Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 5, 2015, the Fourteenth 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.

5:1 All the tribes, or representatives of all the tribes?  Why Hebron?
5:2 Could someone be putting words into their mouths?
5:3 Is this the only instance of a covenant not involving God, or does making a covenant btween people before God count as involving God?
5:4 According to the US Constitution, David would have been five years too young to be President of the United States.
5:5 Why did David firt rule from Hebron and then later move to Jerusalem?
5:9 what was the condition and status of Jerusalem before David took up residence there?
5:10 Did David become more powerful because the God was with him or did people think God was with him because David was becoming more powerful?

48:1 Where is the city of our God? What is God’s holy mountain?
48:2 What and where is Zaphon? Who is the great king?
48:3 Is there a difference between a citadel and a fortress?
48:4 What kings and what alliance are being referred to?
48:5 What does “her” refer to? Could this verse be alluding to the siege of Tiglath-Pileser?
48:6 I would appreciate some women commenting on the simile.
48:7 Were ships of Tarshish ever shattered?
48:8 The United States has never really had a religious center or religious capital. What about other countries?
48:9 Do you ever ponder? Do you ever meditate in the sanctuary?
48:10 Another slight toward left-handedness?
48:11 Compared to Jerusalem are all other habitation mere villages?
48:12 How many towers were around Zion?
48:13 What is the difference between a rampart and a citadel?
48:14 I would have expected “defender” rather than “guide”.

12:2 This must be one of the stranger and more bizarre verses in the New Testament.  Have you ever had an out of the body experience?  How many heavens are there? Could this autobiographical?
12:3 Are you losing track of what Paul knows and does not know?
12:4 How does Paul know this?
12:5 Why would Paul boast about someone like he has just described?
12:6 Has Paul just tooted his own horn?
12:7 What surprisingly great revelations is he referring to? What do you make of this thorn?  Why did Paul think this thorn was a messenger of Satan?
12:8 Only three times? Did Paul not have faith that it would be taken away?
12:9 So Paul will not boast about his greatness but rather his weakness. I think he I still boasting. Might he also be seeking pity?
12:10. Poor Paul. He asking for a pity party?

6:1 Jesus left where? Where was his hometown?
6:2 When was the last time anyone was astounded by your teaching?  How would YOU answer the questions asked in this verse?
6:3 You mean Jesus was not an only child?  That his brothers but not his sisters are named is an example of the patriarchy of the times.
6:4 What prophets might Jesus have been referring to?
6:5 As if laying your hands on a few people and healing them is something minor.
6:6 Whose lack of faith?
6:7 Why two by two?
6:8-9 Why these instructions?  How could they be expected to accomplish their mission without any provisions or a building and/or sanctuary? Was Jesus sending them out to be beggers?
6:11 Enacting this verse can be quite cathartic. Believe me, I know!
6:12 Was this preaching any different than the preaching of John the Baptizer?
6:13 Why do Presbyterians not do more anointing with oil? Why do Presbyterians generally not drive out demons?

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.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 28, 2015, the Thirteenth 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.

1:1 Why Ziklag and why two days?
1:17 What does “intoned” mean?
1:18 I envision an Indiana Jones sequel entitled “Cataloging the Book of Jashar”.
1:19 Note that in the NRSV verses 19-27 are formatted as poetry, not prose. What does “high places” refer to?
1:20 Why not in Gath and Ashkelon?
1:21 Where is Gilboa?
1:22 Why did Jonathan have a bow when Saul had a sword?
1:23 Where else do we find eagle and lion imagery?
1:24 Who are the daughters of Zion?
1:25 Note the refrain of 1:19. Is David lamenting and praising Jonathan more than Saul?
1:26 What does David me when he says “passing the love of women.”?
1:27 How many times have we now heard the refrain “How the mighty have fallen”?  Why is it repeated?

130:1 Where are the depths and how deep are they?
130:2 How do we deal with Psalms that anthropomorphize God?
130:3 Does God mark, or not mark, iniquities?
130:4 Keep in mind that this “forgiveness” proceeds the ministry of Jesus.
130:5-6 What does it mean to “wait for the LORD”?  I am inclined to think of contemplative prayer.
130:7 This psalm already introduced forgiveness in 130:4.  Now it introduces love and redemption.  To me this sounds like New Testament Christian theology.
130:8 What wee Israel’s iniquities?

8:7 What generous undertaking would that be?
8:8 In other words, I do not have the power to command you, but I can embarrass you.
8:9 Let’s pour on the guilt.  Is this Paul’s idea of a Stewardship sermon?
8:10-11 Is Paul reminding the Corinthians of a previous but unfulfilled financial pledge?
8:13-14 This is beginning to sound like a sermon to the 1% about helping the 99%.
8:15 Some inequality is ok, but not extreme wealth in the midst of extreme poverty? Where is this written?

5:21 When had Jesus crossed before? The other side of what?
5:22 Why would Jairus fall at the feet of Jesus?
5:23 What is so special about the laying on of hands?  Why do Presbyterians not usually associate prayer for healing with the laying on of hands when it is so biblical?
5:24 When does a crowd become large?
5:25-34 Why does this account interrupt the story?
5:25 Is there anything special about “twelve years”?
5:26 It seems medical care for the poor has not progressed much.
5:27 What had she heard?  Why did she touch his cloak?
5:28 What would lead the women to think and believe this?
5:29 What do you make of “immediately”?
5:30 What might power going forth from oneself feel like?
5:34 Is this not an after the fact proclamation?
5:35 As I was saying … back to the main story.
5:36 Are the words “Do not fear, only believe” meant for Jairus or for someone else?
5:37 An example of the inner three being given an inside track. Why are we told who John’s brother was?
5:38 The people are in mourning. Why do westerners, especially we Presbyterians, not mourn like this?
5:39 What is the difference between death and sleep?  I hate the euphemism putting pets “to sleep” and prefer the verb “euthanize”.
5:40 Weeping and wailing turn to laughter but for all the wrong reasons.
5:41 Why take her by the hand?  Why might the gospel preserve the original Aramaic?
5:42 When was the last time you, or anyone you know, were overcome with amazement?
5:43 Why would Jesus order that “no one should know this”?  Know what?

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

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 21, 2015, the Twelfth 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.

17:1a, 4-11, 19-23 These optional verses provide good background but do they add anything theologically? Including them makes for a very long reading.
17:1a How many armies did the Philistines have?
17:4 How tall is six cubits and a span?
17:5 How much does five thousand shekels of bronze way?
17:6 What were the dates of The Bronze Age?
17:7 Did the shield bearer carry more than the shield? Where was the ring bearer? (Sorry, wrong story.)
17:8 Was Goliath just taunting or did armies actually settle things by just two engaging in combat?
17:9 Does this sound reasonable?
17:10 Is this any more than trash talk and boasting?
17:11 Was Saul a wimp?
17:19 Who are “they”? Where is the valley of Elah?
17:20 Why was David taking provisions to the army? Why was David not serving in the army? What might “the war cry” have sounded like?
17:21 To quote the Admiral Josh Painter character played by former Senator Fred Thompson in the movie The Hunt For Red October, “This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.
17:22 He did this just as the battle was about to start?
17:23 Apparently Goliath issued his taunts more than once.
17:32 What is the relationship between David and Saul at this point?  Why does David refer to himself in the second person?
17:33 Might this be typical advice the older Pastor, perhaps even the “Head of Staff” or “Senior Pastor” might give to a young Pastor or Associate Pastor going up against entrenched interests of an older generation?
17:34-35 Lions, (but no tigers), and bears, Oh my!
17:36 Is the reference to “this uncircumcised Philistine” a racial slur or just trash talk before the big battle?
17:37 While David makes it sound in verses 34-36 that he deserved all the credit for defeating lions and bears, he now gives credit to God.  In this regard, you may want to take another look at last week’s Psalm.
17:38 What is the irony that Saul clothes David with his (Saul’s) armor?
17:39 Is this really a comment about armor or a veiled comment about political reality?
17:40 Is there any symbolism in David choosing “five” smooth stones?  You may want to take a look at Eugene Peterson’s book Five Smooth Stones.
17:41 David had no shield-bearer, nor did he need one since he had no shield. Is this an example of a swift and agile lightly armed guerrilla taking on a slow infantryman burdened by his gear?
17:42 Déjà vu. Where have we heard this before?
17:43 Whose gods?
17:44 Is this a real threat or just more trash talking?
17:45 Look again at last week’s Psalm.
17:46 David expands upon the Philistine’s threat.
17:47 What might this verse say about the military doctrine of “Shock and Awe”?
17:48 Do you think the Philistine was running to meet David?
17:49 Since David ends up felling this Philistine with one smooth stone, why did David pick put five smooth stones in his bag?

17:57 Who was Abner. Who held the head of the Philistine, Abner or David?
17:58 Why does Saul want to know?
18:1 Why was Jonathan even present?
18:2 Why might Saul not have let David return to Jesse?
18:3 What were the details of the covenant?
18:4 What does this symbolize?
18:5 What risk was Saul taking in doing this?
18:10 What is the meaning of “an evil spirit from God”?
18:11 What other explanation for Saul’s behavior might there be other than appealing to an evil spirit from God?
18:12 Is this the answer to my question above?
18:13 Why might Saul have made David a commander?
18:14 Do you feel like the Lord is with you?
18:15 Who do you stand in awe of?
18:16 Note that both Israel and Judah are mentioned.

9:9 Why does this verse not fit the circumstances of the First Reading?
9:10 While the previous verse may not fir the circumstances of the First Reading, I think this verse does.
9:11 What are the LORD’s deeds?
9:12 Who avenges blood and what does that mean?
9:13 What does it mean for the LORD to be gracious?
9:14 What does it mean to recount praises?
9:15 Can you think of any nation caught in the very trap it set for others?
9:16 Is the LORD known only in the execution of judgement?
9:17 What, and where, is Shoel?
9:18 Will the needy sometimes be forgotten?
9:19 Is this a request or a demand?
9:20 Good advice, even, or especially, for Americans.

133:1 Does this “alternative” offer the antithesis to the war imagery of both the First Reading and the Alternate First Reading?
133:2 I love this sensual imagery but cannot imagine Presbyterians ever using so much oil to anoint that it run down a man’s face and unto his beard.
133:3 What is the dew of Hermon? Did the LORD ordain a blessing on Herman or Sion or both?

6:1 Who are “we”? Who is “him”?
6:2 Is this a quote from Scripture? If so, where from?
6:3 What accusations is Paul defending his ministry against?
6:4-5 Poor Paul!
6:6-10 Did anyone ever argue that Paul was humble?
6:11 What does it mean to have a heart wide open?
6:12 Ouch! I think the Corinthians were just insulted.
6:13 Perhaps they were just insulted again.

4:35 What day? Who are “them”? Let us go across what?
4:36 What does the comment “just as he was” mean?  What does it add to the text and its meaning? I wonder who were in the other boats.
4:37 I understand this can really happen to small boats on the Sea of Galilee.
4:38 How could Jesus know they were perishing if he was sleeping through the storm?  Even though this is Mark and not John, is there more than one level of meaning here?
4:39 What point is being made?
4:40 Again, is there more than one level of meaning here?
4:41 When was the last time you were filled with great awe?  Is their question rhetorical?

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, June 8, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, June 14, 2015, the Eleventh 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.

15:34 Is the anything significant about Ramah or Gibeah?
15:35 Who is “he”, the LORD or Samuel?  Was the sorrow caused by having made Saul, rather than someone else king, or simply making anyone a king over Israel?
16:1 What is a horn and why would God want Samuel to fill one with oil?
16:2 Why would Saul kill Samuel? So the LORD instructs and helps Samuel construct a ruse?
16:3 What do we know about Jesse?
16:4 Why did the elders of Bethlehem tremble when they saw Samuel?
16:5 Was Jesse one of the elders?  Were his sons? In this context, what does it mean to be sanctified? Why sacrifice in Bethlehem? Why not Bethel or Shechem?
16:6 Why did Eliab look the part?
16:6-7  Things are not always as they seem.  In both ecclesiastical and secular settings, the person who most looks the part is not always the person God has chosen.  Nevertheless, they are still the person chosen, hired, elected or called because they look the part.  In this case, however, not so! Lesson learned?
16:8 After he screwed up with Eliab, how did Samuel know God had not picked Aninidab?
16:10 Should we associate any symbolic significance to the number seven?
16:11 What if there had not been an eight son?
16:12 What are the various alternate translations of this verse?
16:13 Would the spirit of the LORD not have come upon David if Samuel had not anointed him? Note that David is not named until after he is anointed?

20:1 To whom is the Psalmist writing?  Does the reference to God’s name serving as protection suggest that God’s name was understood by some as having magical properties? Why the God of Jacob and not the God of Abraham, or Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
20:2 What sort help and support might be imagined? What is the sanctuary?
20:3 What is the difference between a burnt offering and a sacrifice?
20:4 What if the heart’s desire and plans are not according to God’s will? See 1 Samuel 16:7.
20:5 Who are “we”? I wonder what these banners looked like.  I doubt if they looked like the liturgical banners some churches display.
20:6  Who is the LORD’s anointed? What does God ever do with the left hand, if anything?
20:7 Let this verse be a warning to those advocating for increased spending on defense and who claim that a nation’s security is directly related to the size of its armed forces.
20:8 Who are brought to their knees and fall?
20:9 Why did the King need saved? Who is “us”?

5:6 Why must we be away from the Lord while at home in the body?  Can modern Christians read this without help from Descartes?  How can we hear it as first Century Christians would have heard it?
5:7 Must faith be set against sight? What about the phrase “I will believe it when I see it.”?
5:8 Does this sentiment fly in the face of incarnational theology?
5:9 How do we please Lord?
5:10 Does this suggest a work’s righteousness?
5:11 What is the fear of the Lord and how does one know it? Are you familiar with Rudolf Otto’s “Idea of the Holy” and the mysterium tremendum et fascinans?
5:12 “Again”? What is this verse about?
5:13 What is Paul’s logic?
5:14-15 Does “die for all” lead to a universalism? What does Paul mean “all died”?
5:16 What is a worldly point of view?
5:17 Even though I agree with it, this is a pretty bold statement.  Does it logically flow from what precedes it? Might this be Paul’s equivalent of the “born from above” or “born anew”  of John’s Gospel?

4:26-27 I love the kingdom sayings (parables), even though I do not fully understand them—sort of like the person who does not know how seeds that were scattered take root and grow. Does the type of seed matter or make any difference?
4:28 Does the soil really do this by itself?
4:29 This sounds as though reaping is a good, not a grim, undertaking.
4:30 Is this a rhetorical question?
4:31 Not just any seed (see Mark 4:26), but a mustard seed.
4:30-32 So, don’t judge a book by its cover, or a seed by its size, or a son of Jesse by his age (see 1 Samuel 16:7 and 16:11)
4:33 I wonder what ever happened to these similar parables, how many were remembered and preserved and how many went in one ear and out the other and were forgotten? What does Mark mean by  “the word”?  How able are we to hear the word?
4:34 So why did the disciples often appear not to get it if Jesus explained the parables to them? How do those to whom we preach or teach affect the way we teach or preach?

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