Friday, February 10, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 2 (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.

LEVITICUS 19:1-2, 9-18
19:1 Did The LORD speak in Hebrew?
19:2 What does it mean to be holy? Why should the people of Israel (and us by extension) be holy?  What is the difference between shall and should?
19:9-10 What do you know about gleaning?  In addition to this being a form of social welfare, it probably also is good ecology.  How has industrialized farming done away with such practices? What does this say to the 1% and to the 99%? How shall we read “alien” in light of the current anti-immigrant political climate?
19:11-12 So, contrary to last week’s Gospel Reading, it is ok to swear by the name of God as long as one swears truthfully?
19:13 Let’s put these words on display on Wall Street and in the lobby of America’s mortgage lenders. Is it permissible to defraud someone who is not a neighbor?  Who is a neighbor?
19:14 Praise God for the ADA.  I sometimes wonder what was going through the minds of people who designed and built church buildings before the ADA.  I fear congregations worshipping in pre ADA buildings are now paying the price for a lack of awareness and foresight.
19:15 As the economic disparity in America approaches levels that have not been seen since just before the Great Depression, this verse becomes ever more poignant.  In other words, justice is economically blind? What happened to the preferential option for the poor.
19:16 Good for kin and neighbor, but what about the stranger?
19:17 Is it okay to hate people who are not kin? Would you ever consider reproving your neighbor?
19:18 The first part of his verse points toward the Gospel reading.  The second part of this verse informs Jesus’ answer to the questions “Which is the greatest commandment?”
19:8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17 Is the repetition of “I am the LORD” merely a literary device or does it suggest that these verse may have been used liturgically in a responsive fashion?  Might the repetition of “I am the LORD” also serve a theological function?
19:1, 9-17 How shall we read these verses in light of the Ten Commandments?

PSALM 119:33-40
119:33-40 Do not forget that this is the second week in a row the Psalm has been an excerpt from Psalm 119, an acrostic Psalm. What synonyms for “statutes” are used in these verses?
119:33 How does the LORD teach?  Note that “way” is singular. The “end” of what?
119:34 Does understanding precede the keeping of God’s law? Can we keep laws we do not understand?
119:35 Note that “path”, as “”way” in verse 33, is singular.
119:36-37 What is God’s responsibility and what is our responsibility for turning our heart and eyes?
119:38 What is The LORDS “promise”?  What does it mean to “fear” God?  You may want to revisit Aldous Huxley’s “mysterium tremendum as described in his The Doors of Perception and Rudolph Otto’s “mystery” or “numinous” as explored in his The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational
119:39 What disgrace does the Psalmist dread?
119:40 Hey, God, look at me?  I might not have kept all your decrees, but I wanted to.  Give me life just for trying.

3:10 How much of God’s grace has been given to Paul?  How much has been given to you? Is Paul bragging when he calls himself “a master builder”. If Paul laid the foundation, who is now building on that foundation?  How many ways are there to build on an already established foundation?
3:16 The Greek “you” is plural! What is the foundation of “God’s Temple”?  Did God’s Spirit dwell in the Jerusalem temple before it was destroyed?
3:17 Is Paul talking about self-destruction, or destroying the temple of another? How shall we read this in light of the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem temple?
3:18 Paul again writes about being “wise” and becoming “fools”, but become fools in order to become wise.  What is Paul doing with these word games and twists of logic?  Wittgenstein, please help me. Are there two types of wisdom?
3:19 Where is this written, Job 5:13 perhaps?  If so, I find it ironic since the Book of Job is traditionally classified as “Wisdom Literature”.
3:20 Where is this written, Psalm 94:11 perhaps?
3:21 What human leaders might Paul have had in mind? All things are yours?  What is Paul talking about?
3:22-23 So, in the end, all things are God’s?

MATTHEW 5:38-48
5:38 How many times have we not only heard this said, but cited out of context, and used to argue the opposite point for which it was intended?
5:39 It sounds as though Jesus is asserting his own authority over the law.  What do you know about “turning cheeks”?  The Just War theory has overturned any sense of not resisting evildoers. How can Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. help us here?
5:40 Did Jesus live in a litigious society?  What point is he making? What is the difference between a coat and a cloak?
5:41 Who might force you to go a mile and why?
5:42 Give?  How much?  Loan?  With our without interest?
5:43 I have not heard this one very often, if at all. Where might Jesus have heard it?
5:44 I actually find it easier to pray for those who persecute me than to love my enemies.
5:45 What is the point?
5:46 Does Jesus mean to suggest that the only reason to love is to be rewarded?
5:47 What does it mean to “greet”? Is Jesus talking about biological brothers and sisters or brothers and sisters in the faith?
5:48 Is human perfection really an attainable goal? How is perfection related to holiness? Does perfection refer to degree or status?

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 other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.

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