Monday, September 9, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 26th 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 32:1-3a, 6-15
32:1 Why are the references to the reigns of two kings significant?  What year was this?
32:2 Who was the king of Babylon and why was his army besieging Jerusalem? 
32:3a What had Jeremiah done to provoke King Zedekiah to confine him?
32:6 How did Jeremiah know and how does anyone know when the word of the LORD comes to them?
32:7 What is the right of redemption? Where is Anathoth?
32:8 What and where is the land of Benjamin? What is the significance of this real estate transaction? How can we know we have truly and accurately heard the word of the LORD?
32:9 What is the contemporary value of seventeen shekels of silver? What is the symbolic significance of the purchase?
32:10 I think it is amazing what Jeremiah was able to do all this while confined. It sounds like this was not much different than real estate transactions today.
32:11 Why all this documentation?
32:12 Why are all these people and witnesses mentioned?
32:13 This must be one of the shortest verses in the Hebrew Scriptures.
32:14 What a significant archeological find this would be! I can imagine the sequel a movie “Indiana Jones and the Lost Deed of Jeremiah!”
32:15 How can contemporary real estate purchases be theological statements? Perhaps we need to be purchasing real estate in depressed and distressed neighborhoods. Oh, I guess that is gentrification! Shall we substitute “Marsh Harbour” for Anathoth?

PSALM 91:1-6, 14-16
91:1 How is a shadow a shelter?  If the Almighty does not have a physical body, how does it cast a shadow? Might this be metaphorical language? What is the deeper meaning of “Most High?”
91:2 How is a refuge and fortress like a shelter and a shadow? Note that both a refuge and a fortress are defensive, not offensive. When I read about refuges in the Bible, I think of National Wildlife Refuges.
91:3 Who is the fowler? What might the deadly pestilence refer to?
91:4 God has pinions?  God has wings? Raptors, like eagles, have pinions. Hens do not have pinions.  What is a buckler?
91:5 Why is terror associated with the night? Why am I thinking of Dylan Thomas?
91:6 Rather than a chiastic structure we have 91:6 parallel to 91:5, ABAB.
91:14 Who is speaking?  Has the voice changed? What does it mean to “know a name?” Do you know God’s name?
91:15 What do being rescued and being honored have in common?
91:16 What does “salvation” mean in the context of the Psalms?

1 TIMOTHY 6:6-19
6:6 What is godliness? Is great gain the only motivation to strive to be godly?
6:7 So the person with the most toys at the end of the day does not get to take their toys with them! I cannot help but think of Luke 12:13-21.
6:8 Would you, or most Americans, be content with only food and clothing? How much food and clothing do we need to be content?
6:9 Is there a difference between being rich and wanting to be rich? When it comes to being rich, how much food and clothing and wealth is enough?
6:10 It is not money but the love of money that is the root of all evil. How do we reconcile this and the preceding verse with capitalism?  Why must the desire to be rich lead one away from the faith?
6:11 I have a hunch this was not intended to be an all-inclusive, exhaustive list. Can a person be rich and still pursue all that is on this list?
6:12 I have problems with the “fight” metaphor.  Is there another metaphor that would suffice?  How about “Climb the good climb of faith?” Note that “witnesses” are again mentioned, as in Jeremiah 32:10.
6:13 Is it a problem that this is not Trinitarian? What good confession did Christ Jesus make before Pilot?
6:14 What commandment?  What does it mean for our Lord Jesus Christ to be manifested?
6:15 Who will bring this about?
6:16 What is “unapproachable light?” Who is it that no one has ever seen or can see?
6:17 Why do we not enjoy everything God provides us with? Are you surprised that the rich are not commanded to distribute their riches to the poor? What about Matthew 19:20-22 and Luke 18:21-23?
6:18 This sounds like the beginning of a stewardship sermon.
6:19 What life is not life?

LUKE 16:19-31
16:19 What is the significance of being dressed in purple?  There seems to be an almost seamless transition from the Second Reading to the Gospel. Note that the rich man is not identified by name.
16:20 Note that the poor man IS identified by name. Is this the same Lazarus that is mentioned in John 11?
16:21 Is this an example of trickle-down economics in the New Testament era? Why am I thinking of Matthew 15:26-27 and Mark 7:27-28?
16:22 Note that the poor man is carried away by angels while the rich man is simply buried.
16:23 What and where is Hades? Why was the rich man being tormented?
16:24 How does this verse feed into popular and contemporary notions of hell?
16:25 I am surprised Abraham referred to the dead rich man as “child.” I think this is just another example of the reversals we find in Scripture, reversals such as: the first shall be last and the last shall be first, the rich will become poor and the poor will become rich, and so on.
16:26 How could the rich man converse with Abraham if a great chasm exists between them?
16:27 Note that even in his torment the rich man refers to Abraham as “father.”
16:28 Is there any significance to the number five?
16:29 Moses and the Prophets represent two of the three divisions of the Hebrew canon. Should we not also listen to the Writings?
16:30 This sounds like prefiguration.
16:31 Do I detect some prejudice toward Judaism? Is there no hope or promise here? This sounds like an admonition only.
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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