Monday, July 31, 2017
Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 14 (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 have adopted a more ecumenical enumeration of the Liturgical Day, using “Ordinary Time” and “Proper” designations rather than “After Pentecost” as in the Presbyterian Planning Calendar because the date of Pentecost changes from year to year. This change will help users more easily find what they are looking for.
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
37:1 Why are Jacob’s grandfather Abraham not mentioned? Why is Isaac not named? Were not both Jacob’s father and grandfather aliens? Is Jacob no longer an alien?
37:2 Here we have the beginning of the Joseph narrative’ almost as if a separate narrative has been spliced on. Is there anything significant about Joseph being seventeen years old? Why are Bilhah and Zilpah referred to a “His father’s wives” rather than maids or servants? Who were Bilhah and Zilpah’s sons? Is Joseph a tattletale or snitch?
37:3-4 Note that in 37:1 Joseph’s father is referred to as “Jacob” but here he is referred to as “Israel.” Is there any symbolic significance to a long robe with sleeves? This is beginning to read like the story of yet another dysfunctional family.
37:12 What do we know about Shechem?
37:13 What usually happens when people respond “Here I am?” Are there any other instances in Scripture were a person responds to another human (rather than to God) “Here I am?”
37:14 What sort of “word” might Jacob have been expecting or wanting Joseph to bring back? What do we know about the valley of Hebron?
37:15 Why is Joseph in Shechem when his father sent him to the valley of Hebron? Was Joseph wandering in the fields because he was lost? Do you think this was an ordinary “man?”
37:16 Would you expect a stranger to know the whereabouts of Joseph’s brothers?
37:17 What do we know about Dothan?
37:18 Note to self: play ominous music here!
37:19 Why do his brothers refer to Joseph as “this dreamer?”
37:20 A conspiracy is hatched. What other dreamers have people tried to kill? How might this verse shed light on Psalms that speak of being rescued from the pit?
37:21 What might have been Reuben’s motive for saving his brother?
37:22 How do we know what was Reuben was thinking?
37:23 I wonder what Joseph’s brothers did with his robe.
37:24 What is the meaning and significance of the fact that the pit was empty with no water in it? What was this pit for?
37:25 Who are the Ishmaelites? What do we know about Gilead? What purpose do the Ishmaelites serve?
37:26 Is Judah concerned only about making money from their bother’s demise? What prefiguration might be intended?
37:27 Might Reuben have influenced Judah? Had Judah foiled Reuben’s plan?
37:28 Who drew Joseph up out of the pit, his brothers or the Midianite traders? What is the difference between Midianites and Ishmaelites? Is there any symbolic significance to the twenty pieces of silver? You might recall that Jesus was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. Maybe the difference between twenty and thirty was due to inflation.
PSALM 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b
105:1 In the NRSV, “LORD” is all upper case. Therefore, what would be the “name” to call on? What are the LORD’s deeds? Who are the peoples?
105:2 Are Hymns in worship sung “about” God or “to” God? Are the LORD’s wonderful works the same as the LORD’s deeds?
105:3 How does one “Glory in” the LORD’s name when the LORD’s name is not pronounced?
105:4 How can we continuously seek God’s presence? Is the LORD not always with us?
105:5 Are both “miracles” and “judgments” among the LORD’s works in 105:2? What judgments has the LORD uttered?
105:6 Why is Isaac not mentioned?
105:16-22 Is this why this psalm is paired with the First Reading.
105:45b How often do we end up praising the LORD for something we at first thought was a curse or calamity?
10:5 From what does Paul quote?
10:6-7 Is Paul quoting or composing? How would ascending into heaven be the same as bringing Christ down?
10:8 What is Paul quoting?
10:9 So public confession as well as an interior faith are essential? What if there is only one but not the other?
10:10 What is the relationship between justification and salvation, confession and faith?
10:11 What Scripture is being quoted?
10:12 Who was wanting to make a distinction between Jew and Greek?
10:13 What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord? What is Paul quoting?
10:14 Is this nothing more than the old “Can someone who has never heard of Christ be saved?” question? Later Christians would baptize Plato and Aristotle as proto-Christians.
10:15 Must one be sent in order to proclaim?
10:15 Should all candidates for the ministry of proclamation have their feet examined? It is no wonder Paul was once confused with Hermes.
14:22 I am always surprised when I read “Immediately” in a Gospel other than Mark. Other side of what? Why might Jesus have sent the disciples off without him?
14:23 Here we have a “Summit to Shore” narrative! Thanks, Matt! If Jesus went up to the mountain alone, why are we told he was alone when evening came? Some of us go to the Mountains not because they are there but to find peace and solitude. Summits, like shoes, are liminal places.
14:24 Meanwhile, back on the boat . . . remember the disciples on the boat?
14:25 So the disciples spent the entire night on a boat battered about by winds on the open water?
14:26 Why were the disciples terrified? Did the disciples think they were seeing any old ghost or the ghost of Jesus?
14:27 Here we have yet another “immediately.” Is this the heart of the passage? Where else have we already heard – or will later hear – “do not be afraid?”
14:28 If? IF? Did Peter not know or was he not sure? Why did Peter need to be commanded?
14:29 Was Jesus issuing a command or giving permission? Are we, and when are we, similarly bidden by Jesus to “come?”
14:30 How could Peter not have noticed the strong wind before he left the boat? I cannot help but read this as a metaphor. Does it make any difference that it was the wind and not the waves that frightened Peter?
14:31 As a former American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, I think Jesus should have remembered “Throw, Row, Tow, Then Go!” Was Peter’s faith really “little”? After all, none of the other disciples set out to walk on the water, except Peter! What was it Peter doubted? What is the relationship between faith and doubt? Is little faith better than no faith or can little faith be a dangerous thing?
14:32 Why might the wind have ceased when Jesus and Peter got into the boat?
14:33 What convinced these disciples that Jesus was the Son of God – that he walked on water? That he “saved” Peter? That the wind stopped when Jesus and Peter climbed into the boat? What has it taken – or what will it take – to convince you that Jesus is truly the Son of God?
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.