Monday, January 29, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Transfiguration of the Lord (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.

2 Kings 2:1-12
2:1-12 How much does this reading influence our understanding of the Transfiguration and inform our interpretation of  Mark 9:2-9?  Can we read Mark 9:29, in part, as Midrash on this reading?
2:1 What is a whirlwind? Is there any significance to the fact that Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal? What was the relationship between Elijah and Elisha and are people in the pews aware of their relationship? Does their prior relationship influence or inform of interpretation of this text?
2:2 What is the significance of Bethel? Why might Elijah have wanted Elisha not to follow him? Why was Elisha insistent of accompanying Elijah?
2:3 Who are the company of prophets (see 2:5 as well)?  Why did Elisha bid them to keep silent?
2:4 Note the repetition of “stay here” and “as you yourself live” as in 2:2. Is there any significance to Jericho?
2:5 What do you know about Jericho? Note again the pattern of repetition, as in 2:3. Did every town, like Bethel and Jericho, have a company of prophets?
2:6 What do you know about the Jordan? Why this travel narrative? Why this continuous pattern of repetition and parallel structure, 2:2-3/2:4-5/2:6-7?
2:7 Is there anything significant or symbolic about the number fifty?
2:8 What is a mantel?  Is this a Midrash on Moses’ parting of the Red Sea?
2:9 What is a double measure of spirit?  Can prophetic spirit be willed or inherited? I would settle for half of Elijah’s spirit.
2:10 Does Elijah have the power to grant this request or does this power rest with God? Why the emphasis on seeing? How does this “seeing” inform our understanding of the Transfiguration?
2:11 Why does a chariot of fire and horses of fire appear?  What is their relationship to the whirlwind? Note the appearance of fire in Psalm 50:3.
2:12 What are “the chariots of Israel and its horseman?” Why did Elisha tear his clothes in two? Did Elisha inherit a double portion of Elijah’s spirit or not?

Psalm 50:1-6
50:1 Does God not summon from the setting of the sun to its rising? How does the LORD, the mighty one, speak and summons today?
50:2 What is perfect beauty? How does God “shine?” Would you have connected this verse with the Transfiguration if it had not been for the lectionary?
50:3 Does this verse alone, with its “fire” and “mighty tempest,”  justify this Psalm being paired with the First Reading? See 2 Kings 2:11 and 2:1
50:4 Who are God’s people?
50:5 Are we to assume from the First Reading that, at the time, only Elijah was faithful? Who initiated the covenant, God or the people?
50:6 How do the heaven’s declare God’s righteousness? Are images from the Hubble Space Telescope in any way Icons? I always ask the following question when “Selah” appears: how do you deal with it? Do you read it. Do you skip over it? Do you in any way interpret it?

2 Corinthians 4:3-6
4:3 Is our gospel veiled?  What sort of veil is Paul talking about? Who are perishing?
4:4 Who, or what, is  “the god of this world?” How does this verse illuminate our understanding of the Transfiguration and inform our interpretation of the Gospel Reading? How might “Illuminated Manuscripts” like The Book of Kells and the St. John’s Bible illuminate our understanding of this verse?
4:5 Why does Paul even have to write “For we do not proclaim ourselves?” Was someone accusing his of self promotion?
4:6 Where in Scripture did God say “Let light shine out of darkness?” Consider Genesis 1:3.

Mark 9:2-9
9:2 Six days after what? What else once happened after six days?  Why does Jesus always seem to take with him Peter, James and John?  What is the meaning of the word “transfigured?” Why am I thinking of Franz Kafka?
9:3 Was this in the days before Clorox and/or OxiClean? Have you ever seen anybody dressed in dazzling white?
9:4 Why Elisha and Moses?  What do they represent and/or symbolize?  If you had to pick two people from the Jewish Scriptures to appear with you, whom would you pick? What do you think they were talking about with Jesus?
9:5 Why might Peter have wanted to build three dwellings?
9:6 Note that Peter (singular) did not know what to say, for they (plural) were terrified. Have you ever been terrified? Is it human nature to sometimes make small talk, or even stick one’s footin one’s mouth, when terrified? Might Rudolph Otto help us interpret this verse?
9:7 What does the cloud represent? Where and when have we heard something like this before?
9:8 What just happened?
9:9 Why would Jesus order Peter, James and John not to tell anyone about what they had just seen?  What do you know about Mark’s “messianic secret?” Why is “Son of Man” used here but not earlier in this account?  Why do Peter, James and John have to wait until after the resurrection to tell people about what they experienced?

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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