Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, September 6, 2015, the Twenty-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.

22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 This Reading sounds like a collection of fortune cookie inserts.
22:1 What is the history and meaning of your name?  What name is above every other name?  What is “favor”?
22:2 Is this ALL the rich and poor have in common?
22:8 Let all those running for President this election cycle beware. While this seems true, it seems to take time for justice to work itself out.
22:9 How are the generous blessed. Are we called to chare only bread?
22:22 How are the poor often robbed? Is it alright to crush the afflicted if they are not at the gate?
22:22-23 This reads like a passage for the 99% and a nation obsessed with wealth over justice for the poor and oppressed.

125:1 How do you define trust? If a person had enough faith, could they move even Mount Zion?
125:2 How do the mountains surround Jerusalem? What is it about being surrounded by mountains that is good news?
125:3 What is a scepter and what does it symbolize?
125:4-5a Is this a theology of reward and punishment? Is there a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here?
125:5b What would peace being upon Israel look like today?

21:1 What “acts of favoritism” are being referred to?
21:2-4 Have you ever witnessed any such thing? Do many congregations still consciously or unconsciously show such favoritism? I thought this went away with the phase out of rented pews.
21:5-7 Here is some more Scripture with good news for the 99% and a word of judgment for the 1%.
21:8 Why is this law referred to as “the royal law”?
21:9-10 This sounds like Paul.
(21:11 This verse seems to me to get it backwards.
21:12 What is “law of liberty”?)
21:14 I am hearing refrain from last Sunday. Can faith save YOU?
21:15-16 Does James distinguish between showing compassion for other Christians and non-Christians?
21:17 Faith, without works, might be dead.  But what are works without faith?

7:24 Who set out from where?  What do you know about Tyre?  Why did Jesus not want anyone to know he was in the house? Escaping notice does not seem to be the Church’s problem today.
7:25 How do post-modern, scientifically informed people of faith handle passages like this that speak of “unclean spirits”? Hd this woman not heard about Jesus before?
7:26 What difference does it make that she was a Gentile?  Of Syrophoenician origin?
7:27 How do you react to the fact that Jesus said this? Was Jesus quoting something?
7:28 Let’s hope crumbs is all the dogs eat while they are under the children’s table.
7:29 Why was her response rewarded?
7:30 How could Jesus heal someone without that person even being present for laying on of hands?
7:31 What do you know of Sidon abd the region of the Decapolis? Do these geographical references really matter?
7:32 What sort of impediment do you imagine?
7:33 Why in private?  Why put fingers in ears and touch tongues instead of laying on hands?
7:34 What language is “Ephphatha”?  Where else in Scripture do we hear a world like this?
7:35 Note Mark’s reliance on “immediately” as in this verse and 7:25
7:36 What do you know about “the Messianic secret”? Who did Jesus order not to tell?
7:37 When was the last time you or members of the congregation you are associated with were astounded? Why does this Gospel have people talking about Jesus healing the deaf and mute but not the possessed?

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.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 30, 2015, the Twenty-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 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.

2:8 Regarding “beloved”, see James 1:19. Who leaps upon the mountains and bounds over the hills?
2:9 Time for a stag party?  Whose wall? Is this stag a peeping Tom?
2:10 Come away where?
2:11 What is so special about the springtime?
2:12 Whose land?
2:13 Look for “fragrance” in Psalm 45:8. I think we have a refrain at the end of this verse.

45:1 What is a goodly theme?  Why the king?   Sometimes it is easier to speak than write. See James 1:26 for more about tongues.
45:2 Who is speaking to the king?
45:6 The Psalmist was addressing the king but is now addressing God. What is the significance and symbolism of the royal scepter?
45:7 After addressing God, it seems the Psalmist is again addressing the king. What is the oil of gladness?
45:8 Do you ecall the fragrance of Song of Solomon 2:13? If you wear a robe when you lead worship, is it fragrant?
45:9 What is a lady of honor? What is gold of Ophir?

1:17 I am beginning to appreciate Luther wanting to omit James from the canon. I winder where James got the “Father of lights” language,
1:18 Who gave us birth? What is the word of truth?
1:19 Does the use of “beloved” in the NRSV justify pairing this reading with the First Reading? See Song of Solomon 2:8.
1:20 Do you recall any words about anger appearing the lectionary the past few weeks? Does righteous indignation not produce righteousness?
1:21 How do you understand the reference to “the implanted word”?
1:22 While we can “hear” but never “do”, can we “do” without, in some sense, first, or at the same time, “hearing”?
1:23 What are people who look at themselves in a mirror like?
1:24 Is this true in your experience?
1:25 How does “the perfect law” function like a mirror?
1:26 Does this verse invite a comparison of religion to spirituality?
1:27 Is it possible to keep oneself unstained by the world without withdrawing from the world?

7:1 If they came from Jerusalem, where did they come to? What is the difference between a Pharisee and a scribe?
7:2 What does it mean for something to be defiled?
7:3-4 In the NRSV, these two verses are in parenthesis.  Why?
7:5 Was this an open ended question or one designed to trip up Jesus?
7:6 Was Jesus over reacting? Does this tie into James 1:23-26
7:7 Is any worship ever in vain?    Are not all doctrines nothing but human precepts?
7:8 Which commandment?
7:5-11 These verses could raise an interesting dialectic between our understandings of and reliance on scripture and tradition.  While Protestants might point to the Roman Catholic reliance on tradition as something alien to Protestantism, as I protestant, I readily confess that Protestants often appeal to their tradition but a tradition that is not canonized and often not written down.
7:14 What is the difference between listening and understanding?
7:15 A young child once asked me if it were a sin to poop?  I did not appeal to this text when I answered “no.”
7:21-22 What is the difference between intentions and actions?  Another interesting dialect might be a comparison between ontological and teleological ethics.  Is everything in the list comparable to murder?
7:23 Juxtapose this verse with 7:15. If this is the case, can anyone be undefiled?

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


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.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 16, 2015, the Twentieth 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.

2:10 Having taught a undergraduate level Psychology/Philosophy course on Death and Dying, I hate euphemisms for dying and death, even Biblical ones.  As Christians, we are called, and equipped, to look death in the face and call it by name.
2:11 Do you think there might have been a little rounding up or down here?
2:12 To whom can Solomon give credit for the firmly established kingdom he inherited?
3:3 What does it mean to Love the LORD?  What were the statutes of David?  Note the plurality “high places”.  Where, and what were, these high places? Why do Protestanets generally not use incense in worship?
3:4 What was so special about Gibeon? What is a burnt offering? Why might Solomon have offered so many of them?
3:5 If you want to know more about biblical dreams and dreaming, read Morton Kelsey and John Sanford. Has the LORD ever appeared to you in a dream?
3:6 Is this genuine thanks or just a piece of public relations?
3:7 how old was Solomon when he experienced this dream? What does Solomon mean when he says that he does not know how to go out or come in?
3:8 This seems to say more about the people than about the LORD or Solomon.
3:9 Wasn’t the sin of Adam and Eve that they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?  What separates Solomon’s request from their action?
3:10 Was pleasing the LORD perhaps Solomon’s intent?
3:11 How might this inform our prayers?
3:12 I am reminded of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion in the Wizard of Oz.  The Great Oz did not give then what they did not already have.  Solomon, in making his request, had already demonstrated that he possessed a wise and discerning mind.  I also think Socrates would have approved.
3:13 God gives Solomon riches and honor. Could some reverse psychology, or rather “theochology” have been behind Solomon’s request.
3:14 It seems Solomon must earn long life.

111:1 Alleluia.  But could dis even fulfill good, holy, instructional, jovial, kaleidoscopic, language? Note that this psalm is an acrostic and therefore the acrostic forms somewhat limits the word choice available to the psalmist.
111:2 Can you list, in alphabetical order, or course, the works of the LORD?
111:3 It seems God’s work reflects God’s attributes.
111:4 Is this less true in a secular world?
111:5 What is the meaning of “fear”?
111:6 What is the heritage of the nations?
111:7 Must the Psalmist anthropomorphize God?
111:8 What are to be performed?
111:9 Is the name of the LORD so awesome and Holy that we cannot even attempt to pronounce it?
111:10 Consider again 111:5. What does it mean to fear the LORD? If the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, what is wisdom’s end?  Those who practice “fear of the LORD” or those who practice “wisdom” have a good understanding?

5:15 Apparently wisdom is the theme of the day.  Consider again 1 Kings 3:12. How do the wise and the unwise live differently? 
5:16 Are our days, our age and time, evil?
5:17 Is foolishness the opposite of, or the absence of, wisdom?  Is understanding the will of the Lord the same as wisdom?
5:18 Is it ok to get drunk with something other than wine?  How is being filled with the Holy Spirit like being drunk with wine?
5:19 What are the differences among psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?  Is this just a literary device?
5:20 How can we give thanks “at all times”?

6:51 How many of Jesus’ “I am” sayings have we read in the Fourth Gospel before now?  What is the difference between living bread and au bon pain or le pain quotidian?  What other bread came down from heaven?
6:52 The million dollar question! Are Christians any better than the Jews as we wrestle with what Jesus meant?
6:53 How did Jesus segue from just bread to bread and blood?  How shall we read this in light of the fact that there is no Last Supper in John’s Gospel? Rather than offering us a last supper, this Gospel offers us Eucharistic imagery and theology.
6:54 Not “will” have eternal life but “have” eternal life.  Nevertheless, they will not be raised up until the last day.
6:55 Thank God they are not false food and false drink. What would false drink and false food look and taste like?
6:57 Why “living Father” and not just Father?
6:58 What bread did our ancestors eat and then die? What does it mean to live forever? 
6:51-58 Is it even possible to read these verses without reading them through the lenses of a sacramental and Eucharistic hermeneutic?  How might we understand them differently if we approached them with a tabula rasa heuristics?  I am inclined to read them as mystical, almost Gnostic verses filled with multivalent meaning.  This is perhaps the author of the Fourth Gospel at his or her best.

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