Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 3rd Sunday After Epiphany (Year B)

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.

JONAH 3:1-5, 10
3:1 What was the “word of the Lord” before the incarnation and how did it come to people? How many times in the average person’s life does the word of the Lord come to them?
3:2 What do you know about Nineveh and what would be a modern equivalent? What made Nineveh at that time great or is great only a reference to its size?
3:3 How large would a city have to be to take three days to walk across it?  Is this perhaps hyperbole?
3:4 What is so special about forty days? Who was about to overthrow Nineveh?
3:5 Did the people believe God or did they believe Jonah? What is the symbolic meaning of sackcloth and is there any symbolic equivalent today? Nineveh engaged in rituals meant to suggest repentance, but was Nineveh really repentant? Think about this in terms of the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday.
3:10 This verse must be a Process Theologian’s favorite verse. If God is God, God must be free and powerful enough to change the divine mind.

PSALM 62:5-12
62:5 Who else or what else might your soul wait for in silence?  What does it mean to “wait in silence?”  What do you know about contemplative/meditative prayer?
62:6 Are rock, salvation and fortress merely poetic synonyms or does each noun offer a unique nuance?
62:7 Are deliverance and honor related? In the previous verse God was a rock. In this verse God is a mighty rock. How might National Wildlife Refuges help us interpret this verse?
62:8 What times might we be tempted not to trust in God?  How does one pour out one’s heart before God? How do you deal, if at all, with “Selah”?
62:9 What is the difference between a breath and a delusion? Who are of low estate and who are of high estate? What are the “balances?” How light is a breath?
62:10 Why would anyone put confidence in extortion?  It is OK if riches increase as long as you do not set your heart on them?  How does this verse counteract the prosperity gospel? Why does the Psalmist even mention robbery, extortion, and riches?
62:11 What is the meaning of “once” and how is it related to “twice.”
62:11-12 Is God’s steadfast love the source of God’s power?
62:12 Note the shift from speaking of God in the third person to direct address. This sounds like works righteousness.

7:29 What is “the appointed time” being referred to?  How does any time grow short?   What does it mean for those who have wives to be as though they had none? How does this passage inform Christian family values?
7:30 What does it mean to buy as though one had no possessions? Is this verse speaking about detachment?
7:31 What is the present form of the world? How does it pass away?  Are Plato and/or C. S. Lewis any help here?

MARK 1:14-20
1:14 Is “after” a chronos or a kairos reference? From where did Jesus come? What is “the good news of God?” Did Jesus not proclaim this before John was arrested?
1:15 What time is fulfilled? What does Jesus mean “the kingdom of God has come near?” Is Jesus himself the kingdom? Does he embody the kingdom?  Is the good news of God the news that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near or something else?
1:16, 19 It sounds like Jesus had a thing for brothers.  I wonder why.
1:17 What did Jesus mean by “follow me”? What does it mean to fish for people?
1:18, 20 It sounds like Mark has a thing for “immediately”.
1:20 Why would Jesus call James and John but not their father or the hired men?

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. My various blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and Appalachian Trials.

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