Monday, May 19, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 25, 2014, the Sixth Sunday of Easter (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.

17:22 Last week we learned that Paul stood by while Stephen was stoned.  Now, Paul is preaching in Athens before the Areopagus.  The transition and the symbolism are startling.  What do you know about the Areopagus?  Why would Paul go there rather than to a local Synagogue?
17:23 If Paul were to walk through one of our cities, Such as New York, Washington, or Detroit, what would he identify as the objects of our worship?
17:24-29 What is the content of Paul’s preaching?  What does he not say?  Is Paul’s sermon more Theistic than Christocentric?
17:24 Can we still talk about God, who made the world and everything in it, without positing a six day creation and getting sidetracked into the creationism/evolution debate?
17:25 What does Paul mean when he says that God is not served by human hands?
17:26 Who is this ancestor? Does “boundaries” refer to political or geographical boundaries?
17:27 What does it mean to search for and grope for God?  Is Paul’s argument still valid in the post-modern world?
17:28 Paul seems to appealing to secular/pagan poets.  Have we in the church forgotten how to employ the artistic expressions of contemporary culture? What if we paired or even juxtaposed contemporary writings (or other artistic expressions) with Scripture in worship before we preached? What is Paul quoting from?
17:29 In paul’s mind, in what sense are we God’s offspring?
17:30 When were the times of human ignorance?
17:31 Note that Paul refers to a “man” God raised from the dead.  Paul seems not to here assert any divinity to this “man” nor has he yet employed a name (Jesus) or a title (Christ).

66:8 This sounds like, and could be used as, a Call to Worship. Why is peoples plural?
66:9 What does slipping feet refer to?
66:10 What does it mean to be tested and tried? Why is silver tried? What testing and trials might the Psalmist be referring to?
66:11 Last week the net was hidden.  This week, the people have been in the net by God.
66:12 Going through water might refer to the Exodus.  What might going through fire refer to? What and where is the spacious place?
66:13 What does it mean to pay vows? One might want to juxtapose this passage with Acts 17:24.
66:14 I wonder what sort of trouble the Psalmist had been experiencing.  Might the psalmist’s trouble and subsequent vows been anything like a foxhole confession or conversion?
66:15 How do we deal with such burnt offering and sacrifice language in the context of contemporary Christian worship, theology, and spirituality?  Do you read or not read the “Selah” in worship?
66:16 This sounds line another Call to Worship? What does it mean to fear God?
66:17 What does it mean to extol God?
66:18 Is the psalmist bragging?
66:19 Based on the previous verse, does God not head the words or our prayers if we cherish iniquity in our hearts?
66:20 Does God ever reject prayer?  Can steadfast love ever be removed?

3:13 Is this a rhetorical question?    It sometimes seems in life that no good deed goes unpunished.
3:14 Who are “they”?  What do “they” fear? What do you fear?
3:15 How does one sanctify Christ in their heart? Is this a call for apologetics?
3:16 Nothing bothers me more than mean, cruel, judgmental words said with gentleness and reverence. 
3:17 Does the reason for suffering in any way affect the moral value of our suffering?
3:18 What does this verse say about the nature of the resurrection? Was Christ not alive in the spirit until after he was put to death in the flesh?
3:19 Must we connect this with the “He descended into hell” phrase in the Apostles’ Creed?
3:20 Is Peter thinking only about those killed in the flood?
3:21 These are some interesting words about baptism.  Just as there are many understandings of the Lord’s Supper, are there also many understandings of Baptism? When you celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism, do you liturgically connect it to The Flood?
3:22 Who and what are these angels, authorities, and powers?

14:15 This is a big “if”?  What is the nature of this love?  What are Christ’s commandments?
14:16 Is Christ’s intercession contingent on our keeping his commandments?  Why, in the NRSV, is “Advocate” capitalized?  Can we read and interpret this verse without being informed by the Doctrine of the Trinity?
14:17 Notice that in the NRSV “Spirit” is capitalized. Note that in 14:15 Jesus uses the future tense but we have both the present and the future tense in this verse.
14:18 “Orphaned” could be an often overlooked but powerful image, after all, Christian Theology often speaks of our being “adopted”. Is Jesus talking about the coming of the Spirit, the Second Coming, or something altogether different?
14:19 What is a little while?
14:20 What day is “that day”?

14:21 Is this free grace or does there seem to be an element of works righteousness, an element of conditionality? Had Jesus not previously revealed himself? 

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