Friday, April 28, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (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.

ACTS 2:42-47
2:42 Who are “they” What does it mean to be devoted? What are you devoted to? Is it the apostles’ teaching and the apostles’ fellowship, or the apostles’ teaching and fellowship? In other words, does Apostles’ modify both teaching and fellowship or just teaching?  Regardless, I consider these the four marks of the church.  Against them, how do we measure up? What is meant by “the prayers?”
2:43 What is awe? When was the last time awe came upon you or your congregation? Are the wonders and signs the same thing as miracles or are they something different? How are these signs related to the signs Jesus performed in the Gospel According to John?
2:44 Is this pure communism?
2:45 “All” means whom?  If they distributed the proceeds to all, how did they have anything in common?
2:46 This seems to suggest that followers of Jesus were daily gathering together in the temple.
Note the distinction between what was happening in the temple and what was happening in homes.   Is “broke bread” a reference to a Eucharistic sort of meal or simply eating together? Do church covered dish and pot-luck dinners ever become sacramental?
2:47 How do you understand “day by day”?

What can one say about the most popular passage in the Bible that has not already been said (like just six weeks ago on the Fourth Sunday in Lent)? Why does this Psalm appear twice in the lectionary in such a short span of time?
23:1 Does it serve any theological and homiletically purpose to point out that “The LORD” is not a reference to Jesus but to the LORD God?  How many Christians hear this Psalm as a Psalm about Jesus rather than a Psalm about God?
23:2-3 These verses speak to me from my experience and hope as a backpacker.  After a long, hot day on a trail there is no more comfort than to stop for the day in a soft, grassy clearing near a cool, mountain stream? What paths are right?
23:4 Do you prefer the “darkest valley” of the NRSV or the “valley of the shadow of death” of the KJV and RSV? What is the darkest valley, geographical, spiritual, or metaphorical, that you have ever experienced?  One afternoon when I was hiking out on the same snow covered trail that I had hiked in on in the morning, my hiking staff, with bear bell attached, was a great comfort as there were fresh bear tracks in the snow that had not been there earlier in the morning. What was the LORD’s rod and staff?
23:5 Who wants a table prepared for them in the presence of one’s enemies? What does it mean to have one’s head anointed with oil and one’s cup overflowing.  Can we really speak of overflowing cups when in the Eucharist we barely fill little plastic or glass  cups that hold less than a shot glass?  Can we speak of being anointed with oil when most congregations rarely, if ever, practice it?  I argue for anointing with oil at the time of Baptism as well as the laying on of hands associated with prayers for healing and wholeness.   If we practiced more anointing with oil, this popular Psalm might actually mean even more than it already does. Doe the “table” and “cup” inform our understanding of the Eucharist?
23:6 What is goodness and mercy? What does it mean to dwell in the house of the LORD all one’s life?  Is “house of the LORD” a reference and/or allusion to the Temple, or something else?

1 Peter 2:19-35
2:19 I would rather not receive this credit.  How about you?  What does it mean to be “aware’ of God?
2:20 I understand this within its context, but in our context, can this lead to and feed a martyr complex? Have you ever felt like no good deed ever goes unpunished?
2:21 I thought we were called to love one another, even to serve, but to suffer? How does this verse inform any theology of “call?”
2:22 Where is this quote from? Who was it originally about?
2:23 So much for an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, which is often wrongfully applied and interpreted. 
2:24 The first part of this verse often serves as a call to confession.  How is anyone healed by another’s wounds?
2:25 Is this the verse that motivated the creators of the lectionary to make Psalm 23 the Psalm for this day?  How and why do sheep stray? I like the “guardian of our souls” language.

JOHN 10:1-10
10:1 Here we have a formulaic Johannine opening introducing yet more sheep and shepherd imagery. Whom do you think Jesus/John had in mind when talking about anyone climbing in another way?
10:2 Whom do you think Jesus/John had in mind when talking about the shepherd of the sheep?
10:3 This verse seems to suggest that there are sheep of more than one shepherd in the sheepfold. Who is the gatekeeper?  Why are the sheep led out of the sheepfold?
10:4 What shall we make of the “voice”? What does the shepherd’s voice sound like?
10:5 Is there any correlation between the stranger of this verse and the thief and bandit of 10:1?
10:6 And want made John think that we would understand? Do we understand? What is a figure of speech?
10:7 Once again we have a formulaic Johannine phrase.  Why the change of metaphor from shepherd to gate? How can Jesus be both?
10:8 This verse seems to refer back to verse 1.  Whom is Jesus referring to? Who came before him?
10:9 I am fascinated by the “come in and go out” language, suggesting movement rather than stasis.  If I understand the imagery correctly, we come into the sheepfold at night to find protection, but during the day, we go out into pasture to find nourishment.  Is this what Jesus was talking about?
10:10 Who is the thief?

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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