Monday, July 24, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 13 (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 32:22-31
32:22 Much has transpired in Jacob’s story since last week’s Reading.  How can we help people keep up and catch up between lectio-continua Lectionary Readings when so much transpires between Readings?  Is there any significance to the fact that we all told it was the same night? Where is the Jabok?
32:22-24 Why would Jacob send everyone else, along with his possessions, across the Jabbok but stay behind and alone?
32:24 Who, or what, might this “man” be?
32:25 Is this the first Biblical documentation of a sports injury? What is the meaning, symbolism, and significance of this injury?
32:26 What might be the significance of daybreak?  What sort of blessing might Jacob be asking for? What sort of beings can offer a blessing?
32:27 Why might the “man” want to know Jacob’s name?  Is it all surprising that Jacob divulges his name?
32:28 What is going on here?  How can this “man” change Jacob’s name?  What does it mean that Jacob has “striven with God and with humans and have prevailed.?” Who were the humans Jacob strove with and when did he prevail?  When did Jacob strive with God and prevail?
32:29 Why might Jacob want to know the “man’s” name and why does the “man” not divulge it?
32:30 I thought Jacob was wrestling with a “man.” Was this “man” really God?  It was a good thing Jacob wrestled with God during the night, thereby not being able to see God’s face, otherwise he might not have lived, or maybe he would have.  Does the concept of the Dark Night of the Soul in any way help us interpret this passage?
32:31 Did the preceding events occur in normal time and space or in a dream/vision?  As Dumbledore once said to Harry Potter, “Just because something takes place in your head does not mean it is not real”. I cannot help but read this account from a Jungian perspective, reading this as a mythopoeic account meant to explain more than we might know about Jacob and his descendants’ special place in salvation history, or even as an archetypal account meant to shed light on our own internal spiritual struggles.

PSALM 17:1-7
17:1 This Psalmist sounds like a lawyer pleading a case.  Does anyone really have lips free of deceit?
17:2 How does the LORD vindicate?  Doe God not see everything?
17:3 Does the “if you visit me by night” phrase justify pairing this Psalm with the First reading?  How does God try the heart?  How does God visit us by night?  How does God test us?
17:4 What does “by the word of your lips” mean and refer to?
17:5 What are the LORD’s paths?  Note that “paths” is plural!
17:6 This reads like a call to prayer.
            One: We call upon you, O LORD.
            All:   You will answer us, O God.
            One:  Incline you’re your ear to us.
            All:   Hear our prayers.
17:7 How does God wondrously show steadfast love?
17:15 What happens when one beholds the face of God? Is the “when I awake” phrase another reason to pair this Psalm with the Genesis 32:22-31 Reading? This Psalm, paired with the First Reading, could easily provide the textual basis for a sermon on Biblical dreams and the spiritual discipline of keeping a dream journal and interpreting one’s dreams.  If you are not familiar with the Spiritual discipline of dream interpretation see any number of writings by Morton Kelsey or John Sanford. While it is more about the Psychology of Transformation than dream interpretation, see especially Sanford’s The Man Who Wrestled With God.

ROMANS 9:1-5
9:1 I think Paul might doth protest too much.  Who would have accused Paul of lying?
9:2 What is the source of Paul’s strong emotions?
9:3 Could there be a pun in this passage?
9:4-5 What a list: adoption, glory, covenants (plural), giving of the law, worship, promises, patriarchs (no matriarchs?), Messiah! Paul seems to be defending his concern for his Jewish community and affirming his heritage

MATTHEW 14:13-21
14:13 What did Jesus hear?  What can we learn from Jesus withdrawing in a boat to a deserted place?  From experience I know that kayaking and sailing can be like a retreat and spiritual experience.  Note that “crowds” and “towns” are both plural.
14:14 Does Christ’s compassion always lead to him curing the sick?
14:15 Do the disciples express a totally utilitarian concern? Is there more to the expression “This is a deserted place” than meets the eye?
14:16 What is the meaning of this?
14:17 What do you make of the numbers “five” and “two” not to mention “five loaves” and “two fish”?  What can churches hoarding and guarding their invested resources and endowments learn from this?
14:18 Where did the disciples get the five loaves and two fish?
14:19 “He ordered” sounds like strong language. I would much prefer “He invited” but we get the language we get.  What does the “blessed and broke” language remind you of?
14:20 What do you make of there being twelve baskets of leftovers after the crowds shared just five loaves of bread and two fish? Is there any symbolic significance to the number twelve?
14:21 As usual, only the men count!  Women and children are just accouterments.  This crowed could easily have numbered about fifteen thousand or twenty thousand.
14:13-21One of the favorite places I visited in the Holy Land was Tabgha. If you are not familiar with Tabgha I suggest that you Google and read about it, being sure to look at the images of its famous mosaic.

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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