Monday, March 26, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 2nd Sunday of 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 4:32-35
4:32-25 If you plan to preach using this passage you may want to read Acts 2 for context.
4:32 What is the size of this group?  Have you ever known of any group, or a Church, of one heart and soul? Why did common ownership go by the wayside?
4:33 What does great power look and sound like? Are there gradations of grace?
4:34 Are there needy persons in your church?
4:35 Who determined the need?

PSALM 133
133:1 Is this Psalm about kin or kirk? Do you know of any family or church that lives together in unity?
133:2 I love this sensual imagery but think it means more when we anoint with oil at the time of Baptism and when praying for healing and wholeness. If we never anoint with oil, the imagery seems to lose some of its power.
133:3 What and where is Hermon and what is so special about its dew?

1 JOHN 1:1-2:2
1:1 Who are “we?” What beginning is cited? I think three of the five senses – hearing, sight, and touch – are mentioned. What about the other two – taste and smell? How can we offer worship and other spiritual and religious experiences that address all the senses?  I think many of our churches need a more fully embodied, sensual worship that will help us get out of always being in our head.
1:2 What is the meaning of “revealed?” What is the difference between eternal life and everlasting life?
1:3 What is the nature of this fellowship?
1:4 How can writing a letter complete one’s joy?
1:5 Who is the “him” from whom they heard this message, Jesus, John the evangelist, or someone else? How can we be sensitive to and deal with issues of racism when contrasting images of light and darkness?
1:6 Why would someone say they have fellowship with God when they really don’t?
1:7 Why is walking in light connected with being cleansed with or by the blood of Jesus?
1:8-9 These verses are often used as part of a Call to Confession, such as found in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Common Worship page 52.
1:10 What if someone knows they have sinned but do not care that they have sinned?
2:1 Why the “little children” address? Is it possible not to sin? “Advocate” is usually associated with the Holy Spirit, not Jesus.
2:2 What is an “atoning sacrifice?” How many theories of the atonement are you familiar with and which one or ones best address this passage?

John 20:19-31
20:19 Why did the disciples fear the Jews? What Jews did they fear? They themselves were Jews! What is the meaning and significance of “Peace be with you.?”
20:20 Did the disciples not rejoice when they heard the Lord? Why is seeing more weighty than hearing?
20:21 Why does Jesus repeat his greeting?
20:22 What is the symbolism and meaning of Jesus’ breathing on the disciples? Is “Receive the Holy Spirit” an invitation or a declarative command?
20:23 I thought only God had the power to forgive sin(s). Why do we and the Scriptures sometimes speak of sins (plural) and other times speak of sin (singular)? What is the difference and does it matter?
20:24 Why was Thomas called the Twin? I wonder why Thomas was not there and where he was.
20:25 Notice the eleven say nothing about hearing the Lord. I think we should call him Skeptical Thomas rather than Doubting Thomas. The other disciples and Jesus were living in the resurrection but Thomas was not.
20:26 Is there anything special about this house? Note that we are told that the doors were shut, not locked. (See 20:19). This is the third time we hear this greeting.
20:27 Jesus invites Thomas to do so but the text does not say that Thomas did as invited. Was seeing and hearing Jesus, and the invitation, enough for Thomas?
20:28 Is this an early Christian confession of faith?
20:29 Was “seeing” enough? (Reconsider my question for 20:27.) Was Jesus referring to post-resurrection sightings? We are not Thomas. We are not the first disciples. We did not witness this or the other signs Jesus did. We cannot put our finger in Christ’s wounds and see his hands. All we have are the stories passed on to us down through the centuries. Yet we ought to come to worship expecting to see Jesus. Can “Magic Eye” 3D images and optical illusions teach us anything about seeing Jesus in the present day?
20:30 What other signs?
20:31 I wonder what the criteria was for including these signs but not others.

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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