Monday, August 14, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 16 (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.

EXODUS 1:8-2:10
1:8 Thus begins the Moses cycle/narrative.  What does this verse say about the importance of memory? Changes in administrations often have consequences.
1:9-10 How might these verse inform current thinking and analysis of American immigration policy?
1:10 I can understand the fear of insurrection, but why the fear of escape?
1:11 What do we know about Pithom and Rameses?
1:12 What lesson might be learned from this?
1:13-14 What Governments are ruthless today? What economic systems are ruthless?
1:15 Were Shiphrah and Puah the only two midwives?
1:16 Why kill the males but allow the females to live?  The opposite would seem to make better sense.  I wonder if Shiphrah and Puah served as midwives only to Hebrew woman or also to Egyptian women
1:17 In this context, what does it mean to fear God? Were Shiphrah and Puah Jews, or not? Did Shiphrah and Puah engage in civil disobedience?
1:18 Oh no!
1:19 When is it okay to lie? Is this verse also meant as an insult to Egyptian women?
1:20 God apparently rewards lying and disobeying civil authority.
1:21 Was not having a family considered a curse?
1:22 Was Moses the only Hebrew baby boy not thrown into the Nile? In a sense, Moses was thrown into the nile, but placed in a little floating ark first. How might this verse and Exodus 1:16 inform our understanding of the account of the slaughter of the innocents found in Matthew
2:1 Why are the man and woman not named?  Is there anything special about the house of Levi?
2:2 What might have happened if the woman had seen that he was not a fine baby? Is there anything significant about the time span of three months?
2:3 What else was once plastered with bitumen and pitch? What is the Hebrew word translated as “basket,” how else is this Hebrew word used in the Hebrew Scriptures, and how else might it be translated?
2:4 Did the mother tell the sister to watch or did the sister take this watching upon herself?
2:5 This seems like a fortuitous and ironic development.
2:6 Why did she think this might be a Hebrew baby?
2:7 I think the sister acts somewhat boldly here as she makes the best of the opportunity. Could an Egyptian not nurse the baby?
2:8 This sounds like a strange construction since this is the boys sister and thus his mother is also her mother, yet she is referred to as “the girl”.
2:9 The child’s own mother ends up nursing the child who might have died if the daughter of the man who ordered his death had not found him and had pity.
2:10 Yes, this explains the name Moses, bit is there also some foreshadowing going on here?

12:1-2a When I begin a responsive reading and the response sounds shallow, hollow, and barely audible, sometimes I will repeat the call phrase.  Might something similar be happening here?
12:2b Who are Israel’s enemies that attacked?
12:2b-6 Does this Psalm reflect the Exodus? Why is this Psalm paired with the First reading? 
12:4-5 This apparent reference to the Exodus seems to be jumping ahead of the story.
12:6 Blessed be the LORD indeed.
12:7 The snare has been broken but the LORD was the one who broke it.
12:8 This sounds like a familiar refrain. What else is there other than heaven and earth?

ROMANS 12:1-8
12:1 What is a “living” sacrifice?  What is “spiritual” worship?  Is there such a thing as unspiritual or spiritless worship? How might Paul have addressed the Shoah?
12:2 What is the difference between “conformed” and” transformed”?  How are our minds renewed?  Why does Paul write about the renewing of our minds rather than the renewing of our hearts?
12:3 How do we measure our faith? Do you think that sometimes Paul thought too much of himself?
12:4 What does Paul mean by “members?”
12:5 I understand the logic with the exception of the last phrase.  How are we individually members one of another? Might holography and holograms help us here?
12:6-8 “We have gifts that differ” in the NRSV is “We have gifts differing” in the KJV. The KJV rendering is the biblical phrase that inspired Myers and Briggs to title their book applying Jung’s type theory Gifts Differing.  You may want to also look at 1 Corinthians 12. What are your gifts? Is Paul’s list meant to be exclusive?

MATTHEW 16:13-20 (SJB)
16:13 Where did Jesus enter from?  Is there anything special about the district of Caesarea Philippi?  Why would Jesus ask his disciples this question?  Does the average person in the pew or Bible Study have a clue about the baggage associated with “Son of Man” language and imagery?
16:14 Apparently there were various views of who Jesus was. I guess times have not changed.
16:15 Here is the quintessential question. What is your answer? IMHO, Statements of Faith prepared for examination of a candidate or transferring minister tells us more about a person’s breadth of theological education and ability to think systematically rather than about what a person actually believes.
16:16 As usual, Peter is the first to speak up.  Did he get it right or did he stick his foot into his mouth? Compare the Gospel parallels.  Can we think of each of the Gospels as a somewhat unique answer to this question? Do Paul’s writings offer us yet another answer?
16:17 What does this say about the nature of revelation?
16:18 What is the play on words with “Peter” and “rock”?  Do you recall how in the Gospel Reading just two weeks ago this “rock” starting sinking because of little faith? What and where is Hades and what are its gates?
16:19 What are the “keys to the kingdom”?  What does it mean to “bind” and to “loose”? Where, previously in Matthew, have we encountered “binding” and “losing” language?
16:20 Why would Jesus order his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah?  What do you know about “the messianic secret?” Has this passage just equated “the Son of Man” with “the Messiah”?

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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