Monday, March 4, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 2nd 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.

GENESIS 15:1-12, 17-18
15:1 After what things?  Why is LORD in all uppercase letters in the NRSV and many other translations? Why are we reading about Abram rather than Abraham? Have you ever experienced such a vision?  How many people in the pews have ever experienced such a vision?  What is the difference between a vision and an actual historical event? Why did Abram need a shield? I hear this verse echoed in today’s Psalm at 1:1
15:2 Was an heir and someone to bequeath his reward the only thing Abram was hoping for? So we know anything more about Eliezer?
15:3 Is this slave Eliezer? Who bore him?
15:4 This time, when the word of the LORD came to Abram, there is no mention of a vision. Was this man not Abram’s biological issue? Was the problem biology or legality?
15:5 How many stars have been mapped and/or cataloged? People who have never been out of light polluted urban centers may not be able to conceptualize what Abram saw when he looked up into the night sky.
15:6 Where will we hear this again? What prompted Abram to believe the Lord? Why is righteousness mentioned?
15:7 What land is the LORD referring to? Did Abram not know the identity of the LORD until now?
15:8 What is the difference between knowing in this verse and believing in 15:6? Why “LORD” (all uppercase letters) when the narrator is writing, but as “Lord GOD” (uppercase “L” and lower case “ord,” all upper case “GOD”) when Abram is quoted?
15:9 Is there anything special about these animals and their ages?
15:10 Is this what means to “cut a covenant?” Why were the birds not cut in two?
15:11 Why did Abram drive the birds of prey away? I did not know that Romulans and/or Klingons were present around earth during the time of Abram.
15:12 What sometimes happens when we fall asleep? Is there a difference between a vision and a dream, especially a “big” or “numinous” dream? Have you ever felt anything like “a deep and terrifying darkness” descend upon you?
15:17 What do the fire pot and flaming torch represent? Is this a description of an historical event or a description of what Abram saw during his deep sleep?
15:18 Did Abram’s descendants ever inhabit all this land?
15:1-12, 17-18 I think what is being described here is an ancient archetypal (i.e. Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell) religious ceremony and that George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, and/or Ridley Scott would have a field translating it for the big screen.

27:1 Do you hear an echo of Genesis 15:1?  This verse reminds me of a Taizé chant. Is the Psalmist asking rhetorical questions?
27:2 What evildoers devour human flesh? Or is “devour” a figure of speech?
27:3 Are these the words of an individual or a community?
27:4 What is and where is the house of the Lord?  Who among us today desires to “live in the house of the LORD all the days” of our life?  Most folk grow antsy and are ready to go home after just one hour or more of a worship service.
27:5 I can understand how being concealed under a tent is a shelter, but being set up high on a rock? Does the Psalmist “tent” refer to the Tabernacle?
27:6 Does this psalm mix imagery from before the Temple period with references to the Temple?
27:7 I think this makes a good introductory prayer petition. What if the psalmist cries in silence? Verses 1-6 speak of the LORD in the third person but with verse 7 the Psalmist shifts to diect address. Verse 10 and 13-14 also speak of the LORD in the third person while verses 11-12 return to the direct address. How might this pattern inform our understanding of corporate and personal prayer?
27:8 What is so special about the face of the LORD?
27:9 What does it mean when the LORD hides the divine face?
27:7-9 Verses 1-6 speak of the LORD in the third person but with verse 7 the Psalmist shifts to direct address.  Verse 10 and 13-14 also speak of the LORD in the third person while verses 11-12 return to direct address.  How does this pattern inform our understanding of corporate and personal prayer?
27:10 Who are my mother and father? Is faith thicker than family?
27:11 What is the LORD’s way? Sometimes a level path is even better than one leading downhill.
27:12 False witnesses are one thing, but violent adversaries are another. Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names and false accusations can never harm me.
27:13 Is this more a statement about the LORD or about the Psalmist?
27:14 What does it mean to wait for the LORD? Is waiting for the LORD preferable to waiting for Godot? Is waiting for the LORD anything like contemplative prayer?

3:17 Imitate whom, how?  What example was the author thinking of? Who are the “us?”
3:18 What does it mean to be an “enemy of the cross of Christ?” Who does Paul have in mind when he writes about these enemies of the cross? Is being an enemy of the cross something other than indifference to the cross?
3:19 Is this a condemnation of gluttony?
3:20 In the context of that era, what did it mean to be a citizen?  In this era of partisanship and a deadlocked congress, what does it mean that “our citizenship is in heaven?” Is the author still expecting a savior or the return of the savior?
3:21 How is the body our humiliation?  Is glory the antithesis of humiliation? What is the nature of this power?
4:1 What does it mean to “stand firm in the Lord” and how do we do it?  Might we ever confuse standing firm with stubbornness and intransigence?

LUKE 13:31-35
13:31 What hour?  Why would some Pharisees warn Jesus?  Why did Herod want to kill Jesus?
13:32 What did it mean to call someone a fox? What does Jesus mean when he refers to “the third day?” Is there some foreshadowing here?
13:33 Is the next day the same day as the third day? Where was Jesus when he spoke these words?
13:34 Is this still Jesus speaking?  Where did this hen and brood imagery come from?  Take a glance at Ruth 2:12 and Psalm 17:8, but especially at the Apocryphal book of e Esdras, where God is “animalized” as a mother hen.
13:35 What is the meaning of “you house is left to you?”  Where have he heard “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” before?  See Psalm 118:26.
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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