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”?

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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 3, 2016, the Second 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.

5:27 Who brought whom from where?  What council?  Who was the high priest and what is the high priest’s function?
5:28 What in the world is the high priest talking about?  Who is the “we” who gave strict orders?  By what authority could they give such orders?
5:29 Why is only Peter named?  Who might be among the other “apostles”?  “We must obey God rather than any human authority” reminds me of one of the one of the Historic Principles of Church Order (see F-3.0101).
5:30 Note that Peter references the God of “our” ancestors. Also note that God raised up Jesus, Jesus did not rise.  Why is the cross often referred to as a tree?
5:31 What is the significance of God’s metaphorical right hand? What is the Greek word translated as “Leader” in the NRSV?
5:32 What “things”? How is the Holy Spirit a witness?  Is there a sense that God gives the Holy Spirit as a reward for obedience?

118:14 Is there any difference between strength and might? How shall we understand the meaning of salvation in a Psalm compared to salvation in a New Testament text ?
118:15 When was the last time you heard a really glad song in worship?
118:15b-16 Is this actually the glad song referenced in 118:15?
118:17 What are the deeds of the LORD and could you recount them?
118:18 Is death the ultimate punishment?  For what was the psalmist punished?  Does this verse presume an angry God of wrath and vengeance?
118:19 Where are what are the gates of righteousness?
118:20 Where is this gate?
118:21 Does the LORD ever not answer?
118:22 What is the difference between a cornerstone and a keystone?  Why would builders reject a stone?
118:23 What is the LORD’s doing?
118:24 I thought the LORD made all days.
118:25 Note the transition from the singular to the plural. What sort of “success” was the psalmist asking for?
118:26 What does it mean to come in the name of the LORD?  Where and when have we heard this before?  Where and when will we hear it again?
118:27 What festal procession?  What are the horns of the altar?
118:28 What is the meaning of “extol” and how does it differ from giving thanks?
118:29 By definition, does not “steadfast love” endure for ever?
118:14-29 Why this Psalm this day?

1:4-8 Please note that this reading is from Revelation, NOT Revelations!  What difference does it make?
1:4 Is there anything special about these seven churches, besides the fact that John wrote to them?  What do you know about letter salutations in Greek and Hebrew cultures?  What are the seven spirits?
1:5 Does this verse presume a blood atonement theory?
1:6 How are we a kingdom?  Are we a kingdom of priests?
1:7 How can those who pierced him see him if they are dead when he comes?
1:8 Is it safe to assume that everyone in a church pew understands the meaning of “I am the Alpha and the Omega”? Compare this verse to verse 4.

20:19 Is the setting our Saturday evening or our Sunday evening?  Why did the disciples fear the Jews. What sort of greeting is “Peace be with you.”?
20:20 Why did Jesus show the disciples his hands and side? Did the disciples not rejoice before they saw his hands and side?
20:21 Why is the “Peace be with you” greeting repeated?
20:22 Why did Jesus breathe on the disciples?  What is the connection between breath and the Holy Spirit?
20:23 Does it make any difference that this is perhaps the latest Gospel when interpreting this verse? What is “The power of the keys”?
20:24 I wonder where Thomas was and why he was not there. Why was Thomas called “the Twin”?
20:25 Do you know anyone who can honestly say “I have seen the Lord”?  Rather than referring to him as “doubting Thomas” I would rather refer to him as “I am not gullible Thomas”!
20:26 Were the doors also locked?
20:27 Do not doubt what?  Believe what?
20:28 Jesus invited Thomas to touch his wounds, but did Thomas actually do so?  Might “My Lord and My God” be an example of an early statement of faith?
20:29 For whom is this verse written?
20:30 I wonder what other signs Jesus may have done that are not written in this book.  I think I feel an historical novel coming on: “The Other Signs of Jesus”!
20:31 This also reads like an early statement of faith. Is this verse talking about life in the here  and now or a future life everlasting?

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.

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.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, March 20, 2016, Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday) (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:
For liturgical churches, this Sunday’s Lectionary Readings offers more Scripture than perhaps any other day other than the Easter Vigil, and far more possibilities for non-liturgical churches than they are used to. If one uses the primary Gospel Reading of Luke 22:14-23:56 there may be little time or need to expound on the reading in a sermon. Therefore I opted to ruminate on the optional and shorter Luke 23:1-49.

19:28 After he had said what?  Why does one always go “up” to Jerusalem?
19:29 Is there anything special we need to know about Bethphage and Bethany?  Which two disciples do you think Jesus sent?
19:30 What village was ahead of them? Are the details about the colt at all significant?
19:31 Was Jesus meaning to refer to himself as “Lord”?
19:32 How did Jesus know that the two disciples would find?
19:33 How many owners were there and was it common practice for a colt to be owned by more than one person?
19:34 The respond just as they wee told.
19:35 What is the meaning and/or purpose of throwing cloaks on the colt?
19:36 Why would people throw their cloaks on the road? This is beginning to look like a political, military, or sports team triumphant victory parade.
19:37 How many disciples were there? What deeds of power had the whole multitude of the disciples seen?
19:38 Where is this saying from?
19:39 Why were there would some Pharisee in the crown and why would they want Jesus to order the disciples to stop?  Stop what?
19:40 When was the last time you heard stones shout out?

118:1 Why do many Psalms begin with “O”?
118:2 This reads like a rubric or call to an antiphonal response.
118:19 Where are, and what are, the gates of righteousness? Who are the righteous?
118:20 We have gone from the plural to the singular.
118:21 How has the psalmist been answered?
118:22 What stone did what builders reject?  What is a chief cornerstone? What is its function? Juxtapose this verse with Luke 19:40.
118:23 What is the Lord’s doing?
118:24 What day did the LORD make?  Did the LORD not make all our days?
118:25 What does it mean to beseech?
118:26 Who comes in the name of the Lord? Do you recall Luke 19: 38?
118:27 Why bind the festal procession with branches?  What are and where are the horns of the altar? Might this and the preceding  verse lead one to think of Luke 19:28-40 as a midrash of Psalm 118?
118:29 This verse and other parts of the Psalm could be used as a responsive Call to Worship. See Psalm 118:1-2.

50:4 What is the tongue of a teacher like? Note that the teacher is taught by God.
50:5 Does The Shema have anything to contribute to our understanding of this verse?
50:6 Who is speaking?  How did this verse become associated with The Passion? Could we read The Passion narratives as a midrash of this passage?
50:7 What is a face like flint?
50:8 Who are the “us” that stand together?
50:9 Will the Lord God declare the prophet guilty?
50:7-9 I sense some sort of self-righteousness here that bothers me.  What about you?

2:5 What mind was in Christ Jesus?
2:6 How much should we focus on “form”.  I am thinking about Plato.  What if Christ had exploited equality with God?
2:7 Emptied himself of what?  Is there a difference between likeness and form?
2:8 Does it matter how Christ died?
2:9 What name is above every name?
2:10 What does the bended knee represent or symbolize?
2:11 Is “Jesus Christ is Lord” a minimalist confession?

23:1 What assembly?
23:2 Why is a religious assembly is making civil accusations?
23:3 What sort of answer is “You say so.”?
23:4 How many chief priests were there? Why does Pilate receive such bad press?
23:5 What does stirring up the people refer to?
23:6 What difference does it make if Jesus is a Galilean?
23:7 Why does jurisdiction matter? Was Pilate passing the buck?
23:8 If Herod had really wanted to see Jesus, what was stopping him? Was Herod seeking to be informed or merely entertained?
23:9 I wonder how long Herod questioned Jesus. Why did Jesus not answer?
23:10 What is the difference between the chief priests and the scribes? Who were they accusing? Why were they so opposed to Jesus?
23:11 Why would Herod put an elegant robe on Jesus?
23:12 What motivated or facilitated the changed relationship between Herod and Pilate?
23:13 Is there any group Pilate did not call together?
23:14 Is there significance to the “any of your charges” language?
23:15 Is Pilate simply covering his backside by referencing Herod?
23:16 Why have Jesus flogged in he had done nothing wrong?
23:17 What happened to verse 17?
23:18 Who was Barabbas?
23:19 Why the parenthesis?
23:20 Why was Pilate so intent in releasing Jesus?
23:21 Is this an example of mob rule?
23:22 Is there any significance to Pilate addressing the crowd three times?
23:23 Since when did a mob trump a Roman official?
23:24 I thought Pilate had already, several times, gave his verdict, a verdict different than this.
23:18-25 What might have happened if Pilate had not given in to the crowd’s sentiment?
23:26 Why make someone else carry Jesus’ cross?
23:27 So not all in the crowd were antagonistic toward Jesus. I wonder who these women were.
23:28 What does it mean to be a daughter of Jerusalem?
23:29-31 Is Jesus quoting from something? Where else might we find these saying?
23:32 I wonder what sort of criminals.
23:33 What is the significance of Jesus being crucified between two criminals?
23:34 Who was Jesus asking forgiveness for? Who was casting lots? What are lots?
23:35 Did not of the crowd other than the leaders scoff?
23:36 How is offering sour wine a form of mocking?
23:37 What is the irony?
23:38 Is this an example of more irony?
23:39 Why would a criminal also being crucified deride Jesus?
23:40-41 I think this is a multivalent statement.
23:42 Why am I thinking of Taize?
23:43 Do not get preoccupied with temporal issues. .
23:44 Is there anything significant or symbolic about three hours of darkness? Was this a miracle? A sign? A metaphor? A solar eclipse?
23:45 What purpose did the temple curtain serve?
23:46 Where have we heard this before?
23:47 What is a centurion? Was this centurion a Jew? A proselytize? A God fearer?
23:48 Why the plural “crowds”? What does beating one’s breast symbolize.
23:49 Who were Jesus’ acquaintances? Would the disciples be considered among his acquaintances? Why are the women who followed him singled out? Why did they all stand at a distance?

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.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, March 13, 2016, the Fifth Sunday in Lent (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.

43:16-17 This appears to be a reference to the Exodus, but must it be?
43:18-19 These are two of my favorite verses, but how do they relate to what has come before and what follows?  What images come to mind when you hear “former things” and “things of old”?  As leaders or members of congregations facing change, how do these verses both challenge and comfort us?  Does “way” in any way point back to the “way in the sea” of 43:16? It seems that God does not totally transform the wilderness, or the desert, but rather provides a way.
43:20 Apparently even the prophet knew that all God’s critters have a place in the choir.  Why do humans so often assume that God’s new heaven and new earth is reserved only for humans and no other living creatures?  If wild animals honor God, why do humans find honoring God so difficult?
43:20-21 Did God not form all people, not just God’s chosen people, for the divine self? 

126:1  When did the LORD restore the fortunes of Zion? How were the people like those who dream?
126:2 When was the last time you heard Presbyterian, or any pews, filled with laughter let alone shouts of joy?
126:3 What “great things” might the Psalmist have had in mind?
126:4 Why does the psalmist ask the LORD to restore fortunes when in 126:1 it was stated the LORD has already restored fortunes? When and how are the watercourses in the Negeb restored? You may want to juxtapose this verse with Isaiah 43:19-20.
126:5-6 How can tears nurture joy?

3:4b To what is Paul referring?
3:5 Paul was a Pharisee?
3:6 How can Paul claim to be blameless under the law?
3:7 What gains? Note that Paul uses the past tense “had”.
3:8 What Greek word does the NRSV translate as “rubbish” and how else might it be translated?
3:9 Is there more than one kind of righteousness?
3:10 What is the power of Christ’s resurrection? What does Paul mean “becoming like him in his death”? How do we become like Christ in his death?
3:11 What did Paul mean by “if somehow”?
3:12 Already obtained what?
3:13 You may want to juxtapose “forgetting what lies behind” with Isaiah 43:19.
3:13-14 What imagery is being employed?

12:1-8 Where do we find ourselves in this story, at the table with Jesus and Lazarus, serving with Martha, anointing Jesus’ feet, complaining about church budget priorities, watching from an open window?
12:1 Is there anything special about the number six, or six days?  What do you know about Bethany?  Where and when have we met Lazarus before?
12:2 Only Lazarus has been named, so who is the plural “they”?  Where and when have we met Martha before?  Who do you think, in addition to Lazarus, was at table with Jesus?
12:3 Where and when have we met Mary before?  How costly was this perfume? What is nard?
12:4 The parenthetical expression shows that was written after written after the fact.
12:5 Adjusting for inflation, what is the current value of three hundred denarii?
12:6 Might this parenthetical expression be redactor overkill? Note that Martha and Mary were doing for others while Judas was doing for himself. Martha and Mary gave for others. Judas gave nothing but his criticism.
12:7 Why would Mary buy this perfume before Jesus died? If she bought it for Jesus’ burial, why is she now, at least six days before his death, using it to anoint his feet?
12:8 How shall we interpret and apply this passage in light of the issue of income inequality in the midst of a presidential campaign?

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.