Sunday, August 5, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 20th 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 KINGS 2:10-12; 3:3-14
2:10 Having once taught a undergraduate level Psychology/Philosophy course on Death and Dying, I hate euphemisms for dying and death, even Biblical ones.  As Christians, we are called and equipped to look death in the face and call it by name. David didn’t sleep with his ancestors. David died.
2:11 Do you think there might have been a little rounding up or down here?
2:12 To whom can Solomon give credit for the firmly established kingdom he inherited?
3:3 What does it mean to Love the LORD?  What were the statutes of David?  Note the plurality “high places.”  Where, and what, were these high places? Why do Protestants generally not use incense in worship?
3:4 What was so special about Gibeon? What is a burnt offering? Why might Solomon have offered so many of them?
3:5 If you want to know more about biblical dreams and dreaming, read Morton Kelsey and John Sanford. Has the LORD ever appeared to you in a dream? When Solomon was a Gibeon, might he have engaged in the spiritual exercise of incubation?
3:6 Is this genuine thanks or just a piece of public relations? When we recall that Bathsheba incident, can we really claim all this about David?
3:7 How old was Solomon when he experienced this dream? What does Solomon mean when he says that he does not know how to go out or come in?
3:8 This seems to say more about the people than about the LORD or Solomon.
3:9 Wasn’t the sin of Adam and Eve that they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?  What separates Solomon’s request from their action?
3:10 Was pleasing the LORD perhaps Solomon’s intent?
3:11 How might this inform our prayers?
3:12 I am reminded of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion in the Wizard of Oz.  The Great Oz did not give then what they did not already have.  Solomon, in making his request, had already demonstrated that he possessed a wise and discerning mind.  I also think Socrates would have approved of Solomon’s request.
3:13 God gives Solomon riches and honor. Could some reverse psychology, or rather “theochology” have been behind Solomon’s request?
3:14 It seems Solomon must earn long life.

111:1 Alleluia.  Note that this psalm is an acrostic and therefore the acrostic form somewhat limits the word choice available to the psalmist.
111:2 Can you list, in alphabetical order ofcourse, the works of the LORD?
111:3 It seems God’s work reflects God’s attributes.
111:4 Is this less true in a secular world?
111:5 What is the meaning of “fear?”
111:6 What is the heritage of the nations?
111:7 Must the Psalmist anthropomorphize God?
111:8 What are to be performed?
111:9 What redemption was sent to the people? Is the name of the LORD so awesome and Holy that we cannot even attempt to pronounce it?
111:10 Consider again 111:5. What does it mean to fear the LORD? If the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, what is wisdom’s end?  Those who practice “fear of the LORD” or those who practice “wisdom” have a good understanding?

5:15 Apparently wisdom is the theme of the day.  Consider again 1 Kings 3:12. How do the wise and the unwise live differently? 
5:16 Are our days, our age, and our time evil?
5:17 Is foolishness the opposite of, or the absence of, wisdom?  Is understanding the will of the Lord the same as wisdom?
5:18 Is it ok to get drunk with something other than wine?  How is being filled with the Holy Spirit like being drunk with wine?
5:19 What are the differences among psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?  Is this just a literary device or are they three different things?
5:20 How can we give thanks “at all times?”

JOHN 6:51-58
6:51 How many of Jesus’ “I am” sayings have we read in the Fourth Gospel before now?  What is the difference between living bread and the bread available at au bon pain or le pain quotidian?  What other bread came down from heaven?
6:52 Is this not the million dollar question! Are Christians any better off than the Jews as we wrestle with what Jesus meant? Perhaps the mythologist Joseph Campbell can help us out here.
6:53 How did Jesus segue from just bread to bread and blood?  How shall we read this in light of the fact that there is no Last Supper in John’s Gospel? Rather than offering us a Last Supper, this Gospel offers us Eucharistic imagery and theology.
6:54 Not “will” have eternal life but “have” eternal life.  Nevertheless, they will not be raised up until the last day.
6:55 Thank God they are not false food and false drink. What would false drink and false food look and taste like?
6:56 What does it mean to abide in Jesus Christ?
6:57 Why “living Father” and not just Father?
6:58 What bread did our ancestors eat and then die? What does it mean to live forever? 
6:51-58 Is it even possible to read these verses without reading them through the lenses of a sacramental and Eucharistic hermeneutic?  How might we understand them differently if we approached them with a tabula rasa heuristics?  I am inclined to read them as mythological, mystical, almost Gnostic verses filled with multivalent meaning.  This is perhaps the author of the Fourth Gospel at his or her best.
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.

If you are interested in spirituality and contemplation in general and more specifically Thomas Merton, you might be interested in my series of five blog posts reflecting on Merton and his book New Seeds of Contemplation. This link will take you to the first post in the series. The first post in the series links to the other four posts in the series.

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