Monday, February 23, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, March 1, 2015, the Second 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.

17:1 Last week, we encountered Noah and Noahic Covenant.  This week, we encounter Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant.  How do these two covenants inform our understanding of Lent and Easter? Abraham was only ninety-nine year old? Well, at least he was not one hundred years old!
17:2 Of all people, why did God Almighty choose Abraham?
17:3 Why does Abram fall on his face? Why do we no longer fall on our faces when we encounter God Almighty?
17:4 What is the meaning of “nations”?
17:5 Why does God change Abram’s name to Abraham? Note the use of the past tense “I have made you”.
17:6 Will Abraham be exceedingly fruitful or will his descendants be exceedingly fruitful?
17:7 In verse 17:2 God Almighty promises to establish a covenant with Abraham.  In this verse, the promise is extended to Abraham’s offspring.
17:15 Why does God have Abraham change Sarai’s name to Sarah?
17:16 What is the difference between a covenant and a blessing?

22:23 What does the psalmist mean by “fear”? Why does the psalmist refer to offspring of Jacob/Israel rather than Abraham?
22:24 Is the Psalmist the afflicted?
22:25 What is the great congregation? What vows will be paid?
22:26 Why “poor” rather than “hungry” if the issue is their being fed?
22:27 Remember what? Why “families of the nations” rather than just “nations”?
22:29 Is life being contrasted with death? How can the dead bow down?
22:30-31 Is this promise for the church as much as for Abraham and his offspring? How does one proclaim anything to the yet unborn?

4:13 Did only Abraham have faith, or did his descendants also have faith? What came first, the promise or Abraham’s faith?
4:14 This sounds logical.
4:15 Again, this sounds logical. Whose wrath does the law bring?
4:16 What does Paul mean by “the faith of Abraham”?
4:18 Is “hoping against hope” the same as “faith”?
4:19 Is hope or faith ever misplaced?
4:20 This sounds like faith is trust rather than assent to doctrine. Is distrust the opposite of faith? Is distrust the same as doubt?
4:21 God may be able to do what God promised, but does God always do what God is able to do?
4:22 What is Paul quoting?
4:23 How could anything written about Abraham be written for Abraham’s sake alone?
4:24 It seems Paul is now arguing that faith is belief rather than trust. How are belief and trust the same and how are they different?
4:25 Must one believe only that Jesus was raised, or that he died for or trespasses and was raised for our justification?

8:31 Why does Jesus not begin to preach this until Chapter eight? How many people in the pews understand “Son of Man” language? How much time should a preacher spend in a sermon unpacking “Son of Man” language?
8:32 Did Jesus not always speak openly?  Why did Peter rebuke Jesus?
8:33 Why did Jesus look at the disciples rather than looking at Peter when he rebuked Peter? What might be the multi-faceted meaning of “Get behind me Satan”? What are the “divine things” Peter out to be setting his mind on?
8:34 What cross? Is this the first time in Mark that Jesus or anyone else has mentioned a cross?
8:35 I think this is the kernel of wisdom in the husk of this passage. Was Peter seeking to save hi own life or the life of Jesus?
8:36 Is this anything like the Faustian bargain?
8:37 Is this a rhetorical question?
8:38 Who might Jesus have in mind when he refers to those who are ashamed of him? Was this warning only for those in Jesus’ day, or for the readers Mark was writing to and for, or for all generations? I can not recall ever being ashamed of Jesus but I have sometimes been ashamed of what others, including the Church, have done, and are doing, in his name.

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 The Presbyterian Church on facebook

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 22, 2015, the First 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.

9:8 Why does God not address the women?
9:9 This is the first, the Noahic, not the Abrahamic covenant. The Covenant with Abraham came later.
9:10 What are the implications for an ecological ethic? “Every animal of the earth” reminds me of the Native American “All my relations.”
9:11 Apparently God did not know about global climate change.
9:12-13  And the name of this sign Roy G. Biv!
9:16 Does God really need a rainbow to be reminded of the covenant?
9:17 Is the sign of the covenant anything like the sign (and seal) of a sacrament?
9:13-17 The rainbow is not there for us but for God, to remind God. Sacraments are not there for God but for us, to remind us.
9:8-17 It is unfortunate that this passage does not mention the number forty.

25:1 I am used to hearing about the lifting up of the eyes and familiar with the lifting up hands.  I wonder how many instances there are of lifting up of the soul.
25:2 What is more biblical, trusting in God or believing in God? What, in your mind, is the difference between “trust” and “belief”?
25:3 What does it mean to wait for God and in this context who is waiting on God?
24:4-5 How can the LORD “make” us know? How does the LORD “teach”?
25:6 This sounds like the Psalmist is trying to remind a forgetful God.
25:7 I guess it is all right for God to forget some things, like my sins, but not other things, like God’s mercy and steadfast love. Are the “sins of my youth” the same as youthful indiscretions?
25:8-9 What is God’s “way”?
25:10 How many of the LORD are there? Cab this verse be used to defend religious and spiritual  pluralism?

3:18 Christ was “made” alive in the spirit?
3:19 What spirits in what prison? Does this account for the “he descended into hell” phrase in The Apostles’ Creed?
3:20 Was this Second Reading selected in light of the First Reading, or vice versa? I compliment Paul on his theological creativity and seeing in the story of Noah a prefiguration of Christian Baptism.
3:21 Baptism may not remove dirt but what about sin?  Whose good conscience is being referred to?
3:22 What “authorities and powers” might Paul have had in mind?

1:9 In what days? Why was Jesus baptized?
1:10 Who saw what? If you had been there what would you have seen?
1:11 Who heard this voice? Whose voice was this?
1:12 How many times in Mark do we find “immediately”? Why would the Spirit drive Jesus out into the wilderness?
1:13 Why “forty days” and not “forty days and nights”?  How was Jesus tempted by Satan? How shall we understand and interpret this “Satan”? Why does Mark mention that Jesus was with the wild beasts? How did the Angels “wait” on Jesus?
1:14 Why did Jesus not come to Galilee until after John was arrested?  Where was Jesus before he came to Galilee? What is the “good news of God”? For any news to be good one must recognize that things can always be better.
1:15 What time is fulfilled?

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.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 15, 2015, the Transfiguration 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.

2:1-12 How much does this reading influence our understanding of the Transfiguration and inform our interpretation of  Mark 9:2-9?  Can we read Mark 9:29, in part, as Midrash on this reading?
2:1 What is a whirlwind? Is there any significance to the fact that they were on their way from Gilgal?
2:2 What is the significance of Bethel?
2:3 Who are the company of prophets (see 2:5 as well)?  Why did Elisha bid them to keep silent?
2:4 Note the repetition of “stay here” and “as you yourself live” as in 2:2.
2:5 What do you know about Jericho? Note again the pattern of repetition, as in 2:3.
2:6 What do you know about the Jordan? Why this travel narrative? Why this continuous pattern of repetition and parallel structure, 2:2-3/2:4-5/2:6-7?
2:7 Is there anything significant or symbolic about the number fifty?
2:8 What is a mantel?  Is this a Midrash on Moses’ parting of the Red Sea?
2:9 What is a double measure of spirit?  Can prophetic spirit be willed or inherited? I would settle for half of Elijah’s spirit.
2:10 Does Elijah have the power to grant this request or does this power rest with God?
2:11 Why does a chariot of fire and horses of fire appear?  What is their relationship to the whirlwind? Note the appearance of fire in Psalm 50:3.
2:12 What are “the chariots of Israel and its horseman”? Why did Elisha tear his clothes in two?

50:1 Does God not summon from the setting of the sun to its rising?
50:2 What is perfect beauty? How does God “shine”?
50:3 Does this verse alone, with its “fire” and “mighty tempest,”  justify this Psalm being paired with the First Reading?
50:4 Who are God’s people?
50:5 Are we to assume from the First Reading that, at the time, only Elijah was faithful? Who initiated the covenant, God or the people?
50:6 How do the heaven’s declare God’s righteousness? I always ask the question when it appears: how do you deal with the “Selah”?

4:3 Is our gospel veiled?  What sort of veil is Paul talking about? Who are perishing?
4:4 Who, or what, is” the god of this world”? How does this verse illuminate our understanding of the Transfiguration and inform our interpretation of the Gospel Reading?
4:5 Why does Paul even have to write “For we do not proclaim ourselves”?
4:6 Where in Scripture did God say “Let light shine out of darkness”?

9:2 Six days later, after what?  Why does Jesus always seem to take with him Peter, James and John?  What is the meaning of the word “transfigured”?
9:3 Was this in the days before Clorox and/or Oxi-Clean? Have you ever seen anybody dressed in dazzling white?
9:4 Why Elisha and Moses?  What do they represent and/or symbolize?  If you had to pick two people from the Jewish Scriptures to appear with you, whom would you pick? What do you think they were talking about with Jesus?
9:5 Why might Peter have wanted to build three dwellings?
9:6 Note that Peter (singular) did not know what to say, for they (plural) were terrified. Have you ever been terrified?
9:7 What does the cloud represent? Where and when have we heard something like this before?
9:8 What just happened?
9:9 Why would Jesus order Peter, James and John not to tell anyone about what they had just seen?  Why is “Son of Man” used here but not earlier in this account?  Why do Peter, James and John have to wait until after the resurrection to tell people about what they experienced?

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 The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, February 8, 2015, the Fifth 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.

40:21-31 This is one of the longer readings we have seen in a while.  How does the fact that this is not prose affect or influence your interpretation and application?
40:21 Are these merely rhetorical questions? Listen for an echo in 21:28. What are the foundations of the earth?
40:22 Who is “he”?  I am surprised by “the circle” of the earth as I would have expected a flat earth with four corners. Why are humans compared to grasshoppers?
40:23 These images seem to assert God’s sovereignty.
40:24 What are the “they”? What is Isaiah talking about?
40:25 God is now talking. As in 40:21, are these rhetorical questions?
40:26 Now who is speaking? What are the “these”? What is God referring to?
40:27 Is there any other instance in Scripture of anyone speaking these words? What is meant by “way”? What “right” is being referred to and has God really been ignoring it?
40:28 I hear an echo of 40:21.  This sounds like a confession of faith. Does either of the Genesis creation accounts inform this this verse?
40:29 What faitn and powerless might Isaiah have in mind?
40:30-31 This is one of my favorite passages to read as part of a Service of Witness to the Resurrection and that fact probably colors my interpretation of it.

147:1 Why is it that some worshiping communities simply do not like to sing hymns and spiritual songs? How can the church carry on its tradition of musical praise when many public schools no longer offer music education and fewer and fewer people are learning to play the organ?
147:2 Who are the outcasts of Israel? What period in Jewish history does this reflect?
147:3 Are the brokenhearted and wounded the same people as the outcasts of Jerusalem?
147:4 I wonder what God has to say about all the organizations that, for a small fee, will name a star after someone and then register that name. I wonder what names ancient Jews gave to the stars.
147:5 This sounds like a confession of faith as well as an expression of praise. Compare to Isaiah 40:28.
147:6 Note the inversion, lifting up the downtrodden and casting down the wicked, who were presumably on top because of their wickedness.
147:7 See my comments for Psalm 147:1. What is our closest equivalent to the lyre?
147:8 God the cloud coverer and rain preparer.
147:9 Does God give food even to carnivours?
147:10 So God is not a horse racing or track and field fan?
147:11 What is the meaning of “fear”? Do you fear God?
147:20c This is always a good way to end a Psalm and in this case the last/ending line echoes the first/opening line.

9:16 What is the meaning of “if”? I can almost resonate with Paul’s assertion about woe.
9:17 I think Paul’s comment calls for some spiritual and psychological honesty by those who preach.
9:18 How do “compensated” preachers handle this one?
9:19 How did Paul make himself a slave?
9:20 How could Paul make himself  Jew when he was already a Jew?
9:21 Who were outside the law?
9:22 How did Paul become weak?  Can anyone truly be everything to all people? How would Paul have dealt with a non-homogeneous, pluralistic worshipping, spiritual, religious community?
9:23 How did Paul share in the blessings of the gospel?

1:29 Who were “they”? Where did Simon and Andrew live? Why are James and John mentioned?
1:30 So Simon was married? Who was and where was his wife?  Were he and Andrew living with Simon’s in-laws or were Simon’s in-laws and Andrew living with Simon? Who are “they” and who is “him”?
1:31 Who is “He”? What is the significance of her serving?
1:32 Is “all” perhaps hyperbole?  What is the relationship between being sick and being possessed?
1:33 I think “the whole city” is again hyperbole?
1:34 Did Jesus cure many or all? Did he cast out many or all demons? Is his not permitting the demons to speak an example of Mark’s messianic secret?
1:35 So Jesus was a morning person!  Why pray in a deserted place? Was Jesus alone?
1:36 Who were Simon’s companions and why were Simon and his companions hunting for Jesus?
1:37 Is “everyone” another hyperbole? Is Simon referring to physical or spiritual searching?
1:38 What towns neighbored Capernaum?
1:39 What if Jesus had proclaimed the message but not cast out demons? What if he had cast out demons but not proclaimed the message?  Must proclaiming the message and casting out demons go hand in hand? Why is there no mention in this verse of healing the sick (see my comments for Mark 1:32.

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 The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz on facebook.