Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 11 (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 28:10-19a
28:10 Is there anything special or significant about these travel plans, about Beer-sheba, or about Haran?
28:11 Why is the “certain place” not named? Stones, sometimes carved, were used as pillows in many ancient cultures. What do you know about “The Stone of Destiny” or “Stone of Scone?”  Could this be an example of “dream incubation?"
28:12 Is there any symbolic relationship between the Tower of Babel and Jacob’s ladder?  Do Angels really need a ladder to travel between earth and heaven? How might a Freudian or Jungian be inclined to interpret this dream? Why am I thinking of Led Zeppelin?
28:13 If Angels were ascending and descending via the ladder, how did the LORD end up standing beside Jacob?  Why are Sarah and Rebekah not mentioned along with Abraham and Isaac?
28:14 Why does this sound familiar? Is “dust of the earth” a play on words or perhaps an allusion to another biblical narrative? Note the four cardinal directions.
28:15 Where have we heard this before?  What if the Lord does not keep this promise? Does this verse suggest that the LORD might leave Jacob after the promise is fulfilled?
28:16 How could Jacob not have known the LORD was in that place? What do you know about Celtic thin places like Iona and Lidesfarne?  Is it not true that God is in every place? Where might God be in our world—and in our lives—yet we do not know it?
28:17 When was the last time you or anyone else walked into the sanctuary or any other part of a church building and exclaimed “How awesome is this place?”  Why do some places and not others suggest transcendence?  How is fear related to awesomeness?
28:18 What is the meaning and significance of this action?  Is this an example of raising an Ebenezer?  What might this story suggest about ancient obelisks, Celtic Crosses, or modern day Peace Poles?
28:19a What is the literal meaning of “Bethel”?

PSALM 139:1-12, 23-24
139:1 It sounds like God is carrying out the function of the TSA.
139:2 I can understand God wanting to know our thoughts, but our sitting and rising?
139:3 How many ways do we have?
139:4 What might this verse teach us about prayer?
139:5 What is the meaning of this verse?  Is it a good thing or a bad thing to be hemmed in?
139:6 From a Socratic perspective, this Psalmist was very wise.
139:1-6 It appears as though God knows us better than we know ourselves.
139:7 Are these rhetorical questions?  What is the expected answer?
139:8 How might one “ascend” to heaven or “descend” to Sheol? What and where is “Sheol”?
139:9 What are the wings of the morning?
139:10 Proof positive that God is right handed and therefore all right handed people are created in the image of God and all left-handed people are evil – or maybe not.
139:11-12 So whether it is day or night makes no difference to God? How might these verses inform our understanding of Psalm 23?
139:23 Are you ready and willing to invite God to search you and know you in this way?
139:24 If God has searched us and already knows our sin better than we do, then why do we still confess our sin? 

ROMANS 8:12-25
8:12 If we are debtors, but not debtors to the flesh, what are we debtors to?
8:13 What does it mean to put to death the deeds of the body? What are the deeds of the body?
8:14 How does the Spirit of God lead us? Is being led by the Spirit of God the meaning of adoption?
8:15 What fear is Paul taking about?
8:16 What is the relation of the Spirit of God and our spirits?
8:17 Are we joint heirs only if we suffer with Christ? How might we suffer with Christ?
8:14-17 What is Paul contrasting when he contrasts “a spirit of slavery” with “a spirit of adoption”?  Do Americans read and hear this differently due of our own nation’s sordid history of involuntary servitude?  When do we cry “Abba! Father!?”  Considering Paul’s previous use of “debts” and his use here of “inheritance” he seems to be focused on financial terminology, images, and metaphors.
8:18 But the sufferings of the present time are still sufferings. What sufferings was Paul referring to?  What is the meaning of “this present time”? What would Marx say about this passage?
8:19 What does Paul mean by creation?
8:20 The creation has a will?
8:21 Without decay, ecological cycles will cease.
8:19-21 The creation, not just humans, BUT THE CREATION, waits. From a theological and ecological perspective, can Global Climate Change be viewed not only as a result of sin, but a symptom of sin?  If so, would there be a temptation to throw up our hands and say “There is nothing we can do about Global Climate Change?  It is up to God to redeem the situation?”
8:22 How might this passage inform our understanding of “mother earth” and Gaia?
8:23 What are the first fruits of the Spirit? If we are waiting for adoption then we are not yet adopted.
8:24 I hope for many things I can see.  I can see them, but they are realistically out of my reach.
8:25 I also hope for things I do not see. What “seen” and “unseen” things might Paul have had in mind?

MATTHEW 13:24-30, 36-43
13:24 It seems we have another kingdom parable involving seeds, this time good seeds.
13:25 Weeds, salt, or Agent Orange—what does it matter?  What does Just War theory say about such a practice?
13:26 Now you know how all those weeds ended up in your garden!  It is no coincidence that species of plants that are not native to an area are referred to as “invasive species?”
13:27 Not more slavery language—gag me! Do weeds not occur naturally?
13:28 How did the householder know that the weeds had been sown by an enemy?
13:29 The workers are presented with an agricultural, or rather an ethical, dilemma.
13:30 I am hearing overtones of the hymn “Harvest Home” and we are still months away from Thanksgiving. Why would it be easier to separate the weeds from the wheat at the harvest rather than doing so earlier?
13:36 Who left the crowds and went into a house? What house?  Whose house? Once parables are explained, are they still parables? Must parable have an explanation or only one explanation?
13:37 Who is the Son of Man?
13:38 The field is the world, not the church.  Does that mean there are no weeds growing in any churches?  Are you reading this in light of Romans 8:12-25? Who is the evil one? With all this talk about weeds, is anyone getting the munchies? How did marijuana become known as “weed?”
13:39 Is the Devil the same as the evil one? Shall we make any connection to the angels of this parable with the angels of Jacob’s dream?  Why do Presbyterians not talk much about angels?
13:40 Why are weeds burned?
13:41 Are evildoers the same as weeds?
13:42 Why throw them into the furnace of fire?
13:37-42 How do these apocalyptic verses inform the popular image of hell?
13:43 This is a truly Semitic rather than a classical Greek metaphor.  Would it make a difference if Jesus said “Let everyone with eyes see”?

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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