Monday, July 8, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 17th 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.

HOSEA 1:2-10
1:2 Two weeks ago, Amos gave us the image of a plumb line. Last week Amos gave us the image of a basket of summer fruit.  This week, Hosea gives us the image of a whore and children with names worthy of a lifetime in therapy. How is forsaking the LORD equivalent to committing great whoredom?  Is this a charge of idolatry?
1:3 Is there any significance to the names Gomer or Diblaim?
1:4 What does “Jezreel” mean?  In our culture where people name their children after relatives, movie stars, and sports stars, how can people in the pews comprehend the symbolic meaning of Hebrew names in general and “Jezreel” and his siblings in particular? Who was Jehu?
1:5 What, if any, is the relation between Jezreel, son of Hosea and Gomer, and the valley of Jezreel? 
1:6 What does the name Lo-ruhamah mean?
1:7 This sounds as though while God is forsaking Israel, God will save Judah.  Hawkish politicians who place their faith in a strong military ought to take note of this verse.
1:8 I wonder how close in time the three children were conceived and born.
1:9 What does the name Lo-ammi mean?
1:10 Is this a verse of hope in the midst of judgement? It reads like a complete reversal of all that has come before. Relatively speaking, is there more sand in the sea or stars in the sky?

Shall we read this psalm as Judah’s response to the prophecy of Hosea?  Or shall we read it as Israel’s expected response after a hoped-for restoration?
85:1 What is the relationship between land and Jacob?
85:2 Was this forgiveness earned or freely given?
85:3 How do deal with a wrathful, angry God? Shall we turn to Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)  for direction?
85:4 How many times has God restored the people? How many times will God restore us?
85:6 Does this sound like a quid pro quo?
85:7 How is God’s steadfast love related to God’s anger and wrath?
85:8 What does God speak to people who do not turn to God in their hearts?
85:9 What is the nature of this fear? When I read verses like this, I think of Rudolph Otto’s concepts of the “numinous” and the  mysterium Tremendum.”
85:10 I like the paired imagery of this verse. Whose steadfast love and whose faithfulness?
85:11 I like this imagery as well, contrasting ground with sky. But also consider that the ground here may point back to the land in 85:1 and 85:9. What is the relationship between faithfulness and righteousness?
85:12 Once again we encounter land imagery. Is anyone else thinking of the legend of the Fisher King?
85:13 How can righteousness make a path?

COLOSSAINS 2:6-15 (16-19)
2:6 Is there a difference between “living lives in” Christ Jesus and Jesus living in Christians?
2:7 What does it mean to be rooted in Christ? What does it mean to be established in the faith?
2:8 As an amateur philosopher, I object!  What are the “elemental Spirits of the universe?”
2:9 Incarnation! Just how full is deity?
2:10 What does it mean to “come to fullness” in Christ Jesus?
2:11 What is “spiritual circumcision?” Are females also spiritually circumcised? My Greek is a little rusty, but I think Paul might be employing a pun or some other grammatical humor here.
2:12 How are Christians buried in baptism? Not that Christ did not rise. Christ was raised!
2:13 Is Paul presuming a Gentile audience?
2:14 Does this verse presume or demand a penal substitution theory of the atonement?  Is there another way to read it?
2:15 How were rulers and authorities triumphed over?
(2:16-19) What is the author warning about?
(2:16) I wonder what festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths Paul had in mind.
(2:17) In spite of 2:8, this sounds very Platonic.
(2:18) I wonder what self-abasement Paul was referring to. Who was worshiping angels? Who was dwelling on visions? What is Paul thinking here?
(2:19) This is some pretty graphic bodily imagery.

LUKE 11:1-13
11:1  I wonder what place Jesus was praying at. Are there certain places you prefer to be when praying? This is the only reference in the Gospels that I am aware of that talks about John teaching his disciples to pray.  Was teaching disciples to pray a pedagogy peculiar to John and Jesus or did other religious leaders of that the day engage in such teaching?  If John thought it necessary to teach his disciples to pray, and one of Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to teach his disciples to pray, how much more do we need to be taught, and once taught, to teach others to pray?  While the desire to pray might be innate, praying well does not come naturally but is an art that can be modeled, taught and nurtured.  Presbyterians in particular ought to refer to Growing in the Life of Christian Faith, especially the preface.
11:2-4 The prayer easily divides into two.  Is there a correlation with the two tables of the law?
11:2 This verse focuses on God and praising God.
11:3 This and the following verse focuses on our needs, not wants. What is the meaning of “daily?”
11:4 Is forgiveness conditional on our forgiving others? What is the time of trail?
11:5 Is there any significance to the number three? Does Jesus mean “bread” or does he mean “BREAD?”
11:6 Always be prepared.
11:7 How could the friend answer without getting out of bed, opening the door, or disturbing the children?
11:8 Is there something missing here, like maybe a verse or two? What persistence is he referring to?
11:9 We heard about asking and knocking but this is the first mention of searching.
11:10 What do we say to people who have earnestly prayed but it appears that their prayers have not been answered? Does this and the preceding verse open the door to a health and wealth Gospel?
11:11 Is there any significance to the imagery of a fish and a snake?
11:12 Where did the egg and the scorpion come from? Is there any imagery at work here?
11:13 We are evil?  So, we can ask, search, and knock, but regardless of what we ask for, search after, or knock on, all prayer is answered with the gift of the Holy Spirit? What if I pray for a fish or an egg? Do I receive the Holy Spirit instead?
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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