Monday, June 12, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost (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.

GENESIS 21:8-21
21:8 What is the significance of this child (Isaac) growing and being weaned? Why did Abraham make a feast when Isaac was weaned?
21:9 Are these the mythological roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Why is the son of Hagar nowhere named in this passage?
21:10 Do you think inheritance was the only issue? What were the laws and customs of inheritance?
21:11 Which son is the cause of distress?
21:12 How many more times will God not operate by conventional standards? Note that God instructs the man/husband to do as his wife tells him!
21:13 So Abraham will be the father of at least two, if not many nations!
21:14 This verses raise a lot of issues that might insult the ears of modern readers, and rightly so. Where was and what was the nature of Beer-sheba?
21:15 Why did Hagar cast her son under a bush?
21:16 I wonder if Hagar thought she too was about to die.
21:17 I think it is interesting the God hears the voice of the boy even though the passage does not tell us the boy is crying, but it does tell us that Hagar is crying, which God seems to ignore. Where else have we heard “Do not be afraid”? What fear is God referring to?
21:18 It seems that Arabs could appeal to this verse for claiming God’s blessing. Had Abraham not told Hagar what God told him in 21:13?
21:19 Was the well there earlier and Hagar did not see it, or has it just appeared? Where else have we recently heard about eyes being opened?
21:20 What is the meaning of “God was with the boy”? I find it interesting that the boy became an expert with the bow in light of his mother having sat a bowshot away from him (21:16) when she thought he was about to die.
21:21 Where is Paran? I wonder what became of Hagar.

PSALM 86:1-10, 16-17
86:1 Are we to hear this today as the prayer of Hagar? Does this presume the preferential option of the poor and needy?
86:2 Is the Psalmist appealing to God’s conscience?
86:3 This verse reminds me of Luke 18:1-8. What does it mean to cry to God all day long?
86:4 What does it mean to lift up one’s soul?
86:5 Is the Psalmist asking to be forgiven?
86:6 Why must God be supplicated? This passage could easily be used as part of a call to pray or as an ending phrase of a prayer. What are other forms of prayer in addition to supplication?
86:7 Does the Psalmist not call on God in good days?
86:8 What other gods is the Psalmist referring to?  What are God’s works?
86:9 What nations does the Psalmist have in mind?  What about Genesis 21:18?
86:10 Is the Psalmist buttering up God? Are the wondrous things in this verse the same as the works in 86:8?
86:16 Who is speaking here?  Who is the servant? Who is the child? This verse alone justifies pairing this Psalm with the Genesis Reading.
86:17 How do we ask for and seek for signs from God?  Is the Psalmist reminding God of how God has helped in the past?

ROMANS 6:1b-11
6:1b Was this a rhetorical question or might some have actually been making this argument?
6:2 What if Paul was wrong? Is there a difference between living in sin and being a sinner?
6:3 We may know this but what about those to whom Paul was writing? How will this verse be heard in the pews?
6:4 What did Paul mean by “newness of life”?
6:5 Have we indeed been united with him in a death like his? What was his resurrection like?
6:6 How was our old life crucified?
6:7 How does death free us from sin?
6:8 Is Paul beginning to repeat himself? See 6:4.
6:9 Who is the “We?”
6:10 I find the dying to death and sin while  living to God an interesting literary construction and profound theological idea.
6:11 Is there a difference between actually being dead to sin and considering oneself dead to sin? Why is it that some people who claim to be alive to God in Christ Jesus seem to get no joy or satisfaction out of life?

MATTHEW 10:24-39
10:24 Who is speaking?
10:25 Who or what is Beelzebul?  Who is calling whom Beelzebul?
10:26-27 With covered/uncovered, secret/known, dark/light and whispered/proclaim language, this passage is beginning to sound gnostic and apocalyptic.
10:28 Who can kill both soul and body in hell?
10:29 Why are the sparrows sold?
10:29-31 Not one sparrow falls to the ground without God’s knowledge yet the sparrow still falls to the ground. Is there any comfort in that? What comfort is there in knowing that the hairs on my head are counted?
10:32 Is acknowledging Jesus the same as expressing one’s trust in him?
10:33 What does it mean to deny Jesus? Where does the agnostic, or the disinterested, fit into this?
10:34 There goes the image of Christ the peacemaker!  This and the following verses can be very troubling.  How do we deal with them in an age of jihad and fundamentalist extremism?
10:35-37 I wonder how James Dobson and his Focus on the Family deal with these verses. These verses seem to through so called “family values” out the window.
10:37 Note that one can still love their parents  and siblings but not more than they love Jesus.
10:38 What does it mean to “take up the cross?”
10:39 This verse sounds paradoxical yet I think it expresses a cross cultural and universal spiritual truth. 

ADDENDUM
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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