Friday, June 23, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 8 (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 22:1-14
22:1 After what things?  What is the meaning of “tested”? How many times and from how many people in the Hebrew Scriptures do we hear “Here I am”? What was the alternative response, “I am not here” or simply ignoring God? Why am I thinking of Dan Schutte?
22:2 Is there any significance to the location Moriah? How has this verse informed the Christian understanding of John 3:16?  How has john 3:16 influenced how Christians read this passage of Hebrew Scripture?
22:3 I wonder if and when the other two young men figured out what Abraham had in mind. I also wonder if Abraham had been to Moriah before and if not, what he knew about it.
22:4 How might the phrase “On the third day” influence the Gospel story?
22:5 Was Abraham lying, or being prescient, when he said to the young men “we will come back to you”?
22:6 Isaac the sacrifice bears the wood for a sacrificial fire while the wood of the cross bore Jesus for the sacrificial death.
22:7 I find it interesting that Abraham responds to Isaac with the same “Here I am” as in 22:1. How might this verse informed our understanding of Jesus as the Lamb of God?
22:8 Again, was Abraham lying or prescient when he told Isaac that God will provide the lamb for a burnt offering? From a Christian perspective, God has provided the lamb, but not for a burnt offering.
22:9 Thus the usual way of referring to this passage: “The Binding of Isaac.”  What was the age of Isaac when this took place?  Do you think Isaac physically resisted when his father started to bind him? Abraham having to build an altar suggests to me that Moriah was not an established sacrificial site.
22:10 Many will find this verse offensive. How do we address the emotions it can elicit?
22:11 Note that in 22: 1 God calls Abraham by name once but that in this verse an angel of the Lord calls Abraham by name twice. Is the “Angel of the Lord” the same as God?   Abraham responds with the quintessential “Here I am” of 22:1 and 22:7. Abraham has now so responded to God, to Isaac, and to the angel of the LORD.
22:12 How do you understand the word “fear”?  Do you “fear” God? Some consider this the most dangerous and scariest verse in the whole Bible.  What do you think? Note that while we are told that the angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven but that by the end the angel of the LORD is speaking as God.
22:13 Does a found ram really fulfill the requirements of a burnt offering?
22:14 What is the Hebrew for “The LORD will provide”? Where is this place?

13:1 If this Psalm is in the lectionary today to function as a response to or interpretation of Genesis 22:1-14, then I would rather God forget me than call me to sacrifice my only child (if I had a child). Is it even possible for the LORD to forget?  What does it mean for God to hide the divine face? What does the divine face represent?
13:2 Sometimes the length of time we bear pain is worse than the intensity of the pain. Does it matter whether the pain is physical, spiritual, financial, psychological, or otherwise? I wonder what enemy the Psalmist had in mind.
13:3 Is any answer better than no answer at all? What does it mean for our eyes to have light? What is the “sleep of death”?
13:4 Never let your foes see you shake.
13:5-6 Note that “trusted” and “has dealt” is in the past tense while “shall rejoice” and “will sing” is in the future tense.  Is this nothing more than a Hebraic poetic device?
13:6 What might this verse say to worshipers about their singing?

ROMANS 6:12-23
6:12 I hate it when lectionary readings, especially from the Pauline corpus, start with “Therefore.”.What came before?
6:13 What do you make of the plural “members” and “yourselves”?
6:14 How do you reconcile this verse with 6:12? Is Paul playing word games or doing theology? 
6:15 I think Paul’s argument is logically weak. If we are not under the law how can we sin?
6:16 How do we deal with this slavery language? According to Paul’s logic, does sin correlate with law the same way obedience correlates with grace?
6:17 What is the meaning of “obedient from the heart?” What “form of teaching” is Paul referring to?
6:18 How do we reconcile the concept of “slaves to righteousness” with the idea of free will?
6:19 What does Paul mean by “human terms” and “natural limitations?”  I would say more, but I feel limited by my human nature. Sometimes I wish Paul had been more of a poet and less a didactic theologian.
6:20 Sometimes our freedom in relation to things is not good?
6:21 What things are the Romans now ashamed of? What does Paul mean by “end?”
6:22 How does enslavement lead to sanctification? How does sanctification lead to eternal life?
6:23 Is Paul mixing metaphors by shifting from enslavement/freedom language to wage/gift language?

MATTHEW 10:40-42
10:40-42 Surely this must be one of the shortest Readings in the three year cycle of the Lectionary!
10:40 To whom is Jesus speaking? What does it mean to “welcome?” Is Jesus talking about holy hospitality?
10:41 What does this “in the name of” language mean? What is a prophet’s reward?  What is the reward of the righteous?
10:42 Who are these “little ones?”  Which disciple’s name would you like to affix to the water fountain? I recall hearing about a PC(USA) Congregation located along a parade route regularly handing out free bottles of water labeled with the church’s name, address, and worship hours to thirsty bystanders watching various parades. What is the reward that won’t be lost? 

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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