Monday, July 28, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 3, 2014, the Eighteenth 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.

32:22 Much has transpired in Jacob’s story since last week’s Reading.  How can we help people keep up and catch up between lectio-continua Lectionary Readings when so much transpires between Readings?  Is there any significance to the fact that we all told it was the same night? Where is the Jabok?
32:22-24 Why would Jacob send everyone else, along with his possessions, across the Jabbok but stay behind and alone?
32:24. Who, or what, might this “man” be?
32:25 Is this the first Biblical documentation of a sports injury? What is the meaning, symbolism, and significance of this injury?
32:26 What might be the significance of daybreak?  What sort of blessing might Jacob be asking for?
32:27 Why might the “man” want to know Jacob’s name?  Is it all surprising that Jacob divulges his name?
32:28 What is going on here?  How can this “man” change Jacob’s name?  What does it mean that Jacob has “striven with God and with humans and have prevailed.”? Who were the humans Jacob strived with and when did he prevail.  When did Jacob strive with God and prevail?
32:29 Why might Jacob want to know the “man’s” name and why does the “man” not divulge it?
32:30 I thought Jacob was wrestling with a “man”. Was this “man” God?  It was a good thing Jacob wrestled with God during the night, thereby not being able to see God’s face, otherwise he might not have lived, or maybe he would have.  Does the concept of the Dark Night of Soul in any way help us interpret this passage?
32:31 Did the preceding events occur in normal time and space or in a dream/vision?  As Dumbledore once said to Harry Potter, “Just because something takes place in your head does not mean it is not real”. I cannot help but read this account from a Jungian perspective, reading this as a mythopoeic account meant to explain more than we might know about Jacob and his descendants’ special place in salvation history.

17:1 This Psalmist sounds like a lawyer pleading a case.  Does anyone really have lips free of deceit?
17:2 How does the LORD vindicate?  Doe God not see everything?
17:3 Does the “if you visit me by night” phrase justify pairing this Psalm with the First reading?  How does God try the heart?  How does God visit us by night?  How does God test us?
17:4 What does “by the word of your lips” mean and refer to?
17:5 What are the LORD’s paths?  Note that paths is plural!
17:6 This reads like a call to prayer.
            One: We call upon you, O LORD.
            All:    You will answer us, O God.
            One:  Incline you’re your ear to us.
            All:    Hear our prayers.
17:7 How does God wondrously show divine steadfast love?
17:15 What happens when one beholds the face of God? Is the “when I awake” phrase another reason to pair this Psalm with the First Reading.    This Psalm, paired with the First Reading, could easily provide the textual basis for a sermon on Biblical dreams and the spiritual discipline of keeping a dream journal and interpreting one’s dreams.  If you are not familiar with the Spiritual discipline of dream interpretation see any number of writings by Morton Kelsey or by John Sanford. While it is more about the Psychology of Transformation than dream interpretation, see especially Sanford’s The Man Who Wrestled With God.

9:1 I think Paul might doth protest too much.  Who would have accused Paul of lying?
9:2 Why does Paul express such strong emotional language?
9:3 Could there be a pun in this passage?
9:4-5 What a list: adoption, glory, covenants (plural), giving of the law, worship, promises, patriarchs (no matriarchs?), Messiah!

14:13 What did Jesus hear?  What can we learn from Jesus withdrawing in a boat to a deserted place?  From experience I know that going kayaking in my 17 foot Necky Chatham kayak or 24 foot C&C Sailboat (for sale) can be like a retreat and a spiritual experience.  Note that “crowds” and “towns” are both plural.
14:14 Does Christ like compassion always lead to curing the sick?
14:15 Do the disciples express a totally utilitarian concern? Is there more to the expression “This is a deserted place” than meet the eye?
14:16 What is the meaning of this?
14:17 What do you make of the numbers “five” and “two” not to mention “five loaves” and “two fish”?  What can churches hoarding and guarding their invested resources and endowments learn from this?
14:18 Is this not a call to evangelism?
14:19 “He ordered” sounds like strong language. I would much prefer “He invited” but we get the language we get.  What does the “blessed and broke” language remind you of?
14:20 What do you make of there being twelve baskets of leftovers after the crowds shared just five loaves of bread and two fish? Is there any symbolic significance to the number twelve?
14:21 As usual, only the men count!  Women and children are just accouterments.  This crowed could easily have numbered about fifteen thousand or twenty thousand.

 

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