Monday, November 12, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for Christ the King/Reign of Christ (Year B)


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.

PREFACE:
Christ the King/Reign of Christ 2018 marks the end of “Year B” in the three year lectionary cycle.  Next Sunday, The First Sunday of Advent 2018, will be the First Sunday of the “Year C” in the lectionary cycle.

Are you familiar with “INRI” and what it means?

I cannot find the source of the quote to verify it, but I think when John Adams was corresponding with King James, King James asked “Have you chosen a King yet? How can you have a country without a King?”

Here are some other Kings: Nat King Cole, Martin Luther King Jr., Don King, Larry King, The Lion King, Michael Jackson – the King of Pop, Elvis Presley – the King of Rock and Roll. And remember “A man’s home is his castle and a man is king of his castle.”

2 SAMUEL 23:1-7
23:1 Why on Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday does the Lectionary present us with the last words of King David? What is an oracle?  What is the significance of the fourfold designation, three of which relate to God? Read through this verse and the rest of the passage and see how many designations of God you can identify.
23:2 Prior to any Christian doctrine of the Trinity, how did David understand and mean to use “spirit”?  Is David describing a continual or the situation of this oracle only? How do you hear politicians and elected leaders today who claim to know God’s will, speak for God, or even represent God?
23:2-3 The spirit speaks “through” David, but God speaks “to” David. Who does the spirit speak through and who does God speak to today?
23:4 Is David touting his own horn, or laying the foundation for how future monarchs will be judged?
23:5 From a later perspective, how did David’s “house” measure up?
23:6 Ouch, those godless thorns!
23:7 This sounds like last judgement language.

PSALM 132:1-12 (13-18)
132:1 What hardships did David endure?
132:2 What did David swear? What did he vow?
132:3-5 Does this answer the previous two questions? Did David keep his word?
132:6 Is there anything particularly significant about Ephrathah or the fields of Jaar?
132:7 Whose dwelling place and whose footstool.
132:8 This makes it sound like the LORD is a localized, place-significant LORD. Does the LORD need to rest? What is the “ark of your might?”
132:9 What were priests usually robed in?
132:10 Who is the LORD’s anointed one? The psalms usually ask the LORD not to turn away the divine face.
132:11 How many sons did David have?
132:12 This sounds conditional with the “If.”
(132:13) What is the meaning of the word “Zion” and where did the word originate? What does it designate?
(132:14) Read this considering verse 8.
(132:15) What are its “provisions?” Might Christians read this as a reference to Christ and the Eucharist?
(132:16) Will only the priest be saved? Consider again verse 9.
(132:17) What is a “horn?”  Is the horn the lamp? What might the lamp signify?
(132:18) This is quite a contrast between the anointed and his enemies.
132:1-18 In light of the history of the Nation of Israel and God’s people, including the Babylonian exile and the Shoah, how shall we read this passage?

REVELATION 1:4b-8
1:4b A Classic Christianized Greco-Roman Salutation. Who, or what, are the seven spirits?
1:5 How is Jesus a witness? Is Jesus the ruler of the kings of the earth now or only in the age to come?
1:6 How are Christians a kingdom and priests?  What is the difference between glory and dominion? Maybe this kingdom is not so much about the King as it is the people, more of a “kindom” than a “kingdom.”
1:7 Is there any significance to the admonition being “look” rather than “listen?”  Why will all the tribes of the earth wail? Does this verse mean the Christ will return only on a cloudy day?
1:8 Is there any difference between Alpha and Omega in contrast to first and last?

JOHN 18:33-37
18:33 What headquarters? Headquarters of what? Why was Pilot asking this question? It seems odd, a week before Advent, to be reading a passage usually associated with The Passion and Holy Week, but it makes absolute sense.
18:34 What sort of question is this?
18:35 Is Pilate’s first question a rhetorical one?  What has Jesus done? Does this verse bolster antisemitism?
18:36 This must have sounded rather cryptic and enigmatic. Where is Jesus’ kingdom from? Was Jesus being handed over to the Jews or to the Romans? Was Jesus not a Jew?
18:37 Was Pilate’s deduction correct?  Did Pilate really say that Jesus is a king?  More than any time in the recent past, we are all asking “What is truth?”
                                                                  
ADDENDUM
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.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)


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 SAMUEL 1:4-20
1:4 Who was Elkanah? On what day did he sacrifice?  He would give portions of what to his wife? Were Peninnah’s sons and daughters not also Elkanah’s sons and daughters?
1:5 Who was Hannah and how was she related to Elkanah?
1:6 Who was Hannah’s rival?
1:7 How many years might this have gone on?
1:8 How many wives did Elkanah have?  So much for family values!  How would most wives answer the question Elkanah asked Hannah? I wonder how couples trying to conceive but have been unable to conceive hear this passage. I wonder how couples who are childless by choice hear this passage.
1:9 Who is “they” and why are “they” at Shiloh? Eli was what sort of priest in what temple?
1:10 What might have been Hanna’s prayer?
1:11 What is Hannah’s misery? Is there a problem with Hanna’s prayer?
1:12 Why was Eli observing Hanna’s mouth? Was he lip reading?
1:13 When you pray silently, do your lips move? Why would Eli have thought Hannah was drunk?
1:14 Read this in light of the First Christian Pentecost. I assume Eli never had a pastoral care course or CPE.
1:15 What does it mean to pour out one’s soul before the LORD?
1:16 Vexation is probably not a word we often hear, especially in a sermon.
1:17 How could Ely say this when he did not know Hannah’s petition?  Who or what gave Ely the right—the power—to answer prayer? Or was Eli simply but politely asking or telling Hannah to leave, to move on?
1:18 Were Eli’s words that powerful?
1:19 What do you know about Ramah?  Ya gotta love these Biblical euphemisms for sexual intercourse!
1:20 Why do many people no longer give their children names with personal, existential meaning?

1 SAMUEL 2:1-10
2:1 Did Hannah pray, or did Hannah sing?  Who said, paraphrasing, “the person who sings their prayer prays twice”? When was the last time your heart exulted? Who were Hanna’s enemies?
2:2 What, or who, do you think of when you hear the phrase “Holy One?”
2:3-10 This sounds more like a sermon than a prayer. Are these words addressed to God?
2:4-5 This reads like a tradition New Testament reversal of fortunes.
2:6-7 What does the LORD not do?
2:8 What does the second half of this verse have to do with the first half?
2:9 This verse seems to echo 1:4-5.
2:10 How does this verse relate to the verses preceding it? Who are the LORD’s adversaries? Who is the LORD’s anointed?

HEBREWS 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25
10:11 Why, in the New Testament, are we talking about priests offering sacrifices? Why were sacrifices made daily?
10:12 What single sacrifice did Christ offer? See 1 Samuel 2:8.
10:12-13 What source or sources are being quoted? Does God have a footstool?
(10:14) Who are sanctified?
(10:15-18) When and where did the Holy Spirit say this?
10:19 What sanctuary?  Does the blood of Jesus give us confidence or is it a ticket of entry?
10:20 What curtain might this be alluding to?  How was Christ’s flesh like a curtain?  Think about that one long and hard! Is anyone else thinking about the final scene in The Wizard of Oz movie?
10:21 I find it interesting that we find “a great priest” rather than “a great high priest!”
10:22 How can hearts be sprinkled clean from an evil conscience?  Note that while hearts are sprinkled clean, our bodies are washed. What might “house of God” refer to? Are both sprinkling and washing an allusion to Baptism?
10:23 What is the confession of our hope?  What is our hope?  How do we confess it? When have you ever wavered?
10:24 Is “provoke” the best translation of the Greek?
10:25 To what does this “meeting together” refer? I like to think of encouraging one another rather than provoking one another. What “Day” is approaching?

MARK 13:1-8
13:1 Who came out of the temple and what had he been doing in there?  This sounds like something a tourist in some world class city, like Paris, Rome, London, or New York says on their first visit.  Was this a particular disciple’s first visit to Jerusalem and the temple? I wonder why we are not told which disciple said this.
13:2 Is this prescient on the part of Jesus or a post AD 70 author writing with hindsight about an earlier event?
13:3 It was usually Peter, James and John who were privy to special moments with Jesus.  What is Andrew doing here?  Why two sets of brothers? How would the author know what the four asked? Did they all ask this in unison or was one of the four, perhaps Peter, a spokesperson for the group?
13:4 Think again about the question I raised in relation to 13:2.
13:5 Who might have led them astray?
13:6 To whom was Jesus, or the writer of the Gospel, referring? How many messianic pretenders were there?
13:7 I think the key message is to not be alarmed.
13:8 Whew!  At least there is no mention of hurricanes, nor’easters, or blizzards.  What do birth pangs signify?  Is this describing the end of things as they are or the birth of something new? Must the old pass away for a new thing to emerge?
                                                                  
ADDENDUM
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.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

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.

RUTH 3:1-5; 4:13-17
3:1 Why does Naomi refer to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, as her daughter? What type of security does Naomi have in mind? What is Ruth’s ethnicity?
3:2 Does it matter that Boaz would be a kinsman by marriage and not by blood? How is Boaz related to Naomi? Who were his young women and what sort of work were they doing?
3:3 What sort of anointing might Naomi have had in mind?  What did Naomi mean when she told Ruth not to make herself known? Is there anything significant, or symbolic, about “the threshing floor?”
3:4 I think Ruth uncovered more than, or something else than, his feet.  Could this verse be employing a euphemism? Is this a PG-13 Scripture?
3:5 What might Boz have told Ruth?
4:13 What is the meaning of “took?” The LORD “made” her conceive? What if she had born a daughter?
4:14 What women? Whose name will be renown, the LORD’s or Ruth’s next-of-kin?
4:15 This verse almost makes the child sound like a savior!
4:16 Why would the grandmother Naomi nurse the child rather than the mother Ruth?
4:17 Why would the women say “a son has been born to Naomi” when it was really her grandson, born to Ruth?  What is significant about this lineage? Might this verse inform and influence our views on immigration?

PSALM 127
127:1 Does the Psalmist have any particular house, or any particular city in mind? Juxtapose this verse with Hebrews 9:24. I think Socrates and Aristotle had some things to say about foundations of houses. Our strength is not in the war horse or chariot but in our values. How might this verse sound in America the Sunday after the mid-term election?
127:2 This seems opposite of our workaholic culture. Benjamin Franklin reportedly said, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes one healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
127:3 Does this verse justify pairing this Psalm with the reading from Ruth? How do we interpret it in in the “Me Too” era?
127:4-5 What do you make of this simile? Personally, I do not like the militaristic imagery, but It probably made a lot of sense at the time. Why would someone speak with their enemies in the gate?

HEBREWS 9:24-28
9:24 Is this a reference to the Jerusalem temple? Juxtapose this verse with Psalm 127:1. Did Jews think of the Jerusalem Temple as a copy of a heavenly temple?
9:25 The high priest did not offer himself but rather sacrificed animals. Does this verse have any bearing on our understanding of the Eucharist?
9:26 Since Priests do not sacrifice themselves; does this analogy break down in the final analysis?
9:27 Is this a reference to the last judgement?
9:26-27 Is this a reference to “the second coming?” Who might be eagerly waiting got Christ to appear a second time?

MARK 12:38-44
12:38
Whom is Jesus teaching?  What do you know about the scribes? How migh preacher types who wear liturgical vestments when they preach and lead worship read this verse?
12:39 Where were the best seats in a synagogue? Where are the best seats in a Christian sanctuary? Where are the best seats at a banquet?
12:40 How were scribes devouring widow’s houses? When does a prayer become long? Is there a difference between “saying” a prayer and “praying” a prayer?
12:41 Where in the temple was the treasury? Do you think there were seats opposite the treasury  or would Jesus have been sitting on the floor?
12:42 These are very common coins, still available from collectors.  With the rate of inflation, what would be their worth today? What is the significance of the woman being poor and being a widow? Does this remind us of Naomi?
12:43 Where were the disciples that Jesus had to call them?
12:44 The widow may have demonstrated faith, but was she practicing good stewardship? How has this verse been abused by religious charlatans and hucksters? It has been well documented that the poor in the United States give more of their income, proportionally, than the wealthy.
                                                                  
ADDENDUM
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.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)


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.

RUTH 1:1-18
1:1 In what days did judges rule? What do you know about Moab? I find it interesting that the man, and his family, were from Bethlehem!
1:2 Why so much information? What is an Ephrathite?
1:2-3 Why is all this background important? What would have happened to Naomi when her husband Elimelech died if they had remained in Bethlehem?
1:4 Why does it matter that Mahlon and Chilion took Moabite wives?
1:5 Three woman alone, without husbands! Now what!
1:6 Why would Naomi return to Bethlehem rather than remaining in Moab?
1:7 Naomi was going back or returning, but Orpah and Ruth were headed there for the first time.
1:8 Why would Naomi send her two daughters-in-law to their mother’s house rather than their father’s house?
1:9 Where to go to their mother’s house, as in the previous verse, or to their dead husband’s house?
1:10 Why might they have wanted to go with Naomi?
1:11 What does Naomi mean?
1:12 What is Naomi referring to and/or thinking about?
1:13 Has the hand of the LORD really turned against Naomi?
1:14 To what do you attribute the difference between Orpah and Ruth?
1:15 Note that ‘gods” now enter the story! What was Naomi talking about?
1:16 How many times have you heard this verse quoted? Is it that easy to adopt another’s God?

PSALM 146
146:1-2 This appears to me to be a statement of faith!
146:2-3 This is important to hear two days before our national election!
146:5 I am often surprised by references to the “God of Jacob” rather than to the “God of Abraham.”
146:6 According to the ancient schema of the three-tiered universe, heaven/earth/sea is all there is. A more contemporary expression might be “who made the universe” or “who made the cosmos.”
146:7-9 These are not 1% verses but rather 99% verses! These verses should also inform any “Christian” immigration policy and the maintenance of the social safety net.
146:10 Political arties and candidate rise and fall, but the LORD will reign forever.

HEBREWS 9:11-14
9:11 What are the good things? What is the greater and perfect tent? I currently own three tents and have previously owned at least three or four others before they wore out. I could use a greater and perfect tent for backpacking and cycle-touring.
9:12 What and where is “the Holy Place” and when did Christ enter it?
9:13 Can post-modern people identify with this?
9:14 What is the difference between atonement and sanctification?

MARK 12:28-34
12:28 Who were disputing and what were they disputing about? Is this a question about placement or degree? For a similar type question: “Which right in the Bill of Rights is first of all?”
12:29 The Shema! Note that this refers to the Lord our God, not the Lord your God!
12:30 What is there beyond heart, soul, mind, and strength?
12:31 The scribe asked for the greatest commandment.  Why does Jesus answer with two commandments?
12:29-31 What about The Ten Commandments?
12:32 What is the significance of the scribe addressing Jesus as “Teacher?”
12:33 Read this verse in juxtaposition to Hebrews 9”11-14!
12:34 How much farther does this scribe need to go to enter the kingdom of God? How far is close and how far is too far?
                                                                  
ADDENDUM
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.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)


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.

JOB 42:1-6, 10-17
42:1 What question was Job answering?
42:2 What would you answer The LORD? Is this a variation of the classic question “Can God make a rock so heavy that God cannot lift it?”
42:3 Is Job eating humble pie?
42:4 Is Job planning to cross examine God?
42:5 What is the difference between hearing with the ear and seeing with the eye?  Hearing is a classic Semitic posture.  Seeing is a classic Greek posture. Do we need both?
42:6 Despicable me?
42:10 What is the moral of this story?  What lesson has been learned and is being taught?
42:11 The LORD had brought evil upon Job?
42:12-13 Are these numbers symbolically significant?
42:14 What do these names mean? Why are only the daughters named?
42:15 Did daughters usually receive an inheritance?
42:16 is 140 symbolically significant?  Should it be taken literally?
42:17 We have a happy ending, but Job still dies.

PSALM 34:1-8 (19-22)
34:1 Is this a promise, a vow, or an expressed intention and desire?
34:2 How does one’s soul make its boast in the LORD?
34:3 How does one magnify the LORD?  Is this a mini Magnificat?  How does one exalt the LORD’s name when the LORD’s name is unpronounceable?
34:4 Do we seek the LORD or does the LORD seek us? How does the LORD answer us today?
34:5 What does it mean to look to God?
34:6 Could Job have prayed this? Could you?
34:7 Who is the angel of the LORD?
34:8 How does one taste that the LORD is good?
(34:19) If the LORD rescues the righteous, why are the righteous afflicted?
(34:21-22) This Psalm seems to suggest that evil is still a force to be reckoned with and the wicked will succumb to it while God will redeem the righteous from it.
34:1-8 (19-22) It seems obvious why the lectionary pairs this Psalm with the Reading from Job, but does the pairing invite us to read this Psalm with blinders on?

HEBREWS 7:23-28
7:23 What came before the “furthermore?” Who were the former priests?
7:24 Who holds the priesthood permanently?
7:25 Is there a change in emphasis from Christ as sacrifice to Christ as intercessor?
7:26 How is it fitting?
7:27 In light of 7:25, it seems we are back to understanding Christ as sacrifice rather than intercessor?
7:28 What is “the word of the oath?”

MARK 10:46-52
10:46 Who came to Jericho?  Is there anything about Jericho that makes it more than just a setting for this story? “Bartimaeus son of Timaeus” seems redundant. Is there any significance to their being a large crowd? Is there any significance to Bartimaeus being blind?
10:47 What do you know about the The Philokalia, Hesychasm, The Way of the Pilgrim, and “The Jesus Prayer?”
10:48 Who were the many and why did they order Bartimaeus to be quiet?
10:49 Why did Jesus have Bartimaeus brought to him rather than going to Bartimaeus? Why did Jesus not call him directly but had others call him?
10:50 Is there any symbolism to his throwing off his cloak? Was blind Bartimaeus following the sound of Jesus’ voice?
10:51 Did Jesus really need to ask this question?  What is the significance of Bartimaeus calling Jesus “My teacher?” Apparently Bartimaeus had not been blind from birth and therefore knew what it was like to see.
10:52 What faith?  How did it make him well? What does “followed him on the way” mean?
                                                                  
ADDENDUM
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.