Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 23 (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 32:1-14
32:1 The people grow impatient with Moses and in the leadership vacuum left by his absence turn to Aaron.  What lesson might pastors learn from this? Did the people think Aaron would do for them what Moses would not?
32:2 Gold is currently selling for about $1,200/oz. Note that men, at least young men, were wearing ear rings at that time.
32:3 Is this an example of group think?
32:4 Why a calf?  Why is “calf” singular and “gods” plural?
32:5 What good is a golden calf without an altar?
32:6 This sounds like a party. Perhaps the people really did not want an idol but a religiously sanctioned party.
32:7 The LORD finally speaks up but it seems like the LORD is placing the blame for the idolatry or the responsibility for correcting it entirely on Moses.
32:8 Did the golden calf represent other gods, or was it meant to represent the LORD?
32:9 What does stiff necked mean?
32:10 The LORD wants to be alone. Is the LORD offering Moses a bribe? A reward?  A temptation?
32:11 Note that the LORD is the God of Moses, not of the people.  Is Moses buttering-up God? Compare this verse to 32:7. It seems Moses is throwing everything back into God’s hands, or is Moses just passing the buck?
32:12 Is Moses appealing to the LORD’s pride? Can the LORD really change the divine mind?
32:13 Does the LORD really need to be reminded? Why are the women never mentioned?
32:14 The LORD does indeed change the divine mind? Can we say that God repents?

PSALM 106:1-6, 19-23
106:1 Must love endure forever in order to be steadfast?
106:2 Is this a rhetorical question?
106:3 Can anyone then be happy?
106:4 What does it mean to be remembered by God?
106:5 This is beginning to sound like a nationalistic Psalm.
106:6 Here is a good phrase to include in a prayer of confession of sin, but how does it follow from what precedes it? Should we be reading and interpreting this verse in light of the Exodus Reading?
106:19 Apparently we are indeed to read this as a comment on how our ancestors in verses 6 sinned.
106:20 Can glory ever be captured by any image?
106:21 Is the issue really forgetfulness or is it idolatry?
106:22 What were the works in the land of Ham?
106:23 Is Moses an illustration of what it means to “stand in the breach?” Who created the breach and how?

4:1 I hate it when a Reading begins with “therefore” because we are not hearing what came before. How and why are the Philippians Paul’s “joy and crown”?
4:2 If Euodia and Syntyche are conflicted, it seems Paul is not taking sides.
4:3 Whom is Paul addressing as “my loyal companion?”  What might this verse be saying about women serving as leaders in the early church?  Is “The Book of Life” available from and/or available for download on a kindle? Of all Paul’s coworkers, why are only Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement named?
4:4 This is surely an often quoted verse but usually out of context.
4:5 What does letting your gentleness be known have to do with the Lord being near?
4:6 Does the advice of this verse depend on the fact that “The Lord is near” or is this advice good at anytime?
4:7 What do you understand the peace of God to be?
4:8 This is quite a list of adjectives. What are you thinking about right now?
4:9 What do you think the Philippians learned, received, heard, and saw?

MATTHEW 22:1-14
22:1 In seems the author is aware that Jesus often spoke in parables.
22:2 Here is another kingdom parable.  Must we equate the king with God and the son with Jesus?
22:3 How do we deal with slave language and all its connotations? How is this parable similar to the parable in Matthew 21:33-46 from last week? Who might the slaves represent? Who were the invited guests?
22:4 Any connection between the “oxen” and “calves” of this passage and Exodus 32:1-14 is purely coincidental.
22:5 What does it mean to “make light of” something? Why might the invited guests not want to attend a wedding banquet?
22:6 Once again, see Matthew 21:22-46.
22:7 Was the King’s response a reasonable one? Who might the troops represent or refer to?
22:8 Why I am thinking of Wayne’s World?
22:9 If the city was burned (22:7), who would be hanging out on the main streets?
22:10 So the kingdom of God is filled with both good and bad?
22:11 What is a wedding robe and what might it represent?
22:12 I think he should have answered “Your slaves invited me and I was gathered in with everyone else here.” Who was speechless, the man or the king?
22:13 I know this is only a parable, but still, this seems like harsh punishment simply for showing up at a royal wedding underdressed.  What do you think?
22:14 What is the difference between being “called” and “chosen.” Some Presbyterians might read this as “many are cold but few are frozen.”

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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