Monday, August 27, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 23rd 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.

PROVERBS 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 This Reading sounds like a collection of fortune cookie inserts.
22:1 What is the history and meaning of your name?  What is your name worth? What name is above every other name?  What is “favor?”
22:2 Is this all the rich and poor have in common?
22:8 Let all those running for office this November beware. While this seems true, it seems to take time for justice to work itself out.
22:9 How are the generous blessed? Are we called to share only bread? The poor often give a higher percentage of their income than the rich.
22:22 How are the poor often robbed? Is it alright to crush the afflicted if they are not at the gate? How do we today crush the afflicted?
22:22-23 This reads like a passage for the 99% and a nation obsessed with wealth over justice for the poor and oppressed.

125:1 How do you define trust? If a person had enough faith, could they move even Mount Zion? If a person had enough trust, could they never be moved?
125:2 How do the mountains surround Jerusalem? What is it about being surrounded by mountains that is good news? I wonder how people who have lived all their life in a flat, mountain less land, might respond to this passage.
125:3 What is a scepter and what does it symbolize?
125:4-5a Is this a theology of reward and punishment? Is there a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here?
125:5b What would peace being upon Israel look like today?

JAMES 2:1-10 (11-13) 14-17
21:1 What “acts of favoritism” are being referred to?
21:2-4 Have you ever witnessed any such thing? Do many congregations still consciously or unconsciously show such favoritism? I thought this went away with the phase out of rented pews.
21:5-7 Here is some more Scripture with good news for the 99% and a word of judgment for the 1%.
21:8 Why is this law referred to as “the royal law?” What scripture is being quoted?
21:9-10 This sounds like Paul rather than James.
(21:11) This verse seems to me to get it backwards.
(21:12) What is “law of liberty?”
(21:13) How do we as individuals fail to show mercy. How do we as a church sometimes fail to show mercy? How do we as a nation often fail to show mercy?
21:14 I am hearing a refrain from last Sunday? Can faith without works save you?
21:15-16 Does James distinguish between showing compassion for other Christians and non-Christians? Is the church to treat its members differently than nonmembers?
21:17 Faith, without works, might be dead.  But what are works without faith?

MARK 7:24-37
7:24 Who set out from where?  What do you know about Tyre?  Why did Jesus not want anyone to know he was in the house? Escaping notice does not seem to be the Church’s problem today.
7:25 How do post-modern, scientifically informed people of faith handle passages like this that speak of “unclean spirits?” Had this woman not heard about Jesus before?
7:26 What difference does it make that she was a Gentile?  What does it mean that she was of Syrophoenician origin and why is it mentioned?
7:27 How do you react to the fact that Jesus said this? Was Jesus quoting something?
7:28 Let’s hope the dogs don’t eat the children while they are under the children’s table. Might dog owners and dog lovers hear this passage differently than others?
7:29 Why was her response rewarded?
7:30 How could Jesus heal someone without that person even being present for laying on of hands or to touch his cloak?
7:31 What do you know of Sidon and the region of the Decapolis? Do these geographical references really matter?
7:32 What sort of impediment do you imagine this man might have been plagued by?
7:33 Why in private?  Why put fingers in ears and touch tongues instead of laying on hands?
7:34 Why did Jesus sigh? What language is “Ephphatha?”  Where else in Scripture do we hear a world like this? What was Jesus commanding to be opened?
7:35 Note Mark’s reliance on “immediately” as in this verse and 7:25
7:36 What do you know about “the Messianic secre?t” Who did Jesus order not to tell? Was Jesus employing reverse psychology?
7:37 When was the last time you or members of the congregation you are associated with were astounded? Why does this passage have people talking about Jesus healing the deaf and mute but not the possessed?
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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