Monday, June 10, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (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 5:1-14
5:1 Why would the LORD give victory to the General of a foreign king?  What is the nature of this “leprosy?”
5:2 Were the Arameans and the Israelites at war?
5:3 What prophet was in Samaria?
5:4 Why did Naaman report to his lord, presumably the king of Aram?
5:5 Is this an example of Old Testament international diplomacy? Are the silver, gold and garments a gift, a peace offering, a bribe, or what?  What would be their current economic value?
5:6 Why did Naaman go to the king of Israel instead of directly to the prophet in Samaria?
5:7 At least this king, unlike previous kings, knows that he is neither God nor exercises divine-like power.
5:8  Who really needs to learn that there is a prophet in Israel? What is more important, learning that there is a prophet in Israel or learning the God of Israel is a mighty God?
5:9 I wonder how many were in Naaman’s entourage.
5:10 Why did Elisha send a messenger to Naaman rather than meeting with the leper general? What is the significance of the number seven? Are there any other examples in Scripture of the restorative powers of the Jordan, or of someone washing seven times?
5:11 What might the the waving of a hand symbolize? It seems that Naaman wants theatrics but Elisha eschews them.
5:12 I think Naaman has a point. What does this verse have to say about holy healing shrines like Lourdes?
5:13 At least the servants had some sense. What might this verse teach us about spiritual disciplines?
5:14 What does this verse say about Elisha? Would or could others be so healed or was there something special about Naaman? Was the Jordan considered to possess restorative and healing properties? As a pastor, I resonate with this story.  Sometimes it seems that people will take to heart major proposals but dismiss less major ones.  

The Psalm Reading is usually chosen as a commentary on the First Reading.  How does Psalm 30 enlighten or expand upon 2 Kings 5:1-14?  Whose voice might we be hearing in this Psalm, the voice of the leper general or the voice of Elisha, both, or another voice altogether?
5:1 Drawn up from what and to what?
5:2 Is healing the only form of help to pray for?
5:3 What and where is Sheol? What kind of pits are there?
5:4 How can one give thanks to God’s holy name when God’s holy name is usually not to be pronounced?
5:5 Personally, I love this verse.
5:6 Maybe this verse explains why Presbyterians are so often unmoved when change is needed.
5:7 What does it mean for God to hide the divine face?
5:8 How do you define “supplication?”
5:9 Is the Psalmist attempting to blackmail God?  Reason with God? Bribe God?
5:10 Is that all the psalmist wants, a helper?
5:11 Again, on a personal note, this verse ranks right up there with v.5. Was the psalmist doing a happy dance?
5:12 What is the relationship between praise and thanksgiving?

GALATIANS 6:(1-6)7-16
(6:1) By addressing his readers as “My friends” is Paul being honest?  Patronizing? Buttering them up? Were their Christians in Galatia who had not received the Spirit?
(6:2, 5)  Compare and contrast “Bear one another’s burdens” with “For all must carry their own loads.”  What is the difference between a burden and a load?
(6:3) Who are nothing? Who are something? Which are you?
(6:4) What does it mean to “test” one’s work?
(6:6) Is Paul arguing for just compensation, asking for an honorarium, gift or stipend, or something else altogether?
6:7 How were the Galatians, or at least some of the Galatians, “mocking” God?  How do we mock God today? What do you sow? What do reap?
6:8  How, or in what ways do we sow to our own flesh and how, or in what ways, do we sow to the Spirit? Doi agricultural images, similes, and metaphors still have a place in a post-industrial, information economy and age?
6:9 When are we tempted to give up?
6:10 Note that we (Christians) are to work for “the good of all” even though we may focus on
the family of faith.  I am reminded of a phrase from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
6:11 Is this an example of Paul taking over from his secretary? What a find it would be to discover or unearth the original manuscript of Paul’s letter to the Galatians!  Maybe this could be another Indiana Jones story. Why might Paul have written in such large letters?
6:12 What persecution might Paul have been talking about?
6:13 What law was Paul thinking of?
6:14 What does Paul mean “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world?”
6:15 What sort of new creation was Paul talking about?
6:16  What rule?  “The Israel of God” sounds like an odd phrase. To whom does it refer?

LUKE 10:1-11, 16-20
10:1 After what? Compare the parallels in the other Gospels.  Why send people out in pairs?  I think the argument can logically be made that Jesus intended to visit at least thirty-five towns and places. What does this verse say about the need for planning and preparation? I wish we had the names of some if not all these seventy. Why don’t we?
10:2 Is the harvest still plentiful in the community in which you live?
10:3 Who are the wolves? What do lambs in the midst of wolves need?
10:4 Why greet no one on the road?
10:5 Do you bless homes when you enter them?
10:6 What does it mean to share in peace? What does it mean for peace to rest on a person?
10:7 Another economic imperative?  Compare this to Galatians 6:6.Why not go about from house to house?
10:8 Do food restrictions, allergies, and other concerns not matter?
10:9-11 Regardless of the reception, the message is nearly the same:  “The kingdom of God has come near (to you).”  How do we know when it is appropriate to wipe the dust off our feet in protest and to move on? Have you ever wiped the dust off your feet when you left a place? I have.
10:16 The logical argument is that whoever rejects you rejects the one who sent Jesus, which I presume is God. This has undoubtedly been quoted by some unscrupulous pretenders.
10:17-19 How shall we interpret and apply these verses in a postmodern world which often shuns “the spiritual” as make believe and unreal?  I mean, when was the last time a
“spirit” submitted to you or anyone else you know?
10:20 How has this verse influenced those who appeal to the longer ending of Mark to defend their “snake handling?”
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.


Bill Schlesinger said...

Working on 'spirit.' For me the closest interpretive language in my world is 'context.' The context of truth (a-lethia in the Greek means 'uncloudedness'), the context of peace, the awesome (hagios - not awesome as in the server's comment about my menu choices but filled with awe) context - and then the unclean (a-kathartos - uncleansed) context, the context of littleness (my race, my nation, my religion) that blinds us to the center of life and its inclusive forgiveness, compassion and call to responsibility...

Context is both individual and corporate - as in a corporate culture that permeates an organization or entity becoming its 'spirit.'


John Edward Harris said...

Thanks for your informed comment, Bill. I love it when others quote the Greek.