Monday, June 11, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 12th 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 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23) 32-49
(17:1a, 4-11, 19-23) These optional verses provide good background, but do they add anything theologically? Including them makes for a very long reading.
(17:1a) How many armies did the Philistines have?
(17:4) How tall is six cubits and a span?
(17:5) How much does five thousand shekels of bronze way? Was this during the Bronz Age?
(17:6) What were the dates of The Bronze Age?
(17:7) Did the shield bearer carry more than the shield? Where was the ring bearer? (Sorry, wrong story.)
(17:8) Was Goliath just taunting, or did armies actually settle things by just two people engaging in combat?
(17:9) Does this sound reasonable?
(17:10) Is this any more than trash talk and boasting?
(17:11) Was Saul a wimp a coward, or what?
(17:19) Who are “they”? Where is the valley of Elah?
(17:20) Why was David taking provisions to the army? Why was David not serving in the army? What might “the war cry” have sounded like?
(17:21) To quote the Admiral Josh Painter character played by former Senator Fred Thompson in the movie The Hunt For Red October, “This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.
(17:22) He did this just as the battle was about to start? What does this say about David’s sense of timing?
(17:23) Apparently Goliath issued his taunts more than once. Maybe this went on day after day.
17:32 What is the relationship between David and Saul at this point?  Why does David refer to himself in the second person?
17:33 Might this be typical advice the older Pastor, perhaps even the “Head of Staff” or “Senior Pastor” would give to a young Pastor or Associate Pastor going up against entrenched interests of an older generation?
17:34-35 Lions, (but no tigers), and bears, Oh my!
17:36 Is the reference to “this uncircumcised Philistine” a racial slur or just trash talk before the big battle?
17:37 While David makes it sound in verses 34-36 that he deserved all the credit for defeating lions and bears, he now gives credit to God.  In this regard, you may want to take another look at last week’s Psalm, Psalm 20. Did David just call Goliath an animal?
17:38 What is the irony that Saul clothes David with his (Saul’s) armor?
17:39 Is this really a comment about armor or a veiled comment about political reality?
17:40 Is there any symbolism in David choosing “five” smooth stones?  You may want to take a look at Eugene Peterson’s book Five Smooth Stones.
17:41 David had no shield-bearer, nor did he need one since he had no shield. Is this an example of a swift, agile, lightly armed guerrilla taking on a slow infantryman burdened by his gear?
17:42 Déjà vu. Where have we heard this before?
17:43 Goliath wasn’t a dog. He was a lion or bear. Whose gods?
17:44 Is this a real threat or just more trash talking?
17:45 Look again at last week’s Psalm, Psalm 20.
17:46 David expands upon the Philistine’s threat. This is pre-battle trash talking extrapolated to the divine degree.
17:47 What might this verse say about the military doctrine of “Shock and Awe?” not to mention about the militaryindustrial complex?
17:48 Do you think the Philistine was running to meet David?
17:49 Since David ends up felling this Philistine with one smooth stone, why did David pick put five smooth stones to put in his bag?

PSALM 9:9-20
9:9 How does this verse fit or not fit the circumstances of the First Reading?
9:10 In 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23) 32-49, who put their trust in the LORD?
9:11 What are the LORD’s deeds? Who are the peoples?
9:12 Who avenges blood and what does that mean? Who are the afflicted?
9:13 What does it mean for the LORD to be gracious?
9:14 What does it mean to recount praises? What, and where, are the gates of daughter Zion?
9:15 What “nations” might the Psalmist have in mind? Can you think of any nation caught in the very trap it set for others?
9:16 Is the LORD known only in the execution of judgement?
9:17 What, and where, is Shoel?
9:18 Will the needy sometimes be forgotten? Will the hope of the poor perish for a time being?
9:19 Is this a request or a demand?
9:20 Good advice, even, or especially, for Americans.

(1 SAMUEL 17:57-18:5)
(17:57) Who was Abner? Who held the head of the Philistine, Abner, David, or Saul?
(17:58) Why does Saul want to know?
(18:1) Why was Jonathan even present?
(18:2) Why might Saul not have let David return to Jesse?
(18:3) What were the details of the covenant?
(18:4) What does this symbolize?
(18:5) What risk was Saul taking in doing this?
(18:10) What is the meaning of “an evil spirit from God?”
(18:11) What other explanation for Saul’s behavior might there be other than appealing to an evil spirit from God?
(18:12) Is this the answer to my question above?
(18:13) Why might Saul have made David a commander?
(18:14) Do you feel like the Lord is with you? Who is the Lord with today?
(18:15) Who do you stand in awe of?
(18:16) Note that both Israel and Judah are mentioned.

(PSALM 133)
(133:1) Does this “alternative” offer the antithesis to the war imagery of both the First Reading and the Alternate First Reading?
(133:2) I love this sensual imagery but cannot imagine Presbyterians ever using so much oil to anoint that it run down a man’s face and unto his beard.
(133:3) What is the dew of Hermon? What and where is Hermon? Did the LORD ordain a blessing on Herman, or Zion, or both?

6:1 Who are “we?” Who is “him?”
6:2 Is this a quote from Scripture? If so, where from?
6:3 What accusations is Paul defending his ministry against?
6:4-5 Poor Paul! Is Paul pleading the martyr?
6:6-10 Did anyone ever argue that Paul was humble?
6:11 What does it mean to have a heart wide open?
6:12 Ouch! I think the Corinthians were just insulted.
6:13 Perhaps they were just insulted again. Or was Paul simply expressing his affection?

MARK 4:35-41
4:35 What day? Who are “them?” Let us go across what?
4:36 What does the comment “just as he was” mean?  What does it add to the text and its meaning? I wonder who were in the other boats.
4:37 I understand this can really happen to small boats on the Sea of Galilee.
4:38 How could Jesus know they were perishing if he was sleeping through the storm?  How could Jesus sleep through a storm? Even though this is Mark and not John, is there more than one level of meaning here?
4:39 What point is being made?
4:40 Again, is there more than one level of meaning here? What did Jesus mean by faith? Faith in what or whom?
4:41 When was the last time you were filled with great awe?  Is their question rhetorical?

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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