Monday, February 26, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 4th 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.

NUMBERS 21:4-9
21:4 Where is Mount Hor? Be aware that “Red Sea” may be a scribal error or mistranslation.  Why did they avoid Edom?
21:5 Is this the plural “you?” Are God and Moses that closely associated?  What was the miserable food the people detested?
21:6 Why would the LORD send poisonous snakes? You may want to take a look at the Hebrew text and consult the gleanings in the Torah. Maybe the people needed St. Patrick as their leader rather than Moses!
21:7 There is nothing like a few poisonous snakes to motivate people to repent.  Although it is part of the dubious “longer ending of Mark,” how might this passage influence our understanding of Mark 16:18?
21:8-9 What do you know about the psychological and spiritual symbolism of the rod of Asclepius?  What might Carl Jung have said about this passage?  Why did Moses make the serpent out of bronze when God had not said anything about bronze? Is there anything idolatrous about what Moses has fashioned?  See John 3:14.

PSALM 107:1-3, 17-22
107:1 Is it redundant to say that steadfast love endures forever?
107:2 Who are the redeemed of the LORD?
107:3 Note the four cardinal directions. This gathering from the four directions reminds me of an “Invitation to the Lord’s Table”. How did the redeemed become scattered?
107:17 Must illness always be a result of sin? What sin did I commit to recently give me a terrible head cold?
107:18 Why would someone loathe food?
107:19 When was the last time you cried to the LORD??
107:20 How can a word heal? I like the image of a healing word more than the image of a bronze snake on a poll (see Numbers 21:9).
107:21 What are the LORD’s wonderful works to humankind?
107:22 Are the LORD’s deeds the same as the LORD’s wonderful works? Songs of joy, imho, do not sound like funeral dirges.

2:1 What sort of death is the author writing about? What is the difference between trespasses and sins? Shall we read this in light of Psalm 107:17?
2:2 Who or what is the ruler of the power of the air? What about earth, fire and water?
2:3 Does this argument presumes a dichotomy between flesh and spirit? Is Paul saying that he was once disobedient?
2:4-5 How are mercy and grace related?
2:6 How can Paul speak of himself and those to whom he was writing in the present tense?
2:7 When and what are the ages to come? How many ages are there?
2:8 This might be one of the most important verses for Protestantism.
2:9 Why does Paul bring up works?
2:10 Is this a reference to the creation accounts of Genesis? The argument seems to be that once saved by grace, good works will follow. Therefore, by extension, good works are evidence of our salvation.

John 3:14-21
3:14 I love The Fourth Gospel! See Numbers 21:9. I think this is Midrash at its best! You may want to look at what John Sanford has to say about this passage in his Jungian/Psychological commentary on John entitled Mystical Christianity. Who is speaking in this verse? Does this verse lend support to crucifixes but not empty crosses?
3:15 Note that it is belief in the Son of Man, not merely looking upon him lifted up, that bestows eternal life.
3:16 Why do so many people quote this verse while ignoring the two verses before it? What is the meaning of “gave?” Should we read this in light of the akedah (Genesis 22:1-19)?
3:17 So why does so much of popular Christianity sound condemnatory?  What is the meaning of “the world?”
3:18 What is the source of condemnation? Is John saying that all are condemned prior to God sending the Son? What does it mean to believe in a name?
3:19 How can we talk about light and darkness while avoiding racial overtones?  Is “shadows” or “night” a better image than “darkness”?
3:20 But not all evil deeds are done at night. Some evil deeds are done in broad daylight but nevertheless concealed. How does light expose evil?
3:21 What if one does good deeds away from the light?

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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