Monday, October 30, 2017
Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 27 (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.
JOSHUA 24:1-3a, 14-25
24:1 What do you know about Shechem? The listing of “elders, heads, judges, and the officers” suggests a rather organized society, just forty years after the Exodus.
24:2 Why does Joshua point back one generation to Terah rather than to Abraham?
24:3a Why isn’t Sarah mentioned?
24:14 What is this talk about putting away other gods all about? What other God were the people worshiping? Had the people worshipped the gods of Egypt while enslaved there?
24:15 Joshua presents three choices: Serve the gods ancestors worshiped before God called Abraham, serve the local gods of the Amorites, or serve the LORD. What choices are people presented with today?
24:16 But hadn’t the people forsaken the LORD time and time again while they were in the wilderness?
24:17 Joshua seems to suggest that we worship not because of what the LORDwill do but what the LORD has already done.
24:18 We serve the LORD because the LORD is our God. The LORD is not our God because we serve the LORD.
24:14-18 Are these verses about monotheism, or about recognizing that of all the gods, only one, the LORD, is the one who has saved us? Take another look at Exodus 20:1-3.
24:19 “You cannot serve the LORD”? What is Joshua doing here? Is Johua employing reverse psychology?
24:20 The LORD sounds like a jealous God.
24:21 Is this a confession of faith?
24:22 What does it mean, in this context, to be a witness?
24:23 Did the people actually have statues, physical representations of foreign gods, and idols, or is this a metaphorical “put away”?
24:24 Is this also a confession of faith?
24:25 Is this a third covenant? Is the covenant between Joshua and the people or between the LORD and the people? What statutes and ordinances are being referred to?
78:1 Who is the speaking?
78:2 Apparently Jesus was not the only person in the Bible to speak in parables. What are “dark sayings from of old?”
78:3 This sounds like a reference to the oral tradition.
78:4 Why might you want to hide dark sayings from children? What are the Lord’s glorious deeds and wonders? Is this a reference to a early form of religious instruction?
78:5 Is the speaker not a child of his/her ancestors?
78:6 This is really thinking far ahead, to future generations.
78:7 What is the relation between works and commandments?
78:1-7 This Psalm reads like a call to educational ministry and mission. What would this psalmist say about the state of Biblical literacy, or lack of, in today’s church?
1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18
4:13 How might we be uninformed?
4:14 What does Paul mean “God will bring with him”? Why “again?”
4:15 What is this all about?
4:16-17 Who is the archangel? Why are there so many trumpets sounding in Scripture?
Does this presuppose a pre-Copernican three tiered universe? How do we translate this into modern cosmological terms?
4:18 How are these words encouraging? See item #16 on page 914 in the PC(USA) Book of Common Worship. See also page 949.
25:1 Is this a kingdom parable? Is there anything special about the number ten? Is there anything special about bridesmaids? Who might the bride be? Who might the groom be?
25:2 Why five foolish and five wise? What if it were six and four, or three and seven?
25:3-4 Does the oil represent anything or is this just about being prepared?
25:5 What is this about “delay?” Note that both the wise and the foolish become drowsy and fall asleep. Was “delay” the real issue? You might want to juxtapose this verse and passage with the Thessalonians 5:1-11 Reading.
25:6 Why midnight? Who shouted?
25:7 Why trim a lamp?
25:8 What about those who today are unprepared?
25:9 Were the wise being selfish? Why not share lamps even if the oil could not be shared?
25:10 I wonder how much oil the wise had brought with them. I wonder how long their oil would have lasted if the groom had not come when he did.
25:11 Late is the same as never.
25:12 This sounds curt. What does it mean to be known?
25:13 This point does not fit. Based on what precedes, the point ought to have been “Be prepared. Keep a supply of oil.” Otherwise, the wise bridesmaids should not have slept while the foolish bridesmaids slept.
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.