Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 22 (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: This week’s Readings usually fall on World Communion Sunday, but not this year, because World Communion Sunday fell on the first Sunday in October. We are therefore encountering them in a different liturgical context.

EXODUS 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
20:1 What might it mean that what follows are called “words”?  How did God speak them? Why does the Revised Common Lectionary skip over some of these words? Does the Prologue to the Gospel According to John influence how we might hear or interpret these words?
20:2 Why, in the NRSV and many other translations, does “LORD” appear in all uppercase letters? Why does the LORD need an introduction?
20:3 What about other gods “after” or “alongside” the LORD?
20:4 What about imaginative or imaginary forms?  Might Plato’s theory of forms offer us any insight here?  What about Anselm’s ontological argument?  How do we make idols today?  How do Moslems avoid making idols?
20:7 What about making a rightful use of the name of the LORD? What is the name of the LORD?
20:8 When is the sabbath day? I think Seventh Day Adventists have a right to boast about this one.  How do you remember the sabbath day and keep it holy?
20:12 This one comes with a promise – or is it a reward? Why? Must we honor abusive parents and so forth?
20:13 What is murder?  We seem to have wordsmithed this one to death!
20:14 Does this commandment prohibit premarital sex? What about serial monogamy?
20:15 Unless the thief is already rich and has the power of government behind them?
20:16 What about bearing false witness against people who are not your neighbor?  Does Jesus have anything to add here?
20:17 Why does house appear before wife?  Does this assume that a man’s wife is his property? What about anything that belongs to someone other than your neighbor?
20:18 Where did the sound of the trumpet come from? Why were the people afraid? How might Rudolf Otto’s concept of the mysterium tremendum (awe inspiring mystery) inform our understanding of this verse?
20:19 Why did the people think they would die if God spoke to them?
20:20 Is the fear of God the only motivation for not to sinning?
20:1-20 Early in my ministry I discovered Jan Milic Lochman’s Signposts to Freedom: The Ten Commandments and Christian Ethics and I highly recommend it as a thoughtful interpretation of the Ten Commandments.

19:1-6 Do we have to buy into a pre-Copernican, three-tiered universe in order to read this as God’s word?
19:1 How do the heavens tell the glory of God? What is a firmament? Do images from the Hubble Space Telescope add to or detract from this verse?
19:2-4 Is anyone else confused by these verses? I am.
19:4b-6 Is this an anthropomorphic personification of the sun? Why is the moon not mentioned?
19:7-9 How many synonyms for “law” are used in these verses?
19:10 Since when is the law, any law, more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey?
19:11 Is reward the only motivation for keeping God’s law? Does juxtaposing this verse with Exodus 20:20 offer an opportunity to reflect on “vinegar or honey” and “carrot or stick” debates?
19:12a Is this a rhetorical question?
19:13 If one simply keeps away from the riff raff, all will be well?
19:14 This verse is often quoted/prayed by preachers before they preach a sermon, and I think wrongly so.  A Prayer for Illumination prior to the reading of Scripture is sufficient for both the reading of the word and the preaching of the word.

3:4b Is there a pun or innuendo at work here?
3:5 Is Paul bragging? Establishing his Jewish credentials?
3:6 Did Paul really think he was blameless under the law?
3:7 What gains might Paul have had?
3:8 What has Paul lost?
3:9 Why is Paul so concerned about righteousness?
3:10 How will Paul become like Christ in his death?
3:11 Why the “if?”
3:12 What metaphor is Paul employing?
3:13 Paul has abandoned the past. Has he also abandoned the present for the future?
3:14 What prize is Paul looking forward to? What prize do you look forward to? Must we be coaxed or bribed by prizes?

MATTHEW 21:33-46
21:33 Is this really a parable? Is it acceptable to equate God with the land owner?  Who might the tenants be? Are you aware that the Hebrew Scriptures often compare Israel to a vineyard?
21:34 Who might the slaves be?
21:35-36 Why did the tenants treat the slaves as they did?
21:37 A son, but not necessarily an only son.
21:38 How would killing the son get the tenants the son’s inheritance?
21:39 Who might the son be?
21:40 When will the owner of the vineyard come?
21:41 Who answered Jesus? Who might the other tenants be?
21:42 Where might we read this in scripture? What is a cornerstone and what function does it serve. What is the difference between a cornerstone and a keystone?
21:43 What is the issue, not producing fruits or not treating representatives of the landowner so harshly? What are the fruits of the kingdom? Is this parable a “kingdom parable”?
21:44 Who or what is the stone?
21:45 Why were the chief priests and Pharisees listening? If verse 45 is true, what, then, is the irony of the following verse?
21:46 Did the Pharisee and chief priests not get it?

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.

In light of the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, I invite you to read my essay "End the Culture of Gun Violence."

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