Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 4th 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.

JOSHUA 5:9-12
5:9 Why is the phrase “I have rolled away” reminding me of Christ’s resurrection? What “disgrace of Egypt” was the LORD referring to?  Where is Gilgal?  What does “Gilgal” mean?
5:10 The Passover can apparently be celebrated anywhere, even while camping upon the plain of Jericho. Maybe observing the Passover by going on a camping or backpacking trip is the best way to observe it!
5:11 Were unleavened cakes and parched grain the produce of the land, or was that in addition to the produce of the land?
5:12 What is manna?
5:11-12 Now that the Israelites enjoy the produce of the land, the manna stops.  Either way, God is the ultimate provider.

32:1 What is your definition of happiness? When your transgression is forgiven and your sin is covered, are you as happy as a room without a roof?
32:2 What is iniquity? Is iniquity the same as deceit?
32:3 How can the Psalmist be silent while also groaning? Why was the Psalmist silent?
32:4 What does it mean for a hand to be heavy upon you?  What do you do with “Selah?”  How about a guitar riff?
32:5 As if we really could hide our sin from God? Are sin, iniquity, transgressions, and guilt synonyms?
32:6 What is the meaning of “the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them?”
32:7 Does God want us to hide from trouble?
32:8 Who is teaching and instructing?
32:9 In other words, don’t be an ass? What function do bits and bridles serve?
32:10 What is the nature of “trust” and how does it differ from faith?
32:11 Somber, doer Christians, please take note: be glad in the LORD!
32:1-11 Confession is good for the soul and one’s demeanor.  Are Christians happier than non-Christians?  I usually discern a thematic connection between the First Reading and the Psalm, but I am not discerning any this week.  Am I missing something? How do you see Joshua 5:9-12 and Psalm 32 in conversation?

5:16 Does Paul mean that his viewpoint has changed? What other point of views are there than human points of views?
5:17 What does it mean to be “in Christ?”  Note that in the NRSV, it is the creation that is new, not the person!  This verse is often used in liturgies related to confession of sin, either as a call to confession or a declaration of pardon.
5:18 What is the ministry of reconciliation?  PC(USA) Presbyterians might want to look at the Confession of 67.
5:19 Does “the world” refer to only people? Why did the world need to be reconciled to God?
5:20 What is the role of an ambassador?
5:21 What is “the righteousness of God” and how do we become it?
5:16-21 There are numerous theories of the atonement and the Reformed Tradition has room for many of them without endorsing any one over all the others.  Does 2 Corinthians  5:16-21, however, presuppose any one understanding of the atonement?

LUKE 15:1-3, 11b-32
15:1 Is this perhaps hyperbole? Why are tax collectors and sinners lumped together?
15:2 How do the Pharisees and scribes move from sinners listening to Jesus to Jesus eating with sinners?
15:3 And the lesson for Preachers and teachers is:  when people are grumbling about your ministry, tell a parable?
15:11b Who was this man?  What was his name?   What were the son’s names?  What is wrong with these sorts of questions?
15:12 Why would this younger son think he could have his inheritance before his father died?
15:13 I think I prefer “dissolute” to other translations. What if the son had invested his inheritance and earned a sizeable return?
15:14 Was fate conspiring against the younger son?
15:15 What is the irony in this?
15:16 Was the younger son not earning enough to feed himself? Could he not eat some of the pods without being seen?
15:17 Is it significant that his father’s hire hands had enough bread to spare rather than pods or other food?
15:18 Juxtapose this with the 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Reading. I think this might be the key verse from this passage.
15:19 What is the difference between a son and a hired hand?
15:20 Now this is an example of family values!
15:21 The son is true to his intentions! See Luke 15:18.
15:22 What do the robe, ring, and sandals symbolize, signify, or represent? While bathing or baptism is not mentioned, baptism is often equated with “putting on Christ.”
15:23 Would there have been only one fatted calf?
15:24 Who are the “they” that celebrated?
15:23-24 I think we in the institutional church do not celebrate enough.  In too many of churches, the Lord’s Supper is less like a celebration and more like a mournful dirge. Maybe if we celebrated more and exuded more joy, our younger brothers and sisters would come back home.  Read this again considering Psalm 32:11. Just saying!
15:25 Why was the elder son not summoned when the celebration began?
15:26 How would the slave know what was going on?
15:27 Note the use of “your brother” and “your father.”
15:28 This single verse is both a reversal and an extension of the tale, making it a true parable! Do you know any elder brothers, or just elders, who too often act like this? I wonder how Edwin H. Friedman would interpret this parable.
15:29 I sympathize with the elder brother.
15:30 Note that the elder son refers not to his “brother” but to his “father’s son.”
15:11b-32 I think this parable is more about the elder son than the younger son or the father. Then again, maybe it really about the father and neither son.
15:1-3, 11b-32 One problem with this Gospel Reading might be that we are too familiar with it and think we already know what it is about.  How can we hear it as if we were hearing it for the very first time?  Is it too obvious that the tax collectors and the sinners are the younger son; the Pharisees and scribes are the elder son; and God/Jesus is the father?  Fast forwarding to the present day. Where do you find yourself in this parable?  The poignant teaching for us is that we might become or be like the elder son. I contend that parables are not based on fact. It does not matter if the facts of the parable are true or not. What matters is that the moral of the story, the lesson, is true. This parable seems to be about a younger son’s contrition, a father’s loving heart, and an elder’s son resentment. Where was the mother in this parable?
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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