Monday, November 24, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, November 30, 2014, the First 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.

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.

64:1 Must God tear the heavens open to come down?
64:2 Who are God’s adversaries
64:3 What awesome deeds does Isaiah have in mind?
64:4 What does it mean to wait for God?
64:5 Did God hide because the people transgressed or did the people transgress because God hid?
64:6 How can righteous deeds become like a filthy cloth?
64:7 What does it mean that God has hidden the divine face?
64:8 Why the change of metaphors from storm and fire to potter and clay?
63:9 Please God, be just a little angry and remember our iniquity for just a little while.

80:1 The verse follows nicely upon the heels of last week’s First Reading
80:2 What does it mean for God to stir up the divine might?
80:3 What is the shining face of God or what does it represent or symbolize?
80:4 Is there a difference between being angry with the people and being angry with their prayers?
80:5 This sounds like anti-Eucharistic language.
80:6 Is this an appeal to God’s pride?
80:7 What does God’s shining face represent or symbolize?
80:17 Whom is the Psalmist talking about?
80:18 Is the Psalmist bargaining with God, offer a quid pro quo?
80:19 A repeat of 80:7, suggesting a liturgical response.

1:3 Is there anything unique about “Grace to you and peace”?
1:4 Why “my” God and not “our” God?
1:5 How are we enriched in speech and knowledge?
1:6 What is “the testimony of Christ”?
1:7 What spiritual gift might we be lacking in? What does it mean for the Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed?
1:8 What is “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”?
1:9 What is “the fellowship”? Is that something like Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring?

13:24 In what days? So the sun and moon will no longer give light AFTER suffering?
13:25 Do you think the writer was referring to meteors rather than stars? What powers are in the heavens?
13:24-25 If something is being quoted, what?
13:26 Who and/or what is “the Son of Man”? Why does the Son of Man come in clouds?
13:27 Whar are the Son of Man’s angels? Does “the four winds” refer to the four cardinal directions?
13:28 How  you ever lived around fig trees?
13:29 What things?
13:30 How do we reconcile this verse with the fact that we are still reading it and waiting nearly two-thousand years later?
13:31 How will heaven and earth pass away but not words? What words?
13:32 So why all the talk about the lesson of the fig tree if no one know the day or hour?
13:33 In other words, pack your Christian “go bag” and make sure there is gas in the car.
13:34 Is this a parable?
13:35I would rather my master return than a thief come.
13:36 Are we all expected to be doorkeepers?
13:37 What does it mean to “Keep awake:?

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, November 17, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, November 23, 2014, Christ the King (Reign of Christ) Sunday (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.

PREFACE:
This is the last Sunday in Liturgical Year A. Next Sunday, November 30, the 1st Sunday in Advent, begins Liturgical Year B.

34:11 How did God lose these sheep in the first place? Why might God be doing the searching rather than entrusting the searching to a representative?
34:12 Why do sheep scatter and why do shepherds allow them to scatter?
34:13 How can one not read this and be a Zionist?
34:14-15 Why am I thinking of Psalm 23?
34:16 What is the difference between the lost and the strayed? Does it seem that God will search out and rescue the 99% while punishing the 1%?
34:20 I think it is time for me to eat less, exercise more, and drop a few pounds.
34:21 To whom is this addressed?
34:22 Note that God will judge between sheep and sheep, not sheep and goats.
34:23-24 David, King of the 99%!

100:1 Is “all the earth” a poetic reference to all people or and invitation to rocks and trees as well?
100:2 If we are to worship God with gladness, why do so many worship services feel like a funeral and so many worshipers act like they are mourners?
100:3 How many people in the pew understand the nuance of “LORD” and “God”? Does this verse justify this Psalm being paired with the Ezekiel Reading?  What and where is the LORD’s pasture?
100:4 To what does gates refer, the gates og the temple, the gates of the city, or something else? To what does courts refer?
100:5 Is it redundant to say his steadfast love endures forever? What does it mean for the LORD to be faithful?

1:15 How might Paul have heard of the Ephesians faith and love? Who are the saints?
1:16 I would love to hear Paul praying.
1:17 What is “a spirit of wisdom and revelation”?
1:18-19 I love the phrases “the riches of his glorious inheritance” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power”.
1:20Is this a reference to the Resurrection as well as the Ascension?
1:21 Yes, this Sunday is Christ the King.
1:22 What does “for the church” mean?
1:23 What does “fills all in all” mean?

25:31 Who is speaking? How much do we need to know about the theologically loaded title “Son of Man” to responsibly interpret this passage?  Does the mention of a throne justify this being the Gospel Reading for Christ the King?
25:32-33 The Gospel’s “sheep and goats” juxtaposed with the “sheep and sheep” of the Ezekiel Reading seems to offer us a mixed or confused, metaphor.
25:33 Is this an example of right-handed prejudice?
25:34 Is the king the same as the Son of Man?
25:37 What does it mean to be righteous?
25:41 The devil has angels?
25:35-45 How do members of the Tea Party and the 1% read these verses?
25:46 Must there be eternal punishment?

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, November 10, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, November 16, 2014, the Thirty-Third 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.

4:1 Here we go again.  This is beginning to remind me of déjà vu all over again. How many times did the Israelites do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?  How many times do we?
4:2 Do the names of rulers, commanders, and place names add or detract from the narrative?
4:3 This is beginning to sound like a broken record.  How many times do we cry out to the LORD, asking the LORD to get us out of trouble we have gotten ourselves into?
4:4 What blasphemy, a female prophet!  With regard to male prophets, how often are we told who their wife was?
4:5 Do you think the Palm of Deborah was known by that name in Deborah’s day? Too bad it was not a Bodhi tree.
4:6 How dare Deborah speak for God! I wonder why Barak.
4:7 What is a Wadi and why does it matter?

123:1 I thought God was enthroned on the cherubim.  Are the cherubim in heaven or in the Temple?
123:2 So God is a master and maid while we are servants and mistresses.  While the Israelites in the Judges passage cry to the LORD, the psalmist simply looks to the LORD.  Maybe those eyes were sad, droopy puppy dog eyes that the LORD simply could not resist.
123:3 To what contempt is the Psalmist referring?
123:4 To what scorn is the Psalmist referring? Are contempt and scorn synonymous?

5:1 What times and seasons? If nothing needs to be written to the Thessalonians about times and seasons then why does Paul bring it up?
5:2 Is this an example of chiastic structure:  “day lord / thief night”? What does Paul mean by “day of the Lord”?
5:3 Since I am of the male persuasion, I chose not to comment on this verse.  If there is anyone of the female persuasion out there who would like to comment, please do so.
5:4-5 There is a lot of “light” and “darkness” to keep track of in these verses. Beware of racial stereotypes. Can the Dead Sea scrolls help us put this passage into context?
5:6 Since the overriding metaphor is staying awake, why does Paul add “sober”?
5:7 What point is Paul trying to make?
5:8 Does the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation, change the metaphor?  Note that a breastplate and a helmet are entirely defensive rather than offensive. Have you ever heard of a type of prayer known in the Celtic tradition as a Lorica?
5:9 Why do my Reformed/Presbyterian ears perk up when I hear this verse?
5:10 Is Paul confusing his “sleep” metaphor and using it to mean more than one thing?
5:11 In other words, keep on keeping on.

25:14 “It is as if” make this what, q parable? Why do I have a problem with slave language?
25:15 What is a talent?  Ability to do what?
25:16 This slave ahould have been a stock broker or banker.
25:17 A 100% return! Not bad.
25:18 What were the abilities of the first and second slaves?  What was the ability of the third slave? Had the man going on a journey misjudged the abilities of his slaves?
25:19 What is a long time and does it matter?
25:21, 23 What does it mean to enter into the joy of a master?
25:24 Maybe the third slave said too much in addition to not doubling the talent.
25:25 How do we sometimes allow fear to cripple us?
25:26 Was the slave really wicked and lazy or just overly careful?
25:27 If we take this too literally, it begins to break down and seems illogical. After all, the man could have invested his money with bankers to begin with rather than entrusting it to his slaves.
25:28-29 Does the growing disparity between the rich and the poor impact how we might read and interpret these verses?
25:30 Have we heard anything like this before? Where?

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. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, November 9, 2014, the Thirty-Second 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.

24:1 What do you know about  Shechem? The listing of “elders, heads, judges, and the officers” suggests a rather organized society, just forty years after the Exodus.
24:2 Why does Joshua point back one generation to Terah rather than to Abraham?
24:3a Why isn’t Sarah mentioned?
24:14 What is this talk about putting away other gods all about? What other God were the people worshiping?
24:15 Joshua presents three choices: Serve the gods ancestors worshiped before God called Abraham, serve the local gods of the Amorites, or serve the LORD. What choices are the people presented with today?
24:14-18 Are these verses about monotheism, or about recognizing that of all the gods, only one, the LORD, is the one who has saved us?
24:19 “You cannot serve the LORD”? What is Joshua doing here?
24:20 The LORD sounds like a jealous God.
24:21 Is this a confession of faith?
24:22 What does it mean, in this context, to be a witness?
24:23 Did the people actually have statues of foreign gods, or is this a metaphorical “put away”?
24:24 Is this also a confession of faith?
24:25 Is this a third covenant? What statutes and ordinances are being referred to?

78:1 Who is the speaking?
78:2 Apparently Jesus was not the only person in the Bible to speak in parables. What are “dark sayings from of old”?
78:3 This sounds like a reference to the oral tradition.
78:4 Why might you want to hide dark sayings from children? What are the Lord’s glorious deeds and wonders?
78:5 Is the speaker not a child of his/her ancestors?
78:6 This is really thinking far ahead, to future generations.
78:7 What is the relation between works and commandments?
78:1-7 This Psalm reads like a call to educational ministry and mission.  What would this psalmist say about the state of Biblical literacy, or lack of, in today’s church?

1:13 How might we be uninformed?
1:14 What does Paul mean “God will bring with him”?
1:15 What is this all about?
1:16-17 Does this presuppose a pre-Copernican three tiered universe?  How do we translate this into modern cosmological terms?
1:18 How are these words encouraging?  See item #16 on page 914 in the PC(USA) Book of Common Worship.  See also page 949.

25:1 Is this a kingdom parable? Is there anything special about the number ten? Is there anything special about bridesmaids?
25:2 Why five foolish and five wise?
25:3-4 Does the oil represent anything or is this just about being prepared?
25:5 What is this about “delay”?  Note that both the wise and the foolish become drowsy and fall asleep. Was “delay” the real issue?
25:6 Why midnight?  Who shouted?
25:7 Why trim a lamp?
25:9 Were the wise being selfish? Why not share lamps?
25:10 I wonder how much oil the wise had brought with them. I wonder how long their oil would have lasted.
25:12 This sounds curt.
25:13 This point does not fit.  Based on what precedes, the point ought to have been “Be prepared.  Keep a supply of oil.”  Otherwise, the wise bridesmaids should not have slept while the foolish bridesmaids did sleep.

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.