Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for the Second Sunday after Christmas Years ABC

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: The Lectionary Readings for the Second Sunday After Christmas are the same in all three years, A,B, and C.

31:7 I wonder what effect it would have if you started your next sermon by proclaiming “For thus says the LORD.”  IMHO, most worshipers need to take the admonition to “Sing aloud with gladness” more seriously.  Who is “the chief of the nations”? Who are the remnant of Israel?
31:8 What might the “land of the north” symbolize? What promise do we find for ourselves in this promise of restoration? 
31:9 Why do the remnant weep? Who or what is Ephraim?
31:10 Why do the nations need to hear this? Who scattered Israel and why?  Why is Israel now being gathered?
31:11 How has the LORD ransomed Jacob? Whose hands were too strong? Could this be one of the roots of a ransom theory of the atonement?
31:12 What and where is the height of Zion? I like the image of a life likened to a “watered garden”.  How many people in our society are experiencing a life akin to a dried up, dead garden?
31:13 What sort of dance do you imagine this being? This verse would work well within the context of a Service of Witness to the Resurrection.
31:14 Here is an image I can relate to.

147:12 This is another of the “praise” Psalms that close the Psalter, thus a Psalm that could be adapted for use as a Call to Worship.  How is this Psalm related to the one before and after?
147:13 What does strengthening the bars of gates symbolize? Where are children blessed?
147:14 I find peace and finest wheat a powerful but an odd poetic pairing.
147:15 Why am I thinking of the Greek god Mercury? What is God’s command?
147:16 I understand how frost is like ashes, but how is snow like wool? How will this verse sound in the Eastern United States compared to the Western United States this day?
147:17 This and the preceding verse works this time of year in most of the northern hemisphere, but what about in the southern hemisphere?
147:18 This is the second reference in this Psalm to God’s “word”.  See 147:15 for the first time.  It appears again in 147:19. How can a word melt anything?
147:12-18 It should be clearly evident why this Psalm was paired with the Jeremiah Reading.  But the Psalm seems to emphasize the emotions of return and restoration while ignoring the lament aspect of the deportation that preceded it.  Where do we, as Americans, as Christians, and as Presbyterians find ourselves today—in exile or restoration?
147:19 How do statutes and ordinances relate to the LORD’s word? What is the relationship between Jacob and Israel?
147:20 What are the LORD’s ordinances? Why do other nations not know them?

1:3 What are spiritual blessings?  Where are the heavenly places? This verse starts out sounding like The Magnificat.
1:4 Presbyterians take note: here is a verse in support of predestination and election.  Have you ever thought of yourself as holy and blameless? When was the foundation of the world? You might want to juxtapose this verse and its “before the foundation of the world” with John 1:1 and its “In the beginning”.
1:5 Another verse in support of the doctrines of predestination and election unless this verse applies only to the Ephesians.  What is your destiny?
1:6 Who or what is “the Beloved”?
1:7 Now we have  a “blood” atonement after the ransom of Jeremiah 31:11.  How does blood redeem?
1:8 What is the difference between wisdom and insight?
1:9 What is the mystery of God’s will?  I think we do not talk enough about mystery.
1:10 Is this a verse in support of divine “fate”? What is this “plan”? What and/or when is “the fullness of time”?
1:11  What is our “inheritance”?  This is yet another verse in support of predestination and election.
1:12 Who are “we”?
1:13 Who are “you”?  How is the Holy Spirit a “seal”?
1:14 How is a seal a pledge?

John’s prologue is my favorite passage in the Bible.  This is also the first passage I translated from the Greek when learning Greek.  How is your preaching or teaching influenced when you encounter one of your favorite passages?  While 1:1-9 are optional, I really think they need to be read and I will be including them in the Gospel Reading.
1:1 Can we read this and hear this read without recalling the first creation account of Genesis 1? How, in a brief amount of time, can we unpack the significance the Greek “logos” since the English “Word” just does not seem to translate it?
1:2 When was the beginning?
1:3 What is the meaning of “all things came into being through him”?
1:4-5 Maybe these verses should have been read at the winter solstice, back on December 21st in the northern hemisphere, rather than today.
1:4 Can there be life without being? How does light serve as life? Does this verse lend itself to universalism?
1:5 Note that the light shining is in the present tense but the darkness did not overcome it is in the past tense. How could darkness ever overcome light unless we are talking about a black hole?
1:6-9 In a matter of weeks we have moved from the conception of John the Baptizer to his testimony.  Once again, I am wondering how much we are missing when we reflect about the relationship and connection between John the Baptizer and Jesus. I wonder what John would have thought if he had read this description of himself and his ministry.
1:6 What does it mean to be sent from God?
1:7 Believe what?
1:8 How does one testify about anything? Was this verse meant to knock John down a notch or two?
1:9 Is there a false light? I like the construction “was coming” as it suggests a process rather than a point. Like 1:4, does this verse suggest a universalism? This verse is the last of the optional verses.
1:10 What does it mean to be “in the world”? What does it mean to “know” and “not know”?
1:11 What was his own?
1:12 Who received him?  Who believed in his name? What is the meaning of “power”? What does it mean to be a child of God?
1:13 Is there any difference between “the will of the flesh” and “the will of man”? Is there any theological difference between being born “of God” and being born from above? How might William James enlighten us to the meaning of being born of God? Must this birth be a physical birth or are there other types of birth, like, perhaps, spiritual birth?
1:14 In his 1996 book Mystical Christianity: A Psychological Commentary on the Gospel of John, Episcopal Priest and internationally known Jungian analyst writes “John 1:14 is one of the most important verses in the New Testament, a cornerstone of the Christian religion.” (p. 14) Without this verse there would be no LECTIONARY RUMINATIONS 2.0?  Why?
1:15 Why the parenthesis in the NRSV?  So what?
1:16 What does his “fullness” refer to? What is grace upon grace?
1:17 “Law” versus “grace and truth” or “Law and grace and truth”?  Note that “grace and truth” was first mentioned in 1:14.
1:18 Are there not some passages in the Hebrew Scriptures to refute the claim that “No one has ever seen God”?  Once we have come to know God the Father through the only son, should we not focus on our relationship with the Father rather than the Son? What is the difference between a Theocentric faith and a Christocentric faith? Can one know God without seeing God? What does “the Father’s heart” symbolize or represent?


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. Please like The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook

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