Monday, May 21, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for Trinity Sunday (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.

PREFACE: What do we do with Trinity Sunday, one of only two Sundays (also Christ the King) with a special theme not specifically related to an event in the life and ministry of Christ? I once heard a professor in a Doctor of Ministry seminar say that the Doctrine of the Trinity is not Biblical but it is essential. In the Roman’s Reading one can find reference to the Spirit of God; Abba, Father; and Christ. Is that the Trinity? In your mind, is the Trinity a conundrum, an enigma, a paradox, or simply a mystery we must ponder?

ISAIAH 6:1-8
6:1 In what year did King Uzziah die and why does it matter? Should Isaiah’s vision be literalized? What do we do with this anthropomorphization of God?
6:2 What are seraphs?  Consider Numbers 21:4-9. Might “feet” be a euphemism for some other body part?
6:3 Does the threefold “Holy” justify this passage being used on Trinity Sunday? What or who are “hosts?”
6:4 What are pivots and thresholds?  What sort of smoke filled the house and why?
6:5 Why does Isaiah express woe? What danger lies in seeing the LORD of hosts?
6:6 Why might there have been live coals at the altar?
6:7 How can a figurative/symbolic live coal blot out sin?
6:8 Why the plural“us?” Why am I thinking of Dan Schutte?

29:1 Who and what are the heavenly beings?  Are there more types of heavenly beings than angels and/or seraphs?
29:2 What is holy splendor?
29:3 What does the voice of the LORD sound like? What and where are the mighty waters?
29:4 Is anyone else thinking of James Earl Jones?
29:5 How could a voice break trees?
29:6 What, or where, is Sirion? How might countries or regions skip like an animal?
29:7 I am thinking of recent images from the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii.
29:8 Where is Kadesh? Is there anything special or significant about this wilderness?
29:9 What is the meaning of “Glory?”
29:10 What flood might the Psalmist have had in mind?
29:3-10  So much for “still small voice” imagery.  How does an establishment church of the middle class status quo come to terms with a storm God?
29:11 God’s people will certainly need strength to survive a storm.  When was the last time a storm brought  peace? Or is this peace the peace of a calm after a storm?

ROMANS 8:12-17
8:12 If we are not debtors to the flesh, what then are we debtors to?  I doubt Paul had MasterCard or Visa in mind.
8:13 What does Paul mean by “flesh” and “Spirit?” Must there be a dichotomy between Spirit and flesh?
8:14 How are we led by the Spirit of God?
8:15 Theologically speaking, why does Paul contrast a spirit of slavery with a spirit of adoption?  When did you last cry “Abba! Father!?”
8:16  How many spirits are being mentioned in this passage?
8:17 Is that a pretty big “if” as in “if, in fact we suffer?”

John 3:1-17
3:1 Were not all Pharisees leaders? Might Nicodemus have been a Pharisee among Pharisees, a leader of the Pharisees?
3:2 Consider John 4:6-7 as juxtaposition.  We?  For whom, or of whom, is Nic speaking?  What signs was he referring to?
3:3, 5 Is being born from above the same as being born of water and Spirit?
3:4 What are “re-birthing” therapies? Was Nicodemus too much of a literalist?
3:6 Must we read and interpret this through a Pauline lens? See Romans 8:13.
3:7 Are we still astonished by this statement of Jesus? What still astonishes you?
3:8 I think Jesus was not referring to direction.  I can usually tell from what direction the wind is blowing and I understand the meteorological mechanics, yet wind can still be a mystery an somewhat unpredictable. Do not know where people born of the Spirit come from or are going to?
3:9 Is this not still our question?
3:10 I think professional Church types are all a little like Nic at night at one time or another.  We really do not fully understand of what we speak, teach and preach. Sometimes we are groping for answers in the dark.
3:11 We?  Our? For whom, or of whom, is Jesus speaking?
3:12 Of what earthly things did Jesus talk about that Nic did not believe? Now it seems that we have two dichotomies, flesh/spirit and earth/heaven.
3:13 Ascension day has passed, but in the context of this passage, it has not yet happened. Is this an anachronism – a Post Ascension Theology being read back into a Pre Ascension event – the Evangelist putting words into the mouth of Jesus? Or is this an example of Jesus being prescient?
3:14 I refer you back to Isaiah 6:2 and again suggest you read and ponder Numbers 21:4-9.  Perhaps Numbers 21:4-9 would have been a better First Reading to pair with this Gospel than the passage from Isaiah.
3:16-17 Maybe too much has already been read and said about this passage. Then again, maybe not enough has been preached about this passage in its literary context. How do these two verses flow from what precedes them?

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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