Monday, January 26, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 1, 2015, the Fourth 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.

18:15 Who is speaking?
18:16 What and where is Horeb? What happened there? Is there any other reference to the people saying this?
18:17 Is the LORD in the habit of claiming people are right or wrong in what they say?
18:18 Is this simply a restatement of 18:15?
18:19 What does it mean to be held accountable by God? Is there anyone God does not hold accountable?
18:20 What other gods?  Do we ever presume to speak in God’s name when God has not commanded us to speak?

111:1 Do some Christians praise the LORD more with the mind than the heart? Who are the upright? What is the congregation?
111:2 What are the works of the Lord? How does one study them?
111:3 How do we experience the majesty and honor of God’s works?
111:4 What wonderful deeds might the Psalmist have in mind?
111:5 In this context, what does it mean to fear the LORD?
111:6 What is the power of God’s works? What is the heritage of the nations?
111:7 God has hands? What are the works of God’s hands? What are God’s precepts? What does it mean that they are trustworthy? Are the works of God’s hands the same thing as God’s precepts?
111:8 What are established forever and ever, the works of God’s hands or God’s precepts? How are they performed with faithfulness and uprightness?
111:9  What is meant by redemption and how did God send it?  What is the difference between “Holy” and “awesome”? What is God’s name? Is God’s name so awesome and Holy that Christians should not pronounce it?
111:10 See my question regarding 111:5. All who practice what, fear or wisdom? What is meant by “wisdom”?

8:1 When was the last time you were concerned about food offered to an idol? Is there any equivalent issue or similar concern in our culture? What is meant by knowledge?
8:2 I think Socrates would have liked this verse?
8:3 Why am I thinking of Bishop Berkeley? What is preferable, to know God or to be known by God?
8:4 After all he has written about knowledge, how can Paul claim to know that “no idol in the world really exists” and that “there is no God but one:?
8:5 Who or what are these “so-called” gods and do they exist or not?
8:6 Note the “from whom” and “through whom”? What is Paul saying?
8:4-6 What is the essence of Paul’s argument about idols, gods and God? Does this have any bearing on how we approach or engage in interfaith relations?
8:7 what is the relation between knowledge and conscience?
8:8 How might this verse impact our understanding of the spiritual discipline of fasting?
8:9 I understand how one person’s liberty can be another person’s stumbling block, but what about someone’s stumbling block becoming an impediment to the exercise of another person’s liberty?
8:10 In other words, don’t let people of week conscious see you engaging in adiaphorous activities?
8:11 How long shall weak believers be permitted to remain weak? Are not all believers called to grow and mature from a weak faith to a strong faith?
8:12 I would like to ask Paul what to do when people of weak faith wound my conscious by judging others when they should not be judged.
8:13 But the issue was not eating meat, rather food sacrificed to idols.
8:7-13  What is more pastoral when it comes to Bible study and preaching, to dumb things down for those whose conscious is weak, or to help people grow in faith and understanding by asking tough questions, employing recent scholarship,  and suggesting other  interpretations of Scripture they may not even be familiar with?

1:21 Who went to Capernaum? Where were they before they went to Capernaum? What do you know about Capernaum?
1:22 When was the last time you were astounded by someone’s teaching?  What does it mean to teach with authority? I’m glad I am not a scribe.
1:23 How convenient!
1:24 What is the irony here?
1:25 Why would Jesus rebuke this truth speaking spirit, even if it was an unclean spirit?
1:27 Indeed, what is this? What and where are today’s unclean spirits?
1:28 When was the last time you associated the word “fame” with Jesus?

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 on facebook.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 25, 2015, the Third 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.

3:1 What was the “word of the Lord” before the incarnation and how did it come to people? How many times in the average person’s life does the word of the Lord come to them?
3:2 What do you know about Nineveh and what would be a modern equivalent? What made Nineveh at that time great or is great only a reference to its size?
3:3 How large would a city have to be to take three days to walk across it?  Is this perhaps hyperbole?
3:4 What is so special about forty days?
3:5 So ritual without real repentance is OK? Did the people believe God or Jonah? What is the symboli meaning of sackcloth and is there any symbolic equivalent today?
3:10 This verse must be a Process Theologian’s favorite. If God is God, God must be free and powerful enough to change the divine mind.

62:5 Who or what else might your soul wait for in silence?  What does it mean to “wait in silence”?  What do you know about contemplative prayer?
62:6 Are rock, salvation and fortress merely poetic synonyms or does each noun offer a unique nuance?
62:7 Are deliverance and honor related? In the previous verse God was a rock. In tis verse God is a mighty rock.
62:8 What times might we be tempted not to trust in God?  How does one pour out one’s heart before God? How is God a refuge? How do you deal, if at all, with “Selah”?
62:9 What is the difference between a breath and a delusion? Who are of low estate and who are of high estate?
62:10 Why would anyone put confidence in extortion?  It is OK if riches increase as long as you do not set your heart on them.  How does this verse counteract the prosperity gospel? Why is the Psalmist even mention this?
62:11What is the meaning of “once” and how is it related to “twice.”
62:11-12 Is God’s steadfast love the source of God’s power?
62:12 This sounds like works righteousness.

7:29 What is “the appointed time” being referred to?  How does any time grow short?   What does it mean for those who have wives to be as though they had none?
7:30 What does it mean to buy as though one  had no possessions?
7:31 What is the present form of the world? How does it pass away?  Are Plato and/or C. S. Lewis any help here?

1:14 Is “after” a chronos or a kairos reference? From did Jesus come? What is “the good news of God”?
1:15 What time is fulfilled? What does Jesus mean “the kingdom of God has come near”? How has it come near?  Is the good news of God the news that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near or something else?
1:16, 19 It sounds like Jesus had a thing for brothers.  I wonder why.
1:17 What did Jesus mean by “follow me”?
1:18, 20 It sounds like Mark has a thing for “immediately”.
1:20 Why would Jesus call James and John but not their father or the hired men?

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. Please like us on facebook.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Prayer for use on or near the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

I was looking for a prayer related to the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. (April 19, 2015) that I could include in this coming Sunday's Prayers of the People and did not easily find anything, so I composed my own. I borrowed language and images from some of his more famous quotes as well a prayer of his in the PC(USA) Book of Common Worship. Feel free to use it and/or adapt is but please give me credit in writing or verbally if you do so.

God of peace and reconciliation,
we give thanks for the life, ministry and witness
of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Help us as a nation, as a church, and as individuals
to advance and enact his dream
of a nation where all people will not be judged by the color of their skin,
but by the content of their character.
Help us seize this time, this year, this day,
to do what is right,
and finally learn to live together as brothers and sisters,
so that we will not perish together as fools,
but make this old world a new world,
a world where your love, justice, and truth prevail. Amen.


© 2015 John Edward Harris

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 18, 2015, the Second 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 over reliance 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.

3:1-10 Will you use all twenty verses or just the first ten? I will use just the first ten this year.
3:1 What does it mean that “the voice of the Lord was rare in those days”?  What does the voice of the Lord sound like? Is the voice of the Lord rare today?
3:2 What does Eli’s failing eyesight have to do with the story?
3:3 What is the lamp of God? What does the ark of God represent? What do you know about the spiritual discipline of incubation?  Have you ever slept in the sanctuary of a church?
3:4 Why does the Lord call Samuel’s name twice? Who else is called with their name being used twice? Where have we heard “Here I am” before?
3:5 Maybe the problem was that Eli had not called him.
3:6 Why does Eli refer to Samuel as “my son”?
3:7 How can God be calling a person by name if that person does not know God or the word of God has not yet been revealed to that person? What does it mean to know the Lord? What does it mean for the word of the Lord to be revealed?
3:8 Is there any symbolism behind the fact that God called Samuel three times?
3:9 How often do we not listen when the Lord is speaking?
3:10 Note that the Lord did not call but rather “stood” there?  Was this a vision or was the Lord physically present?
3:11 What makes your ears tingle? Do your ears ever tingle while you are in a service of common worship?
3:12 But we have not heard  (in this reading) what was spoken.
3:13 What does this say to parents whose children are not churched?
3:14 So sacrifices and offerings have only limited effect?
3:15 How many people do you think might have experienced a spiritual vision but are afraid to talk about it with anyone, even their pastor?
3:16 Samuel still responds to Eli the same way he responded to God. How many times have we heard “Here I am”? Why am I thinking of Dan Schutte?
3:17 How many people hide spiritual matters from their Pasto or Spiritual Director?
3:18 Who is quoted, Samuel or Eli?
3:19 What does it mean for the Lord to be with someone? Is the Lord with you? Whose words, Samuel’s or God’s?  How does one earn the trustworthiness of others?
3:20 What is the difference between a trustworthy and an untrustworthy prophet?

139:1 How does the Lord search us?  What does it mean to be known by the Lord?
139:2 How far away?
139:3 What is the meaning of “path”?
139:4 How can God know what we are going to say before we ourselves know?
139:5 What does it mean to be hemmed in by God?
139:6 What was inscribed on the Temple at the Oracle of Delphi?
139:13 What about in-vitro fertilization?
139:14 Can the Human body, or the human eye, still be used to argue for intelligent design?  What would Darwin say about this verse? What would an oncologist say?
139:15 Was the psalmist woven in the depths of the earth or knitted in his or her mother’s womb?
139:16 What is unformed substance? Is this book available for kindle or the nook?
139:17 How much do thought’s weigh? How can thoughts be added up?
139:18 Do you recall the story of Augustine and sand at the beach?

6:12 Just because I have the right to do something does not mean I should do it.
6:13 What is the definition of fornication? Did it mean anything different in Paul’s day than it does today?  How do we responsibly deal with this verse when many young adults are postponing marriage until they are in their late 20’s or even early 30’s?
6:14 How did we go from food to fornication to resurrection?
6:15 Is Paul suggesting that fornication and prostitution are one and the same?
6:16 I wonder if Paul is thinking about cultic/temple/pagan prostitution of just run of the mill prostitution.
6:17 How does one become united  to the Lord?
6:12-18 Why is Paul singling out fornication? Perhaps Paul doth protest too much.
6:19-20 I think these verses have been used to speak out against the abuse as well as the use of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, meat, and who knows what else.

1:43 What happened the day before this? Please note: Jesus found Philip.  Philip did not find Jesus.  I think I will market a new bumper sticker saying “Jesus Found Me”.
1:44 What do you know about Bethsaida? I wonder if Philip knew Andrew and Peter.
1:45 Maybe I will market a bumper sticker that reads “Philip Found Me.” Who are “we”?  I would not be expecting to read “son of Joseph here”?  Why not son of Mary or The Virgin Mary?
1:46 Is this a rhetorical question?  What was the problem with Nazareth? Is not “come and see” the quintessential invitation?  I prefer it to “Are you saved?”
1:47 How could Jesus know this? Compare this to John 1:29 and 1:36. At this point I would be expecting to read a lot more about Nathaniel than we are given in this Gospel.
1:48 I think Psalm 139:16 would have been a better answer. Was there only one fig tree in Bethsaida?
1:49 And Jesus did not even ask Nathaniel who people said he (Jesus) was! Does this qualify as a confession of faith?
1:50 Nathaniel will see greater things than what?
1:51 Was this ever fulfilled or is Nathaniel still waiting to see this spectacular thing? Why would angels of God be both ascending and descending upon the Son of Man? Is this the first occurrence of “Son of Man” imagery and language in this Gospel?

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.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 11, 2015, the Baptism of the Lord (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.

1:1 There are several ways the verb can be translated.  Is it “when God created” or “when God began to create” or something else altogether?  What difference does it make?  Take a close look at the user notes in one or two study Bibles, or better yet, the gleanings and notes in The Torah.  Why is this passage paired with Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism?
1:2 What is the Hebrew word for “wind” and how else can the word be translated?
1:3 What, if any, is the significance of light being the first thing created?
1:4 What if God saw that the light was not good? How did God separate the light from the darkness?
1:5 Can there be day without night, or night without day?
1:1-5 How does one preach/teach this passage in a post Copernican and postmodern world, especially considering there is at least one other Biblical (and different) account of creation?

29:1 Who are the heavenly beings?
29:2 What is the name of the LORD? What is holy splendor?
29:3 What does the voice of the LORD sound like?
29:11 How can the LORD, revealed in the storm, bless people with peace, when storms are anything but peaceful?
29:3-11 How can one teach/preach using storm god imagery while recognizing that storm god imagery is not the only imagery applied to the LORD?  Sleeping under a small tarp in the wilderness during a nighttime thunder and lightning storm and hiking on a high wilderness ridge during a daytime thunder and lightning storm has greatly influenced how I read this passage.  What are your experiences of storms and how do those experiences influence how you understand this passage?

19:1 What do you know about Apollos?  Why does Paul mention him? Where is Ephesus? Was Paul surprised to find some disciples or was he expecting to find some disciples?
19:2 How could someone be a disciple and never have heard about the Holy Spirit? Why would Paul be asking this question?
19:3 Were these disciples actually baptized by John? If one was baptized by John and later became a disciple of Jesus, would they have to be baptized in the name of Jesus?
19:4 How did John’s baptism differ from baptism in the name of Jesus?
19:5-6 Did Paul baptize them with water or simply lay his hands on them?  What is the difference between being baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus” and being baptized “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”?  What does it mean to speak in tongues?  What does it mean to prophesy?
19:7 “About” seems to be a relatively general term while “twelve” seems to be very specific and perhaps points to the twelve tribes of Israel and “the twelve” disciples of Jesus.

1:4 I much prefer the descriptive phrase “John the baptizer” rather than the more usual “John the Baptist.”   At least Mark agrees with Acts regarding a description of John’s baptism.
1:5 “All the people of Jerusalem” seems to be hyperbole.
1:6 Where does this imagery come from and what does it point to?  Might locusts refer to something other than bugs?
1:7 As I have asked in a previous rumination, what is so special about the thong of a sandal?
1:8 Might this be some literary foreshadowing, a reading developments back into the text?
1:9 When were those days?
1:10 What do the heavens being torn apart look like?  Is there a difference between the Spirit “descending like a dove” and “descending as a dove”?  Did anyone other than Jesus see these things?
1:11 Did anyone other than Jesus hear this voice? What did the voice sound like? Where and when will we read these or similar words again?

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.