Monday, July 23, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary (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.

2 SAMUEL 11:26-12:13a
11:26 Why is Bathsheba not named in this verse?
11:27 How long was the period of mourning? Does this sound like “traditional marriage” and traditional “family values?”
12:1 How did Nathan know about what David had done? H Who is speaking to David, Nathan or God?
12:1b-6 Why does Nathan tell a story rather than simply confronting David? How could David not realize or understand what Nathan was doing?
12:5-6 Has David pronounced his own sentence/punishment?
12:7-10 Nathan speaks truth to power.  Who is serving Nathan’s role in American society and politics today?
12:10 Once again, Bathsheba is not named.
12:11 There would indeed be trouble in David’s house, but where his wives ever taken from him?
12:12 Can you spell “t-r-a-n-s-p-a-r-e-n-c-y”? Transparency is often called for and needed following a cover-up.
12:13 Does David’s reaction surprise you?

PSALM 51:1-12
51:1 Does it make any difference to one’s interpretation or application of this Psalm if the “me” was or was not David?  Is there a difference between “steadfast love” and “abundant mercy” or is this just a Hebraic poetic literary device? Now that we do not use quill pens, bottles of ink, and blotters, how many people will not understand the expression “blot out my transgressions?”
51:2 Are “wash” and “cleanse” as well as “iniquity” and “sin” more examples of poetic doublets?
51:3 See above.
51:4 Was David’s sin against only God?  What about Uriah?  When we sin, is our sin against God only or also against the image of God in others?
51:5 Is this a proof text for the doctrine of original sin?
51:6 Is this more poetic parallelism or is there a theological point being made here, that truth is similar to, or the same as, wisdom? What is the secret heart?
51:7 Why hyssop?  I remember when it seemed like snow was pretty white, but more recently it seems to contain a lot of soot.
51:8 What bones have been crushed and why? Is the reference to crushed bones a metaphor?
51:9 When it comes to God and sin, can we assume “out of sight, out of mind?” God may see and know everything, but what if God chooses to turn away and forget?
51:10 Does this verse envision a heart and spirit transplant, or just spiritual and moral transformation? Maybe we all need a spiritual stint in our spiritual heart.
51:11 Would God ever cast anyone away?  Would God ever take back the holy spirit.  Note the lower case “h” and “s!”  I think this Psalm does not assume a Doctrine of the Trinity and one ought not to impose a Christian Doctrine on a Jewish text.
51:12 Parallelism aside, in my English speaking mind, I cannot but help making a distinction between “Restore” and “sustain,” but I doubt the distinction exists in the original Hebrew.  You be the judge.

4:1 You perhaps either love or loathe Paul’s use (overuse?) of “therefore” (although some do not consider Ephesians to be authentically Pauline).  What precedes his “therefore?” Does this verse presume a Doctrine of Election? What sort of life is a worthy life? Was Paul actually imprisoned when he might have written this?
4:2 What does it mean to bear with one another in love?
4:3 What is the unity of the Spirit? What is the bond of peace?
4:4-6 How do we interpret these verses in light of the Roman Catholic and Protestant split and the plethora of Protestant Denominations as well as the distinction between Evangelical/Conservative and Progressive Christianity?
4:7 What was the measure of Christ’s gift?
4:8 Where is this said?
4:9-10 Why are these verses in parenthesis? Why are they here?
4:11 Gift apparently refers back to verse 7. What distinguishes the various offices or functions that are named? Do you think this list was meant to be exhaustive?
4:12-13 Why did Christ give gifts. What is the full stature of Christ?
4:14 Does it sometimes seem that adult Christians have never grown beyond their children’s Sunday school understanding of the Scripture and Christian faith? By using “We” does the author suggest that he too was once a  child? Whom might the author have had in mind when referring to people’s trickery and craftiness?
4:15 How does one speak the truth in love? Did Nathan speak the truth in love to David in today’s First Reading?
4:16 It seem the author has a holistic, communal understanding of the church.

JOHN 6:24-35
6:24 I wonder how many boats there were.  Is “looking for Jesus” merely a physical activity?  After all, this is the Fourth, and often a multivalent, Gospel.  Where these people “seekers” in the modern sense? Why did the crowd go to Capernaum to look for Jesus?
6:25 This is not the most profound question to ask someone after looking for them and finally finding them. Imagine climbing a mountain in search of enlightenment from a master and upon arrival, instead of asking “What is the meaning of life?” you ask “When did you come here?”
6:26 Jesus does not answer the question asked of him but rather assaults their motivation for their looking for him. Did he want them to come looking for him because of the signs he had done?
6:27 This is a theologically loaded verse. Have fun unpacking it. Is it “work” to look for Jesus? What “seal” is being referred to?
6:28 What are the works of God?
6:28-29 As much as I love this Gospel, these two verses seem to suggest that what is important is either faith as trust or right belief, not right action.
6:30 An interesting reappearance of “work” and “sign” in light of the preceding verses. Are “work” and “sign” interchangeable? Could Jesus ever do enough “works” or perform enough “signs” to satisdy this crowd?
6:31 Why are these people and Jesus so obsessed with food, bread and manna?
6:32-33 Was manna the true bread from heaven? How is Jesus like manna?
6:34 What about the manna needing to be consumed the day it was gathered?  What about the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer “give us this day our daily bread?” And these people are asking for bread always?
6:35 One of the “I am” sayings found in the fourth Gospel.  How does bread keep one from being thirsty?
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. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.

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