Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 7 (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.

1 KINGS 19:1-4 (5-7) 8-15a
19:1 Do you remember Ahab, Jezebel, and Elijah from last week’s First Reading? The saga continues. What prophets had Elijah killed? I wonder why the Lectionary assigns two Psalms to this day.
19:2 Why did Jezebel send a messenger to Elijah?  Why not just kill him?  She swears by her gods, but what gods would those be?
19:3 Having spoken truth to power, why is Elijah only now afraid? What do we know about Beer-sheba?
19:4 Is there any significance to the mention of a day’s journey and a broom tree?  How long was a day’s journey? While Jezebel swore by her gods, Elijah prays to the LORD. Why does Elijah want to die? Who were Elijah’s ancestors?
(19:5) The beginning of a Big Dream, but where does the narration of the dream end? Why am I thinking of the Buddha?
(19:6) Are you experiencing déjà vu? See the First Reading from two weeks ago, which was 1 Kings 17:10-11.
(19:7) Who or what was this angel? Why did it take two touches?
19:8 What is the significance of forty days and forty nights? How might this account have influenced the Gospel traditions of Jesus’ wilderness wanderings? What is the significance of Horeb?
19:9 What is the religious and spiritual significance of caves? Is anyone else thinking about Lascaux?
19:10 Is Elijah really the only remaining faithful Israelite prophet?
19:11 What is the religious and spiritual significance of mountains? What is the religious and spiritual significance of thunderstorms and earthquakes? You may want to acquaint yourself with Belden Lane’s The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality.
19:12 What is the religious and spiritual significance of fire? What does sheer silence sound like? Have you ever experienced sheer silence?
19:13 What is the significance of Elijah’s mantle? Whose voice did Elijah hear? Note that this is the second time the question is asked. The first time was 19:9.
19:14 See 19:10
19:15a Where is the wilderness of Damascus? Who was Hazael and where was Aram?

PSALM 42 and 43
I can almost hear these words coming from the lips of Elijah.  These two psalms contain some of my favorite Biblical images and lines.
42:1 How much does a deer long for flowing streams? Does your soul long for God?
42:2 What is supposed to happen to those who look upon God’s face?
42:3 Why was the Psalmist crying?
42:4 What does it mean to pour out one’s soul? What is the psalmist remembering? It sounds like the Psalmist had once been a leader of a ritual procession.
42:5 Is this a rhetorical question? What does it mean for a soul to be cast down?
42:6 Does the Psalmist not remember God when their soul is not cast down? Where is Mount Mizar?
42:7 Is this pure ocean and water imagery? To what does “deep” refer?
42:8 God’s song is the Psalmist’s prayer?
42:9 Does God ever really forget anyone, or is this just the Psalmist’s expressing their feelings? Have you ever felt that God forgot you?
42:10 Taunting is deadly? What ever happened to the adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but names may never harm me?” What is the nature of a spiritual wound?
42:11 See 42:5 and 43:5. Is the Psalmist not now praising God?
43:1 How can God vindicate?
43:2 How can God be a refuge if God has cast off the psalmist?
43:3 What is the relationship between light and truth? In this context, what is God’s light?
43:4 Note that the Psalmist shifts from speaking of God in the third person to speaking to God.
43:5 See Psalm 42:5 and 42: 11 What sort of feeling or emotion does a cast down and disquieted soul suggest?

3:23 When did faith come? Was faith revealed by Christ? What about Abraham? Was the law a benevolent captor?
3:24 What is the function of a disciplinarian? What spiritual disciplines do you follow or practice?
3:25 What happens when there is no disciplinarian?
3:26 Through faith rather than through how?
3:27 What does it mean to be clothed with Christ and how does baptism accomplish that?
3:28 Do you think Paul meant for this list to be complete, or just the beginning on an infinite list? Black/white, rich/poor, gay/straight, republican/democrat, etc?
3:29 Are we not also Sarah’s offspring? Where did Abraham’s faith come from if faith came in Christ Jesus?

LUKE 8:26-39
8:26 Who arrived? What do we know about the country of the Gerasenes?
8:27 Who is he? Where was he before he stepped out on land? What is your demonology? Oh no, a naked homeless tomb dweller! How much worse could it get?
8:28 Why would a naked homeless tomb dweller know who Jesus was when even Jesus’s disciples didn’t seem to know who Jesus was?
8:29 Why the shift from plural (demons) to singular (unclean spirit)? Why the parenthetical comments. Was this naked homeless tomb dweller kept shackled out in the tombs?
8:30 Why did Jesus want to know his name? Note that in 8:29 Jesus refers to an unclean spirit while the man claims to have many demons. What is the difference between an unclean spirit and a demon?
8:31 What and where is the abyss?
8:32 Obviously Jesus has authority over the demons, but what about the swine?
8:33 Why did the swine, now apparently demon possessed, kill themselves? Is there some irony at work here?
8:34 What is a swineherd?
8:35 From where did the former naked beggar clothes to wear? Why were the people afraid? Who had, or would, sit at the feet of Jesus?
8:36 Is demon possession a type of illness that can be healed? If demon possession is equated with illness, must all illness be equated with demon possession?
8:37 Why were the people afraid? What were they afraid of? What are you afraid of when it comes to Jesus, demons, and the spiritual realm?
8:38 Why would Jesus send this man away?
8:39 Read this verse VERY carefully.  Read between the lines.  What is it saying?
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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