Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 19 (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 14:19-31
14:19 Are the “angel of God” and the “pillar of cloud” one and the same or are they different manifestations of the same reality?
14:20 What is the meaning of “army”?  How could fleeing slaves have an army in the military sense of the word?  How could the cloud light up the night?  What did not come near the other?
14:21 How might we variously understand the action of Moses stretching his hand over the sea?  What, if any, is the significance of the wind? If God was acting here, why did Moses need to do anything? Might the causeway at Lindisfarne, off the eastern coast of England, in any way help us envision how God might have been working here?
14:22 How might we variously understand “wall?”
14:23 Why do chariot drivers driving chariots not like mud?
14:24 When is the morning watch? Why did the Egyptian army panic? Are the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud one and the same?
14:25 Why did Captain Kirk, in a damaged Enterprise, enter a nebula when Kahn, in a perfectly functioning starship, sought to engage him in battle?
14:26 What is it about the hand off Moses? Why does God need to work through the hand of Moses?
14:27 When did the water’s part and when did the water’s return?  How might we variously understand “tossed?”
14:28 Does this verse conflict with the one before it?
14:29 Is this merely a restatement of 14:22?
14:30 How did the Egyptians end up on the seashore?
14:31 If it was the LORD that saved Israel, why did Israel “fear” the LORD and believe in Moses as well as in the LORD?

PSALM 114
114:1 When did Israel go out from Egypt? Why do we have a comment about strange language?
114:2 Are the references to “Judah” and “Israel” a reference to places, a people, or both? God needed a sanctuary?
114:3 Does this verse conflate two events? What does “Jordan turned back” mean or refer to?
114:4 How do mountains and hills “skip?”
114:5-6 Why are bodies of waters being compared, or poetically paired, to mountains and hills?
114:7 Is this a reference to the God of the earthquake?
114:8 When did God turn rock into a pool of water and flint into a spring of water?

EXODUS 15:1b-11, 20-21
15:1b Yes, there are other psalms or songs in the Bible other than in the Book of Psalms.  Who first sang this one?  This is an alternative to Psalm 114.  Which of the two, if either, will you use, and why?  How are they different and how are they similar?
15:2 This sounds like a statement of faith.
15:3 Must we maintain this militaristic image of God?
15:4 Why, in the NRSV, does this begin with quotation marks?
15:5 See Psalm 114:8.
15:6 What is the significance of the LORD’s “right hand?”
15:7 Note that the text states these were the LORD’s adversaries, not the Israelites’ adversaries.
15:8 God has nostrils?  The parting of the waters was the result of God sneezing?
15:9 So much for the boasts of the enemy!
15:10 Did the LORD blow wind from the nose or mouth?
15:11 And the answer to the questions asked in this verse is? Who or what are the “gods?”
15:20 Note that Miriam is called a prophet!  Why is she identified as Aaron’s sister rather than as the sister of both Aaron and Moses?  When was the last time you heard a tambourine played in a service of worship? When was the last time you saw dancing or you yourself danced in a service of worship?
15:21 This last line sounds like a refrain; a restatement of 15:1b.

ROMANS 14:1-12
14:1 What does it mean to be “weak in faith?” Who were/are the weak in faith and how can they be welcomed?
14:2 Are vegetarians weak?
14:3 Is Paul writing about only diets?
14:4 Who are “servants of another” and who is the “another”? How does this passage inform Church discipline?
14:5 Is Paul talking about the Sabbath and/or the Lord’s Day (Saturday and Sunday), or what?
14:6 Is Paul writing about fasting? Do you know the meaning of the word “adiaphora,” especially as Calvin used it?
14:7-9 These verses are often used as part of the liturgy for the Service of Witness to the Resurrection and I myself have spoken these words numerous times graveside.  What do they have to do, however, with what precedes or follows?
14:10 I think this is more than a rhetorical question.
14:11 Where is this written? What does quote have to do with the topic at hand?
14:12 Each of us will be accountable, but accountable based on what?

MATTHEW 18:21-35
18:21 Why might the word “church” seem out of place here?  How might we account for it being used here?  Is there anything special about the number “seven” in this context? Do you think Peter was really looking for an answer or just seeking justification of his own views and practice?
18:22 Is there anything special about “seventy-seven”?  Are there parallels to this passage in the other Gospels, and if so, how do they agree and disagree?
18:23-35 Is this a “Kingdom Parable?” If this passage is not about wealth, then what is it about?
18:24 What is the current value of ten thousand talents?
18:25 I guess there were no bankruptcy provisions back then, only debtor’s prison.
18:26 Was does falling on knees signify?
18:27 Must forgiveness proceed from pity?
18:28 What is the current value of a hundred denarii? How does the value of a hundred denarii compare to the value of ten thousand talents?
18:29 Note that this is nearly verbatim of Matthew 18:26.
18:30 So much for paying it forward!
18:31 Communities have their standards and expectations.
18:32 That is indeed the case.
18:33 And what is the answer to this rhetorical question?
18:34 How can the master hold his slave accountable for a debt he has already forgiven? Is torture worse than imprisonment?
18:35 Is this a threat?  Does this verse suggest that forgiveness, even salvation, is revocable? Will God hand the unforgiving over to be tortured?

ADDENDUM
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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