Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 10 (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 25:19-34
25:19-20 Last Sunday, Isaac and Rebekah got hitched.  This week, we learn about their offspring.  First, however, we are reminded of Isaac and Rebekah’s ancestry.  Why such an emphasis on lineage?
25:21 Where have we read about something like this before? I wonder how long the couple was not able to conceive.
25:22 Children (plural)? Is this an example of pre-natal care or pre-natal prayer?
25:23 Is this an example of prophecy or foreshadowing? How many “nations” can we now trace to Abraham?
25:24 Did we not see this coming based on 25:22?
25:25 What does “Esau” mean?
25:26 What does “Jacob” mean? Based on this verse and 25:20, it seems that Isaac and Rebekah were married for twenty years before they became parents.
25:27 What two ways of life do these two brothers represent?
25:28 There are some interesting family dynamics at work here. How might Edwin Friedman and Bowen theory help interpret this passage? What greater conflict might be represented by the personal conflict between Esau and Jacob?
25:29 Jcob must have been quite domestic.
25:30 The red boy wants some red stuff!
25:31 What is a “birthright” and what does it mean to sell it?  How can such a thing be sold?
25:32 Was Esau prone to hyperbole and impulsiveness?
25:33 What about the commandment that prohibits swearing?
25:34 If Esau despised his birthright, did Jacob despise his bother?
25:29-34 Is Jacob’s behavior an example of unbridled capitalism or exploitation?

PSALM 119:105-112
How does this Psalm serve as a commentary on or contrast to the Genesis 25:19-34 Reading?  Does it make any difference that these verses are only part of a larger acrostic work?
119:105 This is a rather well known verse, thanks to its use in the liturgy.  Does such familiarity make it more difficult to read and hear it in new ways?  What “word” is being referred to? Note that it is “my” path!
119:106 What does it mean to “confirm” an oath? What are God’s righteous ordinances?
119:107 I wonder how the psalmist was afflicted.
119:108 Do most people in the pews have any sense or awareness that their praise of God is an offering?
119:109 What is being contrasted with “but?” Does law refer to the Decalogue, the Torah, or the Levitical code?
119:110 What might be the nature of this “snare?” Who are the wicked attempting to snare you?
110:111 What is a heritage?
110:112 What does it mean to incline one’s heart?
110:105-112 Are “word”, “ordinances”, “law”, “precepts”, “decrees”, and “statutes” mere synonyms used for poetic reasons, or are there nuanced differences being suggested?

ROMANS 8:1-11
8:1 Once again I must say that I detest it when readings begin with a “therefore” because I always wonder what came before. Who would condemn those who are in Christ Jesus?
8:2 What is the “law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus”?  Note how law/Spirit/life is contrasted with law/sin/death.
8:3 How was the law weakened by the flesh? What is the meaning of “likeness”?  Does “likeness” suggest anything less than full humanity?
8:3-11 In our day and age, how do we deal with all this “flesh” and “spirit” language?
8:4 What is the “just requirement of the Law”?
8:5 What are the things of the flesh? What are the things of the spirit?
8:6 Note the construction flesh/death vs. Spirit/life/peace. Must it be either – or?
8:7 Why can’t it?
8:8 Why not?
8:9 How does the Spirit dell in us? Is the Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ the one in the same Spirit?
8:10 Now we have dead bodies and living spirits.
8:11 This sounds like life now, not everlasting life later.  Is it also true that those whom the Spirit does not dwell in are already dead?

MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23
13:1 What day? Same day as what? Whose house did Jesus leave? What sea did he sit beside?
13:2 Why did Jesus get into a boat?
13:3 If Jesus told the crowds many things, why is this parable and not some other parable or parables included in the Gospel? Did Jesus tell parables that were not included in the Gospels?  Is this parable about a sower, about the seeds, or about something else altogether?
13:4 What might the seed represent? What might the path represent?
13:5 What might the rocky ground represent?
13:6 How are your roots?
13:7 What might thorns represent?
13:8  What might good soil represent? Must the seed, path, rocky ground, thorns, and good soil represent anything?
13:9 Maybe the sower was sowing seed corn! Really, who does not have ears?
13:18 Does the fact that we have this verse mean that Jesus or the Gospel writer knew or assumed we do not have ears? Must parables be explained?
13:19 What is understanding? What is the relationship between understanding and heart?
13:20-21 What do roots look like and how does one establish them? Is this talking about about new fair weather Christians?
13:22 Are “cares of the world” the same as Paul’s “flesh” in the Romans 8:1-11 Reading?
13:23 So not all seed, even if it falls on good soil, bears the same quantity?  What about quality?
In retrospect, was this parable about a sower, about the seed that was sown, or about the soil where the seed was sown, or about something else altogether?  Why did Jesus tell this particular parable?  What was Jesus trying to tell the crowd that he could tell them only through this parable? What is a parable? Is there any relation, other than etymology, between “parable” and “parabola?”

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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