Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 23, 2015, the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (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.

8:1 I wish someone would soon discover or disclose the whereabouts of the ark. Is it in Axum, or not?
8:6 This makes it sound like the cherubim were separate from the ark, but I thought the cherubim  were part of its lid.
8:10 Why are clouds often associated with God’s glory?”  Maybe we ought to install fog generators in our sanctuaries that we can turn on to generate fog at liturgically appropriate times.
8:11 Does the glory of the LORD ever fill your sanctuary. Who would you know? How could you tell? Where is the most holy place of your sanctuary and what is the most holy item in it?
8:1, 6, 10-11 These are optional verses. Will you include them or not? Why? I probably will chose not to read and preach on these verses because they do not seem to add anything to what follows, which is already a longer reading than usual.
8:22 Was Solomon praying in the orans position? What body posture do you assume to pray?
8:23 This sounds like a confession of faith.
8:24 Is this a little self-serving?
8:25 So this is a conditional covenant!
8:26 Again, this prayer could be a little self-serving.
8:27 Is this not a theological conundrum, immanence vs. transcendence?
8:28 Is Solomon praying just for himself or also for the people?
8:29 God has eyes?
8:30 What does Solomon mean “pray toward this place”? She Christians pray facing Jerusalem?
8:30 Which way do you face when you pray?  East, toward the sunrise, or toward Jerusalem?  Does it matter?
8:41-43 Do you discern any hint of universalism in these verses?
8:41 I wonder how often foreigners/non-Jews came to Jerusalem for religious/spiritual reasons.
8:42 Was this prophecy or hindsight?
8:43 Yes, to this day we refer to this structure as Solomon’s Temple, not God’s Temple.

84:1 Does this psalm praise God or God’s house?  Is there a difference?  Does it matter? Must sanctuaries be lovely even if not practical?
84:2 I will trade you a Christian Cloister Walk for a Jewish Court any day.  What do you make of “heart and flesh”?
84:3 I know of a church where a b-b gun or 22 caliber rifle was used to shoot and kill a bird that had found its way into the sanctuary and at least one person could never feel like they were worshiping there again knowing that.
84:4 In our 2015 context, what does it mean to “live” in God’s house?  When I hear people say that someone “lives at the church” it is usually meant in a disparaging way.
84:5 How can highways be in the heart?
84:6 What do you know about the valley of Baca?
84:7 What does the psalmist mean by “strength”?
84:8 This could be used as a refrain or conclusion to almost any prayer.
84:9 What shield?
84:10 I would rather be a servant in heaven than a ruler in hell.
84:11 How does this verse illuminate verse 84:9?  How is God a sun?  How is God a shield?
84:12 Are those who do not trust the LORD of hosts unhappy?

6:10 Why “finally”?  What has come before this?
6:11 How does this verse illuminate Psalm 84:9 and 11?  Could this imagery be too militaristic for some?  How do you deal with the assumption that we are engaged in a struggle with the devil?
6:12 What is your take on Spiritual warfare?  You might find some guidance from the writings of Walter Wink, or even Carl Jung.
6:13 What is the whole armor of God?  Where can I buy it?  Does it come with a money back guarantee? What does it mean to “Stand firm”?
6:14-17 Of all the armor mentioned, the sword is the only offensive weapon.  All the rest is defensive.
6:14 How is a belt armor?
6:15 in the midst of this militaristic imagery we find the mention of peace!
6:16 Is the evil one the devil?
6:17 Is the swrod of the Spirit a two edged sword?
6:18 What other way is there to pray?
6:19 Do you pray for the preacher when you are in the pews?  Do the people in the pews pray for you when you preach?  What is the “mystery of the Gospel” and why is it a “mystery”?
6:20 Have you ever thought of yourself as an ambassador? Have you ever felt like you were in chains?

6:56 Are you and the people you teach and/or preach for getting tired of all this eating flesh and drinking blood stuff, which we have been reading and hearing for several weeks,, or do you and they find it fascinating?  Do not forget the etymological meaning of “ruminations”?
6:57 In our 2015 context, imagine Jesus standing before his followers and saying “Eat me!”
6:58 What other bread came down from heaven?
6:59 Does the original context/setting matter?  What if Jesus had said these things in the Athens Agora, or standing outside Le Pain Quotidian, Au Ban Pain, or Outback Steak House?
6:60 Many, but not all?  Is this still not another theological conundrum (Sorry, I like that word.  See my rumination on 1 Kings 8:27)?
6:61 Struggling with new ideas and wrestling with tough concepts is not the same as complaining, or is that what it usually boils down to in most religious settings?  Maybe we ought and need to be offended more often by the raw, uncooked, unprocessed Gospel.
6:62 Prescient?  Reading something back into the text?
6:63 Is Jesus backpedaling?  Is he flesh or spirit?  Is he the Word incarnate or the Word spiritualized?
6:64 OK, I know who betrayed Jesus.  But who were the ones (yes, it is plural) that did not believe? Did any of the twelve believe at this point?
6:65 So no one can come to Jesus on their own?
6:66 Can we assume that the ones who turned back are not mentioned?  No longer mentioned?  Not among “the twelve”? If they turned back, were they ever really disciples?
6:67 This is not quite a request for the strongest affirmation of faith, or affirmation of the strongest faith.
6:68 Note that Peter asks “to whom” not “where” we can go.  Are the words of eternal life the sole possession of Jesus? In other words, “Jesus, you are the best thing going.”
6:69 At least this is a better affirmation than “I do not wish to go away”.  What is the difference, if any, between belief and knowledge?  You might find Calvin’s definition of “faith” insightful as you wrestle with that last question. Does the original Greek suggest a process of coming to faith?

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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