Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, March 22, 2015, the Fifth Sunday in Lent (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: If you are preaching in a PC(USA) church this coming Sunday, how might the passage of amendment 14-F affect what you preach? Should it even make a difference? If so, why? If not, why not?

31:31 Why does Jeremiah write about coming days rather than a new age? What was the old covenant? Why the twin construction “Israel” and “Judah”?
31:32 God is a husband?
31:33 How does God put a law in a person?  How does God write on the heart? Will this new covenant abrogate or fulfill the old covenant?
31:34 Note that God will be the agent of divine knowledge, not people, and this will spell the end for Christian Education and faith formation.

51:1 Here are examples of Hebrew poetic parallelism.  Are steadfast love and abundant mercy the same thing? I am old enough to remember what a ink blotter was, but do younger people know what it means to “blot out”? May delete, erase, or strike over would be a better translation today.
51:2 Is iniquity the same as sin? Note that sin is singular.
51:3 Are transgressions the same as sin? Again, note that sin is singular, so why do many Prayers of Confessions use “sins” rather than ‘sin”?
51.4 Some Calls to Confession call us to confess our sins against God and neighbor, but can we really sin against anyone other than God?
51:5 If this is not a proof text for original sin, what is it? Does this verse have any bearing on the abortion debate?
51:6 What is the inner being? What is a secret heart? What is the relation between truth and wisdom?
51:7 What is hyssop and how does it purge? I wish the Psalmist had said “fresh snow” because the snow still around a week after the last storm was pretty dirty and ugly.
51:8 What is the source of this joy and gladness? God has crushed bones?
51:9 What is the meaning of “Hide your face”? Note that in this verse “sins” is plural. Note also that it is not transgressions but iniquities being blotted out (see 51:1).
51:10 This is one of my favorite verses of Scripture.  What is a clean heart? Does having a clean heart mean having a new and right spirit? Are we the passive recipient of a new and right spirit that God puts in us or do we bear some responsibility for welcoming and even nurturing a new and right spirit?
51:11 Is a holy spirit the same as a new and right spirit? I think we misread this Hebrew Psalm if we bring to it our Christian Trinitarian theology. Note that the previous spirit asked God to “put a new and right spirit with me” while this verse asks “do not take your holy spirit within me.”
51:12 One must have once enjoyed the joy of God’s salvation in order to be restored to it. What is a willing spirit?

Remember the Psalm 119 is an acrostic psalm. I will be using Psalm 51:1-12 rather than this alternate.
119:9 I wonder what the psalmist’s definition of a “young person” was. What is a pure way? What did the psalmist mean by the LORD’s “word”?
119:10 Note that the psalmists seeks the LORD with whole heart, not whole mind or intellect. Are the commandments the same as the “way” in 119:9?
119:11 Once again heart rather than mind or intellect. What does it mean to treasure?
119:12 How does the LORD teach? What are statutes?
119:13 How else shall the psalmist declare if not with the lips? What are ordinances?
119:14 What are the LORD’s decrees and do you delight in them?
119:15 How might the psalmist understood meditating? I wonder if what the psalmist had in mind was anything like mindfulness meditation or contemplative prayer? What are precepts? What are the LORD’s ways. Note that “ways” is plural!
119:16 Do you delight in the LORD’s statutes?

5:5 Is the common perception that priests become priests to glorify themselves? At the time of Jesus, how did one become the high priest of the Jerusalem Temple? When did Christ become a high priest? What are the functions of a high priest?  Where have we heard this quote before?
5:6 Where is this other place?  Who is Melchizedeck and what is the order of Melchizedek?
5:7 What is the difference between “prayers” and “supplications”? Does this verse describe the work of a high priest? Is our reverent submission a perquisite for God hearing our prayers?
5:8 Was learning obedience the purpose of Christ’s suffering?
5:9 How was Christ made perfect?  What is the theological difference between being perfect from before creation and being made perfect at some later time?
5:10 Is “designation” the same as “appointed” in 5:5?

12:20 What festival?  Who are the Greeks? Does the adoration of the magi at all inform how we might read this passage?
12:21 Who was Philip?  Does his home town matter?  What are the possible meanings of “see”?
12:22 Why did Philip go and tell Andrew? I wonder where Peter, James and John were.
12:23 What hour has come?  Who is the Son of Man?  What does it mean to be glorified?
12:24 Why does Jesus often introduce sayings with “Very truly, I tell you”?  Would Jesus ever not speak truly?
12:25 Did the grain of wheat love its life or not love its life?
12:26 What does it mean to serve Jesus? What does it mean to follow Jesus?
12:27 Why is Jesus’ soul troubled? What “reason” is Jesus speaking about?
12:28 How is a name glorified? Is the voice for the benefit of Jesus or the benefit of the crowd standing around?
12:29 Why would some hear thunder and others hear the voice of angels? Do angels speaking sound like thunder?
12:30 I guess Jesus answered my question for 12:28.
12:31 Has the world already been judged? Who is (or was) the ruler of this world? Driven out to where?
12:32 What is Jesus speaking about his crucifixion, his ascension, both, or something else altogether? Does “all people” point to possible universalism? Does “lifted up” possibly allude back to last week’s reading from Numbers and John?
12:33 Once again, Jesus answers my question for 12:32.

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

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