Monday, July 15, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 18th 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 11:1-11
11:1 When was Israel a child and when did it move out of childhood?
11:2 As I read this, the problem as I see it is not offering incense but rather offering incense to idols.
11:3 Who is Ephraim? When did God heal Ephraim?
11:4 Is there any special meaning or symbolism associated with “cords” and “bands?”  Are they technical religious terms?
11:1-4 Last Sunday we heard about Hosea’s Children.  This week we hear about God’s children.  How many parents have you heard wax and wane like God about their errant, wayward children?
11:5 How can they return to Egypt if Assyria is their king?
11:6 Who and what are oracle-priests?
11:7 Why does the Most High not raise them up?
11:5-7 Is this an example of God exercising some “tough love?”
11:8 Who were Admah and Zeboiim and how did God give them up?
11:9 How do proponents of a wrathful God deal with this one? “The Holy One in your midst” is one of my favorite monikers for God.
11:8-9 Is this an example of God having second thoughts?  Is it an example of God repenting?
11:10 I am seeing images of C.S. Lewis’s Aslan. I wonder if the God sounds anything at all like Liam Neeson?
11:11 What is the meaning of birds from Egypt and doves from the land of Assyria?

PSALM 107:1-9, 43
107:1 Apparently this Psalm is intended to reflect Hosea 11:8-11 rather than Hosea 11:1-7. I think this first verse sounds like a call and response.
            One: O give thanks to the LORD,
            All:  for the LORD is God.
                    The LORD’s steadfast love endures forever.
107:2 This sounds like a liturgical instruction, a rubric.
107:3 Note the four cardinal directions and similar language in the Invitation to the Lord’s Table found in the 2018 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Common Worship page 26 top of the page.
107:4 Is this an allusion to the Exodus?
107:5 Why am I thinking of Jesus?
107:6 What does it mean to cry to the LORD?
107:7 Is a straight way always the better way, or does this have nothing to do with physical attributes?
107:8 Perhaps this is an invitation to return to 107:1. Note that the LORD’s works to humankind rather than to the redeemed is mentioned.
107:9 Like 107:3, this is language that could be used in a Eucharistic setting. It also harkens back to an answer to the cry in 107: 6
107:43 This last verse echoes, and in a sense, sends us back to 107:1

3:1 Is this a hypothetical “if?” When might we have ben raised with Christ?
3:1-2 How do we, in a post Copernican world, handle “above” language when it points to the spiritual dwelling place of the “ascended” Christ and of God (and of the Holy Spirit), when our “above” is “down” on the other side of the globe?
3:3 When did we die? What is the meaning of “hidden?”
3:4 What does it mean for Christ to be revealed and for us to be revealed with him? What is the relationship between things hidden and revealed?
3:5 Is it safe to assume that this list is not exhaustive? How is greed the same as idolatry? Why the parenthesis?
3:6 Here comes Paul’s wrathful God! Can we please have a just and merciful God without also having an angry and wrathful God? Who are the disobedient?
3:7 In answer to my question, the list in 3:5 apparently was not exhaustive because the “ways” of this verse lead to the mention of more vices.
3:8 And the list grows …
3:9 … and grows. What do you make of the old vs. the new self? Why am I thinking of Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, and other contemplatives?
3:9-10 What do you make of the old vs. the new self? Is Paul writing about what Merton and Rohr would consider the “false self” and the “true self?”
3:10 What is this “knowledge?”
3:11 A nice theological move, but were we prepared for it?  Is Paul suggesting that divisions based on such criteria are also expressions of disobedience? Did Paul mean for this list to be exhaustive? How does this verse speak to contemporary expressions of American racism and xenophobia?

LUKE 12:13-21
12:13 Was the person in the crowd being sincere, cynical, or simply showing respect by addressing Jesus as “Teacher?”  Shall we hear this as a prefiguration of Luke 15:11-32?
12:14 Why does Jesus refer to his interlocutor as “friend?”  Does the question Jesus ask assume the answer “no one?”
12:15 A nice one liner, especially within the context of American capitalism and consumerism.
12:16-20 Is there a risk that we might read too much into this parable?
12:16 Why is the man not named? What is a parable?
12:17 Is this antithetical to last week’s “give us each day our daily bread (Luke 11:3)”?
12:18 How do we do this in everyday life?  
12:19 In the present economy, with its growing economic inequality and the disappearance of the middle class, many in America would never feel like they could say this. They are living paycheck to paycheck.
12:20 Isn’t this what wills and estate plans are for?
12:21 Is it ok to store up treasurers on earth if one is also rich toward God?  Where does one draw the line between prudent investing for retirement and health care emergencies versus an obsessive/compulsive saving/hoarding of wealth?
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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