Monday, March 21, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, March 27, 2016, the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Day) (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.

PREFACE: There are many service as well as scripture options for this Day. Some congregations may have already observed a traditional Easter Vigil starting on Saturday but concluding on Sunday. Others may schedule a sunrise or early morning service in addition to the regularly scheduled Sunday service. Some congregations may observe a service in the evening in addition to a morning service. My ruminations will focus primarily on the readings associated with the traditional Sunday service, which still offers options for the Readings.

10:34 Do we hear this verse any differently in light of Pope Francis?  To whom is Peter speaking?  How shall we hear this in light of some of the rhetoric emanating from the current presidential primary campaigns?
10:35 Is “nation” a geographical, ethnic, or religious designation? What does it mean to fear God?
10:36 What is the message, or more specifically the content of the message, Peter is referring to?
10:37 Why might it be important to reference John?
10:38 I think we might generally know how Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism, but how and when was he anointed with power?  Must we buy into a personified “devil” to find truth in this verse?
10:39 Who are “we”?  What does it mean to be a witness?
10:40 Please note: Jesus did not rise from the dead.  God raised him from the dead. What is the nuanced meaning of “appear”? Could God not have allowed Jesus to appear?
10:41 Does Peter mean to suggest that only those who ate and drank with the risen Christ are witnesses?
10:42 Who commanded, God or Christ?  What is the difference between preaching and testifying?
10:43 Is “All” hyperbole?
Acts or Isaiah? I usually use the Acts passage rather than the Isaiah passage because Acts specifically refers to Jesus’ resurrection. Using the Acts Reading as the First Reading also leaves room to also use the 1 Corinthians Reading.

65:17 Do Christians consider this prophecy to have been fully fulfilled? Note that heavens is plural while earth is singular. What do we remember and what do we forget? Out of the death and destruction of the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile, their 9/11, arose a hope of resurrection and new life. Don’t forget the old but don’t be bound by it.
65:18 Why is the passing of the old and the coming of the new something to be glad about? Not the present participle “creating”.
65:19 God rejoices? But weeping and cries of distress are still heard in Jerusalem.
65:20 So everyone who dies a natural death before they turn a hundred in accursed?
65:21 Shall they build houses and plant vineyards on occupied territory?
65:22 What are the days of a tree like?
65:23 What shall we say when an Israeli child or a Palestinian child dies from violence?
65:24 So God is proactive?
65:25 Oh, if only this last phrase were true today.

118:1 The LORD is good, but the Lord’s followers often are not.
118:2 This is beginning to sound like a rubric for a responsive reading.
118:14 Are strength and might mere synonyms? What is their relation to salvation?
118:15 If we were to ever hear a glad song in worship, it ought to be on Easter!
118:15b-16 What is so special about the right hand of the LORD?  Do these verses display a bias against left handers?
118:17 Not dying is different from resurrection. What are the deeds of the LORD?
118:18Is this a singular or a collective “me”?  I wonder about the nature of this punishment.
118:19 Where are the gates of righteousness located and how many of them are there?
118:20 Is the gate of the LORD one of the gates of righteousness or a different gate?
118:21 What was the answer?  At least this psalmist apparently experienced prayer being answered.
118:22 What is a cornerstone and what purpose does it serve.  Do not confuse a corner stone with a keystone.
118:23 What is the LORD’s doing?  Who are “we”?
118:24 I thought the LORD made all days.

This passage is proclamation, not exclamation.
15:19 This sounds more like the end of an argument rather than the beginning. So, are we to be pitied or not?
15:20 Note again that Christ has been raised from the dead.  He did not rise from the dead.
15:21-22 Is this logical?
15:23 Who belong to Christ?
15:24 Is it possible to celebrate Easter without a little eschatology? Is this an indictment of secular and political power?
15:25 Who are his enemies.  What does it mean to put an enemy under one’s foot?
15:26 Did Christ defeat death when he was raised, or is this something yet to happen?

See ruminations above.

20:1 Note that only Mary Magdalene is mentioned.  We are not given a reason for her coming to the tomb.
20:2 Did Jesus not love Peter and the other disciples, but on this one?  In light of verse 1, who is the “we” Mary is talking about? Who did she mean by “They”?
23:3 Why is the other disciple not named?
20:4 Is there any deeper meaning here? How could they be running together and not arrive at the same time?
20:5 Why do you think the disciple did not go into the tomb?
20:6 Peter may have been slower, but was apparently, what, braver? Had the stone been removed so that Jesus could come out of the tomb or so Peter and the other disciple could go into the tomb?
20:7 Does this detail matter?
20:8 Believed what?
20:9 Note that here it is “rise from the dead” and not “be raised from the dead”.  How could they not understand the scripture? What scripture did they not understand?
20:10 Well, this is ant-climactic!
20:11 Peter and the other disciple were typical men, abandoning the woman!  Why had Mary not left with the two disciples? I find it interesting that we are told the other disciple “bent down to look in” (20:5) and that Mary “bent over to look into the tomb”. Do we need to bend down in some way to see into the truth of the empty tomb?
20:12 Why had the two disciples not seen the two angels?  Have you ever seen an angel?  What is your angelology?  Do angels ever wear anything but white?
20:13 Did the angels really need to ask the question?
20:14 Remember, this story is being told from the perspective of after the fact. Is there any significance to the fact that Mary did not see Jesus until after she turned?
20:15 Why does Jesus ask the same question asked by the angels? Was Jesus’ question a rhetorical one?  How cold Mary mistake the risen Jesus for the gardener? Could she not see his feet?
20:16 What does it mean when someone call you by name?
20:17 Would Mary be allowed to hold on to Jesus if he had ascended?  Why all this ascension talk? What is the meaning of “brothers”?
20:18 Thus Mary Magdalene is the first evangelist.  End of story!  Well, not quite.
John or Luke? John is my favorite gospel and since there is no liturgical year dedicated to John, I usually prefer to use the John Reading rather than the Luke Reading.

24:1 What is early dawn? Note that in the John Reading, Mary was the only woman at the tomb, but in the Luke Reading there are several. Why the discrepancy and does it make a difference?
24:2 Similar to the question I asked regarding John 20:6, I wonder if the stone had been rolled away so that Jesus could come out of the tomb or so the women could go in?
24:3 No habeas corpus.
24:4 Who were then men in dazzling white? Could this be an allusion to Moses and Elijah? How many witnesses were required by Jewish law?
24:5 The women were awed that the tomb was empty but terrified when confronted by the two men in dazzling white. Does Easter still awe and terrify us? Note that here “he has risen” not “he has been raised”.
24:6 Anamnesis?
24:7 When and where did Jesus say this? Note the “Son of Man” language. Why “again”?
24:8 Anamnesis!
24:9 Who were “the rest”?
24:10 Why are only three of the women named? How many other women were there? Why are the recipients of this news called apostles rather than disciples?
24:11 Do most people in our post-modern post-Christian culture hear the Easter story as an idle tale?
24:12 Peter must not have had his foot in his mouth in order to run to the tomb. Did he have to see for himself because the women’s testimony was not powerful enough?  What happened, exactly, that amazed Peter?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

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