Monday, April 16, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 5th 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.

ACTS 8:26-40
8:26 How do you deal with angels in your teaching and preaching?  Why Philip? Does it matter that this is a wilderness road?
8:27 There is a lot in this verse to unpack.  Why are we told so much about this man? Is there anything special about Ethiopia? What is a eunuch? What or who is “the Candace?” Why would an Ethiopian come to Jerusalem to worship?
8:28 Thank God he was not reading Numbers! I wonder what language he was reading.
8:29 Has the angel of 8:26 become “the Spirit?”
8:30 Why would the Ethiopian be reading aloud?
8:31 Why would anybody read anything on their own if they needed a guide to help them understand it? This passage, combined with the Gospel Reading from two weeks ago, offers all the reason we need for ongoing study of scripture.
8:32b-33 Where in Isaiah can we find this passage?
8:34 What an opportune question!
8:35 Perhaps the lesson we should learn from this is to proclaim the good news beginning with where people have questions, where they are in their journey, and not require them to start somewhere else.
8:36 Was there a reason why this Ethiopian eunuch should not have been baptized? Had Philip informed the Ethiopian about baptism or did the Ethiopian already know about the practice?
8:37 This sure sounds like confessional language but does it say everything we would expect an adult being baptized today to say?
8:38 To bad we don’t have a description of the baptism. Then again, maybe we should be thankful that we don’t have a description. I wonder what body of water they were near and used.
8:39 Why would the Spirit snatch Philip away? If Philip was snatched way, who was the witness to the Ethiopian rejoicing?
8:40 What do you know about Azatos? Did Philip stop proclaiming the good news when he arrived at Caesarea?

PSALM 22:25-31
22:25 Who, or what, is the great congregation?  What vows? What is the meaning of “fear?”
22:26 What do we do with the shift from the second person to the first person?
22:27 How many ends does the earth have? How many families of the nations are there? How many nations are there? Does “nations” refer to political entities or ethnic groups?
22:28 How do we understand dominion? Israel recognized the Lord as their ultimate ruler, but what about other nations?
22:29 Who are sleeping in the earth? Is death being contrasted with life?
22:30 How can the Psalmist speak for posterity? How many generations? Seven generations? Infinite generations?
22:31 How can anything be proclaimed to people not yet born? Done what?

1 JOHN 4:7-21
4:7 Who is “us?”
4:8 What does it mean to say that God is love?
4:9 Why did God’s love have to be revealed?
4:10 How can a sacrifice atone? Does this passage presume any particular theory of the atonement?
4:11 But what does it mean to love one another? It seems that the arguments is not only trhat God is love but that God is the source of our love.
4:12 What does not seeing God add to the argument? How is God’s love perfected in us?
4:13 Who is “we?” Is it logical to shift so abruptly from loving to abiding, from the Son to the Spirit? What does it mean to abide?
4:14 What is the meaning of “world?”
4:15 See Acts 8:37.
4:16a What is the difference between knowing and believing?
4:16b I think this is not only good poetry but good theology.
4:17 What and when is the day of judgement?  What does “as he is, so are we in this world” mean?
4:18 I like this verse.  What does this verse say to “hell, fire and damnation” preachers and their sermons? What is the meaning of fear? What is perfect love?
4:19 Could be argued that without God’s love we cannot love?
4:20 How does this verse inform Christian ethics? What about loving people who are not brothers and sisters in Christ? What about loving the stranger?
4:21 After fourteen verses about love, why say anything about a commandment? Who is “him?” How does this relate to the New Commandment of John’s Gospel?

John 15:1-8
15:1 Is there a difference between a vine and the true vine? What is the meaning of “true?” Is there such a thing as a false vine? Should we be thinking specifically of grape vines or will imagining any vine do?
15:2 What branches do we find within ourselves? Even fruit producing vines are occasionally cut back! How do pastor’s and how does the church prune?
15:3 How does the word cleanse? Is cleansing the same as pruning?
15:4 How do we abide? See 1 John 4:13. Is love our fruit?
15:5 Note that this is one (of the seven) “I am” sayings of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel. What is more important, bearing lots of inferior fruit or less but superior fruit?
15:6 Are we still talking about the branches within us? I think it is wrong to, in any way, connect this verse to any concept of hell or fires of hell.
15:7 Is Jesus the same as his words? Whatever we wish? What if I wish to win the lottery so that I can give it all away to charitable organizations?
15:8 Is bearing much fruit something other than becoming Jesus disciple? Note that Jesus uses the plural “disciples”.

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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