Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 3rd 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.

EXODUS 20:1-17
The Big Ten is not a college athletic conference!
In 2015 I read this passage partially through the lens of Bruce Feiler’s 2001 best seller Walking the Bible because I finished reading it and watched a DVD of the PBS Documentary by the same name just a few days earlier. My interpretation of the Big Ten has also been influenced by Jan Milic Lochman’s Signposts to Freedom: The Ten Commandments and Christian Ethics, which I read years ago. How does what you have read, watched, or studied inform and influence how you read and interpret the biblical text?
20:1 How does God speak if God does not have a physical body with vocal chords? I like that these are referred to as “words” rather than commandments. Consider that in the First Creation Account of Genesis that God created by speaking.
20:2 Note that LORD appears in all uppercase letters. Why?
20:3 Do other people have another god or other gods? What other gods was the LORD God competing against in Exodus? What other gods does the LORD god compete against today?
Can we have other gods, lesser gods, after the LORD?
20:4 What is an idol? With all due respect to Plato, what would the form of something in heaven look like?  Is there any place other than heaven above, earth below, or water under the earth? How do Jews and Muslims handle this commandment?
20:5 Does the LORD experience emotions?  What other emotions might God experience? Would God not punish to the fifth generation? 
20:6 Wow, a factor of at least 250!
20:7 What is rightful use of the LORD’s name? What is the LORD’s name?
20:8 How do Christians justify worshiping on Sunday rather than Saturday? Can any day of the week be a person’s Sabbath if they are required to work on Saturday?
20:9 There goes the forty hour work week.
20:10 How do we distinguish between work and play? Where do hobbies and avocations fit in?
20:11Why did the LORD rest? Did the LORD need to rest?
20:12 How do children honor parents?  Is this word in effect only as long as our parents are living? Is this the only word out of the ten that comes with a cause and effect promise? What about abusive or neglectful parents?
20:13 What is murder? Is there a difference between murder and killing? How does the Just War Theory get around this?
20:14 What are the corollaries to this word? Can one argue that if sexual relations are reserved for marriage then marriage must include sexual relations? What about sex before marriage? What if one never marries?
20:15 Define theft.
20:16 Is it permissible to bear false witness against someone who is not your neighbor? Who is your neighbor?
20:17 Does it bother you that this word seems to categorize a wife as a piece of property? Is it permissible to covet something that belongs to a person who is not a neighbor?

19:1 How do the heavens speak?  Is the Hubble Space Telescope a microphone for the heavens? Is there any difference between the heavens and the firmament?  Is the Glory of God the same as God’s handiwork?
19:2-4b What do you make of these verses?  What are they saying?  Is speech being poetically equated with knowledge?
19:4c-6 Do these verses presume a pre-Copernican universe? Why does the psalmist write about the sun but not the moon? Does the sun really rise or does it just appear to rise?
19:7-9 How many synonyms for “law” are there in these verses? Is “fear” in anyway a synonym for” law?” Do these verses justify the lectionary pairing this psalm with the Exodus 20:1-17 Reading?
19:10 At the close of the market on February 27, 2015 Gold was trading for $1212.60 an ounce. In 2012 it was $1,683.30 an ounce. Does the value of God’s law fluctuate with the marlet?  How sweet is honey?  Was there any other known sweetener at the time of the psalmist? I find the second half of this verse to be very sensual.
19:11 What is the reward?  Does this verse lead to works righteousness?
19:12 Do not forget the advice of the oracle at Delphi—“Know Thyself.” Are our faults sometimes hidden from us or do we simply refuse to acknowledge them?
19:13 Who are the insolent? So I shall be blameless if I stay away from the insolent?
19:14 Pet Peeve Alert!  This is not a Prayer for Illumination.  A Display of personal piety by praying a personal prayer aloud before reading Scripture has no place in worship or at the lectern or pulpit before preaching or the classroom before teaching. If you want to pray this silently before you preach or teach, fine, but I do not want to hear you pray aloud for yourself.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25
1:18 What is the message of the cross? How is it foolishness?
1:19 Where is this written? Note the chiastic structure here and throughout this passage.
1:20 Who is the one who is wise?  Certainly not Socrates! Who is the debater of this age?  Was Paul erecting a straw opponent or might he have had someone or something specific in mind?
1:21 Is Paul using wisdom in more than one sense? As an amateur philosopher, I am feeling a little hostility from and toward Paul at this point. Is Paul’s proclamation foolishness because his proclamation is about the cross?
1:22 And how shall we read John’s book of signs in light of this verse and argument? See John 2:18. What is wrong with wisdom? Is a stumbling block the antithesis of a sign?
1:23 How was Christ crucified a stumbling block and foolishness?
1:24 Can Reformed Christians claim this as a proof text for the doctrine of predestination?
1:25 How is God foolish and weak?

John 2:13-22
2:13 What does it mean to go “up” to Jerusalem?
2:14 Why would anyone sell cattle, sheep or doves in the temple?  Why were money changers present in the temple?
2:15 Did Jesus drive out only the sheep and the cattle, or did he also drive out people? What is the possible irony here?
2:16 Why were people selling doves? What is wrong with God’s house being a marketplace? How are today’s sanctuaries and churches marketplaces?
2:17 Where is this written?
2:18 See 1 Corinthians 1:22.
2:19 I doubt the Jews were asking for an after the fact sign.
2:20 Can we fault the Jews for hearing and understanding Jesus as they did? Was the Temple still under construction when this took place?
2:21 Dah! Really? Did we need to be told that? Do Christians really need an explanation or is this an example of pointing out the obvious? Does this verse add to or detract from the account? Can we cite this as an example of Jesus speaking figuratively rather than literally?
2:22 What was it about the resurrection that reminded the disciples about anything Jesus said?  What “scripture” did they believe? Is this remembering the same as the anamnesis of The Eucharist? Does this verse equate the word that Jesus had spoken with Scripture?

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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