Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 15, 2016, the Day of Pentecost (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.

2:1 What was the significance of Pentecost before the events recounted in this reading?  Who was together?  What place were they in? 
2:2 Did they hear the rush of a violent wind or something likened to the sound of a violent wind?  What is the most violent wind you have ever heard? How does a sound fill a place?
2:3 What is a divided tongue?  What is the difference between divided tongues, as of fire and a tongue?  Why is the description in 2:2-3 so imprecise?
2:4 What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  Were they empty of any spirit before this, or did the Holy Spirit replace what was in them, or what?
2:5 What is a devout Jew?
2:6 When was the last time you were bewildered?
2:7 When was the last time you were amazed and astonished?
2:8 What if there had been no one there to hear?
2:9-10 Is there any significance to the countries and places listed?
2:10 What is a proselyte?
2:11 What are God’s deeds of power?
2:12 When was the last time you were perplexed? I wonder how many worshipers leave worship wondering what it all meant.
2:13 What is significant about new wine? Is this verse multivalent?
2:14 Why is Peter usually the first one to speak? Why did Peter not address all the visitors?
2:15 Does no one get drunk before nine o’clock in the morning?  It must be nine 0’clock in the morning somewhere?
2:16 What do we know about Joel?
2:17-21 Is this an example of prophecy fulfilled?  Midrash?  Both? This could perhaps be the longest quote of Hebrew Scriptures in the New Testament.
2:17 What is significant about “daughters”?
2:18 What is significant about “women”?
2:20 What is the Lord’s great and glorious day?
2:21 What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?  What Lord?

11:1 What was the language?
11:2 Who is “they”? Where is Shinar?
11:3 Why are bricks so important?
11:4 What city might this have been?  Was this tower a ziggurat? How is their hubris different from our own?
11:5 Could the Lord not see the tower from heaven?
11:6 So what is the problem? Who was the Lord talking to?
11:7 Who are “us”? Might this be the imperial “we” or “us” as the Queen of England might say? How will confusing human language solve any problems?
11:8 Did the confusing of human language cause the scattering?
11:9 What language is “Babel” and what does the name mean?

104:24 How manifold are the LORD’s works? How often do we marvel at our works rather than the LORD’s works? What does “in wisdom” mean?
104:25 What might the sea represent?
104:26 Where would Thomas Hobbes be without this verse?
104:27 Does this verse suggest that even non-human creatures are aware of the LORD?
104:28 How does this and the proceeding verse inform a Christian environmental ethic?
104:29 What does it mean for God to “hide” the divine face? How can sea creatures return to their dust?
104:30 So it is the LORD’s spirit that creates? How did we move from the sea in 104:25 to the ground?
104:31 We usually are called to rejoice in the LORD. How does the LORD rejoice?
104:32 Are we talking volcanoes here, or is this verse describing the God of the storm?
104:33 I wish more congregants and worshipers would take this verse to heart and really sing out in worship.
104:34 What is the meaning of “meditation”?
104:35b What is the difference between blessing the LORD and praising the LORD?
104:24-34 What makes the Psalm appropriate for Pentecost, the mention of the spirit in 104:30?

8:14 What does it mean to be led by the Spirit of God? What does it feel like? Who are led by the Spirit? Are you led by the Spirit?
8:15 How does the spirit of slavery and the spirit of adoption relate to the Spirit of God?  When do you cry “Abba! Father!”?
8:16 What is the relation of our spirit and the Spirit of God?
8:17 How do we suffer with Christ?

See comments above for the First Reading. If you used the Genesis passage as the First Reading you may want to use the Acts passage rather than the Romans passage as the Second Reading.

14:8 Finally, someone other than Peter speaks! Even, Philip, however, seems to stick his foot in his mouth. How might Orthodox iconography help us here?
14:9 How did Philip not know Jesus? How can people who have not seen Jesus see the Father?
14:10 What is the nature of this belief?
14:11 Note that Jesus says “Believe me” and not “Believe in me”. What is the difference? What works was Jesus referring to?
14:12 What does it mean when Jesus says “Very truly”? What greater works might Jesus have had in mind?
14:13 Whatever we ask in his name?
14:14 Really?
14:15 What commandments?
14:16 Another Advocate?  How many Advocates are there? Why is Advocate capitalized?
14:17 So the Advocate is the spirit of truth? Can anyone see the Spirit? Note the present tense “abides” and the future tense “will be in you”? What is the difference between “abiding” and “in”?
14:25 So?
14:26 So the Advocate is the same as the Spirit of truth is the same as the Holy Spirit? How will this Spirit teach? Does the Book of Hebrews claim Jesus as an Advocate?
14:27 This is one of my favorite verses. What is the nature of the peace? This sentence of Scripture is often incorporated into The Service of Witness to the Resurrection.

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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