Monday, October 7, 2019

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 30th 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.

JOEL 2:23-34
2:23 What is the “early rain” and the “later rain” and what is the difference?  What is the meaning of this metaphor?
2:24 I like this image of agricultural abundance, an image which suggests life and freedom from hunger. Might Christians also find in it a prefiguration of the Eucharist?
2:25 Can we thank the LORD for agricultural abundance if we no longer equate agricultural disasters with the LORD’s wrath?
2:26 Why is agricultural scarcity equated with shame?
2:27 What does it mean for God to be “in the midst of Israel”? How do we read this passage in light of the Babylonian captivity and The Shoa?
2:28 Is the pouring out of the spirit anything like the giving of the early and the late rains of verse 2:23?  Are prophecy, dreams and visions anything like the agricultural abundance of 2:24?
2:29 Why would it be unusual for slaves to be so gifted by God?
2:30 Are blood and fire and columns of smoke, the darkening sun and blood moon the only portents?
2:31 During solar eclipses, it appears that the sun is indeed turned into darkness.  During lunar eclipses the moon can take on a reddish color.  Eclipses have been considered portents in almost all religions. I usually consider “great” a positive attribute.  Does “great and terrible” suggest a sort of yin-yang quality to the day of the LORD?
2:32 What does it mean to call on the name of the LORD?  How does one call on the name of the LORD when the Lord’s name is not to be pronounced? What is the relationship between calling on the name of the Lord and the Lord calling?

PSALM 119:97-104
65:1 What is the relationship between praise and vows?  What vows might the Psalmist have in mind?
65:2 I believe God does indeed answer prayer but not always with the answer we want or expect. To whom or what does “all flesh” refer?
65:3 What does it mean that deeds of iniquity overwhelm us?  Are we ever overwhelmed by our own sin?
65:4 Reading this as a Calvinist, I detect some predestination, or at least election, within this verse. Did anyone literally live within the temple courts?
65:5 What awesome deeds might the Psalmist have in mind?  What is the farthest sea from which you live?
65:6 What about plate tectonics? Maybe this is metaphor and not science?
65:7 Why are roaring seas and waves coupled with tumultuous people?  How shall we read this verse during hurricane season?
65:8 Are those at the earth’s center not equally awed?  Why or why not?  What are the gateways of the morning and the evening?  How do they shout for joy?
65:9-13 These verses seem to express the same or similar theology as some of the verses in tJoel 2:23-32.
65:9 What river is the river of God?
65:10 How can Christians in urban and industrialized contexts relate to such agricultural imagery?
65:11 God has a wagon that leaves wagon tracks? What is this imagery about?
65:12-13 Note that these verses describe wild, not cultivated, abundance.
65:12 What is a wilderness pasture?
65:13 I wonder if the meadows are wearing wool clothes. How do meadows and valleys shoiut and sing?

2 TIMOTHY 4:6-8, 16-18
4:6 What is a libation and how is Paul being poured out like one?  What departure is he referring to?
4:7 I love this verse and have used it many times in Services of Witness to the Resurrection. Paul fought, but had he won? Paul ran, but did he place first? Nevertheless, he kept.
4:8 Can this crown be worn only after physical death?  Is there any possible connection with this crown of righteousness and auras/halos?
4:16 What first defense is Paul referring to?  Is Paul expressing any anger, disappointment, or resentment?
4:17 Is “lion’s mouth” a metaphor or had Paul literally faced being thrown to the lions?
4:18 Is Paul thinking of physical rescue and salvation or spiritual, or both?

LUKE 18:9-14
18:9 How shall we read “also?”  Do you know of anyone who thinks they are righteous and regard others with contempt?
18:10 How does the juxtaposition of a Pharisee and a tax collector intensify the parable?
18:11 Have you ever heard anyone pray like this?
18:12 Do such acts of devotion and spiritual disciplines automatically make a person righteous?
18:13 I wonder why I am once again, as I have once or twice in the past few weeks, thinking about the Philokelia and The Jesus Prayer.
18:14 What does it mean to be justified?  Was it the words the tax collector spoke that justified him or the sincerity behind and underneath the words?  The final juxtaposition suggests the topsy-turvy nature of the New Testament vision of the Kingdom of God: the rich shall be poor, the first last, etc.
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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