Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 28 (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.

JUDGES 4:1-7
4:1 Here we go again.  This is beginning to remind me of déjà vu all over again. How many times did the Israelites do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?  How many times do we? What was, and is, evil in the sight of the LORD?
4:2 Do the names of rulers, commanders, and place names add or detract from the narrative?
4:3 This is beginning to sound like a broken record.  How many times do we cry out to the LORD, asking the LORD to get us out of trouble we have gotten ourselves into?
4:4 What blasphemy, a female prophet!  With regard to any male prophet, how often are we told who their wife was?
4:5 Do you think the Palm of Deborah was known by that name in Deborah’s day? Too bad it was not a Bodhi tree. Why would the Israelites come to her for judgement?
4:6 How dare Deborah speak for God! I wonder how Barak felt taking orders from when those orders were given through a woman.
4:7 What is a Wadi and why does it matter?

123:1 I thought God was enthroned on the cherubim.  Are the cherubim in heaven or in the Temple?
123:2 So God is a master and maid while we are servants and mistresses.  While the Israelites in the Judges passage cry to the LORD, the psalmist simply looks to the LORD.  Maybe those eyes were sad, droopy puppy dog eyes that the LORD simply could not resist.
123:3 To what contempt is the Psalmist referring? Is their neighbor’s contempt enough to elicit God’s mercy upon Israel?
123:4 To what scorn is the Psalmist referring? Are contempt and scorn synonymous?

5:1 What times and seasons? If nothing needs to be written to the Thessalonians about times and seasons then why does Paul bring it up?
5:2 Is this an example of chiastic structure:  “day lord / thief night”? What does Paul mean by “day of the Lord?”
5:3 Since I am of the male persuasion, I chose not to comment on this verse.  If there is anyone of the female persuasion out there who would like to comment, please do so.
5:4-5 There is a lot of “light” and “darkness” to keep track of in these verses. Beware of racial stereotypes. Can the Dead Sea scrolls help us put this passage into context?
5:6 Since the overriding metaphor is staying awake, why does Paul add “sober”?
5:7 What point is Paul trying to make? It must be night somewhere.
5:8 Does the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation, change the metaphor?  Note that a breastplate and a helmet are entirely defensive rather than offensive. Have you ever heard of a type of prayer known in the Celtic tradition as a Lorica?
5:9 Why do my Reformed/Presbyterian ears perk up when I hear this verse?
5:10 Is Paul confusing his “sleep” metaphor and using it to mean more than one thing?
5:11 In other words, keep on keeping on.

MATTHEW 25:14-30
25:14 “It is as if” makes this what, a parable? Why do I have a problem with slave language?
25:15 What is a talent?  Does our English translation help us or leas us astray? Ability to do what?
25:16 This slave should have been a stock broker or banker.
25:17 A 100% return! Not bad.
25:18 What were the abilities of the first and second slaves?  What was the ability of the third slave? Had the man going on a journey misjudged the abilities of his slaves?
25:19 What is a long time and does it matter?
25:20, 22 What if he had made bad business decisions and lost some or all of the five talents?
25:21, 23 What does it mean to enter into the joy of a master?
25:24 Maybe the third slave said too much in addition to not doubling the talent.
25:25 How do we sometimes allow fear to cripple us?
25:26 Was the slave really wicked and lazy or just overly careful?
25:27 If we take this too literally, it begins to break down and seems illogical. After all, the man could have invested his money with bankers to begin with rather than entrusting it to his slaves.
25:28-29 Does the growing disparity between the rich and the poor impact how we might read and interpret these verses?
25:30 Have we heard anything like this before? Where?
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Pastor of the Bethlehem United Presbyterian Church, Wheeling, WV. Sunday Worship at Bethlehem begins at 10:45 AM. Here is Bethlehem United's Facebook address: https://www.facebook.com/Bethlehem-United-Presbyterian-Church-102482088303980

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