Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

ISAIAH 11:1-10
11:1 Note that in the NRSV this text is formatted as poetry, not prose.  Does this affect how we interpret it?  This verse is a good example of parallelism as a feature of Hebrew Poetry. Who was Jesse?
11:2 Does this verse imply that the spirit of the LORD is the spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, and knowledge and fear of the LORD?  Is this spirit the same as The Holy Spirit?
11:3 What is “the fear of the LORD”?  Is justice both blind and deaf?
11:4 Does this verse express a prejudice toward/for the poor and meek? Note the power of voice/word.
11:5 Does “righteousness” equal “faithfulness”?  Are “loins” the same as the “waist”?
11:6-7 Here are images of the “peaceable kingdom”. What do you know about Edward Hicks?  What is a fatling?
11:8 Is there any significance to “asps” and “adders”?  Is this an allusion to any particular serpent or serpents?
11:9 Who will not hurt? What is “knowledge of the LORD”? Does “earth” refer to people or the planet and all its inhabitants, human and otherwise?
11:10 What does it mean for anyone to “stand as a signal”? Do “people” and “nations” suggest a universalism?

PSALM 72:1-7, 18-19
Why do you think this Psalm, out of all of them, was chosen to pair with the Isaiah Reading?
72:1 Which king?  Which son?
72:2 Echoes of Isaiah 11:4?
72:3 Does this passage have any implication regarding mountain top removal mining?
72:4 More preference for the poor, needy and oppressed.  Who is the “He”?  Does this passage have any implication regarding the systemic weakening of our social safety net?
72:5 How can a king live so long?  Is this mere poetic hyperbole?
72:6 What is being asked for here?
72:7 When would the moon be no more?  What are we missing in 72:8-17?
72:18 What are the “wondrous things” the LORD does?
72:19 How can the LORD’s name be blessed when the LORD’s name is not spoken? Why the double Amen?

ROMANS 15:4-13
15:4 When were “the former days”?  What writings are included in and meant by “the Scriptures”?
15:5 What does living in harmony look like?  Is this another lectionary echo of Isaiah 11:6-9?
15:6 I hear echoes of Psalm 72:19.
15:7 How did Christ welcome us?
15:8 Was Christ “a servant” of only the circumcised or also uncircumcised as well? What promise was given to the patriarchs?  What about the matriarchs?
15:9-12 What is being quoted in this verse and in the following verses?
15:12 Is this a quote of Isaiah 11:1?
15:13 A verse often used liturgically as a blessing/benediction.  Is it Trinitarian?

MATTHEW 2:1-12
3:1 When were “those days”?  I prefer to refer to “John the Baptizer” rather than “John the Baptist”.  What does it mean that John “appeared”?  What is the symbolic meaning of “wilderness”?
3:2 Note that John proclaims “the kingdom of heaven has come near”, not will or is coming near.  What is “the kingdom of heaven” and what does it mean that it “has come near”?
3:3 Where in Isaiah would you find this quote?  Did John’s appearing in the wilderness lend itself to referring to this passage from Isaiah, or did this passage from Isaiah suggest, after the fact, that the wilderness is where John had to appear?  Must “locusts” refer to insects?
3:4 What is the significance of John’s wardrobe?
3:5 It sounds like John’s preaching station was a popular destination.  
3:6 How do we reconcile John’s act of baptizing with later Christian understandings of the sacrament?
3:7 Are you surprised that “many Pharisees and Sadducees” were coming to John for baptism? Could John’s invective perhaps be more a reflection of Matthew’s perspective than John’s?
3:8 Good advice, regardless of who is being addressed.  What fruit is worthy of repentance?
3:9 How do we reconcile this verse with Romans 15:8?  I recall that both John and Jesus had some interesting things to say about stones.
3:10 Note that “ax” is singular while “trees” is plural.  What is the metaphorical fire? When the tree is cut down at the root, will a shoot come out from the remaining stump? (See Isaiah 11:1-10)
3:8-10 Is John still talking to only the Pharisees and Sadducees, or also to the people of Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region along the Jordan?
3:11 What is the difference between water on the one hand and the Holy Spirit and fire on the other hand?  In light of this verse, what reasons can you think of to explain why Christians still baptize with water?
3:12 What is a winnowing fork and what is it used for?  What is a threshing floor?  What is chaff? Does the imagery of this verse in any way follow the imagery of 3:8 and 3:10?  Does the imagery of 3:8 and 3:10 foreshadow this verse?
3:11-12 while in 3:2 we learn that “the kingdom of heaven has come near,” in this verse we shift to the present and future tense:  one is coming, he will baptize, he will clear, he will gather, he will burn. Why the shift in tense? 

I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my blog posts have also appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and Appalachian Trials.

No comments: