Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, October 4, 2015, the Twenty-Seventh 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 This is a very long verse and sounds similar to “once upon a time”?  What do you know about the land of Uz?  What does it mean that Job “feared God”?
2:1 How many heavenly beings are there?  What is the meaning of the name “Satan”?
2:2 Would not an omniscient God not have to ask this question?  Do I hear an echo of Genesis chapter 3 verse 9?  Did Satan prefer the earth to heaven?
2:3 Why did the LORD bring up the topic of Job?  Since Satan had just been on the earth, is this a put down of Satan, God saying to Satan “Job is better than you”?
2:4 What is the meaning of “skin for skin”?
2:5 What does it mean to touch bone and flesh?
2:6 Is this going to be a test of Job’s integrity or Satan’s power?  Is God testing, even tempting, Satan?
2:7 Is there a double meaning to the phrase “Satan went out from the presence of the LORD”?
2:8 Some days, anyone of us may feel like Job. Why was Job sitting among the ashes?
2:9 Was Job’s wife also tempting him?
2:10 Job is, above all, a man of clear logic.  Job may not have sinned with his lips, but what about with his heart or mind? Could Job curse God and live?

26:1 This indeed sounds like something Job might have said.
26:2 What about lead me not into temptation? Did this Psalmist have a martyr complex?
26:3 Is claiming to walk in faithfulness an example of religious/spiritual arrogance?
26:4 Could Jesus have said this?
26:5 Would Jesus have said this?
26:6 This Psalmist is beginning to sound not only arrogant but self-righteous.
26:7 What are God’s wondrous deeds?
26:8 Can we truly say this when God is omnipresent?  This seems to reflect worship of a domesticated God confined to the Temple rather than a wild and primitive wandering God sometimes abiding in a tent, sometimes a cloud, and sometimes a column of fire.
26:9 How might “the day of the Lord” inform our understanding of this verse?
26:10 What are evil devices?
26:11 Is the Psalmist pleading his case before God’s bench?
26:12 What does “level ground” suggest or represent? What is “the great congregation”.

1:1 “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."   Sorry, wrong story.  What were the many and various ways God spoke by the prophets?
1:2 What does the author mean by “last days”?  Why the plural “worlds”?
1:3 What is the difference between a reflection and an imprint?  What is his powerful word?  Does “purification for sins” presume any particular understanding of the atonement?
1:4 What name did he inherit and from whom did he inherit it?
2:5 What is the coming world? Read this in light 1:2.
2:6-8 What is the source of this saying?
2:7 How are humans crowned with glory and honor?
2:8 Are all things really subjected to humans? Will all things someday be subjected to humans?
2:9 Where do we see Jesus today? Is death suffering, of did Jesus suffer in a way that no human has suffered and died?
2:10 Who are God’s many children?  What is perfection? Note the plural “sufferings”.
2:11 We are family.
2:12 Where in the Gospels does Jesus say this?

10:2 How many Pharisees, two, twenty, two hundred?  Were the Pharisees seeking to “test” Jesus as God tested Job and the Psalmist?  What could Jesus know about a man having a wife?
10:3 What did Moses, or what did God command you?
10:4 So much for family values.
10:5 Is this the only commandment due to our hardness of heart?
10:6 Which creation account does this presuppose?
10:7 Does a woman not also leave her parents?
10:8 What is the couple do not enjoy or engage in sexual intercourse?
10:9 What about conjoined twins?
10:10 In whose house?  Where the disciples also seeking to test Jesus?
10:11 What about a wife who divorces her husband?
10:12 The question is answered. Did Moses say anything about a wife divorcing her husband?
10:11-13 Have Biblical literalists arguing against same sex marriage ignore the fact that Jesus said nothing about same sex marriage but rather said this about heterosexual marriage and divorce?
10:13 Ouch.  This sounds ugly in light of reported sexual abuse of young boys by clergy and football coaches.  I would prefer “laying on of hands” rather than “touch”.
10:14 How can the kingdom of God belong to little children?  Can we grow too big or too old for God’s kingdom? What does this say about removing or excusing children from worship for “children’s church”?
10:15 I think a whole sermon could be preached based on this single verse.
10:16 Who do we bless and how do we bless them?

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, September 20, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, September 27, 2015, the Twenty-Sixth 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.

7:1 Who is the king and what is he king of?  What is the relationship between Haman and Esther?
7:2 On the second day of what? Can you think of any other passage in Scripture where a king offers half his kingdom?
7:3 Who are Esther’s people and why does she ask for her life and the life of her people?
7:4 Can you think of any other story in the Jewish Scriptures about someone being sold?
7:5 How could the king not know about this?
7:6 Imagine the scene!
7:9 Does it matter that Harbona was a eunuch?  How could Harbona know what was going on when the King did not know?
7:10 The height of irony.
9:20 Why did Mordecai record these things?  Why did he send letters?  I think it would be a find of great historical significance if one of these letters were ever discovered.
9:21-22 The feast on these days commemorating all these events is called what?

124:1 Must the LORD be on any one’s side?
124:1-2 This sounds like a call and response. What enemies attacked?
124:3 Thus, the victory belongs to the LORD.
124:4-5 Is this a reference to the Exodus?
124:6 Would the Psalmist still be praising the LORD if some or most of Israel had been given up as prey?
124:7 What is a fowler?
124:8 This is not the confession of a national security state.

5:13 Is this an admonition?  Shall the suffering only pray?  How many congregations on Sunday morning really sound cheerful?
5:14 How many PC(USA) Teaching and Rulings Elders do you know who anoint with oil when they pray for healing?
5:15 Is this a reference to faith healing?  What is the relation, if any, between faith and healing?
5:16 Why do we not practice mutual confession? How is the prayer of the righteous powerful and effective?  What about the prayer of the unrighteous?
5:17-18 What is the point, that we should pray it doesn’t rain? Can prayer affect the weather?
5:19-20 How do we wander from the truth? How do we bring truth wanderers back into the fold?

9:38 What do you think of the situation John describes?  What is your take on “demons”?
9:39 What do you think of Jesus’ advice?
9:40 Is the enemy of my enemy my friend?
9:41 What reward?
9:42  What is a stumbling block?  Of the sixteen occurrences of “stumbling block” in the NRSV, consider especially 1 Cor. 1:23.  Who are “these little ones”?
9:43-47 How do children and others who understand Scripture literally understand these verses?
9:48 Why do many of our contemporary images of hell include flames but not worms?
9:49 What does it mean to be salted with fire?
9:50 How does this verse follow from the verse that precedes it.

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, September 13, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, September 20, 2015, the Twenty-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.

31:10-31 Is this an example of a sexist Lectionary, not necessarily because the reading itself is sexist, but because there is no “capable husband” text to balance it? How do we hear this now that the Supreme Court has legalized same sex marriage?
31:10 On the other hand, comparing a woman to a physical item could be seen as sexist, suggesting that a capable wife is a possession, mere “arm candy”, like a “trophy wife”, more precious than jewels.
31:13 What about professional, non-domestic work?
31:15 Does the mention of “servant-girls” suggest this is a text for the more well to do?
31:16 So women could buy and own property?
31:18 Is there a double meaning here?
31:20 I wonder if her husband does this as well?
31:21 Is crimson clothing warmer than other colors of clothing?
31:22 What do you know about purple colored clothing? What does purple colored clothing signifiy?
31:23 What is the significance of “the city gate”?
31:24 So women could engage in their own business?
31:25 What does “laughing at the time to come” mean?
31:26 In other words, this woman does not keep silent.
31:28 How would a wife who is childless, perhaps not by choice, here this verse?
31:29 Is the Psalmist addressing someone specifically or talking to the idealized “capable wife”?
31:30 What does it mean to “fear the LORD”?
31:30 Might this have been a feminist  sentiment in its day?

1:1 Where do scoffers sit?
1:2 What does it mean to meditate on the Law of the LORD?
1:3 To borrow a phrase once going around facebook, following the law of the LORD bears fruits, not nuts. How are the law of the LORD and  stream of water alike?
1:4 What is chaff? What process is being alluded to here?
1:5 the wicked will not be judged?
1:6 Is thee a difference between the LORD watching over the way of the righteous and watching over the righteous?  Note that it is not the wicked who perish but the way of the wicked that will perish.

3:13 Socrates, Plato and Aristotle might agree. How does wisdom beget gentleness?
3:14 what is the relation between wisdom and truth? Does the wise person harbor envy and selfishness?
3:15 There seems to be at least two types of wisdom, earthly and spiritual.
3:16 Could we read this as a commentary on our culture?
3:17 Wisdom from above sounds preferable over earthly wisdom.
3:18 In or out of context, this is one of my favorite verses and one we should all keep in mind.  Why does the United States have a Defense Department (formerly the War Department) but has never had a Peace Department.  We have Military Academies but no nationally funded Peace Academy. Go figure!
4:1 Is this a naïve understanding of conflict?  How much of our conflict is based on psychological projection?
4:2 Were Christians actually committing murder? Are not murder and coveting against the moral law?
4:2-3 What is the difference between not asking and asking wrongly?
4:3 This is sounding like an indictment of the consumerist economy and marketing that appeals to selfish emotions.  How would this verse play out in a prosperity gospel?
4:7 I can do without devil language.
4:8 This makes sense to me and based on personal experience seems somewhat true.

9:30 Who are “they” and where was “there”?  Why did he not want anyone to know about his or their travels?
9:31 Do you think that when Jesus teaches his disciples he is teaching the church, and that when he speaks to the crowd, he is speaking to the wider culture?  Why might Jesus have used “Son of Man” imagery? Where does this imagery come from? Was Jesus applying this “son of man” imagery to himself?
9:32 How often to people in the pews or in the classroom not understand the preacher/teacher but are afraid to ask a question?
9:33 What do you know about Capernaum?  Whose house might Jesus have been in?  Do you think the Disciple’s argued often? Might “the way” be multivalent?
9:34 Is Jesus not the greatest?  Oh, right, he is the least! Have you ever know members of the church to argue about who among them is the greatest?
9:35 Why did Jesus sit them down?
9:36 Where did the little child come from? How old do you think this child might have been?
9:37 So welcoming a little child and holding him or her in my arms is akin to welcoming Jesus and thus God?  I can live with that. What does this have to do with being least of all and a servant of all, however?

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, September 7, 2015

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, September 13, 2015, the Twenty-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.

1:20 This passage seems to personify wisdom in the feminine, so why not use the original Greek “Sophia” rather than the English translation “Wisdom”?  This verse also seems to display the Hebraic poetic device of repetition.
1:21 This and the previous verses reminds me of the classical Greek philosophers who taught in the agora or walked around the city teaching as they walked.
1:22 Does this verse contrast the simple with the wise?  Are the simple the same as scoffers and fools?
1:23 Who is speaking?  Can all thoughts be expressed in words, or must some thoughts be expressed through non-lingual representative arts?  Does DaVinci’s Last Supper or Dali’s Last Supper say something about the Last Supper that words cannot express?
1:24 Does Wisdom stand and the door and knock?
1:25 How does Wisdom off counsel and reproof?
1:26-27 I think Wisdom is being personified in too human of a way.
1:28 Does Wisdom hide?
1:29 Is knowledge the same as the fear of the LORD?  Is knowledge the same as wisdom?
1:30 Whom is being described?
1:31 We reap what we sow?
1:32 Scary advice as the United States moves into a presidential election cycle.
1:33 How does listening to Wisdom help one not dread disaster?

19:1 The Astronomer’s Bible/Gospel!  Did you know that the Vatican has both an observatory and an astronomer?  I would love to have Neil deGrasse Tyson reflect on this verse. What is a firmament? What is the difference between the heavens and the firmament or is this just a Hebraic poetic device?
19:2. What is the relationship between speech and knowledge?
19:3-4 How does a voice go out through all the earth if it is not heard?
19:4b-6 How do you interpret and apply a passage that assumes a pre-Copernican three-tiered universe in a post-Copernican world?
19:7 How did we transition from the heavens to the law? Is there some assumed natural/divine law relationship? Watch for all the synonyms of law in this and the following verses. You may want to juxtapose this verse as it talks about “making wise the simple” with the First Reading.
19:8 What is the relationship between the heart and the eyes?
19:9 What does the Psalmist mean by “fear of the Lord”?
19:10 At the close of the market on Friday, September 4, 2015, gold was selling for $1,121.80/ounce. I think the price of honey as perhaps ten cents an ounce or less.
19:11 How does God’slaw offer both warning and reward?
19:12 We all have our blind spots and sometimes others, including God, know us better than we know ourselves.
19:13 Can anyone really be blameless?
19:14 One of my personal pet peeves is that this verse should not be used as a public prayer by a preacher before the preaching of a sermon, ESPECIALLY after a Prayer of Illumination has already been prayed before the reading of Scripture.

3:1. Using PC(USA) nomenclature, is James referring to “Teaching” Elders in particular, Sunday School Teachers, or teachers of faith in general?
3:2 How true!   Who, but Jesus, is perfect?
3:3 What is the equivalent of a verbal bridle?
3:4 Ahhhhhh, sometimes the will of the pilot is overcome by the wind, lack of piloting skill, poor equipment, etc.  A rudder on a sailboat is of no use if there is no wind.
3:5a The tongue not only boasts of great exploits but can take us places we never wished to go. 
3:5b-6a I doubt the author had in minds the tongues of fire associated with Pentecost.
3:6b But the same member that curses can also bless.  The same tongue that expounds hate can also verbalize love.
3:7 I think this is not true. This is hyperbole.
3:8 What do you think, true or not true?
3:9-10 See my rumination for verse 6b.
3:11 Not at the same time, but perhaps alternately.
3:12 True, true, but what about reverse osmosis and distillation?
3:1-12 In the age of social media and the internet, is the tongue really the problem, or is it the mind that not only tells the tongue what to say but the fingers to type and text?

8:27 Was Caesarea a village and Philippi a village Like Minneapolis / St. Paul, or were there several villages in the region of Caesarea Philippi?  Who do people in our culture say that Jesus is?
8:28 Why would people have thought Jesus was any of these?
8:29 This is the question Jesus asks each and every one of us.  Who do you say Jesus is?  Does your answer depend on who is asking the question? Did Peter answer correctly? You may want to compare Peter’s answer here with his answer in Matthew and Luke.
8:30 Why the order not to tell anyone about him?  What do you know about “the Messianic Secret”? Have we heard this before in this Gospel? Did we hear Jesus say something like this this last week in Mark 7:36?
8:31 Note the verb “began”., suggesting an ongoing process. John the Baptist,  Elijah, one of the prophets, Messiah, the Son of Man?  So many identities, titles, and names!  Why did Jesus refer to himself as the Son of Man, or was he referring to someone else?
8:32 Why did Peter take Jesus aside and why did he rebuke Jesus?
8:33 Why did Jesus rebuke Peter and call Peter “Satan”?
8:34 What does it mean to take up one’s cross?  What is your cross? Had Peter earlier failed to deny himself and take up his cross when he rebuked Jesus?
8:35 This reads like a conundrum.
8:36 Does this matter at all to a generation that once embracing YOLO?
8:37 Is there any answer to this question? Is this the Faustian bargain?
8:38 I am not ashamed of Jesus or the Gospel but I often ashamed of what some have said and done in his name and in the name of the Gospel. How was Jesus’ generation adulterous and sinful? How do you think Jesus’ generation compares to our own?

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