Monday, February 12, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 2nd Sunday in Lent (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.

GENESIS 17:1-7, 15-16
17:1 Last week, we encountered Noah and Noahic Covenant.  This week, we encounter Abram and the Abrahamic Covenant.  How do these two covenants inform our understanding of Lent and Easter? Abram was only ninety-nine year old? Well, at least he was not one hundred years old! Will it be lost on most people that Abram’s name will be changed to Abraham?  What does it mean to walk before God?
17:2 Of all people, why did God Almighty choose Abram?
17:3 Why does Abram fall on his face? Why do we no longer fall on our faces when we encounter or come before God Almighty?
17:4 What is the meaning of “nations”? Both Jews and Arabs trace their lineage to Abram. Do any other nations or ethnic groups, other than Jews and Arabs, trace their roots back to Abram?
17:5 Why does God change Abram’s name to Abraham? What does a name change symbolize? Who else in the Hebrew Scriptures exeriences a name change? Who in the New Testament experiences a name change?Note the use of the past tense “I have made you”.
17:6 Will Abraham be exceedingly fruitful or will his descendants be exceedingly fruitful?
17:7 In verse 17:2 God Almighty promises to establish a covenant with Abraham.  In this verse, the promise is extended to Abraham’s offspring.
17:15 Why does God have Abraham change Sarai’s name to Sarah? Are there any other women in the Bible who experience a name change?
17:16 What is the difference between a covenant and a blessing? God will bless Sarah, but does God extend the covenant to Sarah? Who else will bear a son of Abraham?

PSALM 22:23-31
22:23 What does the psalmist mean by “fear”? Why does the psalmist refer to offspring of Jacob/Israel rather than Abraham?
22:24 Is the Psalmist the afflicted? How was this Psalm interpreted by early Christians?
22:25 What is the great congregation? What vows will be paid?
22:26 Why “poor” rather than “hungry” if the issue is their being fed? Shall anyone praise the LORD who do not seek the LORD?
22:27 How many ends of the earth are there? Remember what? Why “families of the nations” rather than just “nations”?
22:28 What is the meaning of dominion? I though dominion had been granted to humans.
22:29 Is life being contrasted with death? How can the dead bow down? How does the recent observance of Ash Wednesday affect how we read and hear this verse?
22:30 Is this promise for the church as much as for Abraham and his offspring? Who will tell future generations about the Lord?
22:31 How does one proclaim anything to a people yet unborn?

ROMANS 4:15-25
4:13 Did only Abraham have faith, or did his descendants also have faith? What came first, the promise or Abraham’s faith?
4:14 This sounds logical.
4:15 Again, this sounds logical. Whose wrath does the law bring?
4:16 What does Paul mean by “the faith of Abraham?” Note that adherents to the law also guaranteed the promise.
4:17 Where is this written?
4:18 Is “hoping against hope” the same as “faith?”
4:19 Is hope or faith ever misplaced?
4:20 This sounds like faith is trust rather than assent to doctrine. Is distrust the opposite of faith? Is distrust the same as doubt?
4:21 God may be able to do what God promised, but does God always do what God is able to do?
4:22 What is Paul quoting?
4:23 How could anything written about Abraham be written for Abraham’s sake alone?
4:24 It seems Paul is now arguing that faith is belief rather than trust. How are belief and trust the same and how are they different? Does Paul call for faith in Jesus or the one who raised Jesus from the dead?
4:25 Must one believe only that Jesus was raised, or that he died for or trespasses and was raised for our justification? Does this passage assume only one particular theory of the Atonement?

Mark 8:31-38
8:31 Why does Jesus not begin to preach this until Chapter eight? How many people in the pews understand “Son of Man” language? How much time should a preacher spend in a sermon unpacking “Son of Man” language?
8:32 Did Jesus not always speak openly?  Why did Peter rebuke Jesus?
8:33 Note that Jesus look at the disciples rather than looking just at Peter when he rebuked Peter? What might be the multi-faceted meaning of “Get behind me Satan?” What are the “divine things” Peter out to be setting his mind on?
8:34 What cross? Is this the first time in Mark that Jesus or anyone else has mentioned a cross?
8:35 I think this is the kernel of wisdom in the husk of this passage. Was Peter seeking to save his own life or the life of Jesus?
8:36 Is this anything like the Faustian bargain?
8:37 Is this a rhetorical question?
8:38 Who might Jesus have in mind when he refers to those who are ashamed of him? Was this warning only for those in Jesus’ day, or for the readers Mark was writing to and for all generations? I can never recall being ashamed of Jesus but I have often been ashamed of what others, including the Church, have done, and are doing, in his name.

ADDENDUM
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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