Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, January 24, 2016, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

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  Is “all” hyperbole? What people gathered?  How many Americans will think of Richard Nixon when they hear this (Or maybe you are too young to remember the Watergate Scandal)?  Geographically, where is the Water Gate?  What does it mean that Ezra was a scribe?  What is the book of the law of Moses?
8:2 Was Ezra a priest, a scribe, or both?   Or were there two people named Ezra?  What about people who could not hear with understanding?  How do we hear or not hear with understanding?  Is there anything special about the first day of the seventh month?
8:3 This was not a twenty minute reading of Scripture!
8:5Why did the people stand up when Ezra opened the book? Does your congregation stand up when scripture is read? Did he open a book or a scroll?
8:6 What does it mean to bless the LORD?  I thought God usually blessed individuals and communities, not the other way around.  What is the meaning of first raising hands and then bowing heads? When is it appropriate to worship with faces to the ground?
8:8 Who was reading, Ezra, or others as well, since it says “they”?  Note that “they” were not only reading but also interpreting.  This is beginning to sound like the reading of Scripture and the exposition of a sermon. Why could the people not understand what was read without interpretation?
8:9 So Ezra was both a priest and a scribe!  Is this a display of civil religion? Who were the Levites, what did they teach, and how and when did they teach it?  Why would people weep when they hear the words of the law?
8:10 Who is speaking? Note the sending of portions to those for whom nothing is prepared. What days are not holy to the Lord?

19:1 Are these spiritual heavens or astronomical heavens?  What is the difference?  What is a firmament? Why am I thinking of images from the Hubble Space Telescope?
19:2 Is there any significance to the day being paired with speech and the night being paired with knowledge?
19:3-4a What is this, a conundrum?
19:4b-6 How can we interpret pre-Copernican poetry in a post-Copernican world?
19:7 Is this verse the reason why the Lectionary pairs this Psalm with the First Reading?
19:7-9 How many synonyms of Law can you identify in these verses?
19:10 If one is familiar only with a tradition of hellfire and damnation preaching; and an image of a vengeful, wrathful, punishing God; how would these verses sound? I find it interesting that honey is the color of gold.
19:11 What is the reward? Is being rewarded the reason Christians in the Reformed Tradition keep the law?
19:12 Is this a rhetorical question?
19:13 Keep jerks away from me and I will not be a jerk?
19:14 Pet Peeve Alert! Why must so many preachers employ this as an exercise in personal piety by praying this verse before preaching?  Does not a more communal Prayer for Illumination, read before the reading of scripture, serve better?

12:12 How can we hear old, tired metaphors in new ways?
12:13 What does it mean to “drink” of one Spirit?  Is Paul already thinking of the Lord’s Supper or does this imagery lead him to his later comments about it?
12:14 Is this what we usually think of when we think of church membership? How is membership in the body of Christ different from membership in secular organizations?
12:15 Do you have any problem thinking of body parts (members) talking? Note that the foot is not excluded by the hand but excludes itself.
12:16 Note that the ear is not excluded by the eye but excludes itself. This and the previous passage is not about the body turning away members but members not thinking they are worthy to be part of the body.
12:17 If the whole body were teaching elders or pastors we would be in deep doo-doo.
12:18 Is Paul talking about the human body, the body of Christ, or both?
12:19-20 How many members does the human body have?
12:21 This is a reversal of 12:15-16. Now Paul is talking about parts excluding other parts.
12:22 What, or who, are your weakest members and how are they indispensable?
12:23 Is Paul still talking about the human body or the body of Christ, or both?
12:24 Is this Paul’s application of Jesus’ classic reversals such as the first becoming last and the least becoming the greatest?
12:25 Can you think of what dissension is like in the human body or is Paul no longer talking about the human body? What might Paul have meant by “dissension”?
12:26 Is this what it is like in your congregation? Perhaps Congress needs to hear this more than Sunday worshipers.
12:27 Didn’t we know this was what Paul was talking about all along?
12:28 Is this meant to be all inclusive list or in any way hierarchical based on the order of those things mentioned? Some are people or positions and others are gifts. Is Paul confusing categories?
12:29-30 Are these rhetorical questions?
12:31 What are the greater gifts (note that it is plural)?

4:14 Was Jesus earlier not filled with the power of the Spirit? Where did Jesus return from?  Note that “a report” is singular, not plural.  I wonder what the report was.
4:15 Had Jesus not taught, or not taught in synagogues, or not taught in their synagogues before this time? Is “praised by everyone”  hyperbole?
4:16 Note that he had been brought up in Nazareth but not necessarily born there.
4:18-19 What if Jesus had been handed a different scroll?  Who is speaking within the context of Isaiah?
4:20-21 Why were the eyes of all fixed on him? Would Jesus not have spoken further if the eyes of all had not been fixed on him? What if people had ignored him after he read and went about their business?
4:21 What did Jesus mean by this?

ADDENDUM

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, Ohio but will be available to supply preach or serve in a part-time of full-time position beginning late February or early March, 2016.

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