Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 8, 2014, the Day of Pentecost (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.


With options for the First Reading, Second Reading, and Gospel, there are various permutations of Reading arrangements. If you use the Acts passage as the Frist Reading you would use the 1 Corinthians passage as the Second Reading.  If you use the Numbers passage for the First Reading you could use either the Acts reading or the 1 Corinthians passage as the Second Reading but I think the Acts passage would be the better choice. How will you decide which Gospel Reading to use?

2:1 What was the day of Pentecost before the coming of the Holy Spirit?  Who are the “they”?  Where might that “one place” have been?
2:2 This verse might be especially poignant in light of recent tornados and the beginning of hurricane season. What came; a sound like the rush of a mighty wind or an actual mighty wind? Does it matter?
2:3 What is a divided tongue?  How does a tongue, even a tongue, as of fire, rest on someone?
2:4 What does it mean to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”.  Rosetta Stone, eat your heart out!
2:5 What purpose does this verse serve?
2:6 Who is in the crowd?   Where did the crowd gather? Have you ever been bewildered?  What bewilders you? Who was speaking?
2:7 Have you ever been amazed and astonished by a Christian spiritual experience? Who were asking the question?  What Galileans were speaking?
2:8 Is this a Gospel rhetorical question?
2:9-11 Lay readers, and even some clergy, hate reading these verses.  I think, however, that this list serves a very important theological purpose. Is there anything special about the area’s listed, or the number?
2:11 What are God’s deeds of power?
2:12 Earlier it was bewildered, amazed and astonished.  Now it is amazed and perplexed.  What does this mean? When was the last time you were perplexed by a Christian spiritual experience?
2:13 Who sneered?  Does this verse explain at all why most PCUSA Presbyterians shun offering fermented wine at communion?  Are most Presbyterians afraid of losing control and appearing to be filled with new wine?  Rather than being filled with new wine, or any wine, we are filled with grape juice, a nice, safe alternative void of all power and warmth, (like the spirit in most of our congregations).
2:14 Why was Peter always the first to open his mouth? Who was Peter addressing? Where only men of Judea in Jerusalem?  Where were the Judean women?
2:15 As if people are not drunk before 9:00 AM?  Some people are just coming home from all night parties at that time.
2:16 One cannot go wrong by quoting from a Jewish prophet when your audience is filled with devout Jews.
2:17-21 Is this a case where a prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures prefigures a later event, or where a prophecy is used as an apology for a later event?  Should we interpret these verses in light of Pentecost or only within their context within the Hebrew Scriptures?
2:17-18 Does the Pentecost experience place us in the last days?  Note the inclusive character of these verses.
2:19-20 What shall we make of these portents and signs?
2:20 What and when is “the Lord’s great and glorious day”?
2:21 What does it mean to call on the name of the lord?  Saved from what?

11:24 What are “the words” of the Lord? Is there anything special about the number seventy?  Is there any story like this in the New Testament?
11:25 In the NRSV the “Lord”, not LORD, comes down.  Does this make any difference?  Why did the Lord take some of the spirit that was on Moses and put it on the seventy elders?  Was there not enough Spirit to go around, so it had to be rationed?  What does it mean to prophesy? Why could they not prophesy again?
11:26-29 Why are these two men named when the seventy are not named?  Why might they have remained in the camp? What did it mean to be registered?
11:27 Was this a young filer of complaints, a tattle-tale, or bearer of good news?
11:28 Why did Joshua want to stop Eldad and Medad from prophesying?  In my mind this seems to disqualify Joshua as Moses’ successor?
11:29 Indeed, would that all.  We can only hope and pray that it be so. It seems Moses was not concerned about safeguarding his power or authority but will to share it.
11:30 Is the prophesying of Medad and Eldad the reason Moses and the elders returned to the camp.  I want to know the rest of the story.

104:24 How could this verse serve as an interpretive lens for Numbers 11:26-29? What are the works of the LORD?
104:25 The sea kayaker and sailor in me is nodding his head.
104:26 Was this verse Thomas Hobbes’ inspiration for the title of his political treatise? How do we deal with perhaps purely mythical beings when we encounter them in Scripture?
104:27-28 Ergo, all creatures depend upon the LORD.
104:29 What does it mean for God to hide God’s face? What shall we make of the connection between the withdrawal of breath (spirit) and death?
104:30 I love the juxtaposition of 104”29 and 104:30, especially the imagery of breath/death and spirit/creation. How do these verses to the institutional church in light of Pentecost?
104:31 Would the LORD not rejoice in the LORD’s works?
104:32 I think this verse is applying storm imagery to the LORD.  How does this inform our interpretation of Acts 2:2?
104:33-35b These the concluding they could be adapted to function as a Call to Worship. For example:
     One: The LORD be with you.
     All:   And also with you.
     One: We will sing to the LORD as long as we live.
     All:   We will sing praise to our God while we have being.
     One: May our meditation be pleasing the LORD,
     All:   for we rejoice in the LORD
     One: Bless the LORD, O my soul.
     All:   Praise the LORD!
     One: Let us worship the LORD!

12:3b Is this really true?
12:4-6 Why am I thinking of Isabel Briggs Myers and her book Gifts Differing? Why do we tend to reserve the reading of these verses for the Rite of Ordination? Are gifts, services, and activities synonyms?
12:7 Is every Christian given a manifestation of the Spirit?
12:8-10 Do you think that Paul meant for this list to be exhaustive?  What is your gift?  What service do you perform? What activity are you engaged in? What is your manifestation of the Spirit?
12:11 What does “activated” mean?
12:12 How does this analogy or metaphor help us make sense of the Pentecost experience?
12:13 Do you think Paul meant for “Jews or Greeks, slaves or free” to be exhaustive?  What does it mean to be “made” to drink?  Do Christians have no choice in the matter?  What does it mean to “drink” of one Spirit?  Is this an allusion to the Eucharist?

20:19-23 What day does this take place?  How does this passage inform our understanding of the Pentecost experience? Did we not read these verses on the Second Sunday of Easter?
20:19 What is the significance of Jesus’ words “Peace be with you.”?
20:20 Did the disciples not recognize Jesus until after he showed them his wounds?
20:21 Why might Jesus have repeated what he said? How did the Father send Jesus?
20:22 Did the disciples receive the Holy Spirit?  If so, was it Jesus words or his breathing on them, or both, that allowed them to receive it?  Is this the Johannine Pentecost?
20:23 To whom was Jesus speaking? How shall we Protestants deal with this verse?

7:37 And what festival would that be? In the Christian tradition what is the difference between a feast day and a festival day, if any?
7:38 May only believers drink? What Scripture passage does Jesus quote and what is the original historical and literary context of that passage?
7:39 So Jesus had to be glorified before there was a Spirit?  Did the author of the Gospel know this at the time Jesus quoted scripture, or does this comment make sense only in hind sight?
How does the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit help us understand this verse?

It seems difficult to Celebrate Pentecost without focusing on or at least mentioning the Holy Spirit, yet today’s Readings offer us various images and metaphors to talk about and try to understand the Spirit, including fire, wind and water.  Unfortunately fire and water, in the natural world, seem mutually exclusive.  Fire, however, can be associated with both water and fire.

This coming Pentecost, June 8, 2014, I will be guest preaching at The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, Ohio.  Worship begins at 11:00 AM.

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