Thursday, March 31, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 10, 2016, the Third Sunday of Easter (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.

9:1-6 Note that the first six verses are the Reading while verses 7-20 are an optional addition. I prefer to read all twenty verses as the Reading for worship.
9:1 What does “meanwhile” tell us about how this passage functions in its literary context?  Was Saul only breathing threats and murder or had he already acted?
9:2 What are “letters to the synagogues” and why did Saul want them or need them?  How many synagogues might have been in Damascus at this time?  What do you know about Damascus? How would one “belong to the Way” and why is “Way” capitalized?
9:3 What does a light from heavenly usually symbolize?
9:4 Whose voice did Saul hear?
9:5 What is the meaning of Saul’s question “Who are you, Lord?”
9:6 Why tell him later and not at the present time?
(9:7) Who were travelling with Saul? How could they hear a voice but see no one? Did Saul see anyone?
(9:8) What might Saul’s blindness symbolize?  How might it have been caused?
(9:9) What might the “three days” allude to?  Why would Saul not eat or drink for three days?
(9:10) What else do we know about Ananias?  What is a “vision”?  Where before have we heard “Here I am, Lord”?  Can we read what Paul experienced as a “vison”?
(9:11) What do we know about Straight Street?  How popular of a name was Judas?  Where was Tarsus?  What do you think Saul was praying?
(9:12) Why is Saul’s vision not recounted from Saul’s perspective?  What is the symbolism and significance of laying on of hands as it related to healing?
(9:13) What had Saul done in Jerusalem?
(9:14) Did the chief priests really have the power to bind anyone?  Would Rome have permitted such an action? How would Ananias know what authority the chief priests had given to Saul?
(9:15) What does it mean to be an instrument whom the Lord has chosen?
(9:16) Why must Saul suffer?
9:17 Since when did being filled with the Holy Spirit enter the equation?  Had Jesus told Ananias this or did Ananias come up with this on his own?
9:18 What is the difference between “scales” and “something like scales”?  Does knowing that something physical seemed to fall from Saul’s eyes add or detract from the account?  Who baptized Saul? Was this Paul’s death and resurrection experience?
9:19 What do you think was happening while Saul was with the disciples in Damascus? 
9:20 How soon after his baptism and after regaining his strength is “immediately”?  Is “He is the Son of God” the core, the kernel of, the essence of the Gospel or just Saul’s early proclamation? Why does Saul refer to Jesus as the Son of God rather than the Messiah?
9:1-20 This is not the only Biblical account of Paul’s conversion.  Where else can we read about it and how are all the accounts similar and different?

30:1 Drawn up from what or where?
30:2 Why is “LORD” all uppercase in the NRSV? What does it mean to “cry to God for help”?
30:3 Where or what is Sheol and is it synonymous with the Pit? Why is “Pit” capitalized in the NRSV?
30:4 How can one give thanks to the LORD’s holy name when one is not supposed to pronounce the LORD’s holy name?
30:5 Why must the LORD be angry at all?
30:6 What prosperity?
30:7 How and why does the LORD hide the divine face and why was the Psalmist dismayed?
30:8 What is the meaning of “cried”?
30:9 Is the Psalmist bargaining with the LORD?  Is the Psalmist appealing to God’s logic or pride?
30:10 Must those who supplicate the LORD ask the LORD to hear them, or does the LORD listen to the prayers of all even when not asked to listen?
30:11 Why had the psalmist been mourning? Why do we not dance more (or at all) in worship>
30:12 Why does the Psalmist praise and give thanks? 

5:11 What do voices of angels sound like?  What is the difference between living creatures and elders?  What is a myriad?  Is this hyperbole?
5:12 Note the sevenfold ascription of praise.  Why seven?  When was the last time you heard anyone singing a hymn “with a full” voice, especially in a Presbyterian church?
5:13 Are you surprised that every creature sings?  Apparently, all of God's critters do indeed have a place in the choir!  Why might these creatures offer only a fourfold ascription of praise when the angels and others around the throne offered sevenfold praise?
5:14 Who or what are these four living creatures?  Why am I thinking of the Book of Kells?  Who are the elders?  Why do they fall down when the worship?

21:1 After what things?  Where is the Sea of Tiberias and what do you know about it?
21:2 How many people did Jesus appear before?  Why are the “two others” not named? Does their not being named invite you into the passage? Note that Thomas is present this time.
21:3 Why is it that Simon is usually the first one to always speak? Might his words have more than one meaning? Why would they fish at night?
21:4 Once again, the resurrected Jesus appears but those who knew him do not recognize him.  What gives? Is there any significance to this happening just after daybreak?
21:5 Why might Jesus have addressed those in the boat as “Children”?
21:6 What difference does it make what side of the boat you fish from?
21:7 What disciples didn’t Jesus love?  How did this disciple finally know that the person on the beach was Jesus? Why put on clothes to jump into the sea?
21:8 Were they dragging the net behind the boat because it was too heavy to lift into the boat?
21:9 Where did the fish and bread that was on the fire come from?
21:10 Why add more fish?
21:11 Is there any symbolic significance to the number 153?
21:12 We already had a “Last Supper”.  Is this the “First Breakfast”?
21:13 Why do we not serve little pieces of fish when we celebrate communion?
21:14 And the other two times were?
21:15 More than what? More than fish?
21:16 Where is this questioning heading?
21:17  Why did Peter feel Bad?  Is there any symbolic significance to Jesus asking Peter basically the same question three times?
21:18 What in the world, or in the otherworld, is Jesus talking about?
21:19 Why the parenthesis? How did the Gospel writer know this?
21:1-19 Might we refer to this passage as “Grilling with Jesus” or “Barbecue on the beach”?

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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