Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 8, 2016, the Seventh 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.

16:16 Who are the “we”?  What makes a place of prayer different from any other place? What is a spirit of divination?
16:17 Why was she following Paul and those with him? Why would she proclaim such a thing?
16:18 Why might Paul have been annoyed, after all, she was speaking the truth and seemed to be giving them free publicity? Note that what this girl was saying was not soothsaying but truth telling.  What was Paul’s motivation for casting out the demon?
16:19 And the moral of the story is “do not threaten someone’s livelihood”?
16:20 Who are the magistrates? How were Paul and Silas disturbing the city?
16:21What customs might Paul and Silas have been advocating and why were these customs not lawful.
16:22 Why would the crowd join in attacking them?
16:23 What is a flogging?
16:24 How many were so incarcerated?
16:25 Is there any significance or symbolism associated with midnight? When did Silas enter the scene? Who was he? What do we know about him?
16:26 Is this a description of a mere natural phenomena or something more? I can imagine chains coming loose from the wall, but stocks coming loose?
16:27 Why was the jailor about to kill himself?
16:28 Why would Paul announce their presence?
16:29 Why did the jailer fall down trembling before them?
16:30 Might there be a multi-valent meaning here?
16:31 How can a household be save based on one person’s faith?
16:32 Is speaking the word of the Lord the same as preaching a sermon.
16:33 Do you think the jailor washed their wounds using the same source of water used for the baptism?
16:34 Even though Paul and Silas were eating a meal in the jailor’s house rather than the jail, were they still prisoners?

97:1 Does it make any sense to talk about the LORD being king when living in a democratic republic?  What do coastlands symbolize or represent?
97:2 Why are clouds and thick darkness all around the LORD?  What is the relationship between righteousness and justice?
97:3 What does fire symbolize or represent?
97:4 What, if any, is the connection between thunder storms and God? How does the earth tremble?
97:5 Is this a description of volcanic activity?
97:6 Project images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope here! Yes, peoples (note the plural) behold God’s glory but do they know they are beholding God’s glory?
97:7 What about people who do not worship images?  How do gods bow down before the LORD is there are no other gods?
97:8 What is the difference between Zion and Judah?
97:9 How can the LORD be over all the earth if the earth is round? Who or what are these other gods?
97:10 Rather than hating evil I prefer loving the good.
97:11 Do the unrighteousness not see or experience the sunrise?
97:12 How can one give thanks to the LORD’s holy name when the LORD’s holy name is not to be pronounced?

22:12 Who is speaking?  This sounds like a verse in support of “works righteousness”. Will the reward enable the repayment?
22:13 Does this still need explanation or do all those in the pew understand it?
22:14 What do washed robes symbolize?  What would one wash them with? What is the tree of life”?  How else would one enter a city if not by the gates (note the plural)?
22:16 What angel is Jesus referring to?  How can one be both a root and a descendant?  What is “the bright morning star”?
22:17 Who is the bride? What is the “water of life” and how does it differ from “the tree of life”?
22:20 Who is testifying to these things?
22:21 Who is offering this blessing? Who are all the saints?

17:20 Who is asking? Who are “these”?
17:21 How does “oneness” lead people to belief?
17:22 How does glory promote oneness?
17:23 Why will complete oneness lead to the world’s knowing anything?
17:24 What would it mean for “those” to be where Jesus is?
17:25 What might this verse suggest about religious and/or spiritual knowledge?
17:26 What is the significance or symbolism of making God’s name known?

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, April 22, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, May 1, 2016, the Sixth 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.

16:9 Was this a dream or a vision?  Does it make a difference?  How many visions has Paul now experienced? Where is Macedonia and where was Paul when he saw this vision?
16:10 What is the meaning of “immediately”? What would Paul need to cross over in order to go to Macedonia? Note the plural “us”!
16:11 Who is “we”?  Who is telling this story?  What do we know about Troas, Samothrace, and Neapolis?
16:12 What do we know about Philippi in addition to what we are told in this verse? Does it make any difference that Philippi is a Roman colony?
16:13 What is “a place of prayer”?  Why might it have been outside the gate? Where there no men gathered there? 
16:14 What is a “worshiper of God”?  What do we know about Thyatira?  Is there any significance to Lydia being a dealer in purple cloth?  How does the Lord open the heart?  Was Lydia spiritual but not religious?  Was she “a seeker”?
16:15 Who were in Lydia’s household and why were they all baptized?  Consider Acts 11:14 from last week’s Lectionary Readings. Might Lydia’s invitation to Paul and those with him to stay in  her home be a bit scandalous?

67:1 The “us” makes this a communal rather than a personal psalm.  What does it mean for God’s face to shine on someone?  What is “The Aaronic blessing”? How do you handle “Selah”?
67:2 Is God’s way the same as God’s saving power, or am I reading too much into the parallelism of the Hebrew Poetry? Note that 67:1 seems addressed to worshipers while 67:2 is addressed to God.
67:3 Why the plural “peoples” rather than the singular “people”?
67:4 Is there a difference between “nations” and “peoples”?
67:5 I hear a refrain that could be adapted for use as a Call to Worship.
67:6 What is the “increase” yielded by the earth? It seems the psalmist shifts from addressing God to addressing worshipers.
67:7 What is the meaning of “all the ends of the earth”? How many ends does the earth have? How can they revere God?

21:10 What is the meaning of “in the spirit”?  Who carried the narrator away?  What great, high mountain might the narrator have been carried away to? How could Jerusalem come down out of heaven?
21:22 Was the author writing before or after the destruction of the temple? And the Lord Almighty and the Lamb be a temple?
21:23 Maybe the city does not need the light of the sun or moon, but what about their gravitational pull?
21:24 It sounds like this Jerusalem is like a beacon.
21:25 What do open gates symbolize?
21:26 What is the glory and honor of the nations?
21:27 What is the Lamb’s book of life?
22:1 Where did the angel come from?  Are there any rivers in contemporary Jerusalem?  What is the water of life? Are God and the Lamb sitting on a single throne?
22:2 This city is beginning to resemble Venice more than Jerusalem. How is a tree on “either” side of a river?  What kind of tree has twelve kinds of fruit?  How can leaves heal? Let’s see, 12 fruits x 12 months = 144 individual piece of fruit,
22:3 Servants will worship the singular whom?
22:4 Other than names, what is traditionally on foreheads?
22:5 Who are “they” who will reign?

This week’s Lectionary offers the choice of one of two Readings from John. How will you decide which one to use?
14:23 Whom did Jesus answer? Is God’s love conditional or unconditional?
14:24 Is it logical to conclude that if a person keeps Jesus’ words that they will also love Jesus? Is this verse anti-Semitic?
14:25 How could Jesus say these things if he were not with them? Who is “you”?
14:26 What is the meaning of “Advocate” apart from the Holy Spirit? Why is “Advocate” capitalized?  Why might anyone need or want an Advocate? What is the difference between teaching and reminding? Will the Advocate give additional or new teaching in addition to what Jesus already taught?
14:27 “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” is one of my favorite verses in all of Christian Scripture.  I often read this sentence from Scripture at a Service of Witness to the Resurrection and/or at the graveside.  Is fear a form of doubt or lack of faith?
14:28 Why the “if”? Did Jesus think those to whom he was speaking loved him or not?
14:29 Can they not believe now? Why would they not believe until after this occurs?

Or

5:1 After what? Which festival might this have been? Does it matter?
5:2 What and where is the Sheep Gate? What is the meaning of Beth-zatha? Is the fact that this pool had five porticoes significant? What is a portico?
5:3 Paralyzed?
(5:4) What are you going do with the questionable 4th verse? If you choose to use it, how will you handle that a paralyzed person would not be able to step into the pool?
5:5 Is the number thirty-eight significant. This man would be older than Jesus.
5:6 Why would Jesus ask such a question?
5:7 What, in essence, is the problem?
5:8 What is the meaning of Jesus’ proclamation?
5:9 What is the significance of “at once”? So what that it was the Sabbath?

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. This Sunday I will be preaching and leading worship at The Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. The service begins at 11:00 AM.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 24, 2016, the Fifth 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.

11:1 What Gentiles had accepted the word of God?
11:2 What is the difference between a circumcised and uncircumcised believer?
11:3 What was wrong about Peter eating with uncircumcised men?
11:4 Some people may need step by step explanations and others may follow intuitive leaps. Which type are you?
11:5 How and why did Peter enter into a trance?  What is a vision.  Have you ever been in a trance or experienced a vision?  What is the difference, if any, between a “vision” and a “big dream”?
11:6 What is significant about the animals that Peter describes?
11:7 Did Peter audibly hear a voice that others could have heard or did he hear a voice in his vision that others would not have been able to her? Whose voice did Peter hear?
11:8 What does it mean that something is profane or unclean?
11:9 What had God made clean?
11:10 It seems that for Peter, things come and happen in threes. Why might that be?
11:11See what I mean, “three” men!
11:12 What “Spirit” is Peter referring to?  Who is the “us”?  Who are these “six brothers”?
11:13 Had this man also experienced a vison?
11:14 What is the definition of a “household”? What is the implication regarding baptism of infants?
11:15 So there was the rush of a mighty wind, tongues as of fire, and people speaking in various languages? It seems that the Holy Spirit fell upon these Gentile believers before they were baptized
11:16 Would Peter not have remembered this saying of Jesus if the account narrated above had not happened?  What sayings of Jesus might Peter never have remembered and are now long forgotten?
11:17 Is this a rhetorical question?
11:18 How can one be silenced and at the same time praise God? If Gentiles were not under the Law of Moses, then what did they have to repent of?

148:1 Why is God usually praised from the heights but not the valleys?
148:2 Who, or what, are the host?
148:3 How do celestial objects praise God?
148:4 How many gradations of heaven are there? How many heavens are between the highest heavens and the lowest heavens?
148:5 Does this verse refer to one of the creation accounts but not the other?
148:6 Does this assume a pre-Copernican universe?
148:7 What are Biblical sea monsters?
148:8 If elements of weather obey God’s commands, then are natural weather disasters sent by God?
148:9 What trees, if any, are not included?
148:10 Does cattle include all domesticated livestock?
148:11 While present throughout this psalm, the Hebraic poetic parallelism is particularly evident in this verse.
148:12 Does this verse remind you of any other verse or passage from the Jewish Scriptures?
148:13 How can one praise the name of the Lord when the Lord’s is not to be pronounced?
148:14 What is a “horn” and what does it symbolize?

21:1 This Sunday we have at least two visions, this one and the one narrated in the First Reading from Acts.  Why do people no longer have visions like these?  When I read this passage I think of how C.S. Lewis described the new heaven and new earth in his Chronicles of Narnia. Why would the sea be no more?
21:2 Why are cities feminized?  The story of God’s mighty acts might have started with a garden but it ends with a city!  Apparently God was into urban renewal. Note that Acts 11:5 also presents a vision of something coming down from heaven.
21:3 Note that the text says God will dwell with God’s peoples and does not say that God’s peoples will dwell with God. Why the plural “peoples”? Whose voice is heard?
21:4 We may usually associate this verse with The Service of Witness to the Resurrection.
21:5 Who is seated on the throne?  Write what?
21:6 Where is the spring of the water of life?  Did this passage lead to legends of the “fountain of youth”?  What about the hungry?

13:31Gone out from where or what?  Who is “the Son of Man” and what does this phrase mean?  Where does the image of “the Son of Man” come from?
13:32 What in the world is John saying here?
13:33 Who are the “little children”?  Why are these “little children” distinguished from the Jews?
13:34 If this is a new commandment, what was the old commandment?
13:35 So the new commandment is that disciples are to love other disciples?  What about people who are not disciples?

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, April 7, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, April 17, 2016, the Fourth 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.

9:36 Is there anything we need to know about Joppa to help interpret this Passage?  What does the name Tabitha mean?  If Tabitha is not Greek, what language is it?  Does her being devoted to good works and charity suggest an appeal to works righteousness?
9:37 Who are “they”?  Is there anything suggestive about her body being placed in “an upper room”?
9:38 What do we know about Lydda and why was Peter there?
9:39 Do we need to know anything about weeping widows to help us understand this verse?
9:40 Why would Peter put them all outside. Did anyone remain in the room with Peter, and if so, whom? If no one remained in the room with Peter, how do we know what Peter did?
9:41 Who are “the saints”?
9:42 Why would people believe in the Lord rather than believing in Peter?
9:43 Do we know anything else about Simon, other than that he was a tanner? Does it matter that he was a tanner?

23:1-6 Is this Reading too familiar for us to hear in it anything new?
23:1 Who is this Psalm speaking about?  Can the image of a first century middle-eastern shepherd still speak to an industrialized, postmodern world?
23:2 People usually do not mind being led, but most people do not want to be “made” to do anything, even lie down in a green pasture.
23:3 How is a soul restored?  What is a right path?
23:4 What is the darkest valley you have ever walked through?  What evil(s), if any, do you or most people fear?  What are rods and staffs used for?
23:5 What does it mean to have a table prepared for you?  Would you want to eat in the presence of your enemies?  Have you ever been anointed with oil?  Have you ever anointed someone with oil?  What might oil symbolize and signify? What does it mean for a cup to overflow?
23:6 Would you rather have goodness and mercy precede you or follow.  Would you like to dwell in the house of the LORD the rest of your life?  What and where is the house of the LORD?

7:9 After what?  What is being described?  Who is robed in white, the lamb or the multitude?
7:10 Did they cry out in one language or many languages?
7:11 How would you describe this scene in your own words? What sort of gesture is falling on one’s face?
7:12 Does it make any difference that they sing rather than say? What is the symbolism of a sevenfold ascription of praise?
7:13 Was this a rhetorical question?
7:14 What was the great ordeal? How does washing anything in blood make it white?
7:15 Where is this temple?
7:16 Does this remind you of anything, even other Scripture?
7:17 Is a lamb being a shepherd ironic? How many springs of the water of life are there?

10:22 At what time? What is the festival of the Dedication?
10:23 What is the portico of Solomon and where was it in the temple?
10:24 What suspense?  “If”?
10:25 Did Jesus ever really come right out and tell he Jews that he was the Messiah?  What works was Jesus referring to?
10:26 Why did they not belong to his sheep? This is the third Reading this Sunday that mentions sheep!
10:27 Should we be reading this in light of anything else this gospel?
10:28 What sheep snatcher might Jesus have had in mind?  Is there a difference between eternal life and everlasting life?
10:29 Why is Jesus so concerned about snatching?
10:30 Have fun unpacking this six word statement. How does it follow from what came before in this reading?

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.