Sunday, September 17, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 21 (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: The following Readings usually fall on the Sunday before World Communion Sunday, but not this year, because this year World Communion Sunday falls on the first Sunday in October. It is therefore unusual for most that these Readings would inform the celebration of the Eucharist.

EXODUS 17:1-7
17:1 Where was the wilderness of Sin?  I wonder how worshipers hear the name of the location. What does it mean to journey by stages?  Did the LORD command them to journey, or did the LORD command them to journey by stages? Why would anyone camp at a place where there was no water?
17:2 How many times have the people quarreled with Moses?  How is quarrelling with Moses the same as testing the LORD?
17:3 Were the people questioning Moses’ motivation or leadership and judgment?
17:4 How many pastors, how many times, have similarly cried out? Was Moses more concerned about the welfare of the people or his own hide?
17:5 Apparently Moses served in a multi staff congregation!  I want to know more about this staff.  Where might it be now? Why am I thinking of Gandalf and his staff?
17:6 How would Moses recognize the LORD standing on the rock? Was this a well-known rock or a rock with a known well?  What do you know about Horeb? Were the elders there to serve as witnesses?
17:7 “Is the LORD among us or not” seems to be the question of the day.  Why do we never see churches with names like “The Massah …” or “The Meribah (put your denomination here) Church”? Why is quarreling and the grumbling, rather than the water from the rock, remembered by the naming?

PSALM 78:1-4, 12-16
78:1 Who speaking here?
78:2 Apparently someone was teaching in parables centuries before Jesus.  I love the phrase “dark sayings from of old.”  It reminds me of literature such as Beowulf and the Legend of King Arthur as well as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  I imagine the whole congregation of Israel gathered around a blazing fire while camped for the night, telling stories from the past as well as re-hashing the day’s events.
78:3 I sometimes wonder what dark sayings from of old have been lost from the oral tradition. How does preaching contribute to the oral tradition?
78:4 Why would anyone want to hide such things from their children? Were they ashamed of their past? What are the glorious deeds of the LORD? What wonders has the LORD done?
78:12 In the sight of whose ancestors? Where is Zoan?
78:13-16 Are these the only glorious deeds of the LORD and the only wonders God has done. What is not mentioned?
78:15-16 Do these two verses talk about the same thing?

2:1 Why “if?”
2:2 Are we to assume Paul’s joy was not complete?
2:3 Can’t selfish ambition sometimes be a great motivator?
2:4 This seems to run against most current practices. The first question people often seem to ask is “what is in it for me?”
2:5 Based on this verse, are we then to think and act in accordance with Philippians 2:6-8?
2:6 How would one exploit equality with God?
2:7 Are “likeness” and “form” synonyms?
2:8 Obedient to who or what?
2:9 Was “Jesus” above every name before it was given to Christ, or was it elevated above every name because of Christ’s obedience?
2:10 Whose knees are under the earth?
2:11 Is “Jesus Christ is Lord” not the most basic confession of the Christian faith?
2:12 How have the Philippians “obeyed” Paul? How do we work out our own salvation? What is meant by fear and trembling?
2:13 Or? What is the meaning and function of this verse?

MATTHEW 21:23-32
21:23 Is this a legitimate question?  What is the answer?
21:24 Is Jesus engaging in a tit for tat?
21:25-27 It seems the chief priests and elders choose to not speak the truth but rather the most politically advantageous answer. Does this behavior remind you of any person or persons in our day?
21:27 Did the chief priests and elders really know but were not willing to answer, or did they really not know? What is the difference between not knowing the truth and not speaking the truth?
21:28 What is the symbolism of the vineyard? Whom might the two sons represent?
21:28-32 Whom is Jesus addressing? How does this parable logically follow from what precedes it? Is this a parable or an analogy?
21:31 Touché!  Maybe the tax collectors and prostitutes will go into the kingdom ahead of the chief priests and elders, but perhaps the elders and chief priests will still go in. Is this another reversal parable, similar to the Gospel Reading from last week?
21:32 And the lesson is? Where do you find yourself in the parable?

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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