Sunday, May 17, 2015
Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 24, 2015, the Day of Pentecost (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.
2:1 How did early Christians know the day of Pentecost had arrived when they had not yet been filled with the Holy Spirit? In othger words, what are the Jewish roots of Pentecost? Who are “they” and what does it mean (existentially and theologically) that “they were all together in one place”?
2:2 What Greek word is translated as wind and how else might it be translated? Why were they sitting in a house?
2:3 What is a divided tongue?
2:4 Do you think some of them spoke in other languages better than others? Was this the first and original Rosetta Stone?
2:5 What is the difference between a devout Jew and a Jew? Where these Jesws living in or actually visiting Jerusalem?
2:6 When was the last time you were bewildered?
2:7 When was the last time worship where you usually attend left you or anyone else amazed and astonished?
2:8-11 Why are all these but no other places mentioned?
2:10 What is the difference between a Jew and a proselyte?
2:11 What are God’s deeds of power?
2:12When was the last time your sermon or Bible study amazed and perplexed anyone? I would settle for people simply asking “What does this mean?”
2:13 What is the difference between new wine and old wine? Cannot both intoxicate?
2:14 Why Peter?
2:16 Off all the Prophets, why Joel?
2:17-21 Do you think Peter really said this, or are some words being put into his mouth at a later time?
2:17-18 If God poured out the Spirit on all flesh, sons as well as daughters, both male and female slaves inverse, then why does Peter address only “men” in verse 14?
37:1-14 Remember that this is only a vision, not an historical account.
37:1 What does it mean for “the hand of the LORD” to come upon a person? Has the handoff the LORD ever come upon you or upon someone you know? What does it mean to “be brought out by the spirit”? I interpret this reading as a vision experienced by Ezekiel, certainly not an account of anything that happened in real time and space, but only within the psyche of Ezekiel.
37:2 What might the valley of dry bones symbolize?
37:3 Is there any significance to the fact that the LORD addresses Ezekiel as “Mortal” rather than by name? Is the LORD asking a rhetorical question? I think the “mortal” passes the buck with his answer.
37:4 Can bones hear?
37:5-6 What linguistic and theological moves are being made by connecting breath with life
37:7 Apparently bones CAN hear!
37:8 Oh no! No breath!
37:9 Can the breath hear? What do you know about the four winds? I cannot read this passage without thinking of the four winds of Native American spirituality. When was the last time you heard a minister refer to the four winds in a prayer or use it liturgy?
37:10 Was the breath the last, or the most essential ingredient?
37:11 Oh, so these were not bones at all, but a living nation feeling dried up, proof positive that this is a vision not to be taken literally.
37:12 Is this verse about a physical resurrection or a spiritual resurrection, physical graves or metaphorical graves?
37:13 What sort of grave bound people is the mortal prophesying to?
37:14 What are the linguistic and theological connections among wind, breath, and spirit? IMHO, this is a verse that many aging congregations and congregations of the aging, often feeling “very dry” and completely cut off, almost in the grave, need to hear and reflect upon. Are they willing, REALLY willing, to have the LORD put the spirit within them?
104:24 What works?
104:25 The sea may be a metaphor or even symbol of uncreated chaos left over from the creation.
104:26 Is this Hobbes’ Leviathan? Shamu? The Kraken? Nessie?
104:27-28 So God sustains even sea monsters?
104:29 What does it mean for God to hide the divine face? What does it mean to take away the breath? How else might the Hebrew word for breath be translated?
104:30 Does this verse alone justify pairing this Psalm with the Acts passage and to read on Pentecost Sunday?
104:31 What does it mean for the LORD to rejoice?
104:32 Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Oh My! Is it bad science, and bad theology, to associate natural geologic phenomena with God?
104:33 Is this talking about continuous song?
104:34 What does meditation refer to?
8:22 Who is “we”? Read this verse in light of Psalm 104:32. Does this verse legitimize Christians speaking of “mother earth”?
8:23 What does it mean to groan inwardly?
8:24-25 Is Paul making the distinction between hope and truth? Faith and fact?
8:26 Why do we not know how to pray as we ought? Can prayer be taught? Is there any comparison between “sighs too deep for words” and glossolalia? Might this verse be used to theologically explain Contemplative Prayer?
8:27 Does this verse suggest that the Spirit resides in individuals in the heart (rather than the mind)? What does it mean that the Spirit has a mind?
See the ruminations above and note that the Acts Reading can be used either as the First Reading or the Second Reading, meaning one would use either Ezekiel 37:1-14 or Romans 8:22-27 but not both.
15:26 Is the Fourth Gospel the only New Testament writing to refer to the Spirit as the Advocate. How do you reconcile this verse with the filioque clause of the Nicene Creed?
15:7 Why can the Advocate not come to believers until after Jesus leaves them?
15:11 Who is “the ruler of this world”?
15:12 What else do you think Jesus wanted to say that he did not say?
15:13 Where does the Spirit of Truth hear what he (or she?) speaks?