Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 12 (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.

PREFACE: I am returning to the more ecumenical enumeration of the Liturgical Day, using “Ordinary Time” and “Proper” designations rather than “After Pentecost” because the date of Pentecost changes from year to year and I think the change will help users more easily find what they are looking for.

Genesis 29:15-28
29:15 It must be nice to be able to set one’s own wages.
29:16 I find it interesting that we have a story involving two daughters (not twins) in the midst of a story about two brothers (twins)!
29:17 I think “lovely” is the preferable translation.  Could the description of Leah and Rachel be seen at all as sexist or demeaning of women?
29:18 I wonder if it was love or lust.  Is there any significance to the number seven?
29:19 Is this the meaning of the question “Who gives this women to be married?”
29:20 Tempus fugit?
29:21 Biblical euphemisms for sexual intercourse can sound so . . . . biologically crude.
29:22 A wedding feast?
29:23 It is ironic that the trickster has been tricked. How could Jacob not have known? Is this a Biblical example of the principle that what goes around comes around?
29:24 Was Zilpah a dowry?
29:25 Is anyone else feeling like “serves him right?”
29:26 T-R-A-D-I-T-I-O-N!
29:27 What is “the week?”  Why does Laban say “we” will give? Who is the we?
29:28 In the end, Jacob got what he wanted, and more so.

PSALM 105:1-11, 45b
105:1 How does one call on the name of the LORD when the LORD’s name is not pronounced?
105:2 What are the LORD’s wonderful works?
105:3 What about the hearts of those who do not seek the LORD?
105:4 Who do we seek the LORD’s presence?
105:5 See 105:2. What judgments has the LORD uttered?
105:6 Why is Isaac not mentioned? Why are Sarah, Leah and Rachel not mentioned?
105:7 What does it mean that the LORD’s judgements are in all the earth?
105:8 The pairing of Jacob and Rachel can be seen as partial fulfillment of God’s Covenant. Is a thousand generations meant as figurative language or an actual number?
105:9 See 105:6. Isaac is finally mentioned but the women/mothers are not?  Can the reader supply their names and still be faithful to the text?
105:10 What is a statute and how is it related to a covenant?
105:11 And the world is still dealing with the repercussions of this.
105:45b Why do so many Psalms end with this phrase?

128:1 What is the meaning of “fear”?  What does it mean to “walk in God’s ways”? Why would you choose this optional Psalm rather than Psalm 105:1-11, 45b?
128:2 In light of today’s First Reading, are Leah and Rachel the fruit of the labor of Jacob’s hands? Does that mean Leah and Rachel are property?
128:3 Is this why this Alternate Psalm was chosen to be paired with the First Reading?
128:4 Is the woman not also blessed?
128:5 A nice blessing/benediction for a citizen or inhabitant of Jerusalem, but what about Christians in an American church?
128:6 As someone might say: “let me show you pictures of my grandchildren!”? Let us pray and work for peace in the Middle East.

ROMANS 8:26-39
8:26 We do not know how to pray as we ought.  That is why the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.  That is why Ministers of the Word and Sacrament and Christian Educators ought to be educated in the school of prayer and prepared to teach others how to pray.  Yes, that was me standing on my soap box.  My D. Min. project at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (2004) was GUIDANCE IN AND EXPERIENCE OF LITURGICAL PRAYER AS AN ELEMENT OF PERSONAL AND COMMUNAL WORSHIP IN THE REFORMED TRADITION. I also have quite a bit of experience with Contemplative/Centering Prayer.  Feel free to contact me if you would like to schedule me to lead a workshop or retreat on prayer for your church or spiritual community.
8:27 How does the Spirit intercede for us?
8:28 Do we really know this?
8:29 There is that Presbyterian word “Predestined!”  What do you make of it? Can we tie this “large family” to Psalm 128:3?
8:30 And there is that other good Presbyterian word “called”!  What do you make of this progression: Predestined → called → justified → glorified?
8:31 This is one of my favorite verses.  Does the second question answer the first?  Is the second question rhetorical or does it assume the answer “No one?”
8:32 Is this another rhetorical question?
8:33 Are charges and justification antithetical?
8:34 Would who condemns us also intercede on our behalf? In verse 26, Paul writes that the Spirit intercedes for us.  Now he writes that Christ Jesus intercedes for us.  Can Paul not make up his mind, or was he just not being careful?  Why would he intentionally say both?
8:33-34 Interesting verses to someday juxtapose with the Rules of Discipline in the Book of Order.
8:35 Paul asks “Who” but answers with a list of “things.”  This reads like a “Vince Lombardy before the big game in the locker room” sort of speech.
8:36 Oh well, there goes the momentum of 8:35. What sheep are slaughtered?  Where is this written?
8:37 Hold on. Maybe Paul will pull out a great one liner.
8:38-39 Paul, can I quote you on that?  Is there any thing missing from this list?  I wish Paul had said “. . . nor things past, nor things present, nor things to come”.
8:39 Is there anything not in creation?

MATTHEW 13:31-33, 44-52
13:31 How many parable did Jesus put before them in Matthew?  Are all parables in Matthew about the kingdom of heaven?  What do you know about mustard seeds?
13:32 Is the mustard plant really the greatest of shrubs and does it eventually become a tree?
13:33 What do you know about yeast? What is yeast? Is there any significance to the 1:3 ratio?
13:44 Mustard seeds and yeast are natural and organic.  A treasure is not.
13:45-46 Here we have another item of value, but at least it is organic. Would this be a shrewd investment?
13:47 Something smells fishy. What do you make of “every kind?”
13:48 Do you thin the bad might have been thrown back into the water (rather than into the unquenchable fire)?
13:49 We have moved from “kingdom parables” to apocalyptic prognostications. What and when is the end of the age? How does it feel to be compared to fish?
13:50 Where have we heard this imagery before? How shall moderns and post-moderns deal with such imagery?
13:51 This is a good question. I would love to ask this question after every sermon.  Unfortunately this is a bad answer because it was not true.  These people need to learn a lesson in wisdom from Socrates.
13:52 An entire sermon could probably be preached – and an entire hour of education could probably be developed – around this single verse.  Who are the scribes? What is our treasure?  What among our treasure is new?  What among our treasure is old?  What among our treasure is valuable and what is junk? Can treasure also be junk?  Is anyone else thinking of Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence?

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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