Monday, December 22, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 28, 2014, the First Sunday after Christmas (Year B)

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.

61:10 How does one’s whole being exult? Most Presbyterians only exult with the mind.  I find it interesting that both bridegroom and bride imagery is employed.
61:11 It seems righteousness must take root and grow and does not materialize out of thin air.I like the organic imagery.
62:1 How can vindication be like the dawn and a burning torch?
62:2 What is the significance of being called a new name? What could this new name be?
62:3 What is a diadem? Why are the crown and diadem in God’s hand rather than on God’s head?

148:1-2 These verses could easily be adapted for use as a Call to Worship.  Note, however, that it is the angels and the heavenly host, not humans, being called to worship.
149:3 The Hubble Telescope might offer us images of shining stars praising the LORD.
149:4 What waters are above the heavens?
149:5 Which creation story does this allude to?
149:6 Where are the bounds?
149:7 What comes to your mind when you think of sea monsters?
149:8 Shall we think of tornadoes and hurricanes as praising God even as they leave death and destruction behind?
149:9 How can the mountains and hils praise the Lord when they are being removed for the coal beneath them?
149:10 The Pope recently said that animals go to heaven so they should indeed be praising the Lord.
149:11 After numerous physical features and living creatures are named, humans finally appear.
149:12 How does the presence of both “men” and “women” speak to patriarchy?  How does the presence of both “old” and “young” speak to a church that is graying and which has more or less failed to attract the younger generation?
149:13 What is the name of the Lord and how can n it be praised if it is not pronounced?
149:14 What is a horn and why would the Lord raise one up for the people?

4:4 What is”full” time?  Is this kairos time or the eschaton?  John Shelby Spong used a phrase from this verse as the title of his book about the birth of Jesus.  Why would Paul refer to Jesus being born of a woman rather than of the Virgin Mary?
4:5 Who were under the law?
4:6 What do you think about translating “Abba” as “Daddy”?
4:4-7 These verses seem to base adoption as God’s children upon Jesus’ birth. So why did he have to die?

22:22 What time was this? What is this referring to?
22:23 Where is this written?
22:24 Why two turtledoves but no partridge in a pear tree or three French hens?
22:25 Is there anything special about the name Simeon?  What is the consolation of Israel?
22:27 What was customary under the law?
22:28 The child’s father and mother simply let Simeon take the child in his arms?
22:32 Gentiles?  I think Luke might be the only Gospel that could say this.
22:35 What is the meaning of “a sword will pierce your own soul too.”? Mary is named, but why not the father?
22:36 Do we know anything else about Anna?
22:37 She never ate? She never went home?
22:40 Luke is long on prose but short on detail. We have learned more about Simeon and Anna than about this unnamed child.

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.


This is the second to the last Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 to be posted before Christmas so I wish you a Christ filled merry Christmas and peace, happiness and wholeness in the New Year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 21, 2014, the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)

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.

FOR AN UPDATED AND REVISED VERSION, GO TO THIS LINK

PREFACE:
I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

7:1 What king are we talking about?
7:2 David seems to be speaking to Nathan as God might. Who was Nathan?
7:3 How did Nathan know this?
7:4 What carries more authority, the word of the king or the word of the LORD? Why did the word of the LORD come to Nathan at night?
7:5 Why the question?
7:6 What seems to be at stake here? What is the difference, if any, between a tent and a tabernacle?
7:7 Why is God asking questions? Are these rhetorical questions?
7:8-9 Why the history lesson?
7:10 Has this not already been accomplished?
7:11 The first part of this verse seems misplaced. Note the play on the word “house.”
7:16 Was this fulfilled?

1:46b-55 You might want to compare this with 1 Samuel 2:1-10
1:47 Whose soul magnifies the Lord? When was the last time your soul magnified the Lord and your spirit rejoiced?
1:48 How was this servant lowly?
1:49 What great things?
1:50 What is the meaning of “fear”? Once again, why am I thinking of Edwin Friedman?
1:51 Where has the Mighty One sown strength? How have the proud been scattered? I find it interesting that thoughts are associated with the heart. We usually associate thoughts with the head or mind and feelings with the heart.
1:52 What powerful have been brought down and how have they been brought down?
1:53 Do the hungry want good things or good food? If the rich are sent away empty, are they still rich?
1:54 What is the meaning of “in remembrance of his mercy”?
1:55 What promises? Why is Abraham but never Sarah mentioned?

89:1 How can the Psalmist, or anyone, sing forever and proclaim anything to generations?  Is this nothing more than poetic hyperbole?
89:2 How firm are the heavens?
89:3-4 Apparently an allusion to the First Reading.  Does this verse justify the lectionary pairing this Psalm with the First Reading?  This Psalm is actually an alternate. Another possibility is the Magnificat, Luke 1:47-55.  I have used the Magnificat the past few cycles but this year am opting to use the Psalm 89. What is this verse quoting?
89:19 Who is the faithful one? Note that the rest of the reading is a narration of the vision.
89:20 What makes oil holy?
89:24 What is a “horn”?
89:26 So David is the Son of God?

16:25 What does Paul mean by “my gospel?”  What is the mystery that has been revealed?
16:26 What does Paul mean by “prophetic writings”?
16:27 Here is a nice ascription of praise that could be used liturgically.

1:26 In the sixth month of what? Why Gabriel? Why Nazareth?
1:27 Why a virgin? How can we read this verse with 21st century sensibilities without reading our prejudices back into the text? Why the house of David?
1:28 What does Gabriel mean by addressing Mary as “favored one?”
1:29 Apparently Mary did not know what Gabriel meant. When was the last time you were perplexed by a greeting and pondered what it meant?
1:30 I think the phrase “Do not be afraid” is the crux of this text.
1:31 Note that Mary “will” conceive.  She apparently was not yet pregnant. Why name him Jesus?
1:32-33 This is quite a prophecy!
1:34 A good question.
1:35 Is there a difference between being called “Son of God” and actually being the Son of God?
1:36 Apparently Elizabeth was between the second and third trimester. The way she is described reminds me of Sarah.
1:37 Could this be the key verse of the passage rather than 1:30?
1:38 Where have we heard “Here am I” before?  What if Mary had not let it be according to Gabriel’s word?

ADDENDUM
I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.

May you have a Christ filled merry Christmas and be blessed with peace, wholeness, and happiness in the New Year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 14, 2014, the Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

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.


FOR AN UPDATED AND REVISED VERSION, GO TO THIS LINK

PREFACE:
I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

61:1 What does it feel like to have the spirit of the LORD upon oneself?  What else can one be anointed with in addition to the spirit and oil?
61:2 What is “the year of the Lord’s favor” and “the day of vengeance of our God” and how can they be mentioned in the same sentence?
61:3 What is a garland? What is oil of gladness? What is so special about oaks?
61:4 What other ancient ruins come to your mind in addition to Jerusalem?  Iona?  Lindesfarne? Detroit?
61:8 Does justice involve more than just hating robbery and wrongdoing? Who are “them”?
61:9 What does it mean for a people to be blessed by the LORD?
61:10 What does it feel like for one’s whole being to exalt in God?  God has clothed us with a tux and gown?
61:11 Do righteousness and praise just appear or do they grow and blossom?

126:1 In other words, we thought it not possible?  Note that this is in the past tense.
126:2 Why laughter? Shall we read this verse as a commentary on Isaiah 61:9?
126:3 What great things has the Lord done for us?
126:4 What is so special about the watercourses in the Negeb?
126:5-6 These verses, like Advent, proclaim a reversal of the status quo.
126:6 Shall we read this verse as a commentary on Isaiah 61:11?

Luke 1:46b-55 Note that this canticle is an alternative to the Psalm, not an alternative to the Second Redding, as suggested by the presbyterianmission website.
1:46b Who is speaking? When, if ever, has your soul magnified the Lord?
1:47 When did your spirit last rejoice?
1:48 What does it mean to be called blessed?
1:49 Here is an alternative way to address and speak of God.
1:50 What does it mean to fear God? Why am I thinking of Edwin H. Friedman?
1:51 What does it mean for the proud to be scattered  in the thoughts of their hearts? Since when did hearts think?
1:52-53 Note that these verses are in the present tense and how they all address a reversal.
1:54 How has God helped Israel?
1:55 Once again Sarah is overlooked, yet without her Abraham would not have had any descendants.

5:16 This is good advice. Is this the second shortest verse in the Bible?
5:17 More good advice. What does it mean to” pray without ceasing”? What do you know about contemplative living?
5:18 I find giving thanks in all circumstances harder than praying without ceasing or always rejoicing. I have been in some circumstances where I would have had great difficulty giving thanks.
5:19 Oh, how many ways we quench the Spirit. Let me count the ways.
5:20 How do we despise the words of prophets? What prophets are being referred to?
5:21 How do we “test” anything, let alone everything? Does this verse support the mission of Consumer Reports or the Underwriters Laboratory and similar organizations and institutions? How do we hold fast to what is good? What is good?
5:22 How many forms of evil are there?
5:23 Note the tripartite “spirit and soul and body”.  What is the difference between spirit and soul?  I would feel more comfortable with “mind, body and spirit”.
5:24 Who is it that calls? What does it mean to be called?

1:6 Are some “sent” and others not? What is the difference between “sent” and “called”?
1:7 “Witness” and “testify” are not usually part of the mainline and Presbyterian vocabulary.  Do they make you feel uncomfortable? How much do we hear them as legal terms and how much do we hear them as religious terms?
1:8 Was someone saying John was the light?
1:19 In this context, who or what is a Levite? It seems that John’s testimony was given in the context of him being questioned or examined. Was John on trial?
1:20 “Confessed” is an interesting choice of words.  John says, “I am not” while Jesus will say, at least seven times, “I am”! Were some hoping, even saying, that John was the Messiah?
1:21 People thought John was Elijah or Kahlil Gibran?
1:22 Why is John’s identity so important?
1:23 Are these John the Baptizer’s words or John the Evangelist’s words?
1:24-25 In verse 19 it was Jews sent by priests and Levites. Now it is those sent by the Pharisees. What is the connection between the Pharisees and baptism?
1:25 Is the presumption that it would have been alright for the Messiah, Elijah, or the prophet to baptize?
1:26 What did John mean by “Among you stands”?
1:27 Is there anything significant or symbolic about untying sandals?
1:28 What difference does it make where this took place?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 7, 2014, the Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

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.


FOR AN UPDATED AND REVISED VERSION, GO TO THIS LINK

PREFACE:
I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

40:1 Perhaps this all too familiar passage reminds us that Advent is a season for the preacher to comfort, while Lent is a season for the preacher to afflict.
40:2 This sounds somewhat like legal language but good news none the less. What does it mean to speak tenderly?
40:3 Whose voice is crying out?
40:3-4 Having grown up and spent most of my life in the mountains of West Virginia, I resonate with the imagery of straight highways.  On the other hand, I fear someone might want to relate the “every mountain and hill shall be made low” and language following to the ecologically devastating practice of Mountain Top Removal Mining.
40:5 Who or what is the mouth of the Lord?
40:6-7 How do these verses fit in here? Has a new thought begun?
40:8 What does Isaiah mean by “the word of the LORD”?
40:9 How can the prophet get up to a high mountain if all the mountains will be made low? Where is God?
40:10 Is this militaristic imagery and language?
40:11 This language and imagery seems antithetical to the previous verse. Who is the mother sheep?

85:1 Does this verse assume a theology of the land?
85:2 How do you and your church deal with “Selah”?
85:1-2 Compare these verses with Isaiah 40:1-2.
85:8 Does God speak peace only to God’s people?
85:8-9 What about people who do not turn to God in their hearts and who do not fear God?  What does it mean to fear God? What does it mean to turn to God in your heart?
85:10-11 I like this imagery! The structure appears to be poetic.
85:12 Once again, I wonder if this verse and the entire Psalm assumes a theology of the land?  What is the connection between God and the land, the land and God?  Does this feed into the Arthurian legend and the Fisher King?
85:13 Is this a personification of righteousness?

3:8 I do not know where it originated, but there is a joke that goes something like this.  A person asks God if it is true that one day to God is like a thousand years.  God answers “yes.”  They then ask God if it is true that God will give them whatever they ask for.  God again answers “yes.”  The person finally asks God for a million dollars. God replies, “OK, I’ll do it tomorrow”. On the other hand I have often heard this verse used to reconcile the six day story of creation with evolution as if that solves all the apparent problems.
3:9 So God’s apparent slowness is really an manifestation of God’s patience?
3:10 Of all the images that one could employ, why employ the imagery of a thief?   What does the author mean by “the heavens”, “elements”, and “the earth”? Will what is done on the earth not be disclosed until the day of the Lord?
3:11-12 Shall we refer to this as the “Big Dissolution Theory?”  How do we reconcile this imagery with contemporary cosmology that posits an expanding universe expanding at an increasing rate and which may expand indefinitely? What is this verse asking?
3:13 Note that this is a “promise”, not a threat. Where else can we find “new heavens and a new earth” language? I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’ imager of a new heaven and a new earth in the final installment of The Chronicles of Narnia.
3:14 What might be a spot or blemish?
3:15a Once again, what appears to be the Lord’s tardiness is actually our salvation.

1:1 For a minute, there, I thought I was reading the incipit of Genesis. Exactly what is “the beginning of the good news”?
1:2-3 Déjà vu! Why does Mark quote Isaiah 40:3?
1:4 Never having been a Baptist, I much prefer the NRSV “John the baptizer” rather than the more familiar John the Baptist”. What about you? How did John’s baptism differ from the baptism of the early church?
1:5 I think there is some hyperbole here. Nevertheless, John is portrayed as a popular guy.
1:6 Has anyone else ever heard the explanation that “locusts” is not a reference to insects but to a nutty substance from a tree native to Palestine? What purpose might it serve to describe John this way?
1:7-8 What power did John have?  How could John have known all of this?
1:8 What is the difference between baptism with water baptism with the Holy Spirit?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.