear been accompanied by great joy?
28:9 Note that here, unlike John, the women are allowed to take hold of Jesus.  What is so special about “feet”? Had anyone in the Gospel, prior to this point, worshiped Jesus?
28:10 Note that this time it is Jesus, not an angel, who says “Do not be afraid”?  What are we afraid of when it comes to Easter, Jesus, and the resurrection?

ADDENDUM
Do not forget the multi-valiant character of John’s Gospel.  I think we may be tempted to become so engrossed by John’s description of the scene and dialogue of the first Easter that we may miss the deep structure.  John has been highly structured and symbolic throughout.  Why change at the resurrection account? I think John offers much more for preaching about the resurrection than Matthew.

For a short, non-lectionary based reflection on the resurrection with a scientific bent, check out my blog post “Easter 2014”.

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