Monday, July 14, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 20, 2014, the Sixteenth 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.

28:10 Is there anything special or significant about these travel plans, about Beer-sheba, or about Haran?
28:11 Why is the “certain place” not named? Stones, sometimes carved, were used as pillows in many ancient cultures? What do you know about “The Stone of Destiny” or “Stone of Scone”?  Could this be an example of “dream incubation”?
28:12 Is there any symbolic relationship between the Tower of Babel and Jacob’s ladder?  Do Angels really need a ladder to travel between earth and heaven? How might a Freudian or Jungian be inclined to interpret this dream?
28:13 If Angels were ascending and descending via the ladder, how did the LORD end up standing beside Jacob?  Why are Sarah and Rebekah not mentioned along with Abraham and Isaac?
28:14 Why does this sound familiar? Is “dust of the earth” a play on words or perhaps an allusion to another biblical narrative?
28:15 Where have we heard this before?  What if the Lord does not keep this promise? Does this verse suggest that the LORD might leave Jacob after the promise is fulfilled?
28:16 How could Jacob not have known the LORD was in that place? Check out this link to learn more about Celtic thin places.  Is it not true that God is in every place?  What do you know about the Celtic concept of a “Thin Place”? Where might God be in our world, and in our lives, yet we do not know it?
28:17 When was the last time you or anyone walked into the sanctuary or any other part of a church building and exclaimed “How awesome is this place”?  Why do some places and not others suggest transcendence?  How is fear related to awesomeness?
28:18 What is the meaning and significance of this action?  Is this an example of raising an Ebenezer?  What might this story suggest about ancient obelisks, Celtic Crosses, or modern day Peace Poles?
28:19a What is the literal meaning of “Bethel”?

139:1 It sounds like God is carrying out the function of the TSA.
139:1-6 It also sounds like God knows us better than we know ourselves.
139:5 What is the meaning of this verse?  Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
139:6 From a Socratic perspective this Psalmist was very wise.
139:7 Are these rhetorical questions?  What is the expected answer?
139:8 How might one “ascend” to heaven or “descend” to Sheol? What and where is “Sheol”?
139:9 What are the wings of the morning?
139:10 Proof positive that God is right handed and therefore all right handed people are created in the image of God and all left-handed people are evil – or maybe not.
139:11-12 So whether it is day or night makes no difference to God? How might these verses inform our understanding of Psalm 23?
139:23-24 If we invite God to search us and know us in this way, if God knows our sins better than we do, then why do we still confess our sins? 

8:12 If we are debtors, but not debtors to the flesh, what are we debtors to?
8:13 What does it mean to “put to death the deeds of the body”?
8:14-17 What is Paul contrasting when he contrasts “a spirit of slavery” with “a spirit of adoption”?  Do Americans read and hear this differently due of our own nation’s sordid history of involuntary servitude?  When do we cry “Abba! Father!”?  Considering Paul’s previous use of “debts” and his use here of “inheritance” he seems to be focused on financial terminology, images, and metaphors.
8:18 But the sufferings of the present time are still sufferings. What sufferings was Paul referring to?  What is the meaning of “this present time”? What would Marx say about this passage?
8:19-21 For the creation, not just humans, BUT THE CREATION, waits. From a theological and ecological perspective, can Global Climate Change be viewed not only as a result of sin, but a symptom of sin?  If so, would there be a temptation to throw up our hands and say “There is nothing we can do about Global Climate Change?  It is up to God to redeem the situation?
8:22 How might this passage inform our understanding of “mother earth” and Gaia?
8:23 What are the first fruits of the Spirit?
8:24-25 I hope for many things I can see.  I can see them, but they are realistically out of my reach.

13:24 It seems we have another kingdom parable involving seeds, this time good seeds.
13:25 Weeds, salt, or Agent Orange—what does it matter.  What does Just War theory say about such a practice?
13:25-26 Know you know how all those weeds ended up in your garden!  It is no coincidence that species of plants that are not native to an area are referred to as “invasive species”?
13:27  Oh no, more slavery language.  Gag!
13:28-29 The workers are presented with an agricultural, or rather an ethical, dilemma.
13:30 I am hearing overtones of the hymn “Harvest Home” and we are still months away from Thanksgiving. Why would it be easier to separate the weeds from the wheat at the harvest rather than doing so earlier?
13:36 Which house?  Whose house? Once parables are explained, are they still parables?
13:37-43 Who is the Son of Man?
13:38 The field is the world, not the church.  Does that mean there are no weeds growing in any churches?  With all this talk about weeds, is anyone getting the munchies? Who is the evil one?
13:39 Is the Devil the same as the evil one? Because they both appear today, shall we make any connection to the angels of this parable with the angels of Jacob’s dream?  Why do Presbyterians not talk much about angels?
13:37-42 How do these apocalyptic verses inform the popular image of hell?

13:43 This is a truly Semitic rather than a classical Greek metaphor.  Would it make a difference if Jesus said “Let everyone with eyes see”?

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