Monday, June 4, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (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.

1 SAMUEL 15:34-16:13
15:34 Is the anything significant about Ramah or Gibeah?
15:35 Who is “he,” the LORD or Samuel?  Was the sorrow caused by having made Saul, rather than someone else king, or simply making anyone a king over Israel?
16:1 What is a horn and why would God want Samuel to fill one with oil?
16:2 Why would Saul kill Samuel? So the LORD instructs and helps Samuel construct a ruse?
16:3 What do we know about Jesse?
16:4 Why did the elders of Bethlehem tremble when they saw Samuel?
16:5 Was Jesse one of the elders?  Were his sons? In this context, what does it mean to be sanctified? Why sacrifice in Bethlehem? Why not Bethel or Shechem?
16:6 Why did Eliab look the part? What does a future king look like?
16:7 Things are not always as they seem.  In both ecclesiastical and secular settings, the person who most looks the part is not always the person God has chosen.  Nevertheless, they are still the person chosen, hired, elected or called because they look the part.  In this case, however, not so! Lesson learned? Pastor Nominating Committees could reflect on this reading.
16:8 After he screwed up with Eliab, how did Samuel know God had not picked Abinidab?
16:10 Should we associate any symbolic significance to the number seven?
16:11 What if there had not been an eighth son?
16:12 What are the various alternate translations of this verse?
16:13 Would the spirit of the LORD not have come upon David if Samuel had not anointed him? Note that David is not named until after he is anointed? I wondered how David’s brothers felt about all this.

20:1 To whom is the Psalmist writing?  Does the reference to God’s name serving as protection suggest that God’s name was understood by some as having magical properties? Why the God of Jacob and not the God of Abraham, or Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
20:2 What sort help and support might be imagined? What is the sanctuary? Where is Zion?
20:3 What is the difference between a burnt offering and a sacrifice? Was God’s favor bought?
20:4 What if the heart’s desire and plans are not according to God’s will? See 1 Samuel 16:7.
20:5 Who are “we?” I wonder what these banners looked like.  I doubt if they looked like the liturgical banners some churches display. Who won the victory?
20:6 Who is the LORD’s anointed? See 1 Samuel 16:12-13. What does God ever do with the left hand, if anything?
20:7 Let this verse be a warning to those advocating for increased spending on defense and who claim that a nation’s security is directly related to the size of its armed forces.
20:8 Who will collapse and fall?
20:9 Who is “us”?

2 CORINTHIANS 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17
5:6 Why must we be away from the Lord while at home in the body?  Can modern Christians read this without help from Descartes?  How can we hear it as first Century Christians would have heard it?
5:7 Must faith be set against sight? What about the phrase “I will believe it when I see it.?”
5:8 Does this sentiment fly in the face of incarnational theology?
5:9 How do we please Lord?
5:10 Does this suggest a work’s righteousness?
(5:11) What is the fear of the Lord and how does one know it? Are you familiar with Rudolf Otto’s “Idea of the Holy” and the mysterium tremendum et fascinans?
(5:12) “Again?” What is this verse about? Is Paul suggestion, or asking, that the Corinthians brag about him or knowing him?
(5:13) What is Paul’s logic? Did some think Paul was crazy?
5:14 Does “die for all” lead to a universalism? What does Paul mean “all died?”
5:15 How do we not live for ourselves?
5:16 What is a human point of view?
5:17 Even though I agree with it, this is a pretty bold statement.  Does it logically flow from what precedes it? Might this be Paul’s equivalent of the “born from above” or “born anew” of John’s Gospel? This verse is often used as part of a Declaration of Forgiveness after a Prayer of Confession.

Mark 4:26-34
4:26-27 I love the kingdom sayings (parables), even though I do not fully understand them—sort of like the person who does not know how seeds that were scattered take root and grow. Does the type of seed matter or make any difference? What does “sleep and rise night and day” add to the passage?
4:28 Does the earth really do this by itself?
4:29 This sounds as though reaping is a good, not a grim undertaking.
4:30 Is this a rhetorical question?
4:31 Not just any seed (see Mark 4:26), but a mustard seed.
4:30-32 So, don’t judge a book by its cover, or a seed by its size, or a son of Jesse by his age (see 1 Samuel 16:7 and 16:11), or …? What do the “birds of the air” nesting “in its shade” add to the parable?
4:33 I wonder what ever happened to those other parables, how many were remembered and preserved and how many went in one ear and out the other and were forgotten? What does Mark mean by “the word”?  How able are we to hear the word?
4:34 If Jesus did not speak to the disciples in parable but explained everything, why did the disciples often appear not to get it? How do those to whom we preach or teach affect the way we teach or preach?

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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