Monday, August 13, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 21st Sunday of 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 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43
8:(1, 6, 10-11) There are several optional verses that may or may not include. How will you decide to include them or not? What is your criteria for deciding.
8:(1) I wish someone would soon discover or disclose the whereabouts of the ark. Is it in Axum, or not? 8:(6) Where had the ark being kept before it was brought to the inner sanctuary?
This verse makes it sound like the cherubim were separate from the ark, but I thought the cherubim  were part of its lid.
8:(10) Why are clouds often associated with God’s glory?”  Maybe we ought to install fog generators in our sanctuaries that we can turn on to generate fog at liturgically appropriate times.
8:(11) Does the glory of the LORD ever fill your sanctuary? How would you know? How could you tell? Where is the most holy place of your sanctuary and what is the most holy item in it or there?
8:22 Was Solomon praying in the orans position? What body posture do you assume to pray? Was Solomon acting as a priest as well as a king?
8:23 This sounds like a confession of faith.
8:24 Is this a little self-serving?
8:25 So this is a conditional covenant! This is sounding a little like the divine right of kingship.
8:26 Again, this prayer could be heard as a little self-serving.
8:27 Is this not a theological conundrum, immanence vs. transcendence?
8:28 Is Solomon praying just for himself or also for the people? Is he praying that is prayer will be heard?
8:29 God has eyes?
8:30 What does Solomon mean “pray toward this place”? Should Christians pray facing Jerusalem? Which way do you face when you pray?  East, toward the sunrise,  toward Jerusalem, or any old direction?  Does it matter?
8:41-43 Do you discern any hint of universalism in these verses?
8:41 I wonder how often foreigners/non-Jews came to Jerusalem for religious/spiritual reasons.
8:42 Was this prophecy or hindsight?
8:43 Yes, to this day we refer to this structure as Solomon’s Temple, not God’s Temple. Prayers are still prayed at the Wailing Wall. Temple serve as a sort of “phone booth” connected to God? Can some places amplify our prayers and others mute them?

84:1 Does this psalm praise God or God’s house?  Is there a difference?  Does it matter? Must sanctuaries be lovely even if not practical?
84:2 I will trade you a Christian Cloister Walk for a Jewish Court any day.  What do you make of “heart and flesh”?
84:3 I once heard of a church where a BB gun was used to shoot and kill a bird that had found its way into the sanctuary!
84:4 In our present context, what does it mean to “live” in God’s house?  When I hear people say that someone “lives at the church” it is usually meant in a disparaging way.
84:5 How can highways be in the heart?
84:6 What do you know about the valley of Baca? Where is it?
84:7 What does the psalmist mean by “strength?”
84:8 This could be used as a refrain or conclusion to almost any prayer.
84:9 What shield?
84:10 I would rather be a servant in heaven than a ruler in hell.
84:11 How does this verse illuminate verse 84:9?  How is God a sun?  How is God a shield? What does it mean to walk uprightly?
84:12 Are those who do not trust the LORD of hosts unhappy?

6:10 Why “finally?”  What has come before this?
6:11 How does this verse illuminate Psalm 84:9 and 11?  Could this imagery be too militaristic for some?  How do you deal with the assumption that we are engaged in a struggle with the devil? Note that armor is generally a protective suit. It is defensive. It is not offensive.
6:12 What is your take on Spiritual warfare?  You might find some guidance from the writings of Walter Wink, or even Carl Jung.
6:13 What is the whole armor of God?  Where can I buy it?  Does it come with a money back guarantee? What does it mean to “Stand firm?”
6:14-17 Of all the armor mentioned, the sword is the only offensive weapon, and it is really not armor.  All the rest is defensive. I wonder how was this passaged used or misused during The Crusades.
6:14 How is a belt armor?
6:15 in the midst of this militaristic imagery we find the mention of peace!
6:16 Is the evil one the devil?
6:17 Is the sword of the Spirit a two edged sword?
6:18 What other way is there to pray?
6:19 Do you pray for the preacher when you are in the pews?  Do the people in the pews pray for you when you preach?  What is the “mystery of the Gospel” and why is it a “mystery?”
6:20 Have you ever thought of yourself as an ambassador? Have you ever felt like you were in chains?

JOHN 6:56-69
6:56 Are you and the people you teach and/or preach for getting tired of all this eating flesh and drinking blood stuff, which we have been reading and hearing for several weeks, or do you and they find it fascinating?  Do not forget the etymological meaning of “ruminations?”
6:57 In our contemporary context, imagine Jesus standing before his followers and saying “Eat me!”
6:58 What other bread came down from heaven?
6:59 Does the original context/setting matter?  What if Jesus had said these things in the Athens Agora, or standing outside Le Pain Quotidian, Au Ban Pain, or Outback Steak House?
6:60 Many, but not all?  Is this still not another theological conundrum (Sorry, I like that word.  See my rumination on 1 Kings 8:27)? Do many Christians still find Jesus’ words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood difficult?
6:61 Struggling with new ideas and wrestling with tough concepts is not the same as complaining, or is that what it usually boils down to in most religious settings?  Maybe we ought and need to be offended more often by the raw, uncooked, unprocessed Gospel and intoxicating worship and preaching!
6:62 Prescient?  Reading something back into the text? Where was Jesus before?
6:63 Is Jesus backpedaling?  Is he flesh or spirit?  Is he the Word incarnate or the Word spiritualized? Why eat his flesh if flesh if flesh is useless and it is the spirit that gives life?
6:64 Okay, I know who betrayed Jesus.  But who were the ones (yes, it is plural) that did not believe? Did any of the twelve believe at this point or did they all have doubts. Did any of the twelve have doubts even after the resurrection and ascension?
6:65 So no one can come to Jesus on their own?
6:66 Can we assume that the ones who turned back are not mentioned?  No longer mentioned?  Not among “the twelve?” If they turned back, were they ever really disciples?
6:67 This is not quite a request for the strongest affirmation of faith, or affirmation of the strongest faith.
6:68 Note that Peter asks “to whom” not “where” we can go.  Are the words of eternal life the sole possession of Jesus? In other words, “Jesus, you are the best thing going.”
6:69 At least this is a better affirmation than “I do not wish to go away.”  What is the difference, if any, between belief and knowledge?  You might find Calvin’s definition of “faith” insightful as you wrestle with that last question. Does the original Greek suggest a process of coming to faith?
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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