Monday, August 5, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 21st 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.

1:4 How did the word of the LORD come to Jeremiah?  How does the word of the LORD come to you or to anyone? Note that this narrative is told from the perspective of the first person.
1:5 How might this verse impact our thinking about predestination and issues related to ending a pregnancy?
1:6 In classic call narrative style, Jeremiah finds reasons and excuses for not answering God’s call. What are your excuses?
1:7 In classic call narrative style, God overcomes Jeremiah’s objections.
1:8 What do you fear? What are you afraid of?
1:9 This seems like an overly anthropomorphic metaphor for talking about God’s call.
1:10 This is quite a prophetic task, don’t you think? Who, today, are our Jeremiahs? Are the pen and the words of the LORD mightier than governments?

PSALM 71:1-6
71:1 What comes to your mind when you hear or read the word “refuge?” Being an outdoors sort of person, I naturally think of National Wildlife Refuges.
71:2 What does it mean for God to incline the divine ear?
71:3 What, if any, is the difference between a refuge and a fortress?  How do we deal with such militaristic images in our overly militarized world? Fortress, however, are defensive, not offensive.
71:4 How does God rescue?  Has God ever rescued you?
71:5 Why am I thinking of Princess Leah saying, “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope?”
71:6 does this single verse justify the lectionary pairing this Psalm with the Jeremiah 1:4-10 reading? You may want to juxtapose this verse with Jeremiah 1:5.

HEBREWS 12:18-29
12:18-19 Who is the “you?” Do these verses negate some people’s need for sensual and tactile aspects of religion and spirituality?
12:19 Why would the hearers beg that not another word would be spoken?
12:20 Why the parenthesis? Why would God want an animal that touched the mountain to be stoned to death?
12:21 Before what do you tremble with fear? Are you familiar with Rudolph Otto’s concept of the “mysterium tremendum?”
12:22 Note that it is the heavenly Jerusalem and not the earthly Jerusalem that is being spoken of. What do angels in festal gathering look and sound like?
12:23 Who are the firstborn?  How do we reconcile this with William James’ concept of the twice born?
12:24 What word did the blood of Abel speak?
12:25 Who is speaking? Who warned from earth? Who warned from heaven?
12:26 What does this shaking represent or symbolize? Why am I thinking of Paul Tillich’s The Shaking of the Foundations?”
12:27 What cannot be shaken?
12:28 What is an acceptable worship?  We might approach worship with reverence, but when was the last time most worshippers approached worship with awe? Why am I thinking of Annie Dillard writing in Teaching a Stone to Talk  “On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”
12:29 When was the last time you had to call the fire department to a worship service?

LUKE 13:10-17
13:10 Why does the specific location not matter?
13:11 How do we interpret this passage considering modern science and medicine?  Maybe some illnesses still cripple us spiritually even after we are physically healed. I wonder how old this woman was.
13:12 Apparently no statement of faith or good works were required.  Why would Jesus heal this woman and not others, or all, similarly oppressed?  Why her? Note that Jesus sets her free from her ailment, not her sins?
13:13 What does it mean that the pronouncement of healing proceeded the laying on of hands?  Why am I thinking of Reiki? Why do we generally no longer lay on hands when we pray for a person to be healed?
13:14 Ya gotta love institutional religion and its orthodox, legalistic practitioners, NOT! Who was being chastised, the people for coming to be healed or Jesus for healing?
13:15 Touché!  Jesus 1 – Hypocritical Religious Leaders – 0! Why might Jesus mention water?
13:16 What is the significance of Jesus referring to the woman as “a daughter of Abraham?”  Is the time she suffered from her illness of any significance?  How do we deal with questions about Satan? Why am I thinking about the Exodus?
13:17 I wonder what other “wonderful things” Jesus was doing.
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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