Monday, December 24, 2018
Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Baptism of the Lord (Year C)
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.
43:1 Who is initially speaking? To whom is the LORD speaking? What is the relationship, if any, between redemption and calling by name?
43:2 What waters are being referred to? When Christians read this passage considering the Sacrament of baptism, are we misreading the Hebrew Scriptures, or simply exercising Hebrew Midrash from a Christian perspective? I wonder how post Shoah Jews read and interpret this passage.
43:3 PC(USA) Presbyterians: Do not forget the opening lines of A Brief Statement of Faith! How was Egypt given as a ransom? Why the mention of Ethiopia and Seba?
43:4 I like the first part of this verse, but the second part rubs me the wrong way. If the LORD is giving away people and nations, to whom or what is the LORD giving them to?
43:5-6 Note that all four cardinal directions are named. These verses remind me of an invitation to the Lord’s Table: “They will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.” It also reminds me of some Native American traditions relating to the four winds and/or four directions.
43:6 Note that sons and daughters are both mentioned, a rare inclusive verse!
43:7 Could this verse not be used to argue for universalism? This verse could provide an interesting juxtaposition in relation to the exclusiveness of Christian Baptism.
29:1 What does it mean to ascribe? How do we ascribe? What, or which, heavenly beings are addressed here?
29:2 Do you worship in holy splendor? What does holy splendor look, smell, sound, feel, and taste like?
29:3 What does the voice of the LORD sound like? Would you recognize it if you heard it? Being a sailor and kayaker, I really like and relate to this verse. How do people who are land locked and had never experienced the ocean or other large body of water understand this verse?
29:4 With a voice like this the LORD deserves a contract as an announcer and/or commercial spokesperson.
29:5-9 Think of the scene/passage in The Hobbit where Bilbo and the dwarves find themselves amidst giants “hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching them and tossing them down into darkness where they are smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits with a bang.” This passage is not talking about a “April showers” God but rather a “summer thunderstorm” God.
29:6 Where is Sirion and why is it mentioned?
29:7 Is this a reference to lightening or a volcanic eruption?
29:8 Where is the wilderness of Kadesh?
29:9 Who say “Glory?”
29:10 How are people in flood ravaged areas hearing this?
29:10-11 How do we reconcile images of a storm god with peace?
29:1-11 There is no still small voice here, no safe, domesticated God. This Psalm is about the God of fierce landscapes, the God of raw power represented by severe and intense natural phenomena. I doubt many would be comfortable welcoming this God into their clean, climate controlled, predictable sanctuaries.
8:14 Is the Jerusalem setting important? What if the apostles had been someplace else other than Jerusalem when they heard this news? Was it surprising or problematic that Samaria (not Samaritans?) had accepted the word of God? Why was James not sent?
8:15 Does this sound a little judgmental to you? How it is possible that someone accepts the word of God without receiving the Holy Spirit?
8:16 Who is this verse talking about? Why, in the NRSV, is this verse in parenthesis? How does this verse challenge some who insist on baptizing “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit?” or else it is not a Christian, Trinitarian, Baptism?
8:17 What is so special about the laying on of hands? Is it possible for a person or a people to receive the Holy Spirit without being baptized? Is either prayer or the laying on of hands not enough? Must prayer and the laying on of hands be combined? What is the difference between “baptism in the name of Jesus” and “baptism in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit?”
LUKE 3:15-17, 21-22
3:15 What people? When was the last time people in the pews of churches you know were filled with expectation? Why would people think John could be the Messiah?
3:16 What is so special about the thong of a sandal? Is the doublet “Holy Spirit and fire” merely poetic, or something more?
3:17 What is a winnowing fork and what is it used for? What is a threshing floor and what is it used for? What is chaff? How do we preach the Gospel in an urban environment where all people know about wheat is that it comes in five pound bags of ground flour and they probably have no idea what the imagery of this passage is communicating? Why was chaff burned? Does this passage require the existence of a fire filled hell? Is this unquenchable fire related to the Holy Spirit and fire of the previous verse?
3:21 Really? All the people? Do you think this is an exaggeration, a hyperbole? What does it mean for heaven (singular, not plural) to be opened?
3:22 So the Holy Spirit was someplace over the Jordan River, on the other side of earth from people along a declination of plus or minus 180 degrees? What is the meaning of “bodily form?” If in some ways it was like a dove but not really a dove, how was it different? What might a dove symbolize? Whose voice came from heaven and what did it sound like? Where and when might we hear these words again?
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 and .