Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The Resurrection of the Lord/Easter (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.

ACTS 10:34-43
10:34 To whom was Peter speaking? Would anyone expect God to show partiality?
10:35 What does Peter mean by “nation?” Is it a political, a cultural, or an ethnic reference? What does it mean to fear God (See my comments on Mark 16:8)?
10:36 What does Peter mean by “the people of Israel?” Is this the Gospel?
10:37 What is the geographic relation of Judea to Galilee? Did the message begin with John or with Jesus?
10:38 Peter now seems to expand on 10:36. What is the difference between being anointed with the Holy Spirit and being anointed with power? What does it mean to be oppressed by the devil? How is satanic oppression related to satanic possession? How shall we handle possession and devil language in a post-Christian and post-modern world?
10:39 What does it mean to be a witness? In 10:37 it was Judea and Galilee. Now it is Judea and Jerusalem. Who are “they?” Why does Peter say Jesus was hung on a tree (rather than a cross)?
10:40 Note the passive: God raised Jesus. Jesus did not raise himself. What if God had not allowed him to appear?
10:41 Is this a proof text for the doctrine of predestination? What is the significance of eating and drinking? Is “rose” a passive or active verb?
10:42 Jesus was ordained? What does it mean to judge the living and the dead?
10:43 All the prophets? Really? Might Peter sometimes be prone to hyperbole?

ISAIAH 25:6-9
25:6 What mountain? Watch for the restatement of poetic parallelism. Does “all people” open up an argument for universalism? Might this inform our celebration of the Eucharist?
25:7 Why has a shroud been cast over all peoples? Is anyone else thinking of the Shroud of Turin?
25:8 Note that 25:6 talks about food and drink and 25:7 talks about death. Now we have death being swallowed up (like food is swallowed)! How will God wipe away tears?
25:9 What day? Who will say this? The Lectionary apparently views this as a passage that prefigures resurrection or in some way theologically informs our understanding of resurrection. How would this passage have functioned in the Hebrew Scriptures before Jesus? 

PSALM 118:1-2, 14-24
I am hearing echoes from last Sunday.
118:1 By definition, does not “steadfast love” endure “forever”?
118:2 This reads like common liturgy, that is liturgy for use in common, or public, worship.
118:14 What is the difference between strength and might? Does “salvation” mean something different in the Psalms than it does in the New Testament?
118:15-16 What is a victory song? Do you think that the Psalmist might actually be quoting a Psalm that never made it into the Psalter? What is so special about the “right hand” of the LORD?  Is this an example of a bias toward right-handedness?
118:17 What are the “deeds” of the LORD?
118:18 Are any punishments worse than death? Does this verse lend itself to images of a vengeful, wrathful God?
118:19 What, and where, are the gates of righteousness?
118:20 What is “this?” Is the Psalmist referring to a metaphorical gate or one of the gates leading in and out of Jerusalem?
118:21 What was the answer?
118:22 What stone might the Psalmist had in mind? How does this fit in with the rest of the Psalm?
118:23 What were the people seeing?
118:24 What day has the LORD made? What day has the LORD not made?

15:1 Is this anamnesis? When and where did Paul proclaim this? Why did the Corinthians need reminding?
15:2 Are the Corinthians saved or are they being saved? Is salvation an event or a process? How does one hold firmly to a message?
15:3 How did Paul receive what he is now handing on and when did he receive it?  Where does Paul begin the narrative? Did he leave anything out? What were Paul’s scriptures?
15:4 Note the passive “he was raised”. Also note the second occurrence of “in accordance with the scriptures” in this reading.
15:5 Why are the appearances to women not mentioned?
15:6 When did Jesus appear to more than five hundred? Is there are problem caused by the fact that some have died?
15:7 Who is James? Is there a difference between “the twelve” of 15:5 and the apostles of this verse?
15:8 Why does Pail consider himself untimely born? I wonder if Paul had even heard of Jesus before Jesus was raised.
15:9 While Paul considers himself the least of the apostles, he still considers himself an apostle.
15:10 Is “I am what I am” an allusion to the tetragrammaton? Has this phrase made it into popular English? Is Paul bragging about how he worked harder than any of the apostles?
15:11 Who are they? Paul is claiming to be an apostle, but would the other apostles have been so quick to claim Paul?

John 20:1-18
20:1 The Mark reading claims that there were three women who came to the tomb after the sun had risen. Why the discrepancy? Who removed the stone? How and when was it removed?
20:2 Which disciple is “the one whom Jesus loved?”  Why did Mary say “we”? Why the shift from the singular to the plural? Who were the “they” whom Mary thought might have taken the Lord?
20:3 Why is the other disciple not named?
20:4 Was the other disciple faster, younger, or was Peter simply a slow poke?
20:5 Why might the disciple not have gone in right away?
20:6-8 What do you make of Peter seeing, but the other disciple seeing and believing? What did he believe?
20:9 How do you reconcile this verse with the preceding one? How could they not have understood?
20:10 This reads like a rather anticlimactic verse.
20:11 It seems the Mary is alone, so why the “we” back in verse 20:2? Peter and the other disciple were real jerks for leaving Mary all alone at the tomb.
20:12 Would you recognize an angel if you saw one? Why had the angels not appeared to Peter and the other disciple, or where they there all along but Peter and the other disciple did not or could not see them? The Mark reading mentions only one figure in white in the tomb. Again, why the inconsistency?
20:13 Do you hear an echo?  Now it is “I”, not “we.”
20:14 If you saw Jesus, would you recognize him? How could Mary not have recognized him?
20:15 I definitely hear an echo. Note that both angels and Jesus address Mary as “woman: and ask her “why are you weeping?” Where would Mary have taken the body of Jesus?
20:16 Does it make any difference that at first Jesus addresses Mary as “Woman” but later addresses her by her name? Why does John translate “Rabbouni”?
20:17 Was Mary attempting to hold on, or already holding on to Jesus? As if Mary could hold on to Jesus after the ascension? How do we try to hold on to Jesus when perhaps we shouldn’t? Does Jesus refer to his biological brothers or his spiritual brothers? Is ascension a process or an event?
20:18 I think this makes Mary the first “witness” of the resurrection. Does that not also make her the first evangelist?

MARK 16:1-8
16:1 Who was James?  How does one anoint with spices?
16:2 I wonder what the women would have experienced if the women had gone to the tomb before sunrise.
16:3 Why were they wondering who would roll away the stone? This stone was most likely not a spherical stone but a round stone much like a stone grinding wheel. How did they even now there was a stone blocking the entrance to (or exit from) the tomb?
16:4 What does this suggest?
16:5 Who was this young man? What does the white robe symbolize or suggest? Why was he sitting on the right side rather than the left or does it not matter? If it does not matter, why is the detail included? Why were they alarmed?
16:6 Why did the young man think the women were alarmed? Note the passive voice. Jesus did not rise. Jesus was raised.
16:7 Why is Peter singled out? Why would the resurrected Jesus go to Galilee? Had Jesus told the disciples that they would see him, resurrected, in Galilee? Is this anything like a return to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry?
16:8 What does the verb “fled” suggest? Are terror and amazement the same thing? Are you familiar with Rudolf Otto’s concept of the Mysterium Tremendum (or Mickey Hart’s recording by the same name)? If they said nothing to anyone, then how did the details of their experience become known? Did they at least tell Peter and the other disciples, as they had been instructed to?

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.

No comments: