Monday, May 13, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Day of Pentecost (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.

ACTS 2:1-21
If you use Acts 2:1-21 as the First Reading, then you would not use Genesis 11:1-9 and would  Romans 8:14-17 as the Second Reading.
2:1 What was the significance of Pentecost before the events recounted in this reading?  Some people in the pew may not realize that Pentecost was a Jewish festival long before it was a Christian one. Who was together?  What place were they in? 
2:2 Did they hear the rush of a violent wind or something likened to the sound of a violent wind?  What is the most violent wind you have ever heard? Did the sound fill the place or did the wind fill the place?
2:3 What is a divided tongue?  What is the difference between divided tongues as of fire and plain, ordinary divided tongues?  Why is the description in 2:2-3 so imprecise?
2:4 What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  Were they empty of any spirit before this, or did the Holy Spirit replace what was in them, or what?
2:5 What is a devout Jew?
2:6 When was the last time you were bewildered?
2:7 When was the last time you were amazed and astonished? Why wee all the tongue speakers Galilean?
2:8 What if there had been no one there to hear?
2:9-10 Is there any significance to the countries and places listed?
2:10 What is a proselyte?
2:11 What are God’s deeds of power?
2:12 When was the last time you were perplexed? I wonder how many worshipers leave worship wondering what it all meant.
2:13 What is significant about new wine? Is this verse multivalent?
2:14 Why is Peter usually the first one to speak? Why did Peter not address all the visitors?
2:15 Does no one get drunk before nine o’clock in the morning?  It must be nine o’clock in the morning somewhere?
2:16 What do you know about Joel?
2:17-21 Is this an example of prophecy fulfilled?  Midrash?  Both? This could perhaps be the longest quote of Hebrew Scriptures in the New Testament.
2:17 What is significant about “daughters?”
2:18 What is significant about “women?”
2:19 What are portents and what do these portents mean?
2:20 What is the Lord’s great and glorious day?
2:21 What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?  What Lord’s name is to be called on?


GENESIS 11:1-9
If you use Genesis 11:1-9 as the First Reading rather than Acts 2:1-21, then you may choose to use either the Acts 2:1-21 or the Romans 8:14-17 reading as the Second Reading.
11:1 What was the language?
11:2 Who is “they?” Where is Shinar?
11:3 Why are bricks so important? What is bitumen?
11:4 What city might this have been?  Was this tower a ziggurat? How is their hubris different from our own?
11:5 Could the Lord not see the tower from heaven? Apparently, the city and tower caught God’s attention, which is perhaps just what the people wanted.
11:6 So what is the problem? Who was the Lord talking to?
11:7 Who are “us?” Might this be the imperial “we” or “us” as the Queen of England might say? How will confusing human language solve any problems?
11:8 Did the confusing of human language cause the scattering?
11:9 What language is “Babel” and what does the name mean?

PSALM 104:24-34, 35b
104:24 How manifold are the LORD’s works? How often do we marvel at our works rather than the LORD’s works? What does “in wisdom” mean?
104:25 What might the sea represent? I wonder what Rachel Carson or Jacques Cousteau read this verse.
104:26 Where would Thomas Hobbes be without this verse?
104:27 Does this verse suggest that even non-human creatures are aware of the LORD?
104:28 How does this and the proceeding verse inform a Christian environmental ethic?
104:29 What does it mean for God to “hide” the divine face? How can sea creatures return to their dust?
104:30 So it is the LORD’s spirit that creates? How did we move from the sea in 104:25 to the ground?
104:31 We usually are called to rejoice in the LORD. How does the LORD rejoice?
104:32 Are we talking volcanoes here, or is this verse describing the God of the storm?
104:33 I wish more congregants and worshipers would take this verse to heart and really sing out in worship.
104:34 What is the meaning of “meditation?”
104:35b What is the difference between blessing the LORD and praising the LORD?
104:24-34 Does the mention of the spirit in 104:30 make this Psalm particularly appropriate for Pentecost?

ROMANS 8:14-17
If you used Genesis 11;1-9 as the First Reading, you may use either Romans 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21 as the Second Reading.
8:14 What does it mean to be led by the Spirit of God? What does being led by the Spirit of God  feel like? Who are led by the Spirit? Are you led by the Spirit?
8:15 How does the spirit of slavery and the spirit of adoption relate to the Spirit of God?  When do you cry “Abba! Father!?”
8:16 What is the relationship between our spirit and the Spirit of God? Do Christians have two spirits within them?
8:17 How do we suffer with Christ?

JOHN 14:8-17 (25-27)
14:8 Finally, someone other than Peter speaks! Even Philip, however, seems to stick his foot in his mouth. How might Orthodox iconography help us here?
14:9 How did Philip not know Jesus? How can people who have not seen Jesus see the Father?
14:10 What is the nature of this belief?
14:11 Note that Jesus says, “Believe me” and not “Believe in me.” What is the difference? What works was Jesus referring to?
14:12 What does it mean when Jesus says, “Very truly?” What greater works might Jesus have had in mind?
14:13 Whatever we ask in his name?
14:14 Really? What does “in his name” mean?
14:15 What commandments?
14:16 Another Advocate?  How many Advocates are there? Why is Advocate capitalized?
14:17 So the Advocate is the spirit of truth? Can anyone see the Spirit? Note the present tense “abides” and the future tense “will be in you!” What is the difference between “abiding” and “in?”
(14:25) So?
(14:26) So the Advocate is the same as the Spirit of truth is the same as the Holy Spirit? How will this Spirit teach? Does the Book of Hebrews claim Jesus as an Advocate? What is the relationship between the Holy Spirit and anamnesis?
(14:27) This is one of my favorite verses. What is the nature of this peace? This sentence of Scripture is often incorporated into The Service of Witness to the Resurrection.
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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