Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 8 (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.

2 KINGS 2:1-2, 6-14
2:1 The Elijah narrative continues. Is there any significance to a whirlwind? What do we know about Gilgal?
2:2 Why Bethel? Why might Elijah have wanted Elisha to stay behind?
2:6 Note the repetitive nature of the dialogue. What is the meaning of the formulaic “As the LORD lives?”
2:7 What is the company of prophets? Who were these prophets, where did they come from, and why were they there?
2:8 Elijah parts the Jordan. Is this the feat that earns him a place with  Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration? Compare and contrast Elijah’s mantle and what he does with his mantle with Moses’ rod and what Moses does with his rod.
2:9 What was the value of Elijah’s spirit and how could it be doubled?  I might be willing to settle for half. How can one person’s spirit be passed on to another person? How does this verse inform our understanding of Pentecost?
2:10 What is the nature of this seeing?
2:11 What is the connection between the chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire and the whirlwind?
2:12 Who is the “Father” Elisha was exclaiming to or about? Why did Elisha tare his clothes?
2:13 Why does Elijah leave his mantle behind?  What does it symbolize?
2:14 What an odd question! What is your mantle and who bequeathed it to you?  Where does your spirit symbolically reside?

PSALM 77:1-2,11-20
77:1 What does crying aloud to God sound like?
77:2 Day and night means all the time. What does an outstretched hand represent?
77:11 What are the deeds and wonders of the LORD? Note the change from speaking of the LORD in the third person to the second person direct address.
77:12 What might the Psalmist mean by “meditate?” Are God’s mighty deeds ever your muse?  They certainly were for this psalmist.
77:13 Is this a rhetorical question? What other gods are there?
77:14 Who are the peoples?
77:15 Does language like this lead toward anthropomorphizing of God?
77:16 Do we usually attribute feelings, even fear, to inanimate things like water? Is the Psalmist alluding to the parting of the Reed Sea or the parting of the Jordan? This psalmist seems to like repeating phrases (see 77:1 as well.)
77:17 Is this an illusion to the God of the storm or merely a reference to God’s power over nature?
77:18 It was likely the mention of the “whirlwind” that prompted the lectionary committee to pair this psalm with today’s first reading.  How does this psalm ”interpret” or expand upon today’s first reading? I wonder how common thunder storms are in Palestine.
77:19 Is this a reference to the Exodus?
77:20 Moses and Aaron were apparently shepherds standing in for God.

GALATIANS 5:1, 13-25
5:1 Who needs verses 13-25?  This first verse can serve as the text for several sermons, especially so close to the United States’ celebration of Independence Day. What is the nature of Christian freedom? What does it mean to stand firm?
5:13-15, 16-25 As freedom is contrasted with slavery, so too is flesh contrasted with Spirit, and the works of the flesh are contrasted with the fruits of the Spirit.
5:13 Is slavery in freedom anything like responsibility?
5:14 I wonder where Paul got this idea.
5:15 This is good advice, especially in this presidential primary season. I wonder what Paul meant by “bite and devour”. Was Paul alluding to cannalbalism?
5:16 How does one live by the Spirit?
5:17 Why might Paul have set up this dichotomy between Spirit and flesh?
5:18 What is the relation between the Spirit and the law?
5:19-21, 22-23 Does it mean anything that there are more “works of the flesh” listed than there are “fruits of the Spirit” listed?
5:19 Obvious to Paul, perhaps.
5:20 In my mind there is a BIG difference between idolatry and something like jealousy or anger.
5:21 “Things like these” can be broadly interpreted. When and where had Paul warned them before?
5:22-23 Is this meant to be an exhaustive list? Why no “and things like these?” Note that in 5:19 “works” is plural while in 5:22 “fruit” is singular.
5:23 How could there be a law against such things?
5:24 How have those who belong to Christ crucified the flesh?
5:25 How might living by the Spirit be different from being guided by the Spirit?

LUKE 9:51-62
9: 51 Why “days” (plural) rather than “the day” (singular)? What, exactly, does the author of Luke mean by “taken up?”
9:52 I wonder about the identity of these messengers. Why might Jesus have needed advance preparations? I find it interesting that they entered a village of the Samaritans.
9:53 What was it about Jesus setting his face toward Jerusalem that caused the Samaritans not to receive him?
9:54 Where do such thoughts come from? Did James and John really have the power to do this?
9:55 Is this perhaps the only “rebuke” in the Gospels other than Jesus rebuking Peter?
9:56 Was the other village not in Samaria?
9:57 Could one of the disciples have said this?
9:58 What is the meaning of this enigmatic saying?
9:59 The first person (5:57) volunteered to follow. Now, Jesus calls on someone else to follow. Does this second person not make a reasonable request?
9:60 Another puzzling saying? How can the dead bury the dead?
9:61 This request does not seem as reasonable as the one before it.
9:62 Yet one more perplexing saying. What happens when one plows ahead while looking behind?
9:57-62 Notice the progression:  A person says they will follow.  Jesus calls a second person to follow. A third person says they will follow.  Apparently, none of the three do follow.  What about you?
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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