Monday, December 15, 2014

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, December 21, 2014, the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.


I recently got around to reading Eugene L. Lowry’s Living with the Lectionary (1992, Abingdon Press) and found this passage warning about quick fix lectionary aids insightful. “The problem is that lectionary preachers often turn to these helpful aids prior to having internalized the texts. When I have inquired of lectionary preachers, how they prepare—the sequence of their work—I find a trend. Often they read the text and immediately turn to the published lectionary commentaries.  They may receive good advice, but altogether prematurely. In short, at the point in sermon preparation when they ought to be internalizing the text and exploring the many questions which might emerge, they are already finding answers to the questions they have not yet raised. The result is a homiletical preparation short-circuit.” (p. 25)

I think Lowry’s warning is reflected in the way I prepare Lectionary Ruminations 2.o. I first read the text and then consider what questions I have or think it is important to ask of the text, perhaps make a few observations and opine about the text, but I DO NOT CONSULT ANY LECTIONARY AIDS as I write. Similarly, I think it would behoove readers of Lectionary Ruminations 2.o to first read the text and consider what questions they ought to be asking and what questions the text asks of them before reading Lectionary Ruminations 2.o.

7:1 What king are we talking about?
7:2 David seems to be speaking to Nathan as God might. Who was Nathan?
7:3 How did Nathan know this?
7:4 What carries more authority, the word of the king or the word of the LORD? Why did the word of the LORD come to Nathan at night?
7:5 Why the question?
7:6 What seems to be at stake here? What is the difference, if any, between a tent and a tabernacle?
7:7 Why is God asking questions? Are these rhetorical questions?
7:8-9 Why the history lesson?
7:10 Has this not already been accomplished?
7:11 The first part of this verse seems misplaced. Note the play on the word “house.”
7:16 Was this fulfilled?

1:46b-55 You might want to compare this with 1 Samuel 2:1-10
1:47 Whose soul magnifies the Lord? When was the last time your soul magnified the Lord and your spirit rejoiced?
1:48 How was this servant lowly?
1:49 What great things?
1:50 What is the meaning of “fear”? Once again, why am I thinking of Edwin Friedman?
1:51 Where has the Mighty One sown strength? How have the proud been scattered? I find it interesting that thoughts are associated with the heart. We usually associate thoughts with the head or mind and feelings with the heart.
1:52 What powerful have been brought down and how have they been brought down?
1:53 Do the hungry want good things or good food? If the rich are sent away empty, are they still rich?
1:54 What is the meaning of “in remembrance of his mercy”?
1:55 What promises? Why is Abraham but never Sarah mentioned?

89:1 How can the Psalmist, or anyone, sing forever and proclaim anything to generations?  Is this nothing more than poetic hyperbole?
89:2 How firm are the heavens?
89:3-4 Apparently an allusion to the First Reading.  Does this verse justify the lectionary pairing this Psalm with the First Reading?  This Psalm is actually an alternate. Another possibility is the Magnificat, Luke 1:47-55.  I have used the Magnificat the past few cycles but this year am opting to use the Psalm 89. What is this verse quoting?
89:19 Who is the faithful one? Note that the rest of the reading is a narration of the vision.
89:20 What makes oil holy?
89:24 What is a “horn”?
89:26 So David is the Son of God?

16:25 What does Paul mean by “my gospel?”  What is the mystery that has been revealed?
16:26 What does Paul mean by “prophetic writings”?
16:27 Here is a nice ascription of praise that could be used liturgically.

1:26 In the sixth month of what? Why Gabriel? Why Nazareth?
1:27 Why a virgin? How can we read this verse with 21st century sensibilities without reading our prejudices back into the text? Why the house of David?
1:28 What does Gabriel mean by addressing Mary as “favored one?”
1:29 Apparently Mary did not know what Gabriel meant. When was the last time you were perplexed by a greeting and pondered what it meant?
1:30 I think the phrase “Do not be afraid” is the crux of this text.
1:31 Note that Mary “will” conceive.  She apparently was not yet pregnant. Why name him Jesus?
1:32-33 This is quite a prophecy!
1:34 A good question.
1:35 Is there a difference between being called “Son of God” and actually being the Son of God?
1:36 Apparently Elizabeth was between the second and third trimester. The way she is described reminds me of Sarah.
1:37 Could this be the key verse of the passage rather than 1:30?
1:38 Where have we heard “Here am I” before?  What if Mary had not let it be according to Gabriel’s word?

I am currently serving at the Interim Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, worshiping at 154 West Market Street, Cadiz, Ohio, every Sunday at 11:00 AM.

May you have a Christ filled merry Christmas and be blessed with peace, wholeness, and happiness in the New Year!

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