Monday, December 24, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Epiphany of the Lord (Years ABC)

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.

This is the first year since 2013 that Epiphany falls on a Sunday.  The Lectionary Readings for Epiphany are the same for Years A, B, and C.  It has been my desire, when the service of Epiphany is at night, to combine it with a star watching party with local astronomers and their telescopes, a desire not yet realized.

ISAIAH 60:1-6
60:1 While this is a very appropriate text for Epiphany, what was the original light Isaiah was referring to? What was the original setting historical setting?
60:2 How do we deal with cultural pejorative associations with darkness?
60:3 Does “nation” refer to political entities or peoples?
60:4 Where were the sons and daughters before they returned? Where did thy return from?
60:5 How do we read and interpret this when humans have overfished most species?
60:6 Does this passage shed light on the reading from Matthew 2:1-12, or should we interpret Matthew 2:1-12 as Midrash on this Isaiah 60:1-6? Do you think the author of Matthew had this reading from Isaiah in mind when writing the Gospel? Might this passage have influenced how and what the author of Matthew wrote in the opening chapters of that Gospel?

PSALM 72:1-7, 10-14
72:1 What does it mean that God gives the king justice? Is God’s justice different from human justice?
72:2 What does justice for the poor look like?
72:3 As a native resident of West Virginia, “The Mountain State,” whose lumber, coal, and now natural gas has been extracted and exploited by and the financial benefit of out of state interests, I might hear this passage differently than others.
72:4 I wish Congress and the Trump Administration would read and ponder these verses!
72:5 How long will the sun and moon endure?
72:6 Are you familiar with the king’s connection to the land in the grail legend?
72:10 Do you think this verse justifies this Psalm being associated with Epiphany? Where was Tarshish, Sheba, and Seba?
72:11 What does falling down before the king represent and symbolize?
72:12-14 More verses for the 99% and for Congress and the Trump administration to ponder in the New Year.

3:1 So Paul was a prisoner for the sake of the Gentiles but not for the sake of the Jews?
3:2 Paul seems to be emphasizing his ministry to the Gentiles while not saying anything about the Jews.
3:3 What mystery is Paul talking about? What words is he referring to?
3:4 What is the mystery of Christ?  Why all this talk about mystery?  Is Paul trying to appeal to followers of Gentile mystery religions?
3:5 Note the plural “apostles” and “prophets.”  Paul seems to place himself in a company.  He is not alone.
3:6 What body?
3:7 How does one become a servant of the gospel?
3:8 I would rather be the least of all the saints than the greatest of all the sinners, but are not all saints forgiven sinners?
3:9 If you know the plan of the mystery, then is it still a mystery?  This mystery was hidden “in” God?
3:10 Is this one of the earliest uses of the “church?”  What does it mean that there is a rich variety of God’s wisdom? Rulers and authorities are in the heavenly places?
3:11 Do “eternal purposes” require a doctrine of predestination or a sort of Christian fatalism?  Where does free will fit in here?
3:12 I like the note of “boldness and confidence.”

MATTHEW 2:1-12
2:1 When was the time of King Herod? Forgetting what you think you know from familiar carols, according to this Scripture, how many wise men were there?  Must the original “Magi” be translated “men?”  Where in the East might they have come from?
2:2 What does it mean that the Magi saw a star at its rising?
2:3 I can understand why Herod would be frightened, but why would all Jerusalem be frightened?
2:4 Are the chief priests and scribes in any way the Jewish equivalent of the pagan Magi?
2:6 What prophet is being quoted?
2:7 Why did Herod practice secrecy?
2:8 What is the meaning of “sent?”
2:9 Do you know how to use a sextant?  What sort of stars rise, move, and then stop?
2:10 When was the last time you were overwhelmed with joy?
2:11 House?  What happened to the stable?  Where was Joseph? How many treasure chests might there have been?  What is the symbolism, if any, of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh?  Does the fact that three types of gifts are mentioned mean that there had to be three magi?
2:12 Was just one of the magi warned in a dream or did all three dream the same dream? Have you ever been warned about something in a dream?  What other dreams and how many other dreams are there, if any, in the Gospel According to Matthew?  What might Morton Kelsey, John Sanford, Joseph Campbell and/or Carl Jung have said about this dream?
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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