Monday, August 12, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 23rd 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.

JEREMIAH 18:1-11
18:1 How did the word come to Jeremiah?
18:2 Why does the location matter?
18:3 Is it any coincidence that the potter was working at his wheel?
18:4 In light of the second creation account, why is this imagery significant? No two pieces of handmade pottery are exactly alike! Once pottery is fired it is no longer malleable.
18:5 Note that in verse 1 the word came to “Jeremiah.” The narration is from the third person.  Here, it comes to “me.” The narration is first person. Does this change signal a shift in perspective?
18:6 What is the underlying threat and promise?
18:7 Note that the LORD is talking in generalities, not yet specifically about Israel.
18:8 How can a perfect, all knowing deity change its mind? Does anything other than Process Theology give an acceptable answer?
18:9 Building and planting are very different images and metaphors.
18:10 What is the difference between the LORD’s intentions and actions?
18:11 This is not the interpretation I would have offered. I prefer to think that the LORD is shaping Israel, not evil against Israel, that like the potter in 18:4 the LORD might pound down Israel into a lump in order to reshape Israel. The LORD might reshape us but never ignore us.

PSALM 139:1-6, 13-18
139:1 Note that this is past, not present tense. What tense does the Hebrew suggest?
139:2 I don’t care who knows when I sit down or rise up but care greatly about anyone knowing my thoughts from far away or even close at hand unless I tell them.
139:3 What is the meaning of path? Does the lying down in this verse pair with the rising up in the previous verse
139:4 What about words that don’t make it to my tongue? What about Freudian slips?
139:5 How does the LORD hem us in? Does the LORD entrap us?
139:1-5 I find it both troubling and humbling to think that the LORD knows me better than I know myself.
139:6 What knowledge is too wonderful, the LORD’s knowledge of us, or our knowing that God knows us better than we know ourselves?
139:13 How does this verse impact discussion and debate about freedom of choice?  Should it even inform the discussion and debate?
139:14 What does it mean to be fearfully made?  If the LORD’s works are wonderful, and I am one of the LORD’s works, then I am wonderful! The LORD doesn’t make junk! I think this verse supports the concept of Original Blessing rather than a fall/redemption theology that includes Original Sin.
139:15 Was I knit together in my mother’s womb or intricately woven in the depths of the earth? Why the change of metaphor? Or is the Psalmist referring to "mother earth?"
139:16 What book is being referred to?  Can I buy this book at Is this a proof text for predestination?
139:17 How much do thoughts weigh? What is the sum of God’s thoughts? The Lord discerns our thoughts from afar (139:2). How do we know anything about God’s thoughts?
139:18 Is this a poetic reference to infinity? What does the Psalmist mean “I am still with you?”

1 How is Paul a prisoner of Christ Jesus? What was Timothy’s status? In what way is Philemon a co-worker?
2 Who were Apphia and Archippus? Were the Philemon’s relatives? Why does Paul refer to Apphia as a sister and to Archippus as a fellow soldier? Whose house was the church meeting in?
3 How do Trinitarians deal with a non-Trinitarian blessing?
4 What is the meaning of “remember?”
5 Are you surprised by the “faith toward” construction rather than “faith in” or “faith of?”
6 Whom does Paul mean by “we?”
7 Whom de you receive joy and encouragement from?
8 What gives Paul the right or power to command anything of anybody?
9 How old might Paul have been?
10 Does the child/father relationship depend on chronological age as well as faith? What does Christian tradition tell us about Onesimus?
11 How and why was Onesimus useless? How is he now useful to both Paul and Philemon?
12 How did Onesimus end up being with Paul in the first place?
13 What does Paul mean by “service”?
14 What good deed is Paul referring to?
15 How could Philemon have Onesimus back forever?
16 What is the meaning of “both flesh and in the Lord?”
17 Does Philemon consider Paul a partner? Does Paul consider Philemon a partner?
18 To what account does Paul refer? How could Paul pay off an account if he were in prison?
19 Did Paul not write the preceding with his own hand? I think Paul just said something about what he said he would not say anything about.
20 What benefit is Paul referring to?
21 Considering verse 17, since when is a partner called upon to be obedient to another partner?
1-21 I consider this letter very personal but also very manipulative. Why do you think the early Christian Community chose to preserve and disseminate it?

LUKE 14:25-33
14:25 What is the difference between a small crowd and a large crowd? What does it mean that they were traveling with Jesus?
14:26 It sounds like it is time to throw conservative family values out the window. How does James Dobson exegete this verse? Hate seems such a strong, un-Christlike word!
14:27 How does one carry the cross?  How can Jesus say this before the crucifixion? Note that this verse talks about “the cross” and not their own cross, as in some translations.
14:28 Is it at all significant that Jesus chose a “tower” over any other kind of structure?
14:29 Where else in the Gospels do we hear about foundations?
14:30 Do any examples from your experience come to mind?
14:31 The point being? I wish Jesus had not used militaristic imagery.
14:32 Is Peace itself not a worthy goal and not just a way to avoid defeat?
14:33 What does giving up one’s possessions have to do with counting the cost of building a tower or calculating the cost of going to war? To whom was Jesus talking, the large crowds following him, his disciples, or us?
14:25-33 Is the cost of discipleship something that can really be calculated and considered? How might Bonhoeffer help us here?
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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