Friday, July 29, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 7, 2016, the Nineteenth 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.

1:1 Did Isaiah have only one vision.  What is a vision? Does it matter that Isaiah was the son of Amoz? When were the days of these kings and what were their reigns like?
1:10 Why are the rulers of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah singled out?
1:11 Is this an anti-institutional rant?
1:12 Had the LORD not previously asked for sacrifices?
1:13 This could sound like an indictment of corporate worship, or at least high church liturgical worship with smells and bells.
1:14 The Lord is beginning to sound like a reforming iconoclast.
1:15 What does the mention of stretched out hands refer to? How are the people’s hands full of blood? Does the LORD ever not hear our prayers?
1:16 What sort of washing is envisioned?
1:17 A good progressive call to social and economic justice, especially in the midst of a Presidential campaign!
1:18 What does “argue it out” mean?  Is this a legal reference? Why might sins be the color of scarlet and crimson?
1:19 Where else in Scripture do we find a connection between obedience and a vibrant land?  Is there a similar idea expressed in the Grail Legend?
1:20 Following upon the preceding verse, this almost sounds like a “two ways” proposition.

51:1 How and why does God summon the earth? What does it mean to summon the earth?
51:2 If God is omnipresent, why does God shine forth out of Zion? Can God not shine out of anywhere?
51:3 This sounds like a storm God.  What about the God of sheer silence?
51:4 What does calling to the heavens and to the earth have to do with judgment?
51:5 I thought God made a covenant, not the faithful ones. What was the sacrifice?
51:6 How do the heavens declare God’s righteousness? Can the Hubble Space Telescope help us see this declaration?
51:7 Why does God testify “against” Israel?
51:8 Then why does God rebuke?
51:22 This verse makes God sound like a ravishing lion.
51:23 This verse, as well as 51:8, sound contradictory to the reading from Isaiah.

11:1 This definition sounds antithetical to those who seek to “prove” God’s existence.  I like this definition of faith, but I also like Calvin’s definition of faith as   “a firm and certain knowledge of God's benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit." (Institutes 3.2.7)
11:2 Note that “ancestors” is plural, so who else might Paul have had in mind in addition to Abraham?
11:3 Why “worlds” plural?  How many worlds are there? Which creation account might Paul be alluding to?
11:8 Abraham is established as the archetypal faithful person.  Why is Sarah not mentioned?
11:9 Why was staying in the promised land after he arrived an example of Abraham’s faith?
11:10 What city did Abraham look forward to?
11:11 Sarah is finally mentioned!
11:12 Modern biology would say “from these two people”.
11:13 Who are these?  Are we talking about more than Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob?  Are we all still not strangers and foreigners on the earth?
11:14 Where do Christians find their homeland?
11:15 One should never look back?
11:16 How does this verse influence Christian attitudes to the Nation of Israel and the physical Holy Land? What is the relationship between the “better country” and “the city prepared for them”?

12:32 What was the little flock afraid of?  How little was it? What are YOU afraid of? What is the relationship of “the kingdom” in this verse to the “country” and “city” in Hebrews 11:16?
12:33 How do capitalist American Christians, especially “Prosperity Gospel” Christians, reconcile their economic behavior with this verse?
12:34 Where is YOUR treasure?
12:35 What might be a present day image or metaphor to capture the idea of this verse – perhaps “Have your clothes, shoes, flashlight, and cell phone close at hand”?
12:36 Does the fact that the master was returning from a wedding banquet rather than some other function influence the way we interpret this passage?
12:37 The servers become the served. The master becomes the servant.
12:37-38 How do we deal with “slavery” language with all its racial, cultural, and historic baggage?
12:39 The introduction of a “thief” seems to confuse the metaphor.  Can we drop this verse and still preserve the message?
12:40 What is the historical significance of “Son of Man” imagery and language?  Is the Son of Man coming like a master returning from a wedding banquet or like a thief? Does it make a difference?

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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