Monday, February 25, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 1st Sunday in Lent (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.

26:1 How shall we define this land? Is it only the dirt, or also the biodiversity?
26:2 How do we move from “some” to 10%.  What is the meaning of first? What difference does it make for our Stewardship that we are commanded to take some of the “first fruit” rather than what happens to be left over to present to God? Where is the place of the LORD?
26:3 “Your God” seems odd.  I would expect “our God.” This sounds like a liturgical formula.
26:4 Since it is the contents of the basket that matter, I wonder what happens to the basket.
26:5 Please, please, please know the difference in meaning and pronunciation between Aramean and Armenian. Did this wandering Aramean have a name? Who is your daddy? Might this passage suggest that faith is a journey or lead into a reflection on the Lenten journey?
26:6 Why not the overt mention of slavery or servitude?
26:7 How do we move from “ancestor” in 26:5 to “ancestors” in this verse?
26:8 What is the meaning of “mighty hand” and “outstretched arm?”
26:9 What does it mean for a land to flow with milk and honey?
26:10 Apparently fish and fowl and other animals were not brought. This seems to be a vegan offering. Is this set down before the priest, by the priest, or is the priest not at all involved in the setting down?
26:11 Who are Levites and why are they and aliens singled out?  Note that the people are to celebrate “with all the bounty,” not celebrate the bounty.

PSALM 91:1-2, 9-16
91:1-2, 9-16 How many ways does this Psalm identify God?
91:1 Is God’s shadow the same as God’s shelter?  What does a shadow shelter from?
91:2 What is the difference, if any, between refuge and fortress?  Is this couplet nothing more than an example of Hebraic poetic construction?
91:9 This verse contains the second appearance of “Most High”.  What does this title of God communicate that other titles do not? What is a refuge? How can one dwell in a diety?
91:10 I hereby proclaim this the backpackers’ and campers’ verse!
91:11-12, 13 Can we read and interpret these versus without hearing them applied to Christ?
91:11 What is your angelology? Do you have a guardian angel?
91:12 What about this verse troubles me? I have lost track of how many times my guardian angel let me down by letting me stub my toe.
91:13-14 Note the switch from the third person to the first person between verses 13 and 14.
91:14 Who is now speaking? What is God’s name and how can we know it if we are not supposed to pronounce it?
91:15 Is God present only in times of trouble?
91:16 What is the meaning of “salvation” in the context of this verse?

ROMANS 10:8b-13
10:8b This is Paul writing, not John.  What does Paul mean by “word.”
10:9 Is Paul calling for both verbal assent as well as spiritual assent?  The church can judge the first but not the second.  This is perhaps one of the oldest, and simplest, statements of faith.  Note what is does not say.  How did this short Biblical confession become expanded into the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed, not to mention the Westminster Confession? What is the relation between Jesus being Lord and God raising Jesus from the dead?
10:10 What is the difference between being justified and being saved?  Did Paul really mean to relegate justification to the affections and salvation to confession?
10:11 What Scripture is Paul quoting?
10:12 What is the meaning of “Greek?” I wonder how anti-Semites manage to misinterpret this verse.
10:13 What does “call on the name of the Lord” mean and what does it sound like?  How can we interpret this without wandering into debate between inclusive universalism and exclusive particularism?  What are the implications for evangelism on the one hand and interreligious dialogue on the other? What is the difference between calling on the LORD God” and calling on the “Lord Jesus?”

LUKE 4:1-13
4:1-13 Do not forget to look at the parallels, beginning at Matthew 4:1 and Mark 1:12.
4:1 What does it mean to be full of the Holy Spirit?  Can one be led by the Spirit if one is not full of the Spirit? Is wilderness simply a geographical reference or is it also symbolic? I referred you last week, and I will refer you again to Belden Lane’s book The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality.
4:2 What is the symbolic significance of forty?  What does it allude to? Who was there counting?  What is your demonology?  What would the physical, psychological, and spiritual state of anyone who had fasted forty days be like?
4:3 “If?”
4:4 Where is this written?
4:5 Is this physically possible in a round world?
4:6 Had any authority been given to the Devil, or is the Devil lying?
4:7 Why does the Devil want to be worshiped?
4:8 Where is this written?
4:9 “If?” Another if? It sounds as though the Devil is taunting or even attempting to sow seeds of doubt.
4:10-11 Where is this written? Note that even the Devil can quote Scripture! Look above at Psalm 91:11-12.
4:12 Where is this said?
4:13 What would be an opportune time?  This verse always reminds me of Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel Last Temptation of Christ.  I think the movie adaptation is better than the book, but nevertheless, what does it mean for our faith that Jesus was tempted at least three times and perhaps more, even later?
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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